80 Femtocomputing

Septober 1984 issue

Copyright © 1981 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. All spellings, punctuation, capitalizations, etc. are as in the original.

You have been warned.

80 Femtocomputing, Septober 1984 cover
80 Contents

          3. EMPIRE WARS! -- a bad name for a bad program

          5. TRSDOS 87.4 -- too much of a mediochre thing...

          9. READ -- learn how to read just by reading this article!

         11. SLANT -- how to put characters on your screen or line

                      printer at any angle

         14. STAR STAR -- here's a review of another (yawn!) Star-Trek

                          type game

         17. HELPFUL HINTS -- programming techniques that will make

                              your blood curdle

         19. SPACE-N-VADERS -- not just on the screen - in real life!

         22. SUPERDUPERSCRIPT -- the best printer screwer-uper ever

                                 made since the sledge hammer!

         25. DUEL-M-DROIDS -- Leo Christopher's son reveals himself

                           COMING NEXT MONTH:

                             a letter-bomb


Interlewd (p. 2)
                            EMPIRE WARS!

             One night, I dreampt that I was in a death-hold by Darth

          Vader, whose last name was later changed to Badguy to avoid

          lawsuit. Just then, OB-method Kenobi's image appeared before

          me, and told me to "Use the...um...er...uh...force!", which

          was later changed to the um...er...uh...farce. I used the

          farce, at which point, a nearby telephone rang. Darth insisted

          on answering it, thereby letting go of me and allowing me to


             When I woke up, I sat down to write a no-graphics program,

          the original "Empire Wars!". After three or four months of

          hanging on the shelf, I decided to make an all-graphics ver-

          sion of the game.

             The result was so catastrophic I don't want anything to do

          with it. The graphics characters looked vaguely like people (or

          the like), and the sound was good, but the movement was so

          yicchy that it made anyone who played it puke. Including me.

             Believe me, I am truly sorry. I hate this program almost as

          much as you do, and I regret ever having brought it into the


             If you think I'm gonna give out a listing of this barfy

          program, think again! █


Big Hive Software (p. 4)
                              TRSDOS 87.4

             The TRaSh-80 company has finally outdone themselves. This

          version of TRSDOS is better than any previous version, and is

          even better than NewDOS, LDOS, or even DrossDOS 1.1. Its fea-

          tures are, quite literally, limitless. The three-page instruc-

          tion manual claims that its one major drawback is that it's

          "Bound by the limitations of this universe." I'm even begin-

          ning to doubt that limitation.

             It can communicate in all the languages, including English,

          Spanish, French, German, BASIC, machine, and Pilot. With a

          single keystroke command (the "¢" key), the computer will

          communicate in telepathy. The computer's sound effects can

          be interfaced into your stereo with no additional hardware -

          it's done with electrical airwaves that get into the stereo's

          circuitry. The sound effects included with TRSDOS 87.4, some

          say, sound better than their newest L.P.s ever did.

             TRSDOS 87.4 comes with a zap program entitled, "Crapzap,"

          which challenges even the revered Superduperzap in complexity.

          It will edit a line to your exact specifications, and all you

          have to do is blow on the keyboard! If you have an idea for a

          program in any programming language, but aren't certain how to

          do it, just give the computer a general description of your

          program, and it will generate the rest - probably better than

          you expected!

             Crapzap can recover killed files in a way you'd never have

          thought possible. You simply enter, speak, or think the name

          "Pblfrlistra," the file is restored. The disk need not be in

          the drive when this part is executed, nor does the drive need

          to be connected, nor does the file need have ever existed, nor


                                  TRSDOS 87.4

          nor does the  program need to be loaded at the time of execu-

          tion, nor does the computer need to be turned on! So watch out

          that you don't have dreams about recovering a file entitled,

          "Wipe Out the Galaxy!"

             With TRSDOS 87.4, you can monitor the goings on anyplace

          in this universe, sort of like an infinite-zoom telescope,

          only limited by the fact that the signals come in at the speed

          of light. (i.e. that dinosaur culture you're monitoring? They

          have made it up to the technology of F.T.L. travel, and are

          coming 80 million light-years from their home planet to con-

          quer Earth!)

             Some commands are slightly different in this version of

          TRSDOS than in others. For example, SAVE causes the computer

          to throw you a life preserver. LOAD fills up the washing mach-

          ine or dishwasher closest to the computer terminal. CHAIN rigs

          up your tires for snow. GET, PUT, OPEN, and CLOSE manipulate

          objects in the adventure of your choice. RESTORE will store a

          program on disk if it's already been stored at least once. The

          KILL command will render completely lifeless the living being

          of your choice. (An additional subcommand, WIPOWT, erases any

          trace of his or her existence; however, if the person called

          for is either dead or never existed, then the computer may or

          may not elect to take your life instead.)

             The TRSDOS 87.4 system comes with eight IC chips which, when

          installed, give the user infinity K of RAM. This is very useful

          for making things like Adventures that go on forever, pre-

          planned "random" graphics displays, et cetera, but there was

          only one drawback to this which its designers were unable to

          iron out: how are you supposed to address infinity K of RAM


                                   TRSDOS 87.4

          without using infinity bytes in the addressing mode?!?

             There are, of course, several major drawbacks to the system.

          There's the user-KILL and the infinity addressing, as usual. And

          then there's one more problem: The computer may, on rare occa-

          sions, stop waiting for user input and start thinking with a

          mind of its own. When this happens, turn the computer off

          immediately, or it may very well invoke catastrophy. It has

          been known to melt disk drives, blow apart whole planets, and

          cause nearby stars to go super nova.

             This is both the greatest and the most malevolent DOS ever

          created. █

                 photo of TRSDOS 87.4's effect on the third planet of Beta Centauri.


                           BAD LODE SOFTWARE

                        New! From

Bad-Lode Software logo


        INTERCEPTION -- the world-infamous arcade game!

        EMPIRE WARS -- whatever you do, don't get this!!!

        INTERSTELLAR WAR -- a big Adventure for small minds

        SOLAR NOVA -- not the same thing as "Cosmic Oids!"

        Another Star-Trak Game -- impulse-speed dogfights! A must! not.


           All of these programs do exist (honest!), but they are not on

        the market ... yet. If you are interested in buying one of them or,

        even better, two of them, call me, Roger M. wilcox, at (213) 828-8830

        before 11:30 p.m. when I'll be zonked or doing some obscene act

        in bed.



             So! You wanna learn how to read, eh? That seems rather diffi-

          cult, learning to read by reading an article written in complex,

          fifth- or sixth-grade words. So, since by now you're either

          turned off and so bored that you've flipped by this article to

          the commercial for "The Vial of Doom" on the next page, or can't

          understand this since you can't read, I might as well spill my

          guts (so to speak).:

             There was this Mexican, this Polak, and this American, right?

          Well, anyway, they all jumped off a building at the same time.

          Now then, who reached the grou...mmph...aarrgh!...zzzaaap!!!


             This article was written in the old TRSDOS 87.3, which had

          the ability to detect bad jokes since it'd heard them all hun-

          dreds of times before. When it saw this one coming, it "executed"

          the KILL command on its user. █


The Programmer's Guilt (p. 10)

             Wow! Golly jeepers! Slanted characters, that sounds neato!

          The truth of the matter is that if you don't have DrossDOS 1.1

          or TRSDOS 87.4, you can't GET slanted characters! But would I

          waste a whole page just for this? Of course! Not. I'm gonna

          show you some cheap ways to get slanted characters without an

          ultimate DOS! Viz:
Slant in action (p. 11)
                          THE PROGRAM STOAR

          DUNGEON MASTER: Level II & III            2000 K (disk only)
                          Models I, II, III, & IV   machine lingo

             This is a new dimension in D & D wargaming. It comes with

          character generator, list of buyable items, several weapons

          charts, every other table mentioned in the "Players Handbook"

          and "D.M.'s Guide," a full compendium of the "Monster Manual"

          and "Dieties and Demigods," every D & D module ever published,

          and a random dungeon generator. Up to fifty at a time can play!

          It comes complete with a 300-page instruction booklet which

          you can read during the two hours and five minutes it takes

          to load the program into memory from the disk. So you can

          see why there isn't a tape version of this game! If you want

          to get some ufo about the model V version of the program, call

          1-(555)-555-5555 or write to us care of John Doe.

             PRICE: $ 35,000

          TINY ADVENTURE: Level II             1 byte (tape or disk)
                          Model I & III        sub-machine lingo

             Finally, someone came up with a good adventure that doesn't

          take up much space! This is Crowther & Woods' original game

          of "Adventure" all crammed into one byte, dwarves and all!

          Since memory usage is rather restricted at the one byte level,

          the authors have put the introduction, HELP, and INFO listings

          on an included sheet of papyrus. With sound effects!

             PRICE: Tape 25¢, disk 30¢. Tape loads in a little over four

          seconds, disk loads in just barely over one second.

                   This advertizement continued next page!?!


                          The Program Stoar

          COBALT: Level II                  16 K tape, 32 K disk
                  Models I, II, & III       machine lingo again

             The most specialized version of COBOL yet! Cobalt allows

          you to keep track of your entire stock of dynamite, TNT, Plas-

          tic explosives, Uranium-235, Plutonium, Deuterium, Tritium,

          Quadronium, and, of course, Cobalt. The disk version will also

          keep track of Sodium and Antimatter and has optional references

          for bomb cases and shells. For you Star-Trek fans, it can even

          keep track of your Photon Torpedoes! This language is great

          fun at parties, if you're either a gray-haired, senile old

          businessman or a terrorist.

             PRICE: Tape $ 24.95, disk $ 29.95


             Our entire stock of other programs has been sold out. Sorry

          to you fans of Bill and Leo! So why don't you guys drown your

          sorrows and get Dungeon Master or Tiny Adventure or COBALT or


                                The Program Stoar

                               1313 Hill Street Bl.

                                Aw FL  31416





                               STAR STAR

             In the tradition of great Star-Trek games, we at 80 Femto-

          computing feel that it's our duty to warn you if anything bad

          comes along, say, like Empire Wars or World War IV. And so, here

          we go again with another (ta-DA!) review.

             After Lance Mickymouse made STAR TREK 33.5, the creation of

          further versions of Star-Trek virtually ground to a halt. Star

          Trek 33.5 did for Star-Trek games what TRSDOS 87.4 did for disk

          BASIC. But then suddenly, a new STAR shone in the field by the

          name of Myron Schmeer. He made a Star-Trek game that goes "Where

          no Star-Trek game has gone before," nor will probably go again.

             The game is entitled, "STAR STAR," and it lives up completely

          to its name. This whole game is based on stars; there are STAR-

          bases, enemy battleSTARs, empty STAR sectors, your own STARship,

          and, of course, STARs.

             As in the better Star-Trek games, you can only dock with a

          base station a limited number of times (three, in this case)

          before it runs out of power and disintegrates. However, in this

          game, the problem is not in limiting your fuelings, it's in fin-

          ding the space stations, along with everything else.

             The long range scan is, to put it obtusely, quite impossible

          to read. Each quadrant is represented by the same symbol: ***,

          which means * enemy battleSTARs, * STARbases, and * STARS. Of

          course, the computer can tell the difference, and the user can

          tell the computer to take its long range scan and shove it up

          its ASCII. This is by far the worst long range scan I've seen

          since Pirate's Adventure.

             The short range scan is even worse. Each quadrant is made up

          of 8 X 8 sectors, all of which are labelled, "*". Thus, you can


                               Star Star

          see the difficulty in finding STARbases, enemy battleSTARs, STARs

          (so you won't run into them which is just a pain in the @$$ for

          everyone), or even yourself! You begin the game with no time

          left and no power, so chances are you die instantaneously.

             In short, this game is almost as bad as "Empire Wars!" █

Star Star's impenetrable display




             This is the disassembler. Period. End of discussion. Oh,

          all right, I'll tell you about it! Its obvious first advan-

          tage is that it can tell the difference between real machine

          code and just data stored in memory. On top of that, it can

          tell whether or not DEFB, DEFW, or DEFM was used where the data

          was stored. As a matter of fact, it disassembles the program

          exactly as it was written! This includes the use (and mis-

          use) of post-semicolon remarks, the precise labels used by

          the programmer, etcetera! If you want to really test the

          power of this program, though, try disassembling an all-

          BASIC program. It'll give the poor CPU such a migrain! Note,

          however, that if you do this too often, UNEDTDASM might just

          load in TRSDOS 87.4 and use some hideous command on you. With

          sound effects!

             PRICE: Now c'mon, you don't really want to know, do you?

          STAR STAR: Level I        4K (tape only)
                     Model I        BASICk

             Remember the review two pages back? Well, this is it! The

          program you've always never wanted. With only a few modifica-

          tions, this game can actually be played! There is no disk ver-

          sion, since I don't know of any Level I BASIC TRaSh-80 that

          is disk capable.

             PRICE: $-14.95


                            HELPFUL HINTS

             I really wanted to call this, "Helpless hints," but the 80

          Femtocomputing editors made me change the name for no particular

          reason at all.

             I'm sure you were expecting me to give you some bull like,

          "Avoid the use of THEN statements whenever you can get away with

          it" or "Using semicolons is mankind's ultimate mortal sin," but

          I'm not going to. Instead, I'm going to give you some really (ir)

          relevant hints that may or may not be useful.:

          1) Want a copy of a great program, but don't want to bother pay-

             ing for it? Find someone who already has it and make a trade!

             You could always trade a back-up copy of "Snail Attack" for

             the program you want.

          2) Avoid assembly and machine language as much as possible. They

             aren't easily operator-accessible, they do less work per state-

             ment than any other language, they are tremendously tedious

             to program in and, worst of all, they go much too fast! Try

             programming in Level I BASIC or Pilot instead.

          3) Lose weight by cutting down on between-meal disks and by not

             getting Interlewd, which is 90% Calories by weight, anyway.

          4) Stand in a pot of boiling milk (I told you these hints would

             make your blood curdle!). █


                             THE TRaSh-80 COMPANY

          TRSDOS 87.4: Level I or more    no K needed (probably disk)
                       Model I or more    All languages

             Here at last! The DOS you've been waiting for and fearing

          at the same time! More powerful than its predecessor, TRSDOS

          87.3, version 87.4 is barely restricted. In fact, its only

          major drawback is that it's bound by the limitations of this

          universe! Get this DOS, or we'll use the KILL command on you,

          followed by WIPOWT!

             PRICE: $1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,00

          THE TRASH ISLAND TRILOGY: Level II       16K (tape)
                                    Model I & III  BASIC

             This three-part adventure has no right being on the same

          page with TRSDOS 87.4. But then again, nothing else does,

          either! In this adventure, you must search for trash instead

          of treasures. Such items include: dead batteries, a banana

          peal, Playboy magazine, raw sewage, and a TRaSh-80 micro-

          computer (this program was written before the time of femto-

          computers). It is not really currently available from us,

          but you can get it from Bad Lode software, detales on page

          eight. But this method doesn't work with a tomato.

             PRICE: $14.95 (typical!)

                             The TRaSh-80 Company

                             P.O. box Z-80

                           Tandy gulch, Texas 66666



                             REAL LIFE SPACE-N-VADERS

             Once upon a time, a company in Japan got together with Mid-

          way Distributing to get America hooked on what was to become

          not only the most popular arcade game of 1979, but also the

          first arcade game to overtake pinball in popularity. Space In-

          vaders, the result of this experiment, was so nearly perfect that

          it only lacked one thing: the thrill of actually being out there

          on the front line, fighting off the attackers.

             And so, the years went by with the invaders locked up safely

          in ROM; until last year, when I began work on the most complex

          spacewar simulation since the first real-time Star-Trek game.

             The equipment for Real Life Space-N-Vaders is, to put it

          mildly, expensive, and few people find it worth the money. But

          if you are one of those few, you will need the following equip-

          ment: 44 small legs, 88 large legs, 11 small bodies, 22 medium

          size bodies, 22 large bodies, 55 laser-bomb generators, one gen-

          erator truck, and one high-energy pulse laser. You may optionally

          need five cement walls supported by twenty cement-wall pedes-

          tals for added protection. The entire supply of equipment costs

          some $50,000 and 95 cents.

             The construction of the entire system should be obvious, but

          if it isn't, write or call me and I'll see about having you com-

          mitted. I finished the construction in just six short months.

             Now you are ready to play. First, start your truck along with

          its laser generator and be certain that each is working at full

          capacity. Next, wind up (charge up, plug in, insert batteries

          into, etc.) the invaders one by one, placing them in a five by

          eleven matrix in midair as you do (providing, of course, that

          you thought ahead and put the anti-gravity devices on the in-

          vaders - but if you didn't, go back and start building them all

          over again). Finally, after setting up the cement walls, wave

          your arms (or otherwise signal the invaders) after you have got-


                            Real Life Space-N-Vaders

          ten into your truck. The invaders will begin their slow down-

          ward march to the beat of the same repeating four notes.

             Play just like in real Space Invaders; but one word of war-

          ning: you only get one base to start off with in this version

          of the arcade game, and none are ever added - so watch out for

          them bombs!!!



                          PINECONE SOFTWARE

          STAR TREK 33.5: Level I, III and IV    33.5 K (tape or disk)
                          Model I, IV, and VI    Assembly language

             Lance Mickeymouse's final product - I swear! Cross my CPU!

          Command six starships at once, battling against Klingons, ROM-

          ulans, Kzinti, Gorns, and the ever-popular V'ger. More com-

          plex than the deluxe version of Star Fleet Battles, this real-

          time game does for Star-Trek what TRSDOS 87.4 does for disk

          BASIC! (translation: if you get hit by an enemy weapon while

          your shields are down, the terminal explodes in your face!)

             PRICE: $33.50 plus tax, shipping, installation, insurance, ordering,

          DUEL-M-DROIDS: No power...no field...unmanned   debris

             Sorry! We're not selling this since we found out that Leo

          has disassembled it in this issue.

          SUPERDUPERSCRIPT: Level II or more    32 K or more
                            Model I or more     machine language or less

             See the next pages for a full review of this item. Yes, if

          you are an author, a writer, a scribbler, a doodler, or anything

          else, then Superduperscript is for you! It doesn't matter whether

          you're male, female, or otherwise to use it. Your printer will

          write better than it has ever written. You will write better

          than any typist has ever written. Your books will be written

          better than any books have ever been written. And your manu-

          scripts will be better off if they had never been written!

             PRICE: exactly half the price of TRSDOS 87.4



             A long time ago, in a west coast city now far, far away (of

          course it wasn't so far away before the San Andreas fault split

          in two), a company then called Acorn software made a modification

          to Scripsit, entitled, "Superscript." In a short while, the com-

          pany changed their name to Pinecone software (due to the extinc-

          tion of the oak tree), and with it greatly upgraded Superscript

          to the latest thing, "Superduperscript." It's much better than

          the old Superscript, but still requires some modifications, such

          as protection from overheating. But then, what will Pinecone call

          the next version? "Superdupertruperscript?"

             Superduperscript files are written in such a way that they're

          readable by TRSDOS 87.4. But then again, everything is! Super-

          duperscript can work your printer to its ultimate, printing

          upper case, lower case, middle case, and brief case letters,

          every special symbol known to the human race, ultra-high reso-

          lution graphics, and some symbols not even know to exist in

          the real world. It prints in eight different colors: red, orange,

          yellow, green, blue, purple, black, and ultra-violet.

             Superduperscript allows you to do something that the Level

          II manual said was impossible: apply the PRINT@ command to the

          line printer, or in this case, LPRINT@.

             With a little imagination and practice, it's possible to get

          slanted characters & lines, even if you don't use the suggestions

          of one of the previous articles in this issue, "Slant."

             Superduperscript is equipped with a spelling error detector

          that can figure out by the context whether or not you meant,

          "comma" or "coma." However, a speller that knows only two words



          is not all that powerful. Instead, it knows every word either

          created or coined in the inglish langwidge, and when a spelling

          error occurs, it points it out and says some cheerful thing like,

          "Just look at that! Aren't you ashamed of yourself?!? You clean

          up that mess right away!" When used in conjunction with TRSDOS

          87.4, Superduperscript can bake your favorite pies, tuck you in

          bed, and remind you not to go outside without your woolies.

          Furthermore, it can feed cement to your cockatoo, and patch up

          that hole in the sidewalk with birdseed.

             Boy, what a printer program! It can do almost everything,

          except...allow you to write manuscripts or same them on file!! █

                  Superduperscript's effect on Beta Centauri IV


                             TRaSh-80 HARDWEAR

          NEW! Disk interface for the TRaSh-80 Wrist Computer

             Now your wrist computer can have the light-weight portability

          available only from a multiple disk drive system! Comes complete

          with 65,536 serial interface ports and optional 512 K memory.

          Need we say it lets you use disk BASIC and DOS - even TRSDOS

          87.4?! Of course we do!

             PRICE: make us an offer we can't refuse.

          Model VI TRaSh-80

             We've driven the Z-80 to its limit in our latest "room com-

          puter" model. Now you can show off your TRaSh-80 to all those

          senior citizen computer buffs  who believe that it can't be a

          computer if it's smaller than a refrigerator. The Model VI has

          four subcomponents this size, which, when put together, take up

          an entire room! With sound effects!

             PRICE: we suggest you listen sitting down. Call us - or even

          better, don't call!

          Model VII TRaSh-80

             Ha! Fooled ya! There is no Model VII! Of course, if you want

          to design one, go ahead - we might buy the design. Or else we

          might plagiarize the design before you patent it and leave you

          out in the cold with no computer to keep you warmed up.



             For years now I, son of Leo Christopher, have turned out pro-

          grams that have made extensive use of the TRaSh-80's horridly

          low-resolution graphics. I started out by making an all-BASIC

          program called, "Android Numb," in which cute little androids

          try to kill each other with ray guns. After that, I quickly

          ascended to using string packing in Slake Eggs, and then went

          back and added this feature to Android Numb. I never stooped to

          using USR to call the machine-language routines. Instead, I re-

          located the jump coordinates for the command LPRINT. In no time

          at all, I was making Life Too and C-wary, and with the addition

          of line-packing, Dance-N-Demon.

             And yet, I felt as if something was missing from all these

          programs. The graphics and sound were good, but not quite good

          enough. So then, I decided to get to work on an all-graphics,

          all-sound program employing the characters of "Android Numb,"

          but with larger bodies, incredibly better movement, and sound

          effects such as no one has ever heard.

             The result was DUEL-M-DROIDS. It was made way back in the age

          of  microcomputers, and was in half-BASIC, half-machine language.

          Using a vibrato for sound and quick flashes to achieve tints of

          gray on the screen, no other program of mine or anyone else can

          match its animation.

             Now that everyone has a copy either from Pinecone software or

          pirated off someone else, I've finally decided to disassemble

          the program. The disassembly is on the following pages for any-

          one who wants a "PEEK."

                         Oh, and by the way, the secret to immortality is


Author's notes from 2014:
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