80 Femtocomputing

Novoober 1984 issue

Copyright © 1982 by Roger M. Wilcox. All rights reserved.

The original draft was written on my dad's mechanical typewriter, accompanied by hand-drawn illustrations — such as they were. Every image you see was scanned in from the original, although some pages suffered water damage over the years. All non-image text was transcribed in exactly the format it originally appeared. The lack of an = key on the original mechanical typewriter means all = signs were originally written in by hand. All spellings, punctuation, capitalizations, etc. are as in the original.

You have been warned.

80 Femtocomputing, Novoober 1984 cover
80 Contents

          3. 80-REMarks - Non-existing mail about our second issue

          6. MOVIE REVIEW - See if you can guess this one.

         10. CHROMATES - Twenty-three new formulas for Chromium Dioxide

         12. TRSTOS 87.4 - Tape users get equal time!

         15. SLODOUN - A new utility for disk users who want to get the

                easy-to-handle 500 baud capability of tape systems.

         20. SOWING MACHINE - The greatest simulator since Mars Rover


         22. DATELINE: ASTEROID ALPHA - News from the chrome-and-plastic


         26. NEWS FROM POKER TABLE SOFTWARE, INC. -- by David Bush again.


                NORTH commands.

         31. A FAREWELL TO HARMS - Yes, friends, we do have a last page!

                             COMING NEXT MONTH:

                         those nasty little "five days"

                          --- this space reserved for MEM SIZE ---


                               BIG HIVE SOFTWARE

                                by Bill Hoagie

             In response to the current influx of cutesy in the market

          today, Bill Hoagie and Jeff Con-you have decided to FIGHT

          BACK with ---

                           "GARY COLEMAN ATTACK"

             Thrill to the sound of the dying spreader of cute-pollu-

          tion as he cries, "What you talkin' about, dad?!" Watch the

          low-res brains fly out of his head as you erase that trans-

          fixed smile from his face! But watch out! If you get too good,

          li'l Gary will yell for his dad, and then you're in big

          trouble! (No, his dad does not look like a flagship!!)

             Comes with VOICE sound effects such as, "How can you resist

          a smile like this?", along with responses such as, "Like

          this!! POW!" It's joystick compatible, but only if you know

          how to go in and change the PEEK locations so they will read

          off of the joystick. The tape version even saves the high

          score for later use! (Whatever the later use might be...)

             So get "GARY COLEMAN ATTACK!" It's one program that puts

          "cute" in its place!

          PRICE: $15.95 for one copy, or $4.95 for five copies (we'd

             just love to get them off of our hands!

                               Big Hive Software

                             PO Box: about a foot cube

                              Van Doren, CA 4A00H

                             (213)-555-HINT (look at the first 3 digits

                                             and dial them...)



          Dear 80-femto:

             On your first two issues, you had this beautiful cover

          depicting the words, "80-Femtocomputing." Now, you have this

          boring, block-lettered cover saying, "80-Femto." I'd like to

          know what happened.

                                      --- Concerned

          Dear Concerned:

             We here at 80-Femto have a tradition. It's called, "Go

          for whatever is cheapest." So what if our cover looks weird

          and boring? It helps keep it separate from our first two


          Dear 80-Finkto:

             You dirty rat! That's the second time you've sent me an

          issue without a last page! So far, I've missed the secret to

          immortality and how to telekinese objects by thought! If you

          do that once more, you're gonna receive that famous "letter-

          bomb" you talked about in your first two issues!

                                       --- Peeved

          Dear Peeve Brain:

             Don't worry. This issue is 100% guaranteed to have a last

          page. If your copy doesn't have one, just go to the place you

          bought it from, show the clerk the bad copy, and listen to

          him say, "We sell all magazines as is!"

             By the way, I'm glad you aren't sending any of those clair-

          voyant letters like our friend Concerned did!



          Dear 80-Femto:

             I really enjoyed running your "dice simulator" program.

          I've always needed a program that would generate a random

          number from one to six, and now I have one! Unfortunately,

          it had a few bugs in it, and I have corrected them. Viz:


             The above one-liner will do the job faster and more eff-

          iciently than the program you had. Thanks again!

                                        --- Corrector

             The writer of the above letter was put in a mental insti-

          tution just six short hours after we received the letter. We

          don't know how or why he got there.

             And if you'll believe that, you'll also believe that

          Malcom X was a lifetime member of the Ku Klux Klan!

           Deaw 80-Femtow:

             What's 2 and 2?

                                      --- Me

          Dear Fellow Five-Year-Old:

             2 and 2 is 2. Try typing in, "PRINT 2 AND 2," and see if

          you don't get that!



             In response to the movie, "TRON," TRaSh-80 users have at

          last made the movie:

             Thrill to the continuing advertures of Flynn as he tries

          to break ten thousand points at light-cycles!

             "Definitely the worst movie I've ever seen!"

                                     --- People's Star Enquirer

             "It really turned me off!"

                                     --- Jeff Boeing, Tracer

             "Really not all that bad, considering TRaSh-80 graphics."

                                     --- 80-Femtocomputing

             "What's 2 and 2?"

                                     --- Me


                               MOVIE REVIEW

             I'll give you one guess as to which movie we're reviewing.

          Wrong! We're reviewing "TROFF," the freshest and most inno-

          vative computer movie ever made since "You and your Eniac."

          In this movie, Flynn, our TRON hero, decides to try his

          luck at the new TRON video game being marketed by Midway.

          Finding the game very similar to the experience he had in

          the computer, he tries to bring Tron himself out of the com-

          puter and into the real world by means of the same laser the

          M.C.P. used on him.

             However, Tron is not very used to the real world, although

          Flynn did give him some idea of what the world outside would

          be like. The first thing Tron does is enter himself in a

          frisbee tournament. He fails miserably, since he thought the

          objective was to throw the frisbee at the judges, and not

          by them. He did, however, manage to blow a few of them up.

             The next thing he does is learn how to program a TRaSh-80

          by using the Level 1 manual. However, Tron can't read any

          English; the only language he was ever taught was binary.

          So, Flynn returns once more to the matter-creating laser

          and brings Bit into the real world to help him read.

             However, on the way back to Radio Flak, Bit wanders off

          and Flynn loses him in a polyhedra dice store. Realizing that

          he must get Bit returned to the computer, or destroyed, before

          someone buys him and uses him in a role-playing game, Flynn

          returns to the laser one last time to bring the Tank out

          of the computer. In the process of doing this, though, he

          ends up bringing in a Space Paranoid along with the tank.

          The Paranoid  leaves the building and begins wreaking havok

          on the city, and Flynn knows that he must stop him with the

                               Movie Review

          tank before he goes out to get rid of Bit.

             Meanwhile, Tron is getting tired of waiting for Flynn

          to arrive with Bit, so he begins to look around the Radio

          Flak store. While looking at a six-inch high likeness of

          himself, he bumps into Alan, his user. The two warmly

          embrace each other, having never seen one another before,

          and they go off to Silicon Valley and live happily ever


             Flynn, however, is still having problems. He found Bit

          - or rather, Bit found him - and now they're in the tank

          together trying to locate the fast-moving Space Paranoid.

          Finally, after playing twenty questions with Bit, Flynn

          discovers exactly the whereabouts of the Paranoid: inside a


             This then evolves into a wild chase scene, with the

          Paranoid and the tank crashing through the isles and sending

          various shoppers flying through windows. Finally, the chase

          leads out of the store and through the city, eventually

          ending up in - place of places - the Encom building with

          the matter-creating laser. Tripping a secret access code,

          the Paranoid sends the tank and its contents back into the

          computer via the laser. The movie ends with Flynn, Bit, and

          the tank all being De-Resed utterly by the new M.C.P. that

          Flynn himself developed to replace the old one, while the

          Paranoid is still roaming free and Tron and Alan are still

          living happily ever after.

             Probably the worst thing about this movie was the fact

          that all of the pictures of Bit, the Space Paranoid, and

          the Tank were done on a TRaSh-80. The movie itself is really

          not all that bad, considering TRaSh-80 graphics. Other than

          that, the theatre's popcorn was awful. █


                        AANT EATER SOFTWARE

          KLINGON ATTACK: Level II plus             16 K minus
                          Model I plus              English language

             The Klingon empire has taken over the federation, thanks

          to your lack of skill at Another Star-Trak Game. Armed only

          with a hand phaser set on "annoy," you must subdue the

          entire Klingon main fleet. You find a transporter, beam

          aboard one of their battle cruisers, and then it's battle

          time! Quickly, you knock out your first klingon soldier by

          a surprise attack from the rear, and steal his phaser, which

          has a few more settings than your own. And just think, you

          only have about 55,678 Klingons to go!

             PRICE: $ 55,678 (or your old hand phaser)


          DRAGON SEARCH: only for tape because of this issue

             It's time for another D & D swords & sorcery type adven-

          ture that doesn't have any real sorcery and where all the

          swords that you find are either foils or are so rusted over

          that the slightest touch causes them to crumble. Armed only

          with your wits, and that certainly isn't much, you must

          destroy the nasty dragon Sū-ba-rū. Will you be able to kill

          him before sunset, or will you have to wait another day to

          see if you can kill him before sunset again?

             PRICE: twenty gold pieces (g.p.)

          ASTRO BLASTER: Level I & up                 4 K tape
                         Model I & up                 machine language

          Forget it. You don't really want this program.



          Here we go:

             CrO2     Cr2O7    uh...uh...let's see...I promised 23

          new formulas...uh...uh...that's two, right?...uh...how

          about...naw, already done that....uh...oh, forget it!

          CrO2      CrO2       CrO2      CrO2       CrO2       CrO2

          CrO2      CrO2       CrO2      CrO2       CrO2       CrO2

          CrO2      CrO2       CrO2      CrO2       CrO2       CrO2

          CrO2      CrO2       CrO2

             There! That's twenty-one, plus two at the top, makes

          twenty-three! Whew!

             Now for what I really wanted to say:

             Get new "Horizontal Line" for your TRaSh-80! Why spend

          costly time copying this gem of a program from your Level

          1 manual? It comes with loading instructions and directions

          on how to move the line around, along with how to lengthen

          it and shorten it. All-BASIC, instead of that icky machine

          language that runs much too fast anyway. Uses the TRaSh-80's

          brilliant, resonant low-res black-and-white graphics so the

          line really stands out! With sound, but only if you listen

          to the output port after typing in CSAVE.

                     │                      │
                     │                      │   Actual-size picture
                     │                      │
                     │                      │   of a chromate molecule
                     │                      │               │
                     │                      │   ◄───────────┘
                     │                      │
                     │                      │
                     │                      │
                     │                      │


                             INSTANTANEOUS SOFTWARE

          HARDWARE MANAGER: Extended BASIC          65 K (tape of course)
                            Color Computer          Mind Language

             Tired of all that stupid Color Computer hardware coming

          out for your TRaSh-80 Color? Like stringy floppies (barf me

          out!) and 64 K RAM expansions (gag me with a  (fill in) !)

          and - horror of horrors - disk drives (fer certain!)!!!!!!!

          Well, then you need the new Color Computer version of the

          late, great, Hardware Manager! This program tells you exactly

          were to find that little needed hardware, and also tells

          you where to tell the salesperson to put it. It also comes

          with a little modification that lets you run TRSTOS 87.4

          (or even TRSDOS 87.4) so that you don't need any hardware!

          And if that isn't enough, the program draws out to the screen,

          in large, friendly letters, "DON'T PANIC DUMP!" With sound!

             PRICE: Er...well...uh...it really is a nice program!


             This is what Instantaneous Software is famous for! We

          have nothing but hardware modifications, and programs des-

          igned to run on them. And now, we're giving you the same

          bull feathers again! But this time, we've added a twist,

          because you have no idea exactly what this particular hard-

          ware modification is! Could be a disk drive (yecch), could

          be a memory expansion, could be a line printer, could even

          be a sledge hammer to take care of that nasty keyboard bounce.

          Remember our motto: Take a chance with us, if you can rig

          your RND command in your favor!

             PRICE: Also unknown! (Surprise!)

          This advertizement continued next page...same time...same...


                        Instantaneous Software


             Made by John M. Ator so that he could popularize his

          own name. This game program, playable only if you have 64

          K, of course, puts you in an elevator with a joystick con-

          trol, viewscreen, weapons system, and jammed door. You

          must PENETRATE an enemy installation, STIMULATE their incre-

          dibly sexy member-of-the-opposite-sex high leader, and then

          SIMULATE reproduction so that you can break off the royal

          strain, which by this time has developed hemophilia all over

          the place. Then, of course, you have to open the elevator

          door, which is where your strength, agility, and hand-eye

          coordination really come in, because you only have two min-

          utes to open it before the muzak drives you certifiably

          insane. With sound effects (like "The Sound of Muzak").

             PRICE: Yeah big...

                          Instantaneous Software

                     (not the same as "William's")

                          1313 13th street

                       Los Angeles, Denmark 000-1

                      1-(555)-678-9101112 (give or take a digit)


                             TRSTOS 87.4

             "If you can't say something nice, then say something


             The above line was written by an ancient Latvian philos-

          opher in the year 456 B.C.E. (We could tell - it was marked

          as such). Notice something about the way it's structured?

          I don't know about you, but since this is a computer maga-

          zine, it looks like an IF-THEN statement in BASIC to me. You

          see? Even in the ancient days of philosophical Latvia, they

          used computer languages. So there. Nyaah!

             By now many of you out there are probably asking, "Why

          is this nitwit talking about an ancient Latvian twerp when

          this article is about TRSTOS 87.4?" Well, I'll tell ya:


             Anywho, it seems that the TRaSh-80 company has come thr-

          ough once again with this absolute finale ultimate operating

          system permutation. Even though this is their very first (and

          hopefully last) Tape Operating System (TOS for the thick

          heads out there), they persisted in calling it "Version 87.4"

          in honor of the dictatorial DOS counterpart they created.

          The system itself lives up to the expectations of all who

          have tried TRSDOS 87.4 and used it to take over alien worlds.

             All the familiar commands are here (GET, PUT, OPEN,CLOSE,

          KILL, GO NORTH, etc.), and the system impliments them in

          exactly the same way that TRSDOS 87.4 does. The only limi-

          tation seems to be the operating speed. It takes well over

          a full minute to load the TOS in from tape, even at Sorta

          High baud (1217½ bits/sec). If you want to use tape BASIC

          (see the article coming up), that takes another one minute,


                              TRSTOS 87.4

             thirty-three-and-a-third seconds of loading time. And

          then the fun part: memory restrictions!

             Like most versions of DOS (or TOS), TRSTOS 87.4 takes up

          a little over 8 K of RAM. When implimenting tape BASIC on

          top of this, the free memory (especially in non-expanded

          systems) is severely limited. I loaded both into my 16 K

          system, and found that it left me with two free bytes with

          which to do whatever I pleased.

             Still, it's nice to have a computer who talks like a HAL

          9000, knows your every thought, and sometimes demolishes

          entire star systems of its own volition. One nice advantage

          of a TOS over a DOS is that a TOS can never accidentally

          crash your tapes, especially when the tape drive is turned

          off. However, as you have probably guessed, TRSTOS 87.4 over-

          looks deactivated systems as simply having minor obstructions,

          turns them on, and proceeds uninhibited to charge boldly

          through at your whim and crash the tape anyway. One word of

          warning: do not use a tape recorder that can record in the

          fast-forward mode!

             TRSTOS 87.4 is fast, slow, efficient, stupid, intelligent,

          useless, and powerful. It has more adjectives going for it

          than a common noun. Just remember to keep it well fed and

          remain its friend. User-mean files oft times leave home and/

          or lease bombers to use on your property. █


                             ROOSKY SOFTWARE

          REVOLT! Level IV.V          57K or so (tape or safety pin)
                  Model II.V          Russian Language

             Tired of succumbing to the whims of capitalistic society,

          but think the communist nations have all got the wrong idea?

          Then Revolt! is for you! You probably read about this game

          in the previous issue of 80-Femtocomputing, and got a bad

          impression of it. That's because you didn't read the 375

          pages of documentation (which look suspiciously like Marx's

          "The Communist Manifesto!")!

             You start out with x number of soldiers, y number of

          weapons, and z number of supplies. Don't know what these

          variables mean? Then read the documentation!

             It comes with a joystick option as well as the normal

          sentence-entry interpreter found in most adventures. Don't

          listen to those pansies in the White House! REVOLT!

             PRICE: 19.95 containers of Russian vodka (or yogurt)

                                Roosky Software

                         (not the same as "Williams")

                                 1917 Castro lane

                              San Dune, El Salvador

                           phone: 1-(213)-555-4A00H

          Ask about our special rates for members of the communist party!



             Since this issue is all pro-tape and anti-disk, the

          disk user out there by now are probably feeling pretty

          guilty about hogging all that baud to themselves. I mean,

          some of us just can't afford sixty thousand baud! And then

          you come down on us for being so slow! Hunh! Why, you oughta

          be boiled in crankcase oil, you dirty, no-good...ahem! Now,

          on with our story....

             If you disk users are feeling exceptionally guilty right

          now (which you should, you little bastard swords!), you're

          probably thinking to yourselves, "Gee whiz, how can I slow

          down my disk drive so that it goes at the same baud rate as

          tape?" Well, disk users, you came to the right article!

             Slodoun is actually quite a simple little program. Oper-

          ated from superzap or superduperzap or crapzap, the user

          simply inserts kilometer-long delay loops between the data

          input steps. The only problem with this seems to be that the

          disk is still operating at full speed, and therefore about

          99¼% of the data is missed. But  then again, who needs old

          data anyway? Just convert the disks to about sixtieth-den-

          sity, and you'll be able to keep up with the new-and-improved

          five hundred bit/sec baud rate. Either that, or get Aant

          Eater's new "Slodoun" for hardware!

             Aant Eater hard-and-soft ware is becoming so confident

          that Slodoun will catch on (either in software or hardware

          form) that they've begun to produce 1/60 density disk pro-

          grams. Their greatest hit so far is "Super Duper Hero," of

          which they've sold a monstrous two copies (and what with the

          big thing on pirating in this country, who knows how many

          people now own this program?). Below is an exerp from a



          typical game (nice way to seigue, eh?):

          NONAME: We must stop Captain Communist before he releases his

             goon platoon on the world!

          SUPERGUY: I'll stop him with my freeze breath!

          NONAME: You don't have any freeze breath.

          SUPERGUY: Why doesn't anybody tell me these things!

          ANNOUNCER: Sometimes, even your best friends won't tell you...

          CAPTAIN COMMUNIST: Shut up, capitalist swine!

          CAPT. COM'S ZAPGUN: Zap!

          ANNOUNCER: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!!!!!!!!

          ANNOUNCER'S BODY: Sizzle!

          SUPERGUY: Oh oh, he's just killed the announcer!

          NONAME: Good riddance!

          SPEEDY GONZALES: But señores, he iss getting away!

          NONAME: Well, don't just stand there like a lump of unstable

             molecules! Go get him!

          SPEEDY: Okay, I do that! Ándale, ándale, hija, hija!!

          SUPERGUY: I'll stop him with my super speed!

          NONAME: You don't have any super speed.

          SUPERGUY: Oh. Gee whiz, what do I have?

          NONAME: A chest a few kilometers wide and a set of perfect

             titanium teeth!

          SUPERGUY: Okay, then, I'll stop him with my super teeth!

          SPEEDY: No need, señor. I jave got heem.

          CAPT. COM: You fools! You can't possibly hope to stop me! My

             plan to destroy the world is perfect, and I won't deal

             with incompetents such as you!

          SPEEDY: But señor, in three seconds I jave run after you,

             caught you, tied you up, secured your goon platoon, and



             brought you back!

          CAPT. COM: But even as we speak, my arch friend Lex Badguy

             is on the other side of the Earth destroying it!

          NONAME: How?

          CAPT. COM: Don't ask me! He's the genius! I trust him; if

             he says he's gonna destroy the world, he'll do it.

          SUPERGUY: We've got to stop him!

          SPEEDY: Okay, I weel take you to heem!

             (The screen turns white and black, and the user is given

              a feeling of incredible speed)

          SPEEDY: Well, here we are!

          SUPERGUY: Wow, that was fast!

          NONAME: Too fast. Superguy, you just stepped in something.

          SUPERGUY: Great Scott! It's craptonite! The radiation is...

             affecting...my body! Can't...talk without...using strings

             of...three periods...between my statements!

             (Instantly, Speedy creates a super-duper whirlwind which

              sucks the deadly craptonite up and out of the atmosphere)

          SUPERGUY: Thanks, Speedy G.! I needed that.

          NONAME: Look! Up in the sky!

          LEX BADGUY: No, no, you super fools! Look over here!

          SUPERGUY: Great Scott! It's Lex Badguy!

          LEX: Congrats, noodles, on reading the subtitles!

          SUPERGUY: Well, Lex, it looks like it's about time we had

             that big fight we've always been talking about!

             (The tone generator immediately begins outputting Batman

              music as the words "Biff!" "Oof!" and "Wham!" randomly

              appear on the screen. In a few short seconds, it's all



             over, and a low-resolution Superguy is lying unconscious.)

          LEX: It just goes to show you that a wide chest and perfect

             teeth are no match for a good right hook.

          NONAME: Oh yeah? Then try this!

             (Noname instantly leaps across the six meters of distance

              between herself and Lex Badguy. Startled, Lex fails to

              move out of the way before Noname's vicious, deadly

              hands dig into his flesh and literally tear him to

              pieces. Small low-res fragments fly out and hit the CRT

              with a digsgusting noise.)

          SUPERGUY: What happened?

          NONAME: I've proven once again that injustice and evil are 

             no match for...the super duper heroes!

          SPEEDY GONZALES: Oh oh! Here comes the tweest ending! We are

             being attacked by a flying floppy disk!

          NONAME: Oh, no! Not again! It's TRSDOS 87.4!

          SUPERGUY: Don't worry - I'll stop it with my freeze breath! █


                              BAD LODE SOFTWARE

                      Let's hear it out there for:


                          "The tape user's friend"

                     (mainly because I don't own disk!)

                        Just look at our lengthy line of

                             medium-quality softare:

                     1. All-Terrain Vehicle (a multi-arcade game)

                     2. Another Star-Trek Game (once again...)

                     3. Eighteen nineteen! separate adventures (twenty-one if you

           count the Trash Island trilogy three times)

                     4. Anti-Aircraft Turret Strike (Let's hear it out

           there for 4K BASIC programs!)

                     5. Goon Cresta (Just kidding - we don't have it)

                     6. Empire Wars (Bleaccccch!!!)

              Write to us - or better yet, don't! We hate junk mail!


                          SOWING MACHINE

             Well, what did you siriously expect? A blue-white star?

          I mean, I'm only doing another one of those monogamous

          product reviews like you see in here all the time! Gee whiz!

          After all, nobody's forcing you to turn to this page and

          read this article. So why are you reading it, you schmoe?

          Get outta here! Go read a commercial or something!

             Anywho, Pinecone Software, the makers of Mars Rover Adven-

          ture, Basic on Basic, and Snail Attack in Slow Motion, have

          really outdone themselves this time with regard to "accurate

          slowness." As the titles suggests, "Sowing Machine" has to

          do with planting your crops. The game is all text, but shows

          cute little pictures of farm equipment in the top seven lines

          of the screen (which will not scroll away on a model III if

          you do a little poking around before you run this program).

             At the start of the game, you choose which seeds to buy

          with your allotment of twenty-seven dollars and fifty-six

          Italian granookles. Then, after waiting a full thirty minutes

          to make the arrangements and get the seeds back to your farm,

          you can start plowing. Then the real fun comes in: the full

          slowness of this program is at last shown when you wait six

          months until the harvest.

             Not wanting to run through the entire game, I decided to

          look at the code,which was written in Basic-on-Basic. Usually,

          the game ends in disaster when the sudden summer frost sets

          in and kills everything you have (the frost is about the

          temperature of liquid nitrogen). If you are extremely lucky,

          though, your crop will survive and you'll make about four-and-

          a-half dollars selling it. Now that's what I like: a real

          challenge! █


                           TRaSh-80 HARDWEAR


             Tired of those old micro- and nano-computers of yester

          decade that boasted mere "Megabytes" of storage on a Winches-

          ter drive? Are the few hundred nanobytes of storage you get

          on a laser disc getting a bit cramped with those "Real"

          programs of yours that really know how to use up core? Well

          then, this little beauty is for you! The vulcan cannon is

          to the Winchester what the Winchester was to the musket.

          A single vulcan cannon hard disk can store 300 Terabytes

          per side, which means a total of 1½ quadrillion bytes of

          storage. And these are the big, macho, industry standard

          100 bit bytes, not those wimpy 16 or 32 bit models you saw

          in antique shops. This is perfect for TRaSh-80 model VII

          and model VIII computers that can nearly handle 100 bit
          bytes and programs that take more than 10M  of them. Don't

          let the competition fool you! Vulcan Cannon Hard Drives are

          the one to buy for the serious programmer-who-wants-to-store-



             The hardware modification known as "Power Grid," the cute

          little device that lets you draw power from Con Ed without

          them knowing it, was a resounding success! And  now we offer

          the improved version of this award-winning pseudolegal device:

          Power Grid Plus! With all the features of Power Grid, the

          Plus version also has brownout, the boosting modification

          which lets you drain whole cities for running those really

          "Big" programs, as well as your subatomic accelerator. Designed

          by 01567312, this is a virtual basic necessity.


                         DATELINE: ASTEROID ALPHA

             Ever since their discovery in Julaugust 1983, the C-30

          tape mines on asteroid Alpha have caused a complete reversal

          of the computer revolution. Despite the 5¼" disk mines sup-

          plying Earth with over half its floppy disk production, the

          tape mines are so much richer that tapes can now be sold for

          fractions of a cent each and the manufacturer still makes a


             Here's what some of the people working there have to say

          about the Hardware Revolution and Asteroid Alpha:

             "Well, this place sure 'n heck is big. About twice as big

          as Asteroid Beta. I go out here every morning at 4:30 pm and

          strat diggin' up a storm. We get some real purty lookin' tapes

          out o' these mines, dontcha think?"

             "Hey, you got anything to eat? I'm starved. I haven't

          eaten a byte (har har har) since breakfast time and all the

          vending machines are shut down. Could you signal a nearby

          supply ship or something? I'm starved."

             "You'd think they'd have the decency to give us some arti-

          ficial gravity, wouldn't you? But no-O-o! They just send us

          out in 1982 space suits (which are horribly out of fashion)

          armed with a few clamps and magnetic shoes. What the heck

          are our magnetic shoes supposed to hold on to anyway? This

          is a chrome-and-hydrocarbon asteroid, not an iron one! Say,

          you wouldn't happen to have anything to eat on you, would


             As you can see, the employees were very concerned about

          their overwhelming production of C-30 cassette tapes.

             'Way back in the dark ages of 1983, a software company

          named Avenger Irrational (Snott Adama, Inc.) for some then-


                       Dateline: Asteroid Alpha


          gone-certifyably-insane reason laid down a property claim to

          asteroid Beta. Later that year as you know (unless you are

          a blithering moron) the mine produced its first floppy disk

          of 5¼" size. The mines on asteroid Beta turned out to be so

          much richer in 5¼" (and 8") disks than those on asteroid

          Alpha that Avenger Irrational has been able to completely

          undersell everyone else in terms of disk-stored programs.

             Since this is the tapes issue of 80 femto, though, we

          were seriously considering burning down AI's stockpile of

          cheapo disks and destroying the asteroid they got them from.

          But don't tell them, OK?

             Many astronomers have spectulated as to the origin of the

          pre-made tapes and disks of the asteroid belt. Some of the

          more prominent theories follow:

             "I think the asteroid belt is a giant parking lot for

          extraterrestrials. What we're doing by mining the minor

          planets is actually opening up their space ships and taking

          the stuff from their computers. If you remember, one of the

          tapes had some strange message recorded on it which I could

          have sworn sounded like a bit or two. If we don't stop mining

          the asteroids the aliens are going to find out and come to

          Earth and disintegrate us with their Eludium PU-36 explosive

          space modulators!"

             "It's so obvious, you secular dummies! We designed tapes

          and disks the way we did because they were at the root of

          God's plan for the universe! When we mine other planets,

          which are of course far more heavenly and uncorrupted than

          Earth, we're naturally going to find tapes and disks because


                       Dateline: Asteroid Alpha

          God placed them there at the time of the divine creation for

          mankind to find when He chose the time of our worthiness. My

          full account can be read in the Heavenly Journal, if you can

          read Latin.

             The above theorist was recently machine-gunned down by a

          mob of Catholics who claimed he was a heretic.

             "Well, there's no reason why it couldn't have happened!

          Back when the solar system was just a condensing cloud of

          interstellar gas, there were just enough variations in the dens-

          ity and gravity in just the right places that they formed

          whole takes and disks in the asteroid belt. I've run a com-

          puter simulation of this account (on a TRaSh-80, of course!)

          and I've figured the odds against it. The chances of this

          occurring are not zero! And since this could have occurred,

          there's no reason to suppose it didn't. QED."

             "Actually, Avenger Irrational had a tremendous overstock

          of tapes, and a smaller overstock of disks. If word had ever

          gotten out about this, they would've been laughed right out

          of the software industry. So, they proposed a new plan: buy

          asteroid Beta, and when you fly out there to 'scout out the

          property,' drop some tapes and a few disks on asteroid Alpha.

          That way, you can claim that your overstock came from an

          extraterrestrial mine on asteroid Beta and not from The Tape

          Company here on Terra Firma. Have you ever actually seen

          them working on asteroid Beta? No! The security is so thick

          you can't get near the place. And have we ever tried looking

          for tapes on disks on asteroid Gamma? or Delta? or Theeta?

          No! This scandal is a great big plot put out by that pinko

          AI! Commy scum!" █


                            THE PROGRAM STOAR

             Er...uh...Well, we only market programs that are featured

          on the front cover of 80 femto during the current month. This

          month, though (the last month, I hear), we are in the midst

          of an "annual" tapes issue which has no featured programs on

          the front cover. So...no programs. Sorry.

             However, if you'd be interested in some of the hard stuff

          (you know, hardware), we can get you som real great under-

          ground connections. They'll prove they're underground types

          by riding the subway to your pickup location! How'd you like

          a memory expansion kit to 32 or 48 K? Sure, the Nationalist

          World Government outlawed 'em, but who's gonna know? Or

          maybe you'd like a second-hand vulcan cannon drive for half

          the list price.

             Get in touch. We're in the Yellow Pages under "Seamy Out-

          fits." Or write to this address:

                             The Program Stoar

                              5746 Sunset Bl.

                         Los Angeles, CA 90028

          No tricks! I'm watching you!


                      NEWS FROM POKER TABLE SOFTWARE, INC.
                               by David Bush

             Yes, PTI's really done it this time! No more hard wiring,

          no more AlbatrossDOS, no more FISHNet, no more TMS-8F, and

          no more Snott Nolan Adama (formerly Scott Nolan Adama until

          he change his name to avoid getting flak from "The Mob").

          This time, they've really outdone their Sri-Kandan selves

          with the mose innovative thing ever created by sentient beings

          anywhere in the universe.

             It's SO new and innovative that they won't tell me what

          it is!

             I've had some ideas, though. It might be a Snobol program

          that figures out everything the worker has to know to succeed

          without even trying, called "SnoJob." Or it might be Albatr-

          ossDOS 1.2, the version that even TRSDOS 87.4 must claim a

          weak second-place to. Or, even worse, it might be the sequel

          to TROFF, TRINBETWEEN, where Tron and Allen try to discover

          the bit status that lies between off and on (½), which would

          double the storage capacity of every digital computer ever


             But personally, I think it's just POST MAN, another one

          of those programs from the "Oh, man!" software package that

          says "Ha, you got ripped off!" and locks up the keyboard.

             Whatever it is, though, I'm sure the "Crunch, Scrunch,

          and Concentrate" people will compress it into a couple of

          bytes and sell it for twice the PTI price and make three

          times the money. Then things'll be back to normal around

          here again. █


                           AVENGER IRRATIONAL


                              Snott Adama

          (formerly Scott Adama until he changed his name to get away
          from The Mob)

          ADVENTURE 21: Planetary Nebula Adventure

             Your spacecraft cannot go into hyperspace (ever seen one

          that could?!). Deep within the heart of the Bubble Nebula,

          an urgent cry for help is given. Can you survive the years

          of total boredom as you plummet head-long through the glowing

          sphere of gas and dust? Can you begin to comprehent the low

          density of the "cloud" whose molecules and atoms are so

          widely dispersed that you can count them as they pass by?

          Will you dare to brave the alien environment which is closer

          to a vacuum than any Terrestrial pumps can achieve? We chal-

          lenge you to try!

              PRICE: Please, no references to asteroid Beta despite the

          program's subject matter! 25¢ tape, 35¢ disk, as usual (I

          never thought the software wars would really go this far!).

                             Avenger Irrational

                      In the Alley behind Rocky's Pizza,

                                5746 Sunset Bl.

                           Los Angeles, RA 90028

                            (ask for "Snott")

          No tricks! I'm watching you!


                       RADIO FLAK TAPE BASIC

             The TRaSh-80 company, more commonly misnomered Radio

          Flak, has never been known for its strong software support

          of its products. The best Model I/III/IV program they've

          come out with is Invadesion Force, which is bugged, and

          they expect us to debug our software using T-Bug, the

          Debugger of the '60s. Son when they announced they were

          entering the Tape BASIC market, I was a bit skeptical.

             And boy, was I right! Radio Flak Tape BASIC, more com-

          monly acronymized as RaFTaB, is hardly more than Level II.V

          BASIC with a few useless disk commands thrown in. OPENing

          a file is perfectly OK when you're working with a disk (or

          a virtual ROM disk), but OPENing a tape file just doesn't

          make sense. When OPEN "I" is used, the screen blanks out

          and the program freezes up until the "Play" button on the

          tape recorder is pressed (after five seconds of this not

          happening, Tape BASIC will flash the message, "Hey, stupid,

          push play on the tape recorder!" for a few milliseconds in

          line 0 of the screen). Similarly, OPEN "O" requires you to

          push Play & Record.

             Now while the tape file is opened, the tape drive is

          chugging merrily along, the REM concrol continuously trans-

          mitting a signal, whether you're doing tape I/O or not. This

          means (especially at interpreter speeds) that outputs will

          leave blank spots on the tape and inputs will miss vital

          information if the program's blank spots don't coincide with

          the tape's. CLOSE, fortunately, returns everything to normal

          and waits until you push "Stop" on the tape recorder --

          excuse me, low-speed linear data transfer drive unit.


                         Radio Flak Tape BASIC

                GET and LOAD will search all over the tape for the

          file you want, from beginning to end. PUT and SAVE are even

          worse. They have you play (not record) the tape to the com-

          puter from beginning to end, until they find a blank spot

          big enough for their data to be stored in. If no such blank

          spot exists, a "Tape full error reading drive 1 (or 2)"

          results. If these is such a blank spot, it has you play

          back the tape from the beginning until it finds where the

          blank spot starts, then it tells you to push Play & Record

          and finally transfers the data. This function is usually

          foolproof if you realize one thing:

             Radio Flak assumes you've been buying only Radio Flak

          products for your computer; this means certified-leaderless-

          type tapes. If PUT or SAVE hit the leader they are likely

          to assume it's a blank spot and get you to dump the data

          there. Not the best setup for someone whe reads 80 femto,

          which I believe is outlawed from Radio Flak magazine stands.

             KILL searches through the tape until it finds the file,

          then asks you to rewind the tape just a smidge, then goes

          over the title of the program (but not the program itself)

          with a 00H steamroller and plands a 5DH flag which I am

          told is a "Freebie" signal to SAVE and PUT but which I have

          yet to see be proven. GO NORTH does just that -- it magnet-

          izes the entire tape (and tape drive read-head) until it's

          completely North-polarized. These items are thereafter

          completely useless for data storage, but make great combin-

          ation degaussers/compasses.

             Tape BASIC is not for us macho tape users. TRSTOS is ok,

          but give me a Level II.V BASIC any day. █



          Wordquasar:  Model II, XII, XVIa, XVIb, or MM
                       Machine lingo, requires some DOS or other

             The famous word processor that would rather use meaning-

          less on-screen control characters than the special effects

          of the computer it's customized for! Who needs real under-

          lined or highlighted characters for underlined or boldfaced

          line-printer effects when you can use carat-S or carat-B

          on almost any generic system so much more easily? This

          piece of software might be overpriced, especially the

          (yecch) tape version, but hey! We're MicroCon!

             PRICE: $899.00, and that's the truth! (tape is 6½¢ less)

          Numberquasar: Model I, II, III, IIII, IIIII, IIIIII, or IIIIIII
                        Requires some version of Pilot

             Number processors are the new wave of the '80s! Believe

          me! WE say so! So before the number processor police break

          down your door and take you in for not hav ing the genuine

          MicroCon Numberquasar word processor, rush right out and

          buy one of these beauties! We aren't yet sure what it does,

          but I'm sure you'll figure out something....

             PRICE: only $699.00 this time (less 6½¢ if tape)


                             5746 Sunset Blvd.

                            Los Angeles, CA 90028




                               order now!


                         A FAREWELL TO HARMS

          Just a good ol' boys, never meanin' no harm,

          Been in trouble with the law since the day they was born,

          Makin' their way, trappin' their kill,

          Someday the mountain might get 'em, but the law never will....

          'Cause they're the Dukes of M*A*S*H,

          They run moonshine or hash,

          And you can take or leave them as you please!

                       (sung to the tune of "Suicide is Painless")

             Well, that's just about it. When a computer magazine has

          three or four articles relating to movies, super-heroes, and

          TV shows, you get the idea that the author's just about

          run out of material.

             These little signals let me, your friendly neighborhood

          Roger M. Wilcox, know that it was about time to pack it in.

          I love long goodbys, but I don't think you do, so I'll just

          spare you the details and leave you with this one parting


          If mankind had never existed, would we still have cassette

          data tapes and think Australia was the biggest island?

Author's notes from 2014:
Send comments regarding this Web page to: Roger M. Wilcox.
Click here to go back to my main 80 Femtocomputing index