Through CP/M, Amstrad owners have theoretically been given access to at least a dozen attempts at a Pascal compiler including one from HiSoft which wrote the official Amsoft Pascal.
Aside from the price, what is there to choose between them?
The Pascal 80 implementation is not only cheap for a disc CP/M version, but it is also the closest to the standard. which is probably a good thing for educational use.
On the other hand, for those who are making their first steps up from Basic, Amsoft's Pascal is probably the best bet since you don't have to accomodate the idiosyncrasies of the CP/M disc operating system at the same time. It has also been tailored to make it as easy as possible to achieve similar effects to those available from Basic - sound, graphics, interrupts etc. While you also get extras like turtle graphic procedures, it is more limited in other areas - notably the file handling which is better on Pascal 80. Only character files can be used and they are accessed serially, not randomly. Graphics and sound are of course not easily available from CP/M, but again HiSoft have provided some predefined routines that expand on the defined core language. eg, Peek, Poke, Addr, and some mathematical functions.
Amsoft Pascal stands out for its better hardware interface. Conversely Pascal 80 can be used to produce running CP/ M Com files without the need to learn anything about the appropriate Bdos calls for printing to screen, etc.
Amsoft Pascal has a line editor similar to Basic with some additional commands whilst the excellent Wordstar-compatible ED80, familiar to users of Devpac 80. is provided with the CP/M disc. You can of course use separate editors or word processors if you wish. HiSoft's documentation is of a high standard but tends to be of reference value rather than pampenng to the beginner. Amsoft's version is similar but slightly better in that respect.
In both cases you would do well to look for one of the 'teach yourself books recommended.
If you are looking for an Amstrad version of Pascal either of these packages could be a good choice - the Amsoft version is a bit easier to get to grips with, though.
Tony Kendle , PopularComputingWeekly