The BBC micro and BBC Master have become two of the most flexible small computers for general purpose use in the home, education, business and industry. However, there are two areas where BBC micros are lacking. First, the memory limitation, even the Master 128 leaves the programmer with little option but to resort to assembly language for large applications. Even more important is the lack of well developed business applications. The IBM PC and the MS-DOS Operating System which drives it have a large number of professional programs designed for them, often originally under the CP/M Operating System which was the world standard before DOS.
The Acorn 80186 co-processor attempts to fill this gap by providing compatibility with this wide range of business software, while minimising costs by utilising the keyboard, screen and other peripheral handling capabilities already provided by the BBC or Master micro.
The 512's Operating System is a customised version of Digital Research's DOS Plus, which is largely compatible with MS-DOS, specifically version 2.1. The 512 processor is an Intel 80186, which is code-compatible with the Intel 8088/8086 variant found in IBM PCs and most other IBM PC-compatibles.
While it is theoretically possible to run the majority of IBM PC applications on the 512, there are differences, and not all the software which you might expect to run will do so. This situation is complicated by the fact that many applications packages are simultaneously available in several different versions, necessitated by the multiplicity of versions of DOS.
It is probably beyond the scope of any book to attempt to list these differences
in packages or to provide a comprehensive applications
... <Line omitted in original printed version> ...
explained to enable you to set up and maintain the system as well as to configure and run PC-compatible packaged applications.
This book was prepared using the Master 512. PC-compatibles were used for text entry and program development when no Master 512 was available. Typesetting was done with an Apple Macintosh desktop publishing system.
I would like to thank David Atherton and Bruce Smith for commissioning me to write this book, and Syd Day and Robin Burton for editing and adding to the text and, I am sure, improving it.