Tag Archives: software

Zolatron 64: The start of an operating system

Let’s be clear about this, I have no idea how you write an operating system. I just know you need to have one. When I first started writing ROM code for the Zolatron 64 (Z64) 6502-based homebrew computer all that really mattered was getting things to work. And I was amazed when they did. I was following in the footsteps… Read more »

Zolatron 64 ROM code – write, debug, repeat

With the basic hardware of the Zolatron 64 6502-based homebrew computer working fine, I’ve been spending most of my time on the ROM software. It turns out that writing an operating system in 6502 assembly code is harder than you might think. Well, anyway, it’s harder than I thought. But first… A quick catch-up on the state of play with… Read more »

Zolatron 64 6502 homebrew – a terminal of my own

Early on in the design of the Zolatron 64 6502-based homebrew computer I made the decision that I wasn’t going to bother with attaching a keyboard and monitor. It has a 16×2 LCD display for small stuff. Otherwise, I/O was always going to be via serial. That means talking to the machine via some kind of terminal software. To date,… Read more »

6502 homebrew: the software toolchain

Now that the Apatco kit is working – at least the basic version (having trouble with the keyboard and display upgrade) – it’s time to mess around with writing code for it. Many people swear by the now-abandoned CC65 as their compiler/assembler of choice for 6502 homebrew computers. But I’m going with Beebasm. Although inspired by and largely aimed at… Read more »

Sharing code: at your own risk

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Often, when discussing projects on this blog, I share bits of code. Sometimes more than a bit. But I rarely share whole programs or libraries because, well, it’s a pain uploading it and making sure WordPress hasn’t munged characters. And it’s equally difficult to correct errors and keep code updated. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. “FFS, use GitHub.” And… Read more »

Installing Sigrok under Ubuntu on the Alpha

One of the tools I knew I was going to want straight away on my new LattePanda Alpha is Sigrok – or to be more precise, the PulseView logic analyser tool. I already have this running on my old Windows 7 laptop, but who the hell wants to use that, right? However, Sigrok is created by hackers for hackers and… Read more »

DottyMatrix software stack: the front end

It’s one thing building an interface – it’s quite another working out how to use it. My DottyMatrix serial-to-parallel device is designed to drive my venerable old Epson MX-80 F/T III dot matrix printer (although it should work with any printer using a Centronics parallel interface). So far, I’ve mostly spoken to it using a terminal, sending text directly from… Read more »

PCB design: Eagle vs KiCad – the verdict

[Eagle vs KiCad part 11] Well here we are, the end of the road. Somehow I always knew this series would go to 11. I have, finally, made a decision which EDA – Eagle or KiCad – I’m going to use. It wasn’t an easy choice. Ground rules Let’s get a few things out of the way first, so you know… Read more »

Eagle vs KiCad: first thoughts

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[Eagle vs KiCad part 1] There’s a tough decision awaiting anyone who, like me, is about to get into designing their own printed circuit boards (PCBs) – what software to use. An Electronic Design Automation (EDA) package is pretty much essential for any serious PCB work, and quite a lot of non-serious work too (which is where I come in)…. Read more »

From the archives: Good Software Guide

Like the Good Hardware Guide (here, here and here), this 1991 publication was an attempt to produce a book listing all the most important products on the market. Yes, one book. Can you imagine trying to do that now? These are just the items I wrote – my mate Steve Gold covered far more, and there may have been other… Read more »

From the archives: Software bugs

This article originally appeared in Micro Decision in 1990. Back then, we thought of software bugs as  annoying. But that was a pre-Internet era. Now we know bugs to be dangerous, as they are the material with which malware works. Yet while software bugs today undermine our security, can we honestly claim that software is actually any less buggy? Probably yes…. Read more »

From the archives: WordStar 2000 Plus review

Wordstar 2000 Plus was the third version of the widely hated word processor. The reaction to the original Wordstar 2000 was similar to the one that greeted New Coke. Well, actually no, it was different… New Coke and the original Coke were just slight variations on of vile, corrosive sugared water. Wordstar 2000 was actually a very capable piece of… Read more »

From the archives: WordStar 5 review

This piece was written for Personal Computer World – I presume in 1989 when WordStar 5 appeared. Note the bit about needing 512K of memory – you have been warned! I also discovered from some text I’d originally included at the beginning that my old Telecom Gold (aka BT Gold) address was 10074:MIK031. This was, of course, in the days when ordinary… Read more »

Vintage software: WordStar, WordPerfect and muscle memory

Having discovered a trove of my old files on an archive disk, I naturally wanted to read them – and post some of them here. I’ve already written about how I went about converting the files. In the process, I had a chance to catch up with a couple of old friends. I use a FreeDOS VM running under VirtualBox… Read more »