Saturday, April 19, 2014

Running dBASE II on CP/M

A viewer of my YouTube video on running various CP/M applications on the Briel Altair 8800 kit suggested I look at dBASE II. dBASE II was one of the first database management systems for microcomputers. I'm not particularly interested in databases, but I thought I would give it a try.

I downloaded dBASE 4.1 from www.retroarchive.org. I unzipped it, copied the files to an SD card, booted up CP/M, and copied all files to an empty CP/M B: drive.


While it runs out of the box, running INSTALL will let you configure the terminal type and use it in full screen mode. From the install program, you pick a VT-100 terminal type that should work with the Briel Altair's display. A session is shown below.

B>install

dBASE II INSTALLATION PROGRAM  VER 3.0

ARE FULL SCREEN OPERATIONS WANTED (Y/N)? y

  dBASE II INSTALLATION PROGRAM  VER 3.0
                 MENU #1

A -ADDS VIEWPOINT   M -HP 2621
B -ADM-31           N -INTERCOLOR
C -ADM-3A           O -KAYPRO II
D -APPLE ///        P -NEC PC-8000/1
E -APPLE II 40 COL  Q -NS ADVANTAGE
F -CROMEMCO 3102    R -OSBORNE I
G -DIALOG 81        S -PERKIN ELMER 11
H -EAGLE AVL        T -SANYO MBC 3000
I -GNAT-SYSTEM 10   U -SOROC
J -HAZELTINE 1500   V -SPERRY UTS 40
K -HEATH 89         W -SUPERBRAIN
L -HP 125                          

     X - MENU #2
     Y - MODIFY PREVIOUS INSTALLATION
     Z - USER SUPPLIED TERMINAL COMMANDS

SELECT TERMINAL TYPE: X

   dBASE II INSTALLATION PROGRAM  VER 3.0
               MENU #2

A -TELEVIDEO                   
B -TOSHIBA T100                
C -TOSHIBA T250                 
D -TRS-80 (FMG)                 
E -TRS-80 II (P&T)              
F -TRS-80 III                   
G -VECTOR GRAPHICS              
H -VISUAL-100                   
I -VPD-80                       
J -VT-100                       
K -XEROX 820                   

     X - MENU #1
     Y - MODIFY PREVIOUS INSTALLATION
     Z - USER SUPPLIED TERMINAL COMMANDS

SELECT TERMINAL TYPE: J

CHANGE MACRO, DATE, ETC. (Y/N)? N

TYPE "Y" TO SAVE, ANY OTHER KEY TO ABORT INSTALL
Y
SAVING INSTALLATION PARAMETERS

B>

Running DBASE will start the application. The HELP command will display general information on the application and more details on each command. Below is a short session.

B>dbase

ENTER TODAYS DATE  OR RETURN FOR NONE 
 (MM/DD/YY) :04/19/14

Copyright (C) 1982 RSP Inc.

***  dBASE II     Ver 2.4  1 April, 1983

 Type 'HELP', 'HELP dBASE', or a command  

. help dbase

       HELP TEXT FILE DBASEMSG.TXT VERSION 1.12 FOR dBASE II v2.4
                Copyright 1983 Ashton-Tate and RSP, Inc.

        written by Wayne Ratliff, Jim Taylor, and Howard Dickler

                         INTRODUCTION
     
     This entry is intended to give you on-line information about your dBASE 
II  Database  Management  System.   It  explains the  disk  files  you  have 
received,  and  gives suggestions on tapping the power now available to  you 
for  data  management.   Using  the on-line HELP in  conjunction  with  your 
Manual,   you will soon be creating databases and writing command procedures 
to do your work. 

                    >>>>> type any key to continue <<<<<
WAITING 

                       HOW TO USE THE 'HELP' FACILITY

     Information about your dBASE  II  system can be obtained by typing 
HELP and any of the following key words: (e.g. HELP NEW )

          UTILITIES      FULL-SCREEN    LIMITS    BACKUP  
          INSTALL        NEW            ERRORS    CP/M
          EXAMPLES       FUNCTIONS      DBASE     HELP       RUNTIME
               (or any dBASE II command)

     dBASE will then look up the entry for the key word and display it.   If 
there is no information on the subject then dBASE will say "NO HELP MESSAGES 
FOUND".   When there is more text to display beyond what's shown,  then  you 
will see the word 

WAITING  (like this)

                   >>>>>  type any key to continue. <<<<<

WAITING 

. list
NO DATABASE FILE IN USE, ENTER FILENAME: invent.dbf

00001  123456 QUIRKY LITTLE QWARK     99.00   230.00   23  100 
00002  258741 PORTABLE POOL          450.00   999.99   20   40 
00003  258963 ELEPHANT COLLAR          3.00    15.00    3   10 
00004  123345 HOUSE WRAPPER           45.00   100.00  200  100 

. display structure

STRUCTURE FOR FILE:  B:INVENT  .DBF
NUMBER OF RECORDS:   00004
DATE OF LAST UPDATE: 03/09/83
PRIMARY USE DATABASE
FLD       NAME      TYPE WIDTH   DEC
001     PRD:NMBR     C    006          
002     PRD:DESC     C    020          
003     PRD:COST     N    007    002   
004     PRD:PRIC     N    007    002   
005     ONHAND       N    003          
006     ONORDR       N    003          
** TOTAL **             00047

. list

00001  123456 QUIRKY LITTLE QWARK     99.00   230.00   23  100 
00002  258741 PORTABLE POOL          450.00   999.99   20   40 
00003  258963 ELEPHANT COLLAR          3.00    15.00    3   10 
00004  123345 HOUSE WRAPPER           45.00   100.00  200  100 
00005  998783 My widget               13.99    24.50   10   99 
00006  988765 Brand new car            0.00     0.00    1  999 

. quit
*** END RUN     dBASE II     ***

Thw screen shot below shows adding new a database record in full screen mode with the APPEND command.



dBASE was quite innovative for its time and was one of the "killer applications" that drove the adoption of early microcomputers for business use. You can learn more from this Wikipedia article. The company behind dBASE is still in business and can be found at dbase.com.

1 comment:

Howard Dickler said...

Jeeze--was looking about to see if anything survived of the docs I did for Ashton-Take--and there is the intro help file screen, the first thing I did for AT after I did their mail order catalog. So, "Hi!" to anyone actually looking at this, and "Hi" to you Jeff.
Howard Dickler