Tandy disc system is now available
Commercials for the RAINBOW aside. the Tandy Disc system is a reality. We know, because there is one sitting right here next to our Color Computer. (And we didn't Pull any strings to get it, either.) By now. you can probably see one at your local Radio Shack computer center or store.
As we wrote earlier, the Disc Operating System is based in ROM a ROM Cart. It plugs into the CART port of the Color Computer. Drive "0" is the first step for a system. There are three more drives available. Our earlier information on prices was accurate — but we were $4 low on drive 0. Drives 1, 2 and 3 were on target. But you can get that information in the new catalog.
For your $599, you get a drive, a drive controller (which is, actually, a large-size ROM Cart), a ribbon cable that hooks the cart up with drives 0 and 1. and manual and a free (!) disk. Incidentally, the box all this comes in says ·custom mfg. in Japan."
The whole thing is packaged very well and comes in two boxes inside the shipping box. Obviously, Tandy will use the same packaging materials for the other drives. The manual is in the familiar multi-colored format of "Getting Started" and "Going Ahead." It’s called ·Color Computer Disc System" (Should it be "Spinning Along..."?) and features a new character to go with the drawings of the Color Computer -- a disc with arms and legs. As usual, the documentation is excellent. It is sort of a cross between the simple (in the early going) to a little complex (when sequential and direct access formats are discussed). We do wish there were a little more detail — sans embedded formats — near the end of the book.
As to the drive itself, it has worked flawlessly since its arrival several days ago. And. because the operating system is ROM-based. its use is transparent to the user. In other words, it’s there when you want it but it doesn't interfere with you in any way. And, because your cassette port isn't involved in this new system, you can CLOAD a program from tape and then SAVE it onto disc directly. I had two substantial tapes full of games — and I transferred them one at a time with total ease. Now they are on disc. and totally accessible in just seconds. The longest program I have which took two and one-half minutes to load from tape — loaded from disc in 12 seconds.
We were disappointed there is the AUTO command to generate automatic line numbers in the disc utilities. (If this bugs you as much as it does us. check the review on MASTER CONTROL in this issue for a solution.) Yet, one of the other big problems from the tape system has been solved. Through its VERIFY command, the disc will check itself to be sure your program was saved accurately. No more triple saves and prayers.
The DOS, which is referred to in the documentation as "Disc Basic," is pretty much the same as that available for the Model III. without the utilities. The discs are the same? as those used by Model III.