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There are repositories of tape software available online, for example CPC Power for Amstrad CPC machines.

What is the fastest and simplest way to load such games onto an unmodified computer, with the minimum of extra equipment? I am using an Amstrad CPC6128, but it would be helpful to also include other machines that used tape decks, such as ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 or BBC Micro.

Note: I intend this question as a single place to store the most efficient and effective ways for each machine to download and run software without additional hardware (other than simple cables etc). Obviously, some internet connected device is required such as a computer or phone!

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    I would answer "Use the Apple II disk server", if that was in scope. – Brian H Jan 7 at 19:34
  • I haven't excluded Apple II, and I only left out disks because most solutions involve extra expense. You can always edit the question. – Mark Williams Jan 7 at 21:25
  • I've applied a Community Wiki lock, but it might've been a bad idea. If you want to post another answer, or think the lock was a bad idea, please flag – and also preferably add your thoughts to the meta discussion. – wizzwizz4 Jan 9 at 13:34
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This is a wiki answer, so please amend with additional solutions, or improve the ones below:

CPC Tape Software

Tape images are normally downloaded as a .cdt file, the same file format as the Spectrum .tzx tape format. Though these do not contain any sound data, they can be played back on an Android or iOS phone, using an app such as 'PlayZX' or 'Speccy Tape'.

These 'tapes' can be recorded onto physical cassettes with an appropriate recorder, or connected directly to a CPC464 using a tape adapter. The original CPC6128 has a tape I/O port, to which a suitable cable can be connected that will plug into a headphone socket on a phone or cassette player. Unfortunately, the CPC6128+ models removed this port, so a hardware modification would be necessary to enable it.

These tapes still load in real time so can easily take 6-10 minutes to load a game. There is a limited repository of much faster compressed tape images at CNGSoft, which will load in 1-2 minutes, using the above method. I download these short tapes on my Android phone and then use PlayZX to send them to my CPC6128.

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    I remember making the hardware modification to my 6128+. It's hard to imagine taking a soldering iron to a modern computer! – Ian Thompson Jan 9 at 21:54
  • Baffling oversight given the excellent back compatibility with the 464 was such a positive feature of the 664 and original 6128. – Mark Williams Jan 10 at 11:22
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For the ZX Spectrum:

Sorted by amount of non standard modern equipment needed (less to more):

A smartphone with SpeccyTape (IOS, unfortunately, now unmaintained and not available for 64 bit devices) or PlayZX (Android) and a stereo to mono cable.

Or

TZXDuino / TAPDuino: hobbyst grade gadget (built and sold in several places) that essentially does the same as SpeccyTape/PlayZX, but with a more suitable (powerful) audio output.

Or

DivMMC device: plugged in the expansion bus. Allows almost instant load of unprotected TAP files. For the CPC computer, the equivalent would be a M4 Board. Some incarnations of the DivMMC device include the DivMMC Future and DivMMC enJOY.

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  • Tapdancer is no longer in the Google Play store, though it can be sideloaded and still works. PlayZX for Android also has the advantage of downloading Spectrum games from the internet for you. – Mark Williams Jan 8 at 10:24
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    Good to know! I don't own an Android device so I didn't know about TapDancer no longer in Play Store. – mcleod_ideafix Jan 8 at 13:50
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BBC micro

I haven’t done this but I believe you could instigate a DMA transfer via the 2MHz ‘tube’ interface and write the image directly into RAM. That would require additional hardware but no modifications to the machine itself.

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  • I assume a raspberry pi might be able to do this via GPIO? – Mark Williams Jan 9 at 10:31
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    @MarkWilliams It must be able to respond to a Tube access by the BBC Micro within 2MHz 6502 timing constraints. You can't rely on doing that under Linux. There's a project that was able to do it while running the Pi on bare metal, turning it into a (very fast) Second Processor. – Chromatix Jan 9 at 19:08
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    If it were me (and it’s not) I’d use something like a SAMD51 as a dedicated micro; a PC, PI etc could load a RAM image into it via UART, USB etc and then the micro could DMA the image into the target via the Tube interface using bare-metal firmware. If I still had a BBC micro I’d be inclined to volunteer :-) – Frog Jan 9 at 21:13

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