|★ APPLICATIONS ★ DIVERS ★ CPM Plus V2 on ROM ★|
|Graduate Software Cpm Rom v2 (Amstrad Action)||Applications Divers|
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.
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.
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.
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.