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UnderColor, Volume 1, Number 5, February 20, 1985

  • Title: Reviews
  • Author: empty
  • Synopsis: empty
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By Arnold Kahn




11111 N. Kendall Drive, Suite A108

Miami, FL 33176

64K; One or more disk drives required

$27.95 + $2 shipping, Disk

ADOS is a package of enhancements for Disk Extended Color Basic. When entered as a program loaded from disk, it adds many new commands and conveniences to Microsoft Basic. But when installed as a ROM, in addition to providing enhancements it offers a solution to the software incompatibility problems that have caused so much disappointment to Color Computer owners with disk drives having version 1.1 ROM in the controller. It is the fix for the compatibility problem that makes this software of special importance to the Color Computer community.

To run ADOS from disk you must have a 64K computer; any version is satisfactory. To run it from a ROM in the disk controller you need not have 64K. However, in order to customize it properly, in advance of getting it put into a ROM, you must first run it from disk. So, for all practical purposes, 64K is required.

First some description of the enhancements:

When loaded from disk (or on power-up with the ROM version), Basic comes up with a new ADOS logo which can be altered by the user. The enhancements require no further loading. You can turn on automatic line numbering for Basic; output can be sent to the printer as well as the screen; commands can be accepted in lowercase; and up to 22 pre-programmed control keys are available.

Perhaps the most useful commands are connected with the-operating system. For example, RUN "PROG",&H1000 will offset load and execute the assembly language PROG/BIN, and your disk will not be left spinning, either. Two forms of DIR can l be used; the newer form is abbreviated and in a two-column display. Both forms give the number of granules. Assembly language disk file addresses can be listed, and ASCII files can be listed to the screen or printer. Most useful is the "repeat last command" function, which permits changes via the line editor. A faulty command can be corrected and re-issued.

There is an improved Copy function which lets you proceed even if the file already exists on the target disk. And the destination can be specified by a drive number.

In the 64K mode, disk or ROM, the greatest possible memory is given to Basic. You can do such things as PCLEAR 18 and PMODE 4,15! A Peep command lets you inspect and scan memory in text or graphics modes.

Provision is made for flexibility in controlling the disk drives. Custom step rates and access time changes may be installed by the owner. The RS drives run quietly at 20 millisecond stepping! Two-sided drives may be addressed. And the configuration is set up only once. For those with the newer

40 track drives or those with two-sided drives, formatting and drive addressing options are available.

Are the enhancements all perfect? Not quite, and users will surely differ here. Having cut my teeth on uppercase-only Teletype machines, and having put up with RS’s reverse video, I have no love for lowercase, especially on the CoCo. Fortunately for me, ADOS's leanings toward lowercase can be overruled. The hex monitor function, like RS's ZBUG, is useful, but alas, there is no memory inspection/modify utility quite as convenient as MicroWork’s CBUG M-command which displays the memory bytes in rows of eight across the screen. And most annoying to me is the key-press required before getting the prompt after a DIR. This reserves two extra screen lines for the directory, but my forgetting the key-press causes a lot of typing errors in the next command. (In a revision I received after preparing this review, it was shown how this, too, could be defeated.)

In addition to all the above built into ADOS, there are two more programs on the disk! One is a high resolution text screen, RSV, a version of RSVID, the public domain program by Steve Odneal, slightly revised to be acceptable to ADOS. The other is MENU, which allows execution of any program by placing a pointer next to it in the directory listing. It would be fine except that the pointer moves too fast; getting the right program is an arcade game in itself. (I later heard that this, too, could be changed.)

The package would certainly be worth the price for the disk form alone. However, the real attraction is that when the customized program is burned into an EPROM and installed in the controller, the user can run just about all software (including the popular Telewriter 64) compatible with Disk ROM 1.0. That is news! And the ROM version can boot OS-9 with its built-in DOS command.

What will this really cost'? The proper EPROMs now sell for about $25. There are people who will custom burn a program for less than $25. Or you can buy a burner for less than $75; then you can change your mind later, erase the EPROM, and re-customize the program at no further cost. So, a ROM implementation of ADOS can be had for a bit under $80; or with your own burner, for under $130.

Are there other cures for the incompatibility problem? Radio Shack will not re-issue the old 1.0 ROM, so that is out. You can load a disk version of the 1.0 ROM when in the 64K mode, but you must individually doctor each program to remove any calls for 64K, for they will recopy your ROMs and bring back the old problem. The software seller may be able to help. Whichever way you go, each program’s adaptation will be an individual case. ADOS offers a blanket cure by organ transplant, so to speak.

This program is a well-prepared and carefully documented enhancement of Disk Extended Basic. When installed as a ROM it lets any Color Computer run software incompatible with the version 1.0 Disk ROM. It is very adaptable to individual owner’s tastes and hardware requirements. This reviewer will demonstrate his enthusiasm by investing in one EPROM, with which he will install ADOS in his computer. But he does not advise discarding the old 1.0 Disk ROM. (end)