BASIC Faster and Better and Other Mysteries

written by Matthew Reed

Title:BASIC Faster and Better and Other Mysteries
Author:Lewis Rosenfelder
Publisher:IJG, Inc.
Publication date:1981
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BASIC Faster and Better and Other Mysteries, also known as BASIC Faster and Better, is one of the best books about advanced BASIC programming on the TRS-80. It was written by Lewis Rosenfelder and published by IJG, Inc.

The book, which was volume 4 in IJG’s TRS-80 Information Series, cost $29.95 when it was introduced in 1981. Radio Shack also sold it as BASIC Faster and Better (catalog number 62-1002) for the same price, describing it in their catalog as “a guided tour of advanced BASIC programming.” A review in 80 Microcomputing stated:

The book is worth the money no matter what level of programming ability you possess.

BASIC Faster and Better and Other Mysteries focuses on practical programming, specifically writing effective BASIC programs within the limits of the TRS-80 hardware. Here is a quote from the introduction:

You won’t find any trivia here. Each routine and technique solves one or more specific programs that you are likely to encounter when programming the TRS-80. Every thing we’ll discuss is pragmatic, with the goal of making the computer do what you want it to do, with the least programming effort.

Lewis Rosenfelder is a very effective author and provides a personal perspective to all the tips and techniques. The sixteen chapters in the book give some idea of the breadth of topics covered:

  • “What is Faster and Better?”
  • “Subroutines, ‘Handlers’, and ‘Shells’”
  • “Super-Power Function Calls”
  • “USR Routines – For Speed and Flexibility”
  • “Magic Memory Techniques”
  • “BASIC Overlays”
  • “Number Crunchers and Munchers”
  • “Using Strings in New Ways”
  • “Date and Time Manipulations”
  • “Bit Manipulation”
  • “Arrays, Searches, and Sorts”
  • “More – Arrays, Searches, and Sorts”
  • “Keyboard and Video Trickery”
  • “Data Entry Made Easy”
  • “Useful Utilities”
  • “Model 2 Modifications”

IJG also sold two companion disks to the book. The two disks, named BFBLIB (for library) and BFBDEM (for demonstration), contained code from the book and cost $19.95 each.

There were two other BASIC Faster and Better books:

  • Atari BASIC Faster and Better by Carl M. Evans wasn’t a direct adaptation of Rosenfelder’s book, but was inspired by it. The introduction states: “This book is dedicated to Lewis Rosenfelder … in grateful acknowledgment of his being that special kind of pioneer, who, being the first to go, carried the lantern high.”
  • IBM BASIC Faster and Better by Lewis Rosenfelder (also known as Advanced IBM BASIC Faster and Better) wasn’t a rewrite of his TRS-80 book, but did share much of its structure and many of the details.
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