Saturday 5 March 2011

The Information Train, Second Carriage

Now here is a thing, I was pondering about one of the first niggles I had returning to the QL and cannot help but compare to the years spent programming in Quick Basic 4.5 (Microsoft's last finest hour) and MSDOS.

The copy and paste shortcuts but even more important for a command line operating system was keyboard history, originally in DOS it was an add-in from a third party until Microsoft  (as they did) decided it should be integral to their own OS by buying out the company who devised it and using or just copying oops I meant backward engineering oops I meant deciding it would be a good feature (in response to their customers feedback) and got their engineers (thats what they called them then) to write that original feature in to the next OS release. So keyboard history became the norm and was expected, simply by pressing the up/down arrow in the editing window.

Imagine my naivety when switching on the QL (real) or running an emulator, pressing F2 and seeing the big red screen,
Ok here goes, DIR [return]
--bad parameter   what!
Ah! DIR MDV1 [return]
--not found
Underscore yes thats it, underscore everything needs an underscore at the end, OK I am not typing all that out again, where's the UP ARROW

what! no recall? no history? bugger!

Right lets try QemuLator
JS ROM, Toolkit II very nice, never got to JS ROM my original QL was a JM and I saved like mad to buy Toolkit II at the Sinclair Fair at Olympia, London one year, anyway back from reminiscing, I tried the same thing and got the exact same results. I thought without that one basic requirement, typing out everything again without recall this is going to be a short dip in to retro computing.

Some days (it could be weeks) later and at the same, time reading/scanning/looking through Dilwyn's Site or Quanta Library CD (not sure which now) and at the specs of QPC2, I find a program called 'History' written by a contributor and that QPC2 has up/down history using the cursor keys, hurrah progress. 

Well by now you should have guessed I have QPC2 as my main QL emulator, but I also have installed on my laptop QL2K and QemuLator, registered with one still thinking about the other. Now before you start writing in any comments, this morning I was again perusing Dilwyn's Site at the 'emulator page' as it was updated last October and I didn't remember with what so looking down the list I noticed that there was an emulator for the Amiga and the Atari ST. It just so happens that I have come in to possession of and Amiga 1200 and an Atari ST yesterday, again got them off eBay while getting a little carried away with bidding using my secret methodology of 'this is my best chance of winning a bid ploy'. So you could say either 'stupidly' or 'accidentally' I now have both these machines, and I wasn't sure what to do with them but now I know, run the QL emulator on them, I will only need to get QL on a Stick (Linux version) working on my net-book and I will have the full set :)

My interest this morning was to read a bit more about the Amiga emulator, so I opened up the zip file qdos4amiga1.lha on Dilwyn's site and there is a DOC file for the Quill which surprisingly opened up in MS WORD with no real problem, so reading down the information I get to this point:

›1m›4m AMIGA-QDOS v3.24 FEATURES›0m

*  FASTER than the original QL
*  LOADS/SAVES to QL floppy disks
*  Hard disk support via QubIDE ROM
*  SOUND supported in full (all possible convolutions of BEEP)
*  SYSTEM VARIABLES movable (even into FAST RAM).
*  2ND-SCREEN fully usable (like MINERVA ROM)
*  SCREEN modes 4 and 8 BOTH supported
*  KEYBOARD history from standard <ALT><ENTER> combination
*  ALL known machines supported A500, A500+, A600, A1200, A4000 etc
*  FOR COMPATIBILITY, data and instruction caches can be enabled/disabled
*  QDOS support disk included with release
*  BASED ON a JS ROM with many JS ROM bug fixes.
*  SOURCE included

It was a double take moment, 'keyboard history', 'standard combination' and 'based on a JS ROM', could this be, using ALT+ENTER? no sooner was I firing up both QL2K and QemuLator with JS ROMs, low and behold ALT+ENTER recalls the last line, so where is this written? did I miss it before? was it in the JS ROM version of the QL Manual? can I be bothered to look? well maybe...


  1. I've never known the QL to have 'keyboard history', so I've done a little investigation. Sinclair ROMs don't have it, but if you use the Toolkit II, it modifies the original CON driver to recall the last line on channel #0 with ALT+ENTER as you discovered. The other modification it does to the CON driver is that you can associate strings to ALT+key combinations with the ALTKEY procedure.

  2. Ah when I tried the emulator with the JS ROM I ommtted not to include TK2, thanks for that.

    It is a bit like trying to ride a bike and falling off until you get used the unique way of keeping your balance, when all the time before you have only had to walk. :)