CPM Plus V2 on ROM (Amstrad Action)GRADUATE SOFTWARE CP/M ROM V2 (CPC Computing)
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Placing the CPM+ operating system on ROM is no small feat: adding to CPM's core commands is even more impressive. Yet Derby-dwellers Graduate managed this back in April (reviewed AA32). At the time we hailed its appearance as the best thing that could happen to CPM, and couldn't imagine anything better mg it. Only Graduate's strive for perfection has resulted in CPM Plus version 2 on ROM. It's here and it's hot.

So what does all this 'CPM Plus on ROM' business entail anyway? Well, for a start you need a romboard. The best - but also the most expensive (£34.95) - comes from the stables of Rombo Productions (» 0506 39046). Not surprisingly this board is called Rombo. Doubtless you'll be able to pick up other boards for around £15 if you look. Romboards accept 8k and 16k eproms these are 20-legged chips - which act like read-only memory. So plugging in the two roms that Graduate's modified CPM comcs on gives you instantaneous access to DR's operating system. 464 and 664 users can upgrade to 6128's by following the upgrade article in AA30.

You know if the roms are installed correctly, because a message proclaiming your name appears - very prestigious. Several external (or bar) commands are introduced to the system:

|CPMVER displays text reminding you that CPM Plus is Amstrad's and Digital Research's copyright. Version number and serial number are also displayed.

|NAME prints your name - just in case you missed it when you switched on your CPC.

|NOCPM disables the CPM roms

|O or |EMS (not Early Morning Sickness, but close: Early Morning Start) powers up CPM Plus. A string parameter may follow which enables you to boot an application or execute a CPM command automatically. For instance, |O,"DISCKKIT3" would start CPM and executc Disckit (assuming, of course, you have a disk in the drive containing a copy of Disckit).

|OHELP lists acccssory roms. More on these elsewhere.

|CP allows you to conditionally enter CPM. Inserting a disk displays all executable COM files; selecting one of these causes CPM to start along with the chosen program.

CPM extensions

Like BASIC, CPM has several in-built commands for cataloguing the disk, erasing files and so on (DIR. TYPE. USER etc.). Graduate have somehow managed to add to the command range and even improve existing instructions, border, for example, lets you change the border colour. Similarly ink, paper, mode and pen change other screen colour characteristics.

Additions to version 1.71

New external commands include |NOCPM for disabling CPM on ROM and |OHELP for listing accessory rows.

The CPM command set now has SHOW (displays information on disk drives attached to the computer), DATE (for viewing system date and time), DATE SET (for altering date and time), KDS ( an 8-bit printer port if attached). ROMCAT (lists all accessory roms) and SIGNON (for initialising accessory ROMS).

Standard CPM uses spaces as delimiters between commands - for instance, dir *.com. The ROM'd version accepts commas as the delim iters: dir,*.com, mode,2 and so on. Like Basic. Graduate's CPM commands can be chained together. CPM requires each instruction to be separated by an exclamation mark (mode 2!dir *.cOm, say), BASIC uses the colon (mode 2:|dir, "*.com").

Many of the commands added to CPM arc similar in name and operation to BASIC's offerings. For instance cat catalogues the disk, border changes the border colour, cls clears the screen and mode alters the resolution.

Accessory ROM's

Not only can CPM be placed on ROM: so too can your favourite CPM application or utility. Result: instant CPM urograms. The drawback, of course, is that extra ROM slots are occupied. It would be all too easy to fill a romboard with CPM Plus and several accessory ROM's - no bad thing considering how well everything works. The accessory ROM sent for review contained the public domain file manager NSWEEP and an unusual command for running Amsdos binary programs. When complete, the accessory ROM should hold an extra two utilities: a for matter and a PCW disk reader.

You can catalogue accessory ROM's in much the same way as a disk, and ran files in a like manner The advantage is speed: one moment you're typing the program name, the next you're staring at the application.

Graduate charge £15 to place CPM programs of your choice on ROM.

Other commands actually replacc transient programs found on the system disk: language changes the character set palette assigns colours to ink pots, setlst sends commands to the printer If you calculate the total amount of disk space saved by having these extra commands available from CPM, it comcs to over 70K.

So what's it like in operation? Remarkable. It's so fast and friendly that you have a hard job believing you're working under the CPM operating system at all. No software we tested complained about the modified system. CPM doesn't have to be tortuous.

Go on, treat yourself.

Legal ROM's

Send graduate your original CPM Plus system disk along with £32.50 and they give you two ROM's in exchange. So why your original disk? Simply to protect yourself and Graduate. The ROMs you receive have the serial number of your system disk, together with your name and address, included in the ROM code (these details appear when you switch the computer on).

This way you won't feel too happy about handing out copies. Similarly Graduate can claim that they aren't, actually selling copies of CPM Plus on ROM. rather they are providing a service to transfer your disk-based CPM system onto ROM.


★ PUBLISHERS: Graduate Software / Digital Research
★ YEAR: 1988
★ CONFIG: 128K (6128 or expanded 464/664)
★ PRICE: £32.50


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L'Amstrad CPC est une machine 8 bits à base d'un Z80 à 4MHz. Le premier de la gamme fut le CPC 464 en 1984, équipé d'un lecteur de cassettes intégré il se plaçait en concurrent  du Commodore C64 beaucoup plus compliqué à utiliser et plus cher. Ce fut un réel succès et sorti cette même années le CPC 664 équipé d'un lecteur de disquettes trois pouces intégré. Sa vie fut de courte durée puisqu'en 1985 il fut remplacé par le CPC 6128 qui était plus compact, plus soigné et surtout qui avait 128Ko de RAM au lieu de 64Ko.