MZ-80K SUC Soft-/Hardware

An Overview of the MZ-80K

Written by Maurice Hawes / SUC/UK 
Source: SUC-magazine July 1994, Volume 14 Number 2, p. 18 – 19  

An Overview of the MZ-80K ( Software / Hardware )

The MZ-80K is still very useful, due to the fact that a lot of good software was written for it. Not by Sharp themselves, but by others who saw the weaknesses in some of Sharp‘s original software and did something about it. Most of the resulting programs are now legitimately ours, and we have an impressive range of software for the rnachine, some being of Continental origin. I aim to cover most of it but, to keep things within bounds, I have omitted compilers, which were comprehensively reviewed in Vol.12 No.1.

Improved basics

The original Sharp tape Basic, SP-5025, was deficient in many respects, and we offer SP-5060, SP-5025.K2, or BASIC PLUS 3 as upgrades of virtually equal merit. For 16.s.f. arithmetic, we can offer Hu-BASIC, a powerful Microsoft-style interpreter.

The original Sharp disk Basic, SP-6015, was similarly deficient, and we rate SP-7011 as the best all-round upgrade ( although the ‘Knight Commander‘, ‘Ardensoft‘ and ‘CPE Disk Basic Plus‘ toolkits all have their points ). For 16 s.f. arithmetic, Sharp‘s SP-6115 is adequate, but SBM-SUPERBASIC ( Hu-BASIC on disk ) is more powerful.

Utilities (including assembler and disassemblers)

Sharp provided a few tape utilities ( a machine-code editor, and a Z80 editor / assembler ), but they were not popular. Many better tape utilities came from elsewhere, including the ZEN Assembler, the B880 MASTER Disassembler, Z80 MACHINE, PROBE, CLUB COPY, and SUPERTAPE 2. All of these may be RUN from disk for convenience.

Sharp provided DISKETTE INIT to format disks, and DISKETTE COPY to copy disks ( the original version will not copy a master disk, but the SUC’s DISK COPY V2.0 will ). Sharp‘s FILING<CMT will copy machine-programs from tape to disk, but not vice-versa. A much better bet is ‘DISK UTIL‘; this program, of French origin, will copy anything, in either direction, and do a lot more besides. We also have ‘DISKEDIT.K4‘ ( German origin ) for direct disk-editing. And finally we have Dr. Gladman‘s ZEN on disk, running under its own DOS; in this form ZEN is invaluable, and in the hands of John Edwards it has provided many of our own upgraded programs.

Applications

On tape, we have several word-processors, but there is no doubt that the best are WDPRO2.37KT, and Sharp Pencil. And we have the HUCALC 80K+ and Sharplan spreadsheets, and the CPE Database.

On disk, we have WDPRO 2.25KD ( with its SDOS operating System ), and Sharpsoft‘s WORDPOWER / DATAPOWER suite ( running under ZEN DOS ). Unfortunately, we do not have legal access to a disk database, but WDPRO can be used as a database, thanks to its FIND command.

Educational programs

The MZ-80K Library contains educational programs, at various levels. Many of them could easily double as games, and should perhaps be included in that category.

Games

The MZ-80K Library contains many adventure and ‘zapping‘ games, but most of them are boring compared with those on a modern IBM PC or ‘Nintendo‘. However, there are good chess programs ( esp. SARGON 2.71 ) and you can play Bridge, Mah Jong, Draughts, Poker, etc….

Other disk operating systems for the MZ-80K

ZEN DOS and SDOS were specially written to run certain programs, and this has remained their main application. QDOS ( German origin ) loads programs faster than Sharp‘s SP-6015, and has many unusual utilities. S-DOM is a powerful system, but it surfaced late in the day, and has not been fully exploited. Sharp FDOS has some useful features, but time and patience is needed to learn to use them.

To run XTAL‘s CP/M, the MZ-80K must be modified. Some of the changes are tricky, and a reliable solution remains exlusive.

Manuals

We have all ‘K‘ Manuals; photocopies are available at cost, but ‘SOFTWARE MANUAL III‘ covers a lot of ground, only £2 post free. Virtually all the software above has been described in past issues of the SUC Magazine, and an ‘Index‘ to these articles appeared on pages 6 – 11 of Vol.13 No.3. That issue, and most of the others mentioned in its ‘Index‘, are still available as back numbers.

Expansion boxes, disk driver, printers and printer leads

Expansion boxes and disk drives originally cost a bomb, but we are now offering them at knock-down prices ( see page 4 ). At these prices, anyone still using a tape-based MZ-80K should think big !

The Sharp P3 printer was designed for the MZ-80K, and is rugged, reliable, and cheap on ribbons; and the SUC can supply an improved character eprom for £5. Later Sharp printers ( P4 / 5 / 6 ) may also be used, if fitted with a ‘K‘ character eprom. These Sharp printers have only one mode of operation. They expect an end-of-line ‘CR‘ ( $0D ), upon which they print the line, and then do AUTO LF; this precludes any operation requiring two passes e.g. underlining.

Standard printers may be used; for years, we were led to believe that a special printer I/F was needed, but we now know that this is not so, and a Standard Sharp printer I/F may be used. Sharp‘s special ‘ASCII‘ character set, and their strange printer control codes, both rernain inherent problems; if your software does not contain built-in cover on these two points, it must be modified. In most cases we can provide either software which is already modified ( /IM, /LF, or /C ), or ‘CENTRONICS patch programs.

A standard printer with AUTO LF ON behaves like the Sharp ‘P‘ printers described above. lt is more flexible to set AUTO LF OFF and send $0A to print a line and do a line feed; an $0D alone may then be used to print a line but allow another pass. Most of our modified software ( /LF, /C and CENTRONICS ) is for AUTO LF OFF.

The built-in P3 lead fits the ‘K‘ printer card. P5 / 6 leads are ‘straight through 1 – 25‘ ( 25 D-plug / 26 DIL socket ). Special leads are needed for standard and P4 printers, see Vol. 10 No.3 pp.10 – 11.