Microsoft open sources GWBASIC

Robert Harrison bobh at
Thu May 28 14:45:47 CDT 2020

For want of a POP, Tandy Radio Shack computers became relegated to the scrape heap. Their word processing program, SCRIPSIT, had a bug in the block text copy/move command that garbled large documents. I was able to buy a bunch of Model III/IV from a law firm that switched to MSDOS machines because of that bug. At the time I thought TRSDOS was as good as or better than MSDOS. It came with features like print spooling that I think were added later to MSDOS. Could be wrong about that. The fix was SuperScripsit which was not as user friendly.

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> On May 28, 2020, at 2:24 PM, Liam Proven via cctalk <cctalk at> wrote:
> On Tue, 26 May 2020 at 21:52, Jim Brain via cctalk
> <cctalk at> wrote:
>> Well, *I've* heard of them, but I enjoy knowing about such things.  Most
>> in the US do not.
> *Nod* Shame but it's fair enough.
> I think there is at the least an article (and possibly an entire
> university course module) comparing European and United States
> hardware and software design schools in the early, pre-standardisation
> days before the general-purpose computing market collapsed down to,
> essentially, x86 versus ARM and Windows NT versus *nix, which is where
> we are today.
> One could usefully compare this to the Japanese market, for a long
> time _entirely_ separate and almost unknown anywhere else... and the
> relatively tiny but important and totally different Japanese _export_
> market.
> In extremely broad, hand-wavey strokes:
> In the early *microcomputer* days (1970s and early 1980s)
> US: CP/M in business, meaning Z80. Home computers mainly 6502.
> Converged by putting Z80s into 6502 machines, eventually built-in.
> EU: lots of totally dissimilar, incompatible makes and models, with
> Z80 having a slight edge. No real convergence, CP/M much rarer due to
> cost, and only ever becomes noticeably significant due to the Amstrad
> PCW range from 1985-1990, by which point it was dead in its home
> market.
> After the IBM PC became dominant:
> US focusses on increasingly large/complex OSes to run on x86, and to a
> lesser extent, 680x0 and later RISC.
> Windows 3 finally brings grown-up font handling in the 1990s, allowing
> vanilla PCs to finally conquer the Japanese domestic market.
> EU: custom hardware continues, running custom OSes. Psion does EPOC
> for its tiny power-efficient PDAs, then rewrites it totally in C++ for
> ARM, creating EPOC32. EPOC32 becomes Symbian and makes smartphones
> quite mainstream, aided by a unified world cellphone market for GSM
> devices.
> US/Canada: no GSM, so no unified cellphone market, so pagers continue,
> leading to increasingly elaborate devices with QWERTY keyboards,
> fostering the development of multiple proprietary devices: RIM
> Blackberry, Danger Hiptop, PalmPilot/Handspring. MS WinCE  makes some
> headway with very complex, fiddly little pocket computers with poor
> performance and disastrous battery life, which also sell well in
> gadget-obsessed Japan.
> Finally in 2007 Apple sweeps all this away with the iPhone: very
> complex desktop-derived software requiring an extremely powerful
> device, but giving a very simple user interface. Google hastily pivots
> its Android aquisition from being a Blackberry-killer to being an
> iPhone-ripoff.
> This finally makes US smartphones competive in the European/Japanese
> markets, previously dominated by Symbian on Nokia, Sony/Ericsson and
> other hardware with one tenth or less of the resources of the iPhone.
> Moore's law makes these affordable, bringing tech originating in the
> PC/Mac desktop market --  iOS, derived from Mac OS X, derived from
> NeXTstep, originating from the Apple cofounder -- into the pocket
> computer market and eliminating all other players.
> Rare exceptions, such as Apple and Be, who did European-style designs
> (relatively small/simple proprietary OSs and apps on proprietary
> machines with non-industry-standard CPUs) surrender and die or join
> the mainstream, first by moving to an xNix base, then to x86.
>> But, to be fair, most in the US don't even remember
>> all of the US-based systems.  Altair gets a nod as it shows up in
>> articles concerning computer firsts, but none of the proto or early
>> S-100 based systems are remembered (Cromemco, Northstar, etc.) nor the
>> other Z80 machines like the Kaypro and Osborne.
> True, but I mean, I'm heading for my mid-50s and all that was before my time.
>>  FOlks know about IBM,
>> but most don't know they still make mainframes and midrange (OS400 or
>> whatever it is called now) machines, and Burroughs, Wang, Amdahl,
>> Hitachi are missed. , Super computer is forever linked with Cray, but
>> Control Data, Thinking Machines, Silicon Graphics, and even Sun are no
>> more remembered.
> True. :-(
>> On the micro front, Atari still carries some name
>> recognition, mainly because of the coin ops and consoles, but everyone
>> has forgotten about Commodore or that HP and TI made computers and that
>> Tandy Radio Shack made a computer themselves and didn't just resell PC
>> clones. THat doesn't even include the semi-pro machines or hobbyist
>> options. So, while we didn't know about all the non US machines, we
>> didn't even know about all the US ones, and folks have forgotten about
>> the ones we did know about. People remember IBM because of the PC, and
>> Apple because of the Mac (and that they did a "proto" mac machine back
>> in the late 1970s (Hey, not saying it is true, it's just how people
>> choose to position the Apple II).
> :-(
>> It is a shame we didn't see the BBC machines here, and the
>> Timex/Sinclair joint venture to bring out the TS1000 made a mockery of
>> the entire line, apologize for that.  I agree the unit was plucky and I
>> have one here
> :-)
>> .  Evidently, there exists a lower bound of functionality
>> of computing capability in the US, and the little wedge just didn't make
>> it.
> No no. It wasn't that. It was _money_.
> On average, talking about food and clothing and vehicles and fuel and
> the general cost of goods, everything is cheaper in the US than in the
> rest of the developed world. USAnians do not generally realise this.
> US gasoline:  just under $2/gallon, right? Google says $1.96. Call it $2.
> UK petrol (same stuff): £1.06/litre. £4 per US gallon. That's $5.
> I live in the Czech Republic, a much cheaper country than anywhere
> English-speaking, but fuel costs the same as in the rest of the EU.
> Fuel is 2.5 times more expensive for Brits than Americans. That's why
> our cars and motorbikes have smaller engines. It's partly why every
> other developed nation has more public transport: because for us, it's
> competitive, whereas for you, it's not -- your fuel is subsidised to
> the tune of being about a third of what it should cost on the open
> market. That's both why and because the US military/industrial machine
> is so strong.
> I have never owned an automobile in my adult life. I got a drivers'
> licence when I was 36. But if I left my home _now_ I could be at my
> old place, in Brno, in 3h 30min and it would cost me $12. Tram from
> here to Prague main station: $1. Ticket to Brno on the 9PM train
> (2h20min, 120 mileS): $10. Tram from the main station in Brno to my
> old place: $1. I'd be there before midnight. That's _why_ I have never
> owned a car. I don't need one. I have never needed one. If I do, I
> rent one. I have done this twice in my life so far.
> When US computers came to Europe, they were about 2½-3× more expensive
> than local ones, AND vendors converted the pricing by removing the $
> and replacing it with £ (or the equivalent in any of the dozen local
> currencies in continental Europe.)
> In the 1980s that effectively inflated prices by about another 2½ to 3×.
> So the ground-breaking first cheap US home computer was the Apple II,
> which cost US$1,298 at launch (equivalent to $5,476 in 2019 says
> Wikipedia).
> That was the price of a car here.
> So instead, a few years later, we got the Sinclair ZX80, which was
> £99.95 (£432; $576 at 2020 prices)
> It's not that we tolerate lower specifications. It's not that we have
> a lower barrier of entry. It's not that we tolerated poorer computers.
> It's that we couldn't _afford_ US computers. A cheap US home computer,
> such as you would give to a child as a toy, cost as much as an
> automobile. A fancy professional computer, such as an adult could use
> for their work, cost as much as a house or an apartment.
> And that was the case until Amstrad disrupted the market with the
> ground-breaking PC1512 in 1986. A PC clone for £499. Before that, a
> _nice_ PC from Compaq could cost £5000. (OK, a cheap clone would be
> only £1500 or so.)
> We had simple cheap low-spec computers because American high-end
> computers were impossibly expensive.
> In my first job  in 1988, we did sell Compaq and IBM PCs, but I worked
> for a fancy high-end value-added reseller. The first ISA-bus 386 I
> ever saw was a Compaq Deskpro 386 and it was destined to become a
> Netware fileserver, attached to cheaper clone PCs.
> But the next dealership I worked for sold Amstrads.
>> By extension, all future machines were branded in the US, as I
>> recall.  Japanese MSX machines,
> You know that MSX was an American design, right? It just happened that
> it only succeeded in Japan. It was broadly a Spectravideo-based design
> with a Microsoft ROM. Yes, some design input from ANSI Corp of Japan,
> but basically an American thing.
>> some of the neat options from Australia,
>> lots of cool variety not seen in the US.
> I guess I had not realised until this thread how relatively uniform
> the US computer scene was...
>> I can't really think of any.  Some might say the Coleco ADAM, but it was
>> ill-fated.
> True.
> Interesting. Fred has one counter-example. Just the one. Very interesting.
>> I have to believe (again), it was some Marketing demand.  There's a list
>> of reasons it was a bad idea from the start:
>>  * 40 column and no soft 80 column option on the 64, where almost all
>>    CP/M software expected 80x24
>>  * No way to read CP/M disks in the market (all were FM or MFM,
>>    Commodore had no FM/MFM drive option)
>>  * Power hungry cart overloaded minimal PSU
> I guess I am realising that CP/M was a much bigger deal there than here.
> Amstrad's 8-bitters, the CPC series, had a DOS that was CP/M derived
> and they could optionally run CP/M, but no home user here cared. It
> was only the Amstrad PCW that changed that. The PCW was a proprietary
> word-processor, which booted its proprietary WP app directly off
> floppy -- no OS, no ROM chip. But luckily, someone on the design team
> extended the design slightly and made it able to run CP/M and it came
> with a CP/M disk in the box, meaning Amstrad could advertise and
> promote it as a computer. (Bear in mind this was before Amstrad made
> PC clones, and this "business computer" was about quarter of the price
> of a very cheap clone PC.)
> Amstrad didn't learn from this -- after 3 million-selling PCW models,
> the 2 successor models couldn't run CP/M and both flopped.
> -- 
> Liam Proven – Profile:
> Email: lproven at – gMail/gTalk/gHangouts: lproven at
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