Operators and Programmers Guide for the Amstrad CPC6128 and PCW 8256Littérature English
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Let's get one thing clear before we start: this book is not for beginners. If you shy away from memory maps and assembly language you're unlikely to find it comprehensible, never mind actually useful. Quite simply, it's the only book you'll ever need on the technical side of CP/M Plus - and that means it's very technical indeed.

If you're a bit of a machine code buff and want to start delving in CP/M 2.2, there are plenty of books available from
Non random-access RSXs in the package include commands for direct sector editing, inputting data from the keyboard, disk-error handling, and executing the contents of a string as a Basic command. These are all interesting, though some of them need to be used with a little care.


The real advantage of this system is the way it gives you random access file and other advanced disk features within Locomotive Basic. With a reasonable knowledge of Basic and the aid of a helpful, clearly written manual you should find the routines quite easy to use. Setting up all the parameters for the bar-commands can get laborious, especially on the 464, but the effort required to write your own routines would be in a different league altogether.
The real drawback with the system is the amount of space it takes up - somewhere in the region of 10K - but a data-handling program will probably save much more than that by keeping data on disk rather than in memory.

Sybex and the like. If it's CP/M Plus you're out to gen up on, you've got much less choice. In fact, the only really helpful book up till now has been MML's The Amstrad CP/M Plus by Andrew Clarke and David Powys-Lybbe. So how does Digital Research's official effort measure up?

In terms of presentation, the DR manual is a lot slicker. The typesetting is certainly much easier to read and that's a major advantage to my mind. In practical terms it loses out however, as its chunky ring-binding weakens its pages and the thin covers give it inadequate protection for a reference work.

As far as content goes, the Digital Research manual is really quite narrow. It concentrates on the structure of CP/M Plus in its Amstrad implementations, the workings of the DR/Amstrad utilities and the techniques used in writing applications of your own. This is all very theoretical stuff, and needs to be read slowly. MML's guide quite definitely set out (amongst other things) to teach beginners how to do useful things with CP/M Plus. It covered a wide variety of programming' and hobbyist topics in a friendly, even chatty way.

In contrast, the DR book is formal and precise. Though it starts from basics, the emphasis is on the technicalities of CP/M Plus on the Amstrad machines rather than on how to do what you want to. Each section starts off with a brief summary of what lies ahead, and terms are carefully defined before they are used. The authors waste no time getting stuck into the nitty-gritty of BDOS entries, RSXs (which they explain extremely well) and the two Amstrad CP/M Plus implementations. For the beginner this is of no use at all, but for the seasoned machine code programmer intent on learning to hack in CP/M Plus it's just about ideal.

It's partially a question of the sort of approach you like, but I found the writing style of the Digital Research book much more straightforward and easy to read than Messrs Clarke and Powys-Lybbe. To be sure, the subject matter is pretty complex stuff. All the more reason, to my mind, to set things out plainly as the DR manual does. There's no chat or waffle to get in the way; just detailed information. That said, you might well find it a little too clinical and prefer the MML manual's style it's a matter of taste.


★ YEAR: 198X

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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.