Articles in the "Books" Category

Writing BASIC Adventure Programs for the TRS-80

Adventure games were some of the earliest games written for computers and they were incredibly popular at the beginning of the microcomputer revolution. Despite this popularity, there were only a handful of books that showed how adventure games worked in detail or how to write one. In my opinion, the best book of this type was Writing BASIC Adventure Programs for the TRS-80 by Frank DaCosta. Published in 1982 by TAB Books, Writing BASIC Adventure Programs for the TRS-80 describes two different types of adventure games, with full listings that the reader could type in to the computer. (Both programs were also available through the mail from the author for $19.95 on either disk or tape.)

DaCosta devotes the main part of the book (the first ten chapters) to Basements and Beasties, a classic text adventure in the mold of William Crowther’s original Adventure. After describing how an adventure game works in general, DaCosta lays out the framework needed for a text adventure.

TRS-80 Programs: 32 BASIC Programs for the TRS-80 (Level II) Computer

In the early days of microcomputers, books containing “type-in” BASIC programs were common. But probably the book series published for the widest range of computers was the “32 BASIC Programs” series, written by Tom Rugg and Phil Feldman and published by dilithium Press. (The name dilithium was intentionally lowercase.)

Each book contained thirty-two BASIC programs divided into six categories: applications, educational, graphics, game, mathematics, and miscellaneous. Some of the later books added seven extra programs spread across the same categories.

The text of each book was almost identical, sometimes with just the name of the computer changed. Of course, the programs themselves and the screenshots illustrating each program were necessarily different for each new computer.

The TRS-80 entry in the series was titled TRS-80 Programs: 32 BASIC Programs for the TRS-80 (Level II) Computer. Judging by the publication dates, it was the second book in the series, immediately following the Commodore PET version.

The Creative TRS-80

Creative Computing was one of the longest running of the early microcomputer magazines, publishing from 1974 to 1985. Unlike most later microcomputer magazines, Creative Computing covered the entire range of personal computers, including the TRS-80, Atari, and Apple.

In 1983, Creative Computing Press published three books collecting computer-specific articles from the pages of Creative Computing. They targeted each book at a different computer market: The Creative Atari, The Creative Apple, and The Creative TRS-80.

The Creative TRS-80, edited by Ken Mazur with a preface by Creative Computing Associate Editor John J. Anderson, has over 100 articles and reviews from Creative Computing.

TRS-80 ROM Routines Documented

Understanding how to use TRS-80 ROM routines was very important for any TRS-80 Model I or III programmer, and there were many books written about that subject. TRS-80 ROM Routines Documented by Jack Decker was considered to be one of the best. Jack Decker wrote many articles for The Alternate Source, including a series named “TRS-80 ROM Routines Documented,” which served as the basis for this book.

The bulk of TRS-80 ROM Routines Documented is composed of five chapters detailing various portion of the TRS-80 ROM:

TRS-80 Assembly Language Programming

At one time in the TRS-80 world, the name William Barden was linked to assembly language programming. This book was one of the main reasons why. TRS-80 Assembly Language Programming, along with Programming the Z80 by Rodney Zaks, helped introduce a whole generation of TRS-80 programmers to assembly language.

Collectible Microcomputers

The history of early microcomputers is a poorly documented subject and the amount of misinformation available is incredible. That’s why it is such a pleasure to read a book by someone knowledgeable about the subject. Collectible Microcomputers_ is just that book, a reference book for classic computers.

Long-time TRS-80 users may remember Michael Nadeau as a frequent contributor to 80 Micro, serving as senior copy editor, executive editor, and later editor-in-chief. He was also editor-in-chief of HOT CoCo magazine and the coordinator of the 80 Micro Anniversary issue.

TRSDOS 2.3 Decoded and Other Mysteries

TRSDOS 2.3 Decoded and Other Mysteries was written by James Lee Farvour and published by IJG in 1982. It was volume six in the TRS-80 Information Series.

In a way, this book was a companion to James Lee Farvour’s earlier Microsoft Basic Decoded and Other Mysteries. That book analyzed TRS-80 Model I BASIC in great detail, describing how each part of the language worked. At the end of the book, it included the commented portion of a disassembly of the BASIC. It did not include the complete disassembly because Microsoft never gave permission for that to be published.

Encyclopedia For The TRS-80

Back in 1981, the TRS-80 was the best selling computer and 80 Microcomputing magazine was bursting at the seams. Wayne Green, the publisher of 80 Microcomputing, envisioned a new set of books: the Encyclopedia for the TRS-80. As the first advertisement for the Encyclopedia stated:

Priming the Pump: How TRS-80 Enthusiasts Helped Spark the PC Revolution

Lately, there seems to be an increasing interest in the history of early microcomputers. But for whatever reason, Radio Shack and the TRS-80 are rarely mentioned in histories of microcomputing. When the TRS-80 is mentioned, the details are often incomplete or completely wrong. I don’t know what has caused this collective amnesia, but the TRS-80 deserves to have its important contributions recognized.

The Programmer's Guide To LDOS/TRSDOS Version 6

The Programmer’s Guide is my favorite TRS-80 programming book, and in my opinion, the most useful. The chapters include:

  • an overview of the operating system
  • device input/output, with information about filters and drivers
  • disk drive input/output, with information about writing a disk driver
  • DOS directory structure
  • disk file access and control
  • interfacing with supervisory calls (SVCs), including detailed information about parameters
  • other useful miscellaneous tables and topics