42

You just made a file for each chapter, like sensible people do with current word processing! It is very unusual to write something lengthy in a single document.


29

The early versions of Microsoft BASIC required 4KB of ROM The 4k versions lacked a number of major features, including string variables. These were added in the 8k versions. The equivalent 6502 version, which also expanded the floating point from 32 to 40 bits, was about 10k. But Microsoft's IBM BASIC (known as "Cassette BASIC") for the original IBM PC ...


24

It was common to install word processing software as a ROM into one of the spare "sideways ROM" sockets on the BBC Micro, in the same way as the DFS ROM needed to operate a floppy drive. WordWise and Inter-Word were two popular options. This left more RAM available for text than if the software were loaded into RAM from tape or disk; typically ...


13

BBC Micro model B has 32k memory. An average book, like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, has about 350,000 characters in it. So you'd need over 10 times the memory to load it in, plus the software to edit it. True, but only if you insist on having all text at all time in RAM. If people wanted to use a BBC Micro era computer to write a novel, how did they go ...


11

According to EBU R95, the title-safe area for 576i format (corresponding to PAL SDTV) is 258 lines tall in each field. This is just large enough to accommodate the 256 lines per field that the BBC Micro uses. This is probably not a coincidence, as the BBC Micro was in part designed so that the BBC itself could use the micro for generating titles and ...


11

[Maury Markowitz' answer already nails it, so this is just to add some numbers for comparison] The Cassette BASIC 1.0/1.1 in the IBM PC ROM is a Microsoft BASIC V5.x (*1). It's usually marketed as MBASIC. It was available as stand alone application or as program under CP/M and other OS. MS offered 3 basic flavours: 8 KiB BASIC Extended BASIC Disk BASIC 8 ...


9

Since you're asking not (just) about the BBC Micro, but about computers of that era in general: More sophisticated word processors like WordStar, running on CP/M, were able to swap both code and text between RAM and disk, letting the user edit lengthy documents in the typical 64k of early-80s CP/M systems. This would, of course, be slow, and profit greatly ...


9

Trying to get more into the specifics of the BBC connection, there is a substantial hint in the user guide: However only 5 bits of the [user] port, and CB1, CB2 are used: This leaves bits 1,3 and 4 available for other uses. Which is backed up by the schematic provided by Simon Inns in the doco for SmallyMouse2; comparing that to the user port's pinout ...


8

Stephen Fry describes here how he wrote a book on the BBC Micro, saving on cassette: In 1982 I bought a BBC Acorn for £399. It came complete with a firmware programme called Wordwise which I adored and which, in my fond memory, was the best word processor ever. I used it to write the book (ie story and dialogue) of a stage musical, saving on cassette tape ...


8

Only very rarely because the tape hardware is completely distinct between the two machines, it’s very lightly documented and somewhat peculiar on the Electron, is fairly fixed in its functionality, the built-in routines are pretty good (including rewind and retry), and using the standard routines gives you a trivial pathway to adapting your title to ROM or ...


6

I expect the default screen mode was changed to 7 precisely because it used less memory. For text display purposes, it has the same number of rows and columns as well as the ability to handle colour, but uses only a tenth of the RAM - on the Model A, that would have been a serious concern. A consequence of this is that a program of any size can be loaded ...


6

Computer Concepts (now part of Xara) produced Wordwise Plus in 1984 on a 16 K EPROM. It allowed a document to use the entire space on an attached disk drive as virtual memory.


5

The first novel written on a microcomputer was probably Jerry Pournelle's portion of Oath of Fealty (cowritten with Larry Niven). At the time, Pournelle did most of his work on a Cromemco Z-2 with 64KiB RAM and CP/M (the machine is described in more detail in Pournelle's column in the July 1980 issue of Byte). It's not much of a stretch to imagine that ...


5

There exists a copy of some draft requirements that the BBC had for the new machine. At the time, these had already been hashed out a bit with Acorn, so they match quite well with the resulting BBC Micro. A relevant extract: Keyboard: capable of generating all 128 ASCII codes. Positive action keys (not touch sensitive). ISO standard layout plus: (...


5

Earlier answers describe the procedural generation system of the Elite "galaxy". Also relevant, I think, is the way the ships were designed to be both easy to render quickly on an 8-bit micro, and to take up as little space as possible. All of the original Elite ships were convex hulls with the possible exception of isolated spikes representing externally ...


4

This answer is not specific to the BBC Micro, but is generally illustrative of editing technology on systems where document size is likely to exceed available memory. I'd allege that prior to virtual-memory systems, this style was the norm, since there was "never" as much memory as you needed. I've edited fairly lengthy programs on a system where ...


4

Even Cassette Basic offered many features not present in the 6502 dialects, including the ability to use long variable names, support for both single and double-precision floating point, support for both 16-bit and 32-bit integer types, support for hex and octal numbers, and many other features.


4

I don't know the specific details, but in general the mouse uses standard quadrature encoders so for each axis you get two data pins that output movement data. While several ways to decode the quadrature data for each edge to achieve maximum resolution, the hardware uses a simplest possible approach with the PIO chip. Basically a pulse on one pin can be used ...


4

I can answer half of that only: the BBC did often run into trouble, to the point that they cite the *TV command as early as Page 17 of the user guide: If the picture on your television screen is either too far up or too far down the screen, you can move the whole display with the command *TV. *TV 255 will move down one line *TV 254 will move ...


4

From a previous question: What BBC Microcomputer features were requested specifically by BBC engineers? which references this BBC document: both pound sign and number symbol (hash) must be included ... the RETURN key will be a different colour from the rest; But that actually: and certain that the return key ended up being the same colour as ...


3

You’ve laid the assumption that one would load the whole novel into memory. That’s a false assumption. Performance is the #1 reason If you got anywhere near 16,000 book characters in RAM at one time, the system started to suffer performance issues, which were very annoying and would tend to break workflow. It can’t be overstated how annoying these would be. ...


1

The problem with the idea of expanding the memory is that the 6502 only had 64K of address space and pretty much all of it was allocated to something. 32K was used for the ram, 16K for the current "sideways rom", 15¼K for the OS, ¼K for internal memory mapped IO and ½K for the "1MHz bus" expansion interface. So it was not possible to ...


1

My recollection is that BASIC was machine translated from the 8080 BASIC, and so would have been bigger and slower than something written to take full advantage of the 8086.


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