Posts by Richard Hallas

    And especially I find the memory handling of the C65/MEGA65 anything but "easy to maintain". This has also annoyed and frustrated me so much that I have already thought about a voluntary root canal treatment without anesthesia at the dentist - just for relaxing! ;(

    LOL! :biglach:


    But seriously, good luck… it seems that you're making progress, at least!

    Just in case any further inspiration is needed… I've just discovered to my interest that Dean Belfield has just ported BBC BASIC to the ZX Spectrum Next!


    He started out from the Z80 version for CP/M – which, interestingly, is apparently already open source – and in just about a week has produced a fully working straight port of the language, with a number of additional commands to support the Spectrum Next's hardware. I've only just found out about this, so I haven't tried it out yet myself, but it looks quite an exciting development – even given that the Next already has its own new and very fully featured version of Sinclair BASIC that exploits its enhanced hardware.


    This is an entirely separate port from the existing version of BBC BASIC for the regular Sinclair Spectrum.


    Anyway, the link to the author's blog post about the project is here:
    Blog post about BBC BASIC for ZX Spectrum Next

    …and the Github repository containing the source code and releases is here:
    BBC BASIC for ZX Spectrum Next (Github)


    Dean Belfield announced the port on the Spectrum Next Facebook group with the following words:

    Quote

    Had a bit of a mad idea last week inspired by a conversation on Twitter. I'd already started porting R.T.Russell's excellent BBC Basic for Z80 to my homebrew breadboard computer, and wondered how easy it would be to port what I'd done already to the Next.

    It's very much a work-in-progress, yet works as a programming language as it stands now. The intention is to complete it with full Next hardware support.

    Source code and ".nex" files can be found on my GitHub.

    Enjoy!

    This rather backs up my assertions that interest in BBC BASIC is far from dead!

    The BBC Basic is just another fascinating Basic from the 80s.

    Not less and not more.

    No, I'm afraid I completely disagree with that.


    For a start, it's not "just another" version of BASIC from the 80s; it's THE BEST version of BASIC from the 80s; some might say the best version of BASIC ever, in fact.


    It's also probably the most widespread version of BASIC ever to appear, in terms of the number of processors and systems it got ported to. There are multiple versions of it for the BBC series, including the Z80 and ARM second processors. There was an official release of it for the Cambridge Z88 portable machine. There were many releases of it for other machines, including the Sinclair Spectrum, Amstrad CPC range and Tatung Einstein. There's even a CP/M version of BBC BASIC for any 'business' machine with CP/M 2.2 or later. In terms of modern systems, there's a well-supported version of BBC BASIC for Windows, and options also available for the Mac (including a new one that I'm aware of a former Acorn developer working on at present). And I believe there's even some sort of development system (haven't looked into it yet) that lets you write Android apps in BBC BASIC, which sounds mega-useful if you're an Android user. So if you write a program in BBC BASIC and want to run it on another system, there's a very good chance that you'll be able to port it very easily. Regardless, with all that in mind, this is hardly just a relic from the 1980s: it's a superb modern language that people still use today, and that makes porting a piece of software from one system to another pretty easy. OK, maybe it's not generally useful for writing commercial cross-platform apps; but it's potentially very useful for hobbyists and amateurs to convert their projects from one machine to another, or adapt education material between systems or whatever. (And note the Android app scenario.) I'm sure there's still plenty of potential uses that let people achieve things without having to devote themselves to becoming professional developers.


    And this is also all said without considering the fact that BBC BASIC continued to be developed massively beyond BASIC IV. BASICs V and VI debuted on the ARM-based Acorn Archimedes and have continued to be developed ever since, right up to today. You may say: RISC OS is now only a niche OS with hardly any users and few if any meaningful applications left in the real world. And maybe there's some truth in that. But… it does still have potential, it's still being worked on and made relevant for modern hardware, and you can run it on modern hardware like the Raspberry Pi and other cheap single-board computers. So if anyone wanted to use RISC OS to create a lightning-fast Raspberry Pi-based project of some sort (the possibilities are endless…), they could very easily do so and write all the control software in BBC BASIC.


    Moreover, although BBC BASIC in its latest incarnation is restricted to RISC OS, there's absolutely no reason why it couldn't be liberated to run on some other ARM-based OS if anyone were minded to do the necessary conversion work. It's completely open source now. If someone wanted a stunningly good version of BASIC to run on some ARM-based Unix variant, why not just grab the ARM BBC BASIC sources and port it? Stranger things have happened.


    Obviously I'm smoking the pipe a bit here and getting into speculative territory… but my main point is that BBC BASIC is still alive and being actively developed (for the latest 64-bit ARM processors), and it's an outstandingly fantastic version of the language which must be unbelievably fast on current ARMs (even back in the late 1990s, its interpreted performance on a StrongARM processor could often outperform compiled C code, because the whole interpreter fit in the processor cache!). It's also open source, and thus has no practical restriction for its future use. All it needs is people to take more interest in it again.


    One has to wonder why BASIC ever fell out of fashion as an introduction to programming. If BBC BASIC had been more widely used around the world, and had the UK not misguidedly moved from Acorns to PCs in schools in the 90s, it would probably have remained dominant. I've seen several people in recent times lamenting how inferior Python is as an introduction to programming in schools (though I can't comment on that, as I've never looked into Python myself and know nothing about it). You ask: "What would make a good modern BASIC?" I'm not sure the question needs an answer, because we already have that in the latest ARM version of BBC BASIC V/VII. It's surely by far the best and most widely established version of BASIC around. The only problem with it, really, is that it hasn't been made available to other ARM-based OSs other than RISC OS. It's a great shame that it doesn't come as standard on all ARM-based systems, really.

    As to whether it's really a good language for modern computing… I think the obvious point to make about it is that it's a procedural language. Does a modern language need to be object-oriented? If so, then that's the glaring shortcoming. Maybe there's a way in which it could be extended with object-oriented concepts. I don't see why not; it's every bit as well structured as other high-level modern languages, and – what's more – it's also modular, with the ability to use libraries and overlays, and split your source across multiple files if you want to. So maybe a good modern BASIC would simply be BBC BASIC with OO extensions. I don't see any reasons why it couldn't be done… but I'm only a hobbyist, not a programmer of that level, so I really can't say. Surely, though, if ANY version of BASIC is worthy of further work to turn it into a new object-oriented version of the language, BBC BASIC is that version.

    Anyway, you'll take my point by now. BBC BASIC is the best-performing BASIC ever (as verified by many tests over the years), almost certainly the best designed, most extensive and well-structured implementation yet written, and also probably the most widespread in terms of the number of systems you can run it on. Get it on the MEGA65 and you gain access to all that world of software, including ease of conversion of programs from one system to another. Plus it's open source (at least in its still-in-development form). It's as far as I think any version of BASIC reasonably can be from being a simple outdated relic from the 1980s. BASIC in general may have lost a lot of its position of dominance in the computing world, which in some ways is regrettable – but if you do want to use BASIC (and there's still plenty of reason to), as far as I'm concerned this is the best version available by a wide margin.

    it’s interesting how perspectives change.


    at around the time my school got it’s first BBC micros, I had a VIC-20. I loved it - and much preferred programming it to the BBCs. Perhaps the biggest reason being Commodore had a pretty decent screen editor in BASIC from the outset; the BBC's glass-teletypewriter approach with the 'copy' key just seemed so awful by comparison (at the time, at least)


    Only now, after a long career as an IT software bod can I look back and see how well thought out the BBCs MOS, BASIC and sideways ROM ideas were.

    Yes, the full-screen editor was, I think, the one really big advantage that the Commodore machines had over the competition back then.


    As I've probably stated already on this thread, my very first computing experiences were on a Commodore PET 2001 Series, and at this point in my life I'm absolutely certain that it was the full-screen editor that made the computer so fun and exciting to use. I'd never used a computer before, so I'd no idea, even, what they could do, let alone how to make them do anything. Moreover, what little documentation I had initially was all but useless: the manual covered only the most rudimentary basics of BASIC programming, so it was actually really hard to learn anything useful initially. Later I got some magazines and type-in listings etc., but at the very start, all I could really do was to use the full-screen editor to draw pictures on the screen using the PETSCII graphics. And then, by adding a line number and print statement at the start of each line, I could turn the picture into a program to print my picture out again, and save it to tape. This seemed quite magical to me at the time. It seems laughably childish and primitive now, but it was my first introduction to computing.

    Had I had access to a different brand of computer as my first introduction, I think it would have gone very differently. I wouldn't have been able to use a full-screen editor and character graphics to draw pictures… but, on the other hand, I'd almost certainly have had a much more useful manual to explain how to use the machine, so perhaps I'd have got off to a better start, learning how to write 'proper' programs. Who knows? Anyway, I happened to really like drawing at the time (I used to spend ages with a notepad and pencil just doodling things at that age), so the PET introduction was actually pretty good for me.


    It left me absolutely desperately wanting a VIC-20 as my first computer… though I did realise at the time that its 22-character-wide screen was pretty disappointing compared with the PET, even given that it had nice colours. Not much later, the Commodore 64 was announced, and that had a PET-sized screen with colour, so that became the new object of desire.


    Nevertheless, what I actually got as my first computer was a ZX81. And rather than feeling let down by it, I actually loved it. It was actually surprisingly capable in many ways, and very interesting and accessible, and – best of all – it came with a great version of BASIC and a superb manual that really taught you well how to program. So I started out on that and moved up to a Spectrum soon after. The BBC came just a little later. I never did own a Commodore back in the 80s, though I continued to like them.


    Anyway, with hindsight, I have slightly mixed feelings about the full-screen editor. In many ways it was great… but it could also lead to a certain amount of confusion, I think, in that it wasn't always necessarily certain where you were, or what would be accepted when you pressed Return, if the screen was full of junk. Not a big problem; just an opportunity for confusion.


    I agree that the BBC's line editor, with the Copy key, was a little cumbersome. It worked well enough, but it was a bit of a chore to copy out a lengthy selection.


    I actually liked Sinclair's approach, despite some annoying shortcomings. It was easy to use and it made it impossible to enter a line with a syntax error in it, instead beeping, showing you where the error was and forcing you to fix it before the line was accepted. Later, the Spectrum 128 got a full-screen editor that retained that interactive syntax-checking idea, and that too worked pretty well. It wasn't any good for drawing pictures like on the PET(!), but as a programming editor it was pretty slick.

    I saw this ad from 1982 while reading in old "Acorn User" magazines last night and I just wanted to post it here without further ado. :D

    Heh! Isn't that how we all work today? I know I do.


    That TV in the advert… I'm sure my grandparents had one exactly like it. Good luck reading the BBC's video output from that distance, especially in an 80-column mode!

    Richard Hallas : Thank you very much! And again many thanks for your post with many background information to the topic. :thumbup:


    Your posts here in the thread are also significantly "guilty" that I deal more closely with the BBC BASIC of the 8bit generation. As written here before, my first contact with BBC BASIC was an used Acorn Archimedes 3000, which is still here. But I had nothing to do with BBC 8bit computers until recently.

    Thank you for the nice feedback! It's nice to know that you've enjoyed what I've had to say, and that you've found it interesting, useful, inspirational or whatever. Indeed, I'm delighted to have enthused you sufficiently to actually buy an Electron!

    I had a lot to do with UK computers (besides the C64) in the 1980s (Sinclair ZX80, ZX81, Spectrum and QL, Memotech MTX512 and Enterprise 128), but never a BBC computer from Acorn.

    Wow! That's some great experience with some interesting machines!


    I personally owned a ZX81 and a Spectrum (well, both a 48K Spectrum and later a Spectrum 128) in addition to my BBC Model B (later Master 128). And I started out on a borrowed PET 2001 Series, and later had access to a Commodore Plus/4. I loved the Sinclair machines in particular (the Spectrum was fantastic in so many ways) but the best-designed of all those systems was the BBC, despite its relatively limited capabilities in some ways (only 8 colours and far too little memory).


    I've still never actually seen a ZX80 in person, and I never used a QL, so I missed out on those early and late Sinclair machines.


    As for the Memotech MTX512… oh, I'd have loved one of those! What a great computer it appeared to be: incredibly stylish in its aluminium case, and pretty powerful and interesting – like the BBC Micro, its BASIC had an inbuilt assembler, I believe. It was destined to be a really good, successful machine, but then some huge deal with Russia fell through and bankrupted the company, which was a tragedy. It's probably the most regrettable computer company failure of the 80s. Memotech had a good reputation and – as you probably know – originally made its name as a manufacturer of interesting and good quality peripherals for the Sinclair ZX81. I actually had a Memotech 16K RAM pack for mine.

    As for the Elan Enterprise… that too looked as though it was going to be a really interesting machine, but it came out too late and never really took off. I'd have liked one, but I don't think there was really any software for it. It may possibly have been more popular in Europe than it was in the UK; interestingly, I've noticed quite a number of 'new' Enterprises on eBay recently, and they all seem to have European keyboards (AZERTY rather than QWERTY).

    The more astonished I was and am, how good and well thought out these computers were at that time. You can see a coherent concept of hardware and software. Basically the opposite of the approach of Commodore. :D


    Alone before the BBC BASIC 2, I really take off my hat! What here - also "under the surface" - of really good thoughts are in it, all my greatest respect! I prefer to spare myself a comparison with BASIC 2 from the C64. ;(


    As a teenager I probably wouldn't have been able to appreciate it that much. Topics like "Who can I trade games with for this?" and similar thoughts had priority. But nowadays, looking back, I can only say "Wow!". Some people at Acorn really put a lot of thought into this! :thumbup:

    Yes, I agree: nowadays, having grown up and gained both experience and the benefit of hindsight, it's now much easier to judge these old machines on their merits and appreciate what an amazing job Acorn actually did. Back in the 80s we'd have been much more interested in the games catalogues for the relative machines, and so the Electron would have been dismissed very quickly when compared to both the Spectrum and the Commodore 64 in particular. But now that our perspectives have changed, we can make a better judgement about the machines on their own merits.


    I like all the platforms – don't get me wrong, I don't mean to bash anyone here – and they all had their good and bad points. But I really feel that it boils down to this:

    • Acorn (notably the BBC Micro): absolutely BY FAR AND AWAY the best company of the lot in terms of the underlying quality of their designs, for both hardware and software. Yes, they made mistakes and had weak areas (as did everyone else!), and the whole Acorn 8-bit range was crippled by having insufficient memory and very outdated-looking graphics capabilities, but the hardware and software were both exceptionally well thought out and forward-thinking. This is easily proven when you consider the very considerable extent to which Acorn's later 32-bit ARM-based machines are very much successors to the 8-bit designs. They're vastly more capable and powerful, but the modular, extensible approach (in both hardware and software), the backwards compatibility, the extension of existing concepts (e.g. the screen mode system) make them very much a development of the family that really started with the BBC. And although Acorn's 32-bit machines never really achieved much success beyond the UK education market, that's not representative of their quality. In reality, if we lived in a fairer world, they should have taken over and become the standard (rather than the PC), because they were just incomparably better than anything else (PC, Mac) for well over a decade.

    • Commodore (notably the C64): Commodore was unlike the other companies because it had been around for a long time (the PET was really the first ever 'proper' personal computer to be released) and it had a lot of experience in business and education around the world, not just the home market. So it had lots of people to sell to and experience in doing so, globally. And there was a lot to like about Commodore machines… but also, a lot not to like, unfortunately. The C64 was designed much more as a games machine than most others, with its very advanced sound chip, extensive (if dull) colour palette, sprites etc. and a cartridge slot. It's easy to see why it was popular and long-lived. Yet it had an appalling version of BASIC (sorry, but it's true) that was easily the worst on the market and made it a rotten choice of machine for learning programming. And the stand-out peripherals for being awful were the ones you needed to save and load programs, which is mind-blowing when you think about it. On the one hand, you had no option but to buy Commodore's Datasette and/or 1541 disk drive; unlike the other machines you couldn't use a regular tape recorder or enjoy a choice of affordable third party disk drives (which was particularly true on the BBC). Then, the tape machine was an unbelievably slow 60 baud (is that REALLY true…? I read it recently) – and the 1541 disk drive made continental drift look fast. The 1541 was, I believe, only a 300 baud device. That made it FIVE TIMES SLOWER than the ZX Spectrum's TAPE interface! It's remarkable to me that the Commodore 64 managed to be successful in spite of such awful storage options. And that Commodore didn't do a more competent job with them in the first place.

    • Sinclair (notably the Spectrum): Sinclair was the absolute master of compromise. Every possible corner was cut in the quest to produce a computer as cheaply as possible. And yet… and yet… just look at the fantastic final result. The Spectrum was really great. It was indeed cheap, but it wasn't nasty. It may not have been as deeply thought through as Acorn's machines, but it was certainly well conceived. It was well designed and manufactured, it came with an outstandingly good manual that taught you how to program in BASIC (also true of the BBC), and its version of BASIC was also excellent. It was a decently fast machine, especially given that it had no graphics/sound support chips, so the processor had to do everything. Its screen was a genius design that allowed you to use the machine's full resolution and all 16 colours freely at the same time, and yet took less than 7K of RAM out of a total of 42K available. (Compare with the BBC: to get full colour you had to use a 20K low-resolution screen mode on a machine with much less than 32K of available RAM.) The compromise was mixing pixel-level monochrome bitmap graphics with character-level colouring… but it was a GOOD compromise that gave the machine a lot of its individuality, and overall it was more a benefit than a hindrance. Oh, and the Spectrum had the best, most reliable and fastest tape interface of any 8-bit computer: 1500 baud. (Even the BBC only did 1200.) In terms of overall capability, value and performance, I firmly believe the Spectrum was the best 8-bit computer on the market in the UK.

    So: Commodore for home users who cared more about games than learning to program. Sinclair for the budget-conscious who wanted a great all-round machine that could tackle anything. And Acorn for the better-off people who wanted the best machine in terms of learning what computers are (or should be) all about, and/or who wanted to do advanced projects that interfaced with other things, including custom hardware and electronics projects. All three platforms were good general computers, of course, but the BBC was certainly the best designed overall. And oddly enough, although the C64 was the best for games on paper, I think it's fair to say that the Spectrum ended up with the best overall games catalogue, both for quantity and quality, in spite of the machine's apparent technical limitations. I do suspect that that has a lot to do with (a) its affordability and (b) its accessibility to amateur programmers, who went on to become really good.


    Anyway, the BBC was a bit too expensive for a lot of people to afford (and they tended to get Spectrums instead), whilst the Electron was a bit too little, a bit too late. Nevertheless, the BBC was so widespread in schools in particular that a lot of kids did indeed learn to program very well on it, and in fact many of the software releases that came out for it were written by school children who'd learnt on the machine itself. It was certainly a fantastic machine for learning about computers, not least because, on the one hand, it was so extremely well designed and, on the other hand, there was a vast amount of excellent technical documentation for it.

    The keyboard of the Electron is really good for that time and it even offers 80 characters per line (mode 0). I dreamed of this when working on the Spectrum 48k.

    Yes. Again, the Spectrum's screen was a brilliant compromise in lots of ways. Although it does seem on the small side now (32x24 characters, 256x192 pixels), it was a decent size for its day and big enough to be genuinely useful, and bigger than the compromised screens of other machines. The VIC-20 (which was a Spectrum competitor in its early days) had only 22 characters per line, and that really wasn't enough. The BBC Micro and Electron had graphical modes (especially the full 16-colour mode) that only displayed 20 characters per line, which I personally hated… but at least they also had restricted-colour 40-column modes and monochrome 80-column modes. (Plus, on the BBC, the very efficient 1K Teletext mode, which had some aspects in common with the Spectrum's screen.) The original Spectrum offered just the standard screen mode and no other alternatives (though, interestingly, the unsuccessful US Timex Sinclair variants did offer high-res modes as well… and these have survived in some later clones, such as – I think! – the Spectrum Next, which also offers various other new screen options, including much higher resolutions and far more colours, without the character-resolution restriction of old).

    So, the Electron certainly had some useful potential for word processing and other serious software, with its 80-column screen modes. Indeed, if you got the Plus 1 expansion, you could get cartridges containing VIEW and ViewSheet, the leading word processor and spreadsheet for the Acorn range. These really were superb for the time, and eventually developed into a combined, integrated program called PipeDream. This was launched on the Cambridge Z88 portable machine – a MOST interesting computer. It was the last machine that Sinclair produced, after he'd sold his name to Amstrad. (Otherwise I suppose it'd have been the Sinclair ZX88.) That was actually a really good machine and quite remarkable in many ways, because it was almost half Sinclair, half Acorn. Although it was Sinclair's product and (like the Spectrum) based on the Z80 processor, it had PipeDream as its integrated software – and PipeDream was the direct successor to View Professional, which was the all-in-one suite that VIEW, ViewSheet and ViewStore (database) etc. had developed into, and which was available on the BBC series. Moreover, after the Z88, PipeDream was launched for the Acorn 32-bit RISC OS machines and became a 'killer app' on that platform for many years. I think a Windows version may also have appeared; I'm not sure as I'm not an MS Windows fan. Anyway, PipeDream first appeared under that name on the Z88, which made the machine of considerable interest to Acorn users. Moreover, the Z88 also came with BBC BASIC built in! So, again, it seemed almost more like an Acorn machine than a Sinclair one.

    So thanks again for your great posts on this. I always enjoy reading them and take a lot from them on the subject. And who knows, maybe it really wasn't the last 8bit BBC acquisition I made. I find this topic exciting and interesting in any case. Many thanks for your great input! :thumbup:

    Well, thanks again for your kind words. I'm pleased to have made some kind of positive contribution, if only a minor one! :-) It's a pleasure to reminisce, actually. I know the relevance to Commodore is a bit tenuous at this point, but we're all simply fans of old computers at heart, aren't we?!


    Anyway, enjoy your Electron… and if you ever get the chance to acquire a BBC Master, jump at it! :-) If you like the Electron, you'll absolutely love the Master…

    I'm the proud owner of this beauty here:


    Hey, nice TARDIS!


    Its display stand isn't too bad either.

    And although this Master Turbo is 10 times faster and has a SD card adapter builtin, I'd still like an Electron for my collection because I quite like its design :) Also that big mean ULA that's running half of the Electron could be seen as a distant cousin to the ARM processor since it was the last thing that the team designed before moving on to processors...

    Master Turbo? Then you have the internal 65C102 second processor? That's what I had back on my original 1986 Master, too.

    I actually sold my Master system in the mid-1990s – with regret – because of insufficient space to keep it, and I really wasn't using it any more. But I always missed it and was sorry it was gone, and about a year ago I finally gave in and bought another one from eBay. I still need to set it up, because I'm even more short of space now than I was in the 90s! So I need to reorganise my office before I can find it a new home to live in. But especially after getting the truly wonderful BBC Model B and Master FPGA cores for my Spectrum Next (which work absolutely superbly and include lots of extras, like an optional second processor), I just knew I had to get another Master. I really regretted selling my original one.

    Since you have a Master Turbo, you'll know all about the Tube interface. Are you aware of the modern PiTube Direct add-on? It's really impressive. Basically you can attach a little board with a Raspberry Pi attached (a Pi Zero will do) to the Tube interface and then have access to your choice of any/all of the various Tube co-processor add-ons that used to be available – including the ARM development system. I haven't actually used mine yet (because, as I say, my new Master isn't yet set up), but I've got one waiting for as soon as I can find time to reorganise my office! :-) You could get one for your Master even if you have a Turbo board fitted internally, because the Master (unlike the Model B) offers a choice of internal and external Tube expansions, so you could keep your Turbo board fitted and still have a PiTube Direct neatly attached to the Tube connector in the 'interface well' under the machine. Mind you, of course the PiTube Direct would duplicate the functionality of the internal Turbo board, as well as offering all the other choices. Anyway, it's an amazing and great add-on, and very inexpensive. (I think the board costs about £20 or £25, and then you just need a Pi Zero for about another £5. When you consider the hundreds of pounds each of the Acorn 'cheesewedge' second processors cost in the 80s, to get all their capability in a tiny little add-on for about £30 today is remarkable.)


    Anyway, concerning the Electron: yes, it's a cute little machine. The Electron and the Master have definite design elements in common. On the Model B, the design was similar to its predecessor, the Atom, with a diagonal divider between the upper and lower halves of the case (running from the bottom of the case at the front to the top at the back). I was a bit sorry they got rid of that feature, as it was distinctive and stylish, but it didn't make sense if they needed to put ports on the sides, which they did with the Electron. Instead, the Electron had a 'normal' horizontal join towards the bottom of the case… and the Master followed suit. Also, the Electron had a pair of 'side caps' with smooth plastic, then a narrow channel, and then the main body of the machine (with the keyboard) was textured. So it was quite an unusual and nice mixture of mostly textured plastic but with smooth outer ends. And the Master continued that exact same approach, with texturing only on its lid between the side-caps. So, the Master continued to look very much like a BBC, but it took some nice design cues from the Electron too. Overall, I thought the Master was a fantastic design: both really robust (and pretty huge) and a great-looking computer. Nice to have a numeric keypad, too. I think it was easily the best of Acorn's 8-bit range.

    I agree about the Electron. It's the least powerful Acorn 8-bit (well, excluding the Atom, of course) and I certainly don't need one, but I'd still quite like one nevertheless. It's cute and has a lot of appeal. Moreover, I've never actually used one.

    If you haven't seen it, there's a VERY interesting YouTube video about the Electron, interviewing Acorn's Paul Fellows (whose name I've mentioned here before in the context of BBC BASIC – he was at one time Acorn's Head of Languages). It's a very interesting watch, and gives some good information about the background to the Electron, ARM etc.

    Electron? RISC-Y Business Or A Gateway To Modern Computers? (Paul Fellows interview)

    One thing this thread has definitely done: There is now an Acorn Electron here. :D


    I had a good opportunity to get one and grabbed it. The computer came with an introduction tape and a German manual.

    Congratulations, and well done! :-)

    The Electron's a neat and cute little machine, isn't it? I always felt a bit sorry for the Electron because it spent its time of relevance in the 1980s being sneered at by everyone, including Acorn users with BBCs. I don't think it achieved a lot for Acorn at the time. It was really intended to compete with the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, but unfortunately Acorn had production problems with it and missed the vitally important Christmas market, so it missed its intended launch period when it might have achieved good sales. After that, it was just too little, too late, sadly.

    It was seen as being just a 'sawn off' BBC with all the good bits removed – and really, that's pretty accurate. Although it shared a great deal in common with the BBC Micro, it was a LOT less powerful. It lacked the teletext support of the BBC (screen mode 7) and just had simple single-channel sound rather than the BBC's sound chip. Worse, Acorn had led its developers to believe that converting their BBC games for the Electron would be a quick and easy job. But when the machine finally arrived, that turned out not to be true at all. Although there was broad compatibility, the Electron was MUCH slower than the BBC and lacked the ability to do video tricks like hardware scrolling etc., which meant that when games were converted for it, they had to be substantially re-optimised in creative ways, and often had to lose features.

    So it wasn't really Acorn's finest effort, unfortunately. It was just a cheaper, compromised BBC in every way that mattered.

    Despite that, though, there remains a surprising level of affection for the Electron (it seems to be more fondly remembered than many other 80s machines), and actually it did have quite a lot of redeeming qualities, including a nice keyboard and – obviously – BBC BASIC. It was quite a long lived machine, and over time it did acquire a large catalogue of software (more than you might have expected).

    I must confess that I've never used a real Electron myself. I'd quite like to pick one up, actually. Especially with the Plus 1 interface (two cartridge ports like the BBC Master series, plus other interfaces) and Plus 3 (disk drive and ADFS filing system), it became a much more powerful system, and I like the modular way these interfaces build on to the basic machine and extend its length.

    The Electron had two unique features that I'm aware of, not found on any other 8-bit Acorn machine: 1. an optional BASIC keyword entry system (probably inspired by the ZX Spectrum, but – as I say – entirely optional), and 2. the little Acorn character graphic that appears after "Acorn Electron" when you turn it on! :-) Very cute.

    Anyway, congratulations again on finding the Electron. I think, at this point in history, we're actually better positioned to see what a nice little machine it was than we were at the time of its launch, when it just looked uncompetitive against the Spectrum. But still, if you do ever want to get the cream of the crop in terms of Acorn 8-bit machines, the Master 128 is the one to acquire. That was a fantastic machine… and today, there are many modern peripherals that you can get for it cheaply, which we could only dream about back in the 80s. (E.g. there's the VideoNuLA replacement ULA that gives it a huge colour palette and new screen modes… and the PiTube Direct, which uses a cheap Raspberry Pi to give you ALL the optional second processors – Z80, 65C102, 68000, ARM1 etc… – that you could buy expensively and fit to the Tube interface.) The 8-bit Acorn world is actually thriving, so there's lots to explore if you get interested.

    Snoopy and adtbm: thanks very much for your responses – very helpful, and much appreciated.

    That's Gideon, Yes theoretically the 1541UII+ should work, but it is not supported yet.

    It is on our todo list to finalize the cartridge port.

    For the time being you can use the SD2IEC or a PI1541 to be able to use D64 images.

    Yes, Gideon. I must say, I like the sound of his Ultimate II+ cartridge: it seems to be an excellent peripheral that does a lot. I'm very inclined to buy one, even if it won't work immediately on the MEGA65. I think it'll be a good thing to have for the future, assuming it'll work eventually once the cartridge port support is finalised.

    The C65 (and the MEGA65) never had a cassette port. iirc the Tape routine was removed from the C64 Kernel for the C65. So in principle it could be possible to re-implement the cassette support, the MEGA65 is prepared for it, but this is planned for the future, after the MEGA65 has been released.

    This is what I was afraid of: I was pretty sure that a cassette couldn't be added to the MEGA65, and if the hardware support is gone, I feared the software support might be gone too… as, evidently, it is.


    That's a pity, because if the MEGA65 is indeed supposed to be highly compatible with the C64, it ought (in theory) to be compatible with its tapes. Not being able to use physical tapes probably isn't a big deal, but it would certainly be nice if it were able to load tape images (.tap/.t64 – I'm not certain of the difference) as files on the SD card.


    This is one area in which I feel quite spoilt as a ZX Spectrum Next user… because the Next has excellent support for a wide range of file formats, and you can have them in a hierarchically organised structure on the SD card. Indeed, you can do that with the ZX-Uno core on the MEGA65 as well, of course; it's just that the Next does a bit more than the Uno, and has a nicer file browser. For example, there's support for disk images if you want them, though the Spectrum only got disks late in its life, so they're much less important than tapes. But with .tap tape files, you can open them and either load them 'authentically' (simulating the original experience) or load them instantly into memory. As for .tzx tape format, which is an archival format designed for emulators, if you have the optional Raspberry Pi fitted, you can pipe .tzx files over to the Pi and have it play them back through the Spectrum's audio circuitry so that it's exactly like physically playing in a tape (though you can accelerate it up to 28MHz for super-fast loading).


    I mention this simply for contrast, because when I first got my MEGA65 DevKit, I was a little surprised that it didn't have more inbuilt support for loading image files. Indeed, given my limited knowledge of Commodore hardware, I've been a little surprised by the extent to which it seems encumbered with some not always terribly well designed storage peripherals. I was aware that the Commodore machines had a relatively slow tape interface (this stands in contrast to the Spectrum's tape handling, which – despite its negative reputation – was actually the fastest and most reliable of any 8-bit system) – but I hadn't known that support for it had been removed from some machines. The extreme slowness of the 1541 disk drive is well known, of course, but I hadn't realised that there were mutual incompatible disk drives that each require their own image file format. And I haven't yet got to the bottom of what the Epyx Fastloader actually does.

    Anyway, it's just interesting to see how different systems handled different things. My favourite 8-bit system in terms of storage is still Acorn (BBC): its cassette system wasn't as fast and reliable as the Spectrum's but it was still very good, and was supported on all the 8-bit machines. And its disk drive support was superb: pretty much standard from the earliest days and it worked brilliantly; you just bought your choice of drive(s) from any of multiple manufacturers, the disks were all compatible, you had a choice of filing system, and the disks were extremely fast and efficient. Great system.

    So, mass storage seems to be an area in which Commodore could have done rather better than it did. Still, I suppose it makes life more interesting! :-)

    As far as the MEGA65 is concerned, it would be really nice if, over the long term, it could gain support for loading all the various common image formats (i.e. .d64, .d81, .t64, .tap; any others…?) off its internal SD cards – and allow them to be organised in hierarchical folders, as can be done on Spectrum machines with SD cards.


    Anyway, thanks for the answers. This is all very interesting and useful to know.

    ,Hi all,


    A few weeks ago (in another thread) I enquired about compatibility of the Pi1541 & Epyx Fastload cartridge with the MEGA65, as I thought it'd be a good idea to get such a thing to make access to existing software easier.


    However, for various reasons I haven't yet got one. This is partly because of availability: I want one in a plastic case, and they're currently unavailable, with the only options seemingly being bare circuit boards.


    In the meantime, I've also discovered the existence of the Ultimate II+ cartridge. Although it's a lot more expensive than the Pi1541 options, it appears to be a really good product. It comes in a nice plastic cartridge case and appears to do all that I want, and a great deal more too. I've a good mind to get myself one, as it seems like a very futureproof option, even if I don't need all its facilities.


    Anyway, it again leaves me a with a couple of questions…


    1. Will the Ultimate II+ cartridge work OK in the MEGA65, at least in C64 mode? I appreciate that there may be some features that won't work, but I'm primarily interested in it as a 1541 drive emulator. I've been in touch with the guy who designed the Ultimate II+ and he believes it will work OK, but he doesn't have direct experience of the MEGA65, so it'd be useful to know if anyone has any experience, and/or whether there are any problems I should know about. Again, the Ultimate II+ does a great deal and I won't need all of its facilities, but I'd like to use the 1541 drive emulation at the very least, and I'd like to be sure that attempting to use the Ultimate II+ with my MEGA65 won't do any damage to my MEGA65.


    2. The Ultimate II+ offers some form of tape compatibility, and this raises a whole new area of uncertainty! The only time I've used tapes with a Commodore machine, personally, was on the very first computer I ever used, a PET 2001 Series with inbuilt tape drive. As far as I know, the MEGA65 doesn't even have a port to connect a physical tape drive. Is that right? As I understand it, the tape drive needs its own dedicated port and doesn't use the serial port that other peripherals (like the 1541, I think) use. Is that correct? Or is there some way that I'm unaware of to connect a Commodore tape drive to a MEGA65?


    3. If it's true that the MEGA65 can't interface to a cassette drive, does it still contain the necessary software support to load tapes? I.e. the Ultimate II+ also contains a tape emulator, and can therefore play .tap/.t64 files into the machine as though it were loading from tape. Would this work on the MEGA65 (even if only in C64 mode)?


    Point 2 isn't very important to me as I don't particularly wish to connect a physical cassette drive to the MEGA65. However, the ability to load virtual tapes (point 3) would be desirable.


    Sorry for the 'noob' questions, but my experience of Commodore hardware is pretty limited, so matters of cartridges, tapes etc. are completely outside my direct experience.


    Thanks!

    Maybe it's not the badest solution, that noone knows who hold the rights? So noone can sue anyone. :D

    Well, certainly I think that the chances of getting into trouble over a BBC BASIC port for the MEGA65 are essentially zero. :-) But clarity and explicit permission would be nice, and would allow us to do what was originally wanted, i.e. to built it in by default. And I see that as being the only way of really getting significant take-up, really. As an optional extra installation, I'm afraid it just won't get the same level of interest.

    After some research and mails it seems that most propably the current owner of the BBC BASIC (at least version 2) is a company named "CommScope". And also most propably they don't know about having the rights. ;)

    Well, this is interesting, but I'm far from convinced that it's the correct conclusion.


    The point is that we already know that Pace Micro Technology (later just Pace) owned such ex-Acorn items as the Electron ROMs etc. because it was Pace that bought most of the Acorn properties, as discussed in my recent long post about where things ended up.


    In addition, as also stated in that previous posting, RISC OS Developments Ltd was set up in 2016 and itself acquired all the former Acorn properties from Pace. Well, I say "all"'; I don't with 100% certainty that it was "all" of the ex-Acorn properties, because even RISC OS Developments Ltd doesn't currently know that! :-) Clearly they've inherited a mountain of paperwork and haven't had time to go through all of it in detail. Certainly, it includes all the properties relating to RISC OS and other 32-bit ARM-based developments, because that's what RISC OS Developments Ltd is actively interested it.


    However, to the best of my knowledge and understanding, RISC OS Developments Ltd acquired ALL of Pace's former Acorn properties in 2016. And if that's the case, then RODLtd will certainly have acquired those 8-bit rights too (the Electron ROMs and BBC BASIC II). So this is actually good news. The bad news is that actual evidence still needs to be unearthed.


    I will contact Andrew (at RODLtd) again to see if any further light can be shed on this. But it seems to me that EITHER CommScope has indeed ended up with the rights in question (and doesn't know about them), as you say – though that seems unlikely to me – OR the rights have ended up with RISC OS Developments Ltd… which would be much better news, because then they would belong to a central member of the Acorn community who actually cares about them.


    I hope it might prove possible to actually get to the bottom of this eventually.

    Which Dave? David Banks?

    Yes, David Banks!

    Thought so. He's the person who disassembled that version – I think, before the official source for an earlier version of BASIC IV was released on Github.

    He's also the author of the two superb BBC cores (Model B and Master 128, both with second processors etc.) for the Spectrum Next. I tried very hard to get him to port these cores to the MEGA65, but was unable to persuade him, sadly. I really wish he'd do it; the MEGA65 would be a much better machine to run these BBC cores because it has a bigger and better keyboard than the Spectrum Next; it'd be far more usable with a lot of BBC software. (Plus, the presence of the 3.5" floppy drive would mean the MEGA65 would be a superb machine for running a prospective Master Compact core. There's no such thing yet, but it shouldn't be hard to adapt from the Master 128 core, and the MEGA65 would be ideal for using it.)


    And he's also responsible for many other modern BBC projects, including PiTube Direct (use a Raspberry Pi to emulate virtually all the various BBC Tube second processors in a BBC model B or Master), MMFS (the SD card filing system) and many other things. He's an amazing chap. Today's 8-bit BBC platform wouldn't be half as interesting as it is if it weren't for him and all the clever extensions he's devised, both in software and hardware.

    Many, many thanks for your again very detailed answer and all your efforts with it and your answering of my probably annoying questions. You are a very great help in this issue! :thumbup:

    It's been a pleasure. My only regret is that it hasn't been possible to get a definitive statement about the ownership of BBC BASIC. It's frustrating to be so close and yet unable to proceed as desired!

    You had with these people mail contact and you have informed them that there are considerations to port the BBC BASIC (6502) on the MEGA65? And they all did not contradict that?


    So at least in the hobby area here would not be feared of legal issues in your opinion?

    Yes, I absolutely believe that the people in question are fully aware of the desire to port BBC BASIC IV to the MEGA65 and not have any kind of problem with it.


    I didn't quote Sophie Wilson's reply in full before partly because it contains a lot of detail that isn't really relevant, and it also doesn't actually say anything terribly useful in itself. But, to put your mind at rest, I'll quote it in full now.


    I had approached her, explaining what the MEGA65 is (and giving a link to the mega65.org site for further information) and that an improved version of BASIC is needed for it. I stressed both the desire to port BBC BASIC to it and the fact that the whole project is being created as open source. Here's the relevant section of my email:

    Quote from my email to Sophie Wilson
    One of the possibilities that's been raised is the idea of porting BBC BASIC to the [MEGA65]. The problem is legal rather than technical. The MEGA65 is being created as an open source project, and the team behind it is very keen that all of its components can be released freely without legal entanglements. Unfortunately, given what happened to Acorn in the end, no-one seems to know definitively who owns BBC BASIC (or its 8-bit 6502 incarnations in particular), and without clarity on this matter, the MEGA65 people don't feel they can proceed further. Their alternative would be to write a new version of BASIC from scratch; but this would obviously be both a mammoth undertaking and highly undesirable in comparison with adopting such a well established and highly regarded existing version as BBC BASIC.

    I soon received the following reply. NB It seems that Sophie slightly misunderstood my point about writing a new BASIC for the MEGA65. When I referred to "a mammoth undertaking", I meant that it would be a huge job to design a completely new version of BASIC from scratch, not least because of all the potential need for testing and bug-fixing in a newly specified language. Sophie, in her reply, seems to have assumed I mean that rewriting BBC BASIC from scratch for the new machine would be a mammoth undertaking, and contradicts me! But that minor detail is unimportant, of course. What's clear is that (a) I have explained exactly what the MEGA65 team's interest in BBC BASIC is, and (b) not only does she not raise any objections, but she offers a set of BBC BASIC benchmarks and what can be interpreted as encouragement to write a new port of the language for the machine.


    Here's Sophie's reply in full (apologies for the poor formatting of the benchmarks; that's how they arrived via email):

    NB Two small points in relation to this:


    1. Sophie refers to writing BBC BASIC II from scratch. I didn't actually refer to BASIC II; I simply referred to the 6502 version of BBC BASIC, and as we know, it's actually BASIC IV whose source has been released online. I don't think this is significant; Sophie is probably simply thinking of the version of BASIC on the BBC Micro. BASIC IV is only slightly advanced over BASIC II, and Sophie is certainly aware of its source code release on Github.


    2. Much more recently, once I'd got as far as I could with my investigations, I emailed Sophie again to bring her up to date, simply as a courtesy. As well as summarising my findings, with regard to the MEGA65 I said that without an explicit open source licence from the rights holder, the team unfortunately felt unable to proceed with the plan as envisaged, i.e. to build BBC BASIC into the MEGA65 as a core component – though it may well still prove possible to release a port as a free extra third party component for optional install. I also said that there was no need for her to respond to my email unless she had anything further to add (such as, for example, any further information that may have come to light about the copyright). I have not heard back from her in response to this email, which can only mean that (a) she has no objections to its contents and (b) she has nothing further to add with regard to the copyright situation.


    Anyway, the bottom line that I believe I was very clear in explaining what was wanted and why, and not only did Sophie not object, but she offered what information she could, together with benchmarks and what might be interpreted as encouragement to simply port the language to the new machine from scratch.


    The other party that might conceivably own 6502 BBC BASIC is RISC OS Developments Ltd; and, as I say, I've known Andrew Rawnsley, the person who now runs that company, for well over 25 years (we've worked for each other and met in person on many occasions). I think I can say with absolute certainty that he wouldn't cause any trouble for the MEGA65 project – and he doesn't have a business interest in the 6502 version of BBC BASIC in any case. Indeed, he has made it quite clear that he'd be willing to give us a licence to the ARM version of BBC BASIC if that were helpful. Again, quoting relevant parts from his fairly extensive email…

    So, there you have it. I hope this is enough to put your mind at rest. As Andrew says, there's no-one to object to your use of BBC BASIC given that Sophie appears comfortable with it, and if you need a licence to BBC BASIC V you can have one. The only area of unclarity is the matter of wanting a licence to, specifically, a version of BBC BASIC earlier than V.


    Not being a legal person, I don't know why it can't be possible to obtain a licence to BBC BASIC generally (i.e. the current version, which is both version V and version VI) and apply it to a new MEGA65 implementation that just happens to implement an incomplete version of the language that matches the BASIC IV feature spec. I can't really see any great problem with that, especially since everyone with the slightest interest in the matter has given their blessing. But then, I have no legal expertise.


    Anyway, I hope that helps.

    Apologies – it seems that the link to the BASIC VI Reference Manual in my last post is broken, and I can't find a way to edit it. So here (I hope!) is the correct link: https://www.4corn.co.uk/archiv…eference%20Manual-opt.pdf


    The PDF is very useful (as everslick notes, it has a good appendix on BBC BASIC history). It's just a shame that it's not a better quality PDF. The scan is overexposed, so all the pale grey page decorations have vanished completely and the text is relatively hard to read. Also, my own physical copy of this exact same 1992 edition also includes a four-page addendum from 1995, which isn't present in the PDF.


    Anyway, further to this PDF, you may like to know that the book has continued to be developed and is still available to buy as a hard copy, with new information that brings it up to date for the version included with RISC OS 5.2x. It's available to purchase from RISC OS Open Ltd here:

    https://www.riscosopen.org/content/sales/bbc-basic-reference


    Unfortunately there's no PDF version that I can find (free or otherwise). And BBC BASIC continues to be developed; according to the RISC OS roadmap, BBC BASIC is due to be extended to include support for 64-bit integers and dynamic memory allocation, among other new features. So the book will probably be updated again in due course…


    Anyway, if you do want definitive printed information, this book is going to be the best source available.

    Have you ever heard or read something about such a book by chance? Does such a book exist for BASIC 4.32 ROM? Unfortunately, I haven't had any success with my search so far. :(

    Sorry; I'm afraid I'm not aware of such a book for BASIC IV specifically.


    These ROM-analysis books were probably an early phenomenon. Once the excitement and newness of BBC BASIC on the BBC Micro had worn off, I don't suppose it would have been financially viable to create new books of this style for such minor new variants as BASIC IV. I'm not even aware of this style of book for BASIC V on the Archimedes, I'm afraid; only a few more simple tutorial-style books in how to program with the language.


    If you need details about the syntax or behaviour of later commands, you might be able to find something useful in Acorn's BASIC VI Reference Manual. Obviously there'll be a lot there that isn't relevant, but BBC BASIC continued to be backwards compatible with earlier versions, so it might fill in an occasional gap. I found a PDF here: BBC BASIC VI Reference Manual.


    Otherwise, the best suggestion I can offer is simply that you ask questions on the StarDot.org.uk forums. There are many users there with excellent technical knowledge, who would be able to answer most questions, I think. E.g. Richard Russell has been known to answer questions there about BBC BASIC (and he's certainly one of the main experts), but there are lots of other really well informed people there.

    Then why not to finish and extend the current Open ROMs BASIC instead?

    I'm by no means saying that this shouldn't be done. Any version of BASIC that comes with the machine should be complete in itself, and hopefully at least adequate for use.


    However, the appeal of BBC BASIC would be, in particular, its quality (it's really the best available implementation of BASIC by a wide margin), its widespread support on multiple platforms, and its inline assembler.

    I believe few active developers could come with a reasonable BASIC in a reasonable time. BTW. When I’ve started my work, I didn’t even remember how to compare two values in 6502 assembly :)

    I think that's right. See my other recent comment about NextBASIC on the Spectrum Next, which is a much-enhanced version of Sinclair BASIC for the Spectrum Next, A highly capable sole developer has been working on this to enhance it as a language and to add features to support the Next's capabilities. As a piece of work in itself it's pretty remarkable: he's done a great job. However, (a) it's taken him upwards of four years, and it still isn't finished yet, and (b) there have been lots of bugs and subtle oversights to discover and fix along the way – all with the support of a much bigger user community than appears to exist on the MEGA65.


    In theory, extending the existing BASIC to make it even competent compared with BBC BASIC would be a big job, and even if it were completed in reasonable time, you'd end up with something that required a great deal of use before the bugs were even found, let alone fixed. In the end, you'd probably end up with something that takes at least as much effort to implement as would porting BBC BASIC, but it'd be almost certainly be inferior (simply because BBC BASIC is so good and so mature), plus it would be entirely new, with no user software support for it and doubtless countless bugs to discover and iron out.


    This is why I find this whole situation so frustrating. I can see nothing that really stops us from doing what we want to do, except on a purely theoretical (but definitely not practical) level… and the alternatives would all produce a markedly inferior result for considerably more effort.


    Anyway. I've said what I had to say, so I'll shut up now! But I'd love to find a way forward with BBC BASIC. If there's anything further I can do to help with this, please let me know.

    So it takes very good reasons for someone to start porting the BASIC V to the MEGA65. This is really a lot more effort compared to porting the BBC BASIC (6502).

    Yes… I was really proposing specifically the idea of:

    • First porting BASIC IV from the available 6502 sources;
    • Then, using the ARM sources to add in at least some of the useful new features of BASIC V.

    I know it'd still be a lot more work, but it might potentially be a lot less work than starting from scratch. Besides, you might not necessarily have to deal with ALL the difference; maybe just the most useful additions, like CASE … OF … WHEN … OTHERWISE … ENDCASE structures and WHILE … ENDWHILE loops. And maybe the extra binary operators etc.


    Obviously it's easy for me to sit here and propose that, without knowing the technical details. As I say, it was just an idea that might allow the project to go ahead, and an enquiry as to whether it would be even vaguely feasible. I was specifically proposing to enhance a working BASIC IV conversion with new BASIC V features on the basis that it would be much less work than converting BASIC V from scratch. But I suppose even that may not be meaningfully less work.


    As for creating a new version of BASIC from scratch… it still seems to me that that would be on another level of increased effort and reduced desirability. Aside from having to define a new version of the language yourself, there's a whole new dimension of testing involved, and ensuring every conceivable aspect works as it should – all without the benefit of any programs that have already been written in the new version of BASIC.

    As an aside, on the Spectrum Next, the new NextBASIC is a really MASSIVELY enhanced version of Sinclair BASIC: it's backwards compatible, but the new version has an enormous number of new language features and new commands to take advantage of the new facilities of the machine. It's a mammoth accomplishment by a single very talented programmer, working over several years. And he's done a terrific job, and he's an exceptionally reliable coder who produces good, solid work. Even so, there's been an endless stream of minor bugs and small oversights to contend with over the life of the project. NextBASIC continues to change and occasionally becomes slightly incompatible with existing software; it's still a bit of a moving target, even now. And that's with a relatively huge community of active Spectrum Next developers behind the project and a user base that's being strongly encouraged to write new programs in NextBASIC. The MEGA65 doesn't appear to have an equivalent body of enthusiastic, hobby programmer users behind it, ready to really push a new version of BASIC and find its bugs.


    Any 'new' (or greatly enhanced) version of BASIC is likely to have these teething troubles, and the fewer people there are to test it and push it, the more serious they will be, in a sense. That's a whole aspect you don't have if you're porting BBC BASIC. Obviously it still needs careful testing, but the language definition is long established and its behaviours known, and there are much greater testing opportunities, including the ability to see how it behaves on other platforms.