This is the second collection of Shareware compiled for the Master 512 by Dabs Press. Like the first collection, it contains five 800k discs each completely full of programs which have been drawn from the vast amount of IBM-compatible shareware. The software has been tested to make sure that it runs correctly on the Master 512 and also performs well on the system.
Shareware is a software distribution concept originating in the USA, where most of these programs come from. Instead of an author writing software and sending it to a publisher, who advertises, packages, and sells it, the system works on a 'try-before-you-buy' basis. The programs are supplied by shareware distributors such as ourselves, at a cost which covers the media, copying, disc labels, postage and packing and VAT, and in our case, compatibility testing, this additional manual and an illustrated, sturdy plastic box.
The software itself, however is not charged for at this stage. If you like the software, the authors invite you to 'register', which means that you send them some money, between £2 and £100, but usually at the lower end, and they will upgrade you to a full commercial product, which often means that you will get a box, printed manual, and the latest version of the software, sometimes with more features than the shareware version. The system is not policed, and all this is entirely a matter of trust. Full details of how much money the authors ask for, and what you get in return, is normally provided in the text file documentation provided on the discs. Despite this, the programs are not 'demos' – they are fully-functional working programs.
A few of the programs on this collection are 'public domain', which are completely free. No registration is required, although the author may ask for feedback.
A lot of shareware material has been rejected from this collection, either because it will not work at all on the 512 (hanging, or giving a 'unknown opcode' or 'single step' error) or because some function does not work – the most common being that the print functions fail, or the cursor is invisible.
The first problem is most common with programs written with the IBM or Microsoft BASIC compilers, which assume that output is to a device called LPT1:, or the programmer has used the LPRINT keyword. The second occurs when programmers generate a special cursor by programming the IBM 6845 video controller. Although the 512 uses a 6845, the calls used are not the same, and the effect is to make the cursor disappear. An associated problem is with some menus where the current item is displayed in another colour. If the colour combination is not one which appears as inverse video, then the highlight is invisible. This happens on a couple of programs in this collection, but in most cases, a hardware cursor is visible over the selected item.
None of the programs in this collection require or support the mouse, and none of them use GEM. All are run from the standard DOS prompt (the A> message) which appears when you start up your 512 system.
All the programs have been placed in separate subdirectories on the five discs, with the exception of programs for which there is only one file, which have been placed in the root directory. The discs are completely full, so to create or save any data, you will have to copy the files off to fresh discs. We recommend that you copy the programs to 640k 'system' discs. These can be booted directly without the need for the 512 Master Disc 1, and are created using the DISK.CMD program on Master Disc 1, by selecting the first option in the formatting list, and answering 'yes' to the question Do you want the disk to be bootable?.
On page xx there is a complete list of all the programs in the collection, complete with the name of the subdirectory in which they are placed, the command required to start the program, the command required to read the documentation, and the total size of the files associated with the program. This will let you calculate how much space will be taken up when the files are transferred to another disc.
Important: If you wish to run a program directly from the supplied discs, note that you must first enter the subdirectory in which the program resides, otherwise it will not run. For example, to run File Express, you must place the correct disc in Drive 0, and type:
each command being followed, of course, by RETURN. The CD command (change directory) is vital.
This is how to make copies of the programs onto separate discs. First, the method of putting each program onto a disc of its own.
|Start up your co-processor to the point where the DOS prompt A> appears.
|Format a 640k bootable disc if you have not already done so, and exit the DISK program. The A> prompt should reappear. If it does not, type A: or reboot your system.
|Place this blank 640k disc in Drive B or Drive 1 of your system.
|Place the Shareware disc (which you should write-protect for safety) containing the program to be transferred into Drive A or Drive 0 of your system.
|Select the subdirectory of the program to be transferred. This is done by typing CD \<directory name> where <directory name> is the name as shown in the list of page xx. For example, if you want to transfer File Express, type CD \FXPRESS
|Type DIR (followed by RETURN). The list of files you are about to transfer should appear. This step is not essential to the transfer, but is a good way to check that you have selected the right directory.
|At the prompt type COPY A:*.* B:
|The files will all transfer. The disc in Drive B contains the program you have transferred. Label it accordingly. Now type CD \ to return to the root directory.
|To run the program, place the newly labelled disc in Drive A, and at the prompt type the appropriate filename.
If you have only one disc drive, or if you want a copy of more than one of the programs, use the following method:
|Format a disc in 800k format using the 'Format' option in the DISK.CMD program.
|Leave the 'Format' option and select the 'Copy' option.
|Copy a Shareware disc in the normal way, using whatever disc drives you have.
|At the end of this procedure, you then have an exact copy of the original Shareware disc.
|You can then delete any unwanted files, and leave just the one or more directories containing the programs you want
To delete all the files in a directory, return to the DOS A> prompt, and type DEL \<directory name>, (answer Y to the Are you sure prompt), and then type RD \<directory name>.
If you have a hard disc fitted to your Master 512 system, then you can transfer the programs directly to the hard disc. The best method is to retain the directory structure we have used. To copy a program to the hard disc, create a directory of the same name on the hard disc, and copy all the files into it. For example, to copy File Express, the steps are:
C>COPY A:\FXPRESS C:FXPRESS
substituting the name of the program directory for FXPRESS as appropriate.
A fuller explanation of how to use the various DOS Plus commands is given in Master 512: A Dabhand Guide by Chris Snee, also published by Dabs Press, price £9.95 (£14.95 with companion disc).
There now follows a complete list of the programs in this collection. The first column contains the full name of the program. The second column headed 'D' indicates which of the five discs contains the program. The third column lists the directory in which each program resides. Where a program is left in the root directory, this column contains the name of the root directory viz, \. The fourth column lists the filename or command required to run the program, and the fifth contains the instruction you need to type to read the documentation. In most cases, this prints documentation to screen. To print documentation to the printer, add >PRN to the end of the command. Therefore, to run a program type:
To see the documentation, type
A><documentation> [ >PRN]
where <directory> is the item in column 3, <to run> is the item in column 4, <documentation> is the item in column 5, and  contains the optional addition to send output to the printer. (You don't type the A> of course).
|3 by 5
|ANSI Screen Editor
|Type H in program
|Type f1 in program
|EZ Forms Lite
|Great Little WP
|Option 4 from the Menu
|Math Pak II
|PC Touch Type
|System Speed Test
|War on the Sea
|Type Y in program
|Type HELP in program
3 by 5 is a small database program. Records are defined in the normal way, but printed in a scrolling text format. Two databases can be open simultaneously, and two windows used for them. Note that on the 512, for some reason, the backspace key seems to generate two backspaces when pressed during the entry of filenames, search keys, and so on. This doesn't affect the operation of the program. Some sample data files are provided.
This program lets you create screens with bold, underlined, reverse etc. effects, and the IBM graphics characters, that can be used in your programs or batch files. The files can be saved in an internal format or ANSI format (which is makes longer files). ANSI codes are escape sequences similar to those used on a printer, but which cause effects on screen. If you save a file as ANSI format, then TYPEing it will reproduce the effects, so it works in batch files. Note that unlike normal, the method of producing ASCII values above 128 by holding ALT and typing the ASCII value on the numeric keypad, does actually work in this program. Load the example screen M512.SCN for further details on this. Loading, saving etc. is done with the function keys, and each operation requires a Y response (You must use a capital Y).
This colour program generates a starmap for any given latitude and longitude at any given date.
A major business simulation game, where you have to make the right management decisions to avoid going bankrupt. The options appear in boxes. To select between the boxes move the cursor keys. Instructions are contained in the program and are accessed by pressing f1. The program seems to work best with the BCASE file in the root directory, and the other files in the BSTR directory.
A small program to print out a calendar for any month of any year. Type CAL mmm yyyy, ie CAL FEB 1989. If the year starts with 19, you need only type the last two digits. The output can be printed in the usual way with by adding >PRN to the command line.
A program to print audio/computer cassette labels out on your printer. The items are printed in a form to be cut and folded into the boxes.
A computer version of the popular card game. No documentation is supplied, except how to make moves, so you need to know how to play cribbage.
A very useful program to put in the AUTOEXEC.BAT file on your working system disc (copy of 512 MASTER DISC 1) if you have a BBC B with no clock. It lets you quickly enter the current date with a couple of cursor keypresses. The setting is written back to the DDATE.COM file, so that each time you boot, it will only require one keypress for each day the machine has been unused. Therefore, the Master disc must not be write-protected.
A straightforward and simple to use wordprocessor, complete with PASCAL source code.
A programmers text editor, with WordStar-like commands.
A simple yet addictive card game. Note that you must use capital letters throughout to select items.
An equation calculator, which performs mathematic, scientific, and financial calculations quickly and efficiently.
A mini expert system. A set of sample rule databases are also provided.
A powerful spreadsheet which can export data to File Express.
EZ-Forms Lite is a forms designer, which allows you to create forms for your printer, using text and IBM graphics characters. As supplied the program is in directory EZFL, but is configured to look for files in the root directory of A:\. See the Install menu option, item 'Other' to change this. Note that the Master 512 video system does not alter the colour of menu items when they are selected, so you must read the notes in the bottom bar to work out which menu item you are up to. The program will not start from the release disc as there is no free memory, so you must copy it to another disc before using it.
A powerful database whose file size is limited only by disc space. Contains an easy layout creator, as well as powerful sort and search utilities. One sample database 'Tutorial' is provided.
A program to find a file in any directory of your discs. This is a rare example of British shareware. Note that it doesn't seem to find 'all files' if you give *.* as the search argument.
This useful program lets you alter the normally unalterable creation date and time of files.
The classic board game. Note that you should answer 'Y' to question 'Do you have a graphics screen' on the 512, otherwise, the screen does not clear or update.
This is an excellent wordprocessor which, despite the 'little' tag, is filled with features.
This program lets you design graphics letterheads, so that you can print your own headed notepaper. The graphic design is done by laying out Xs in a text editor. The documentation suggests using the Sidekick text editor, although any text editor will do, preferably one that can handle more than 80 columns, ie, can scroll sideways. If you do not have a suitable editor, you can prepare the files in View, and use GETFILE to transfer them to the 512.
The classic Conway game emulating living organisms.
The latest version of LIST, the popular file viewer. You can view and print any size of file in text form, or hexadecimal. Type '?' whilst using the editor for a full list of commands.
A collection of mathematical and statistical routines.
An American implementation of a French card game. Note that after reading the help screen, you must press 'R' to redraw the main screen.
A simple typing tutor program. Note that if you make a mistake when typing, you cannot correct it, but must move on to the next letter. If you get out of sequence, every letter will be marked as wrong.
A program which texts the speed of the Master 512, and finds it to be somewhere between the speed of a 6Mhz and 8Mhz IBM AT.
A large and complex graphical wargame simulating naval battles in World War II – you play the US fleet against the Axis powers. The game works with one player – the computer plays the enemy. Instructions are contained within the program.
A small and very fast interpreter or 'interpiler' which supports all the usual BASIC syntax, as well as many extensions. After typing ZBASIC, type E to enter the editor. Help is provided by typing HELP <number> from the prompt. (Type HELP alone for the numbers). There is no full documentation, and the syntax of the language is slightly non-standard, however examination of the demo programs should provide the information you need to write your own programs, which will run much faster than standard BBC BASIC on the Master 128.
The shareware version limits you to 8k program size.
Dabs Press plan to produce further collections of Master 512 Shareware. If there is any particular type of program you would like to see in the collection, do let us know. This collection has been built up from feedback from users of the first one. (If you have not seen Collection 1, containing a word processor, Lotus-compatible spreadsheet, printer utilities, arcade and board games, and much more, please ask for a leaflet on it.)
Note that items such as PrtSc and mouse drivers for the 512 are system-specific, and as such are not available as shareware.