Tuesday, February 12, 2019

6809 Single Board Computer: TSC Micro Basic Plus

On the hunt for interesting software that could run on my 6809 Single Board Computer, I came across a small BASIC interpreter.

Originally written for the 6800 processor to run on systems like the Southwest Technical Products SWTPC, Micro Basic Plus was developed by Technical Systems Consultants in 1976 and cost $15.95 for the manual and listing. A cassette tape was $6.95 and paper tape was $6.00. The original version can be found here  and had this marketing blurb about it:

TSC Micro Basic Plus

This is the most complete small Basic available to micro users. Statements include: PRINT, INPUT, READ, DATA, RESTORE, IF ... THEN, GOTO, GOSUB, LET, ON ...GOTO, ON ...GOSUB, RETURN, FOR (with + and - step), NEXT, DIM (single and double dimensioned arrays up to 98 by 98), REM and END. There are also several functions available which include TAB and SPC (for output formatting), RND, ABS, SGN and exponentiation. The commands available to the user are LIST, SCRATCH, RUN, and MONITOR. But the list does not stop here. MICRO BASIC PLUS also includes a complete line editor ability to have multiple statements per line, direct execution of most statements, large arithmetic range (integer only -99999 to +99999), and a very simple load and dump procedure for saving the user's BASIC program on paper tape or cassette and then reloading it at a later time. Also included is an EXTERNAL statement which allows the user to write 6800 machine language subroutines to be called during BASIC program execution.

You are probably thinking all this sounds great, but if the less extensive versions of small BASIC require 23K of memory then this version must require 5 or 6K because the capability is doubled. Well here is the icing on the cake. MICRO BASIC PLUS resides in a fraction over 3K which means that in a 4K system you still have room for a 30 to 60 line BASIC program. For more complex programs, we recommend a system with 8K or more of memory.

One more plus... you not only receive a complete manual and hex dump of the program, but also the fully commented source listing! This is a great aid for learning programming techniques as well as enabling you to alter the program should you so desire.

I found a 6809 port here,  developed by Drexel University to run on their 6809 Single Board Computer. It looks to have been a straight port from 6800 to 6809 mnemonics with the input/output routines adapted to their hardware and monitor.

I ported it to my board, using ASSIST09 monitor routines for i/o. I had it up and running in an evening, and made a few improvements after that. It supports most common BASIC keywords including ON/GOTO and ON/GOSUB and one and two dimensional arrays.

Overall, though, the language is pretty limited as compared to other BASICs with support for integer math only and no string variables at all. This is not surprising given that it is only a little of 3 Kilobytes in size! It is not too different in capabilities from Apple 1 BASIC originally written by Steve Wozniak and later expanded into Integer BASIC for the Apple ][.

I tried a few sample programs and they ran quite well. I made an enhancement it to show full error messages rather than just numbers (which increases the size by another 1/2 K or so). The code is here.

For running real BASIC programs I think I will stick to the port of Microsoft BASIC for the Color Computer, but this is an interesting little program.

1 comment:

Ashley Rosa said...

Password is the main source to your account and to protect it from other people should be your task. It has been observed that users often get in password issues and unable to deal with them. If your password is not working and you need remedies, call on Blockchain phone number which is functional. The team is always ready to eliminate your trouble and serve solutions which are needful and productive. Connecting team is a wonderful step as you can easily get out of issue immediately without any help. The team is by your side all the time for help, therefore, talk to them for availing quality solutions.