[Coco] rom basics

Willard Goosey goosey at virgo.sdc.org
Thu Jun 17 04:22:01 EDT 2004

>Date: Wed, 16 Jun 2004 09:58:21 -0700
>From: Kevin Diggs <kevdig at hypersurf.com>

>	There was a thread a week or so back that discussed the
>quality of the basic in this beast. Was it really better than its
>contemporaries? I have NO experience with any other similar beast.

Heh.  From what I've read and seen on other 8-bit machines, CoCo BASIC
was pretty good, especially on the 1 & 2.  On the 3 it was kind of a

Very few BASICs had good floating point numbers AND good string
handling.  I hate to say anything good about Microsoft, but their
BASIC was one of the better ones.  Color BASIC's big advantage of most
of the other Microsoft BASIC interperters I've seen is that, unlike
its CP/M cousins, Color BASIC was better customized to its hardware,
directly supporting things like CLS and COLOR.  And, as already
mentioned, its graphics commands blew anything short of a Tandy 1000
away (also a highly customized MS BASIC).

>But I personally consider coco basic to be ... bad. The lack of
>integer variables on a .89 MHz computer was, in my opinion, a big
>gaffe. Did any other similar machine have integer variables?
Some did, and often lacked floating point.  

Plus, there's size considerations.  Under a 64K CP/M machine, MS BASIC
5.21 (last and greatest CP/M BASIC) has about 24K free for programs.
And that's on a terminal-based machine, so there's no video images
sitting in main memory...  The more features your BASIC has, the less
room you're going to have to use them in.

I know at some point, Tandy and Microsoft had a falling-out about
BASIC, which is why Microware got saddled with the CoCo 3 BASIC
modifications.  But I don't know how the timing there relates to the
major releases of Microsoft BASIC.

>	Anyone know anthing about the TI 99/4a? This was a 64k
>REAL 16-bit system. There are a bunch of them on EBay.
Yeah, the CPU is a 16-bit data/16-bit address processor, but the
machine's rather limited.  Pretty a game machine in its base
configuration.  It also has a notoriously slow BASIC.  I'm not sure
about the capability of putting 64K of RAM in one.  I know you can add
32K RAM to it, but I think that about fills it up.

Kind of a shame that it's so limited.  The TMS9900 is an interesting
processor, the TMS9918 was one of the big video chips in the day.  TI
just put them together in a very limiting way.

>					kevin
Willard Goosey  goosey at sdc.org
Socorro, New Mexico, USA
"I've never been to Contempt!  Isn't that somewhere in New Mexico?"
   --- Yacko

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