Why the QL ?

A place to discuss general QL issues.
RWAP
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Re: Why the QL ?

Postby RWAP » Thu Mar 21, 2019 3:29 pm

I bought my first computer (a ZX81 complete with 16K RAM pack) off my brother when he upgraded to a Spectrum. I was only 13 and soon learnt to program in ZX BASIC and worked my way through the Toni Baker book on programming in assembly. My ZX81 was balanced on a board on my bed, the TV on a shelf about 2 feet above the bed - not ideal, but I managed to learn a lot and soon surpassed my brother's skills (he was studying an O level computers course at the time). AI still remember working out the Z80 codes by hand on paper and then typing the program into a hex loader (I couldn't afford an assembler !)

I was drawn to the QL by it being more than the Spectrum - aimed at programmers, developers and business; I wanted to learn all about the enhanced "SuperBASIC" and 68000 machine programming, so I bought myself a QL in 1984 and my first program was the Metacomco Assembler (no games software for me!)

I then fell in love with the QL's ability to quickly create meaningful SuperBASIC programs, full of procedures and functions, which I could then learn to re-code as a new keyword in machine code, figuring out how to get the most out of both SuperBASIC and the 68000 routines. I wrote a few bits of early software (alas none of which was ever published in QL World); the remains of which was given to the PD libraries (thanks Ian Blundell of the original QL-Forum microdrive magazine, and Richard Alexander of CGH Services).

I then got involved in writing review articles for QL World / QL User and through that began testing and bug fixing (rather than write a negative review, I would fix the program or proffer my suggestions!).

Whilst SuperBASIC was a much more structured language than the original ZX BASIC, unfortunately, some software authors were stuck in their ways, and so my first "paid" QL programming job (whilst I was at University) was to take the horrendous code that was D-Day, and re-write it so that it could (a) compile and (b) you could complete the game! With permission from Games Workshop, and under the guidance of CGH Services, D-Day MKII was born and even included features which were in the original program, but disabled as the authors could not seem to get them to work.

From there, I teamed up closely with CGH Services, and you can find bits of my code, improvements and bugfixes in a wide range of software, including adventures from Alan Pemberton, CGH Software titles, Talent software games and adventures, Ergon Developments utilities (although mainly I wrote the manuals for them and highlighted where features needed fixing / improvement), and Sharps' Inc's War in the East, as well as even more PD software and bits in the Quanta library.

Roy Wood was also instrumental in me taking on the SBASIC / SuperBASIC Reference Manual which had been started by Franz Hermann and Peter Jaeger in Germany - he showed it to me at a QL show one day and asked if I would be interested. About 1000 pages later, it was ready for publication....

Over the years, I have learnt a lot from programming the QL and many of the routines I wrote on the QL are still in use by me today - albeit running in C, PHP, Perl or even ladder logic!


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Re: Why the QL ?

Postby SinclairSociety » Thu Mar 21, 2019 4:55 pm

Thanks for all the comments so far.

My story is... well I did not use Sinclair at all back in the 80s as over here in USA, they sold under Timex at first but really the market was all about other platforms. I believe they sold mail order too after Timex stopped selling them but not sure if in any big numbers.

I was an Atari guy..

But flash forward to 2019 and the Spectrum Next caught my attention... read deeper into it and while I wait for the 2nd Kickstarter for a Next, I started buying some Sinclair systems to get familiar with them. Then found the QL and thought what a nice looking black slab that thing was... and how I never really knew about it in the day.

Probably saw it but since I was Atari, did not pay attention. I mean I used a ZX80 from a friend so knew of Sinclair.

Now I am smitten by the whole Sinclair platform and diving in head 1st... catching up on 30 lost years.

TJ


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Dave
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Re: Why the QL ?

Postby Dave » Thu Mar 21, 2019 6:11 pm

I got one from Dillons on sale for £99. I'd always wanted one since I first saw it because it was marketed as having a fun yet serious side, and I only ever saw the Spectrum as a toy, the Beebs as very dry and everything else as, well, everything else.

Within 2 weeks of buying the QL, I was working at Sandy as their first employee.


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Re: Why the QL ?

Postby swensont » Thu Mar 21, 2019 7:16 pm

In late 1981 the choices for a home computer were:
Vic-20 $400
Apple II - $1300
TRS-80 CoCo - $600

Then the ZX81 was advertised for $250 w/ 16K, I ordered one. Color and sound was not critical for me.

I used the ZX81 for a few freshman college classes. I them moved onto the T/S 2068. In April 1986, the QL price dropped to $300. I wanted a better machine to use in college. I got the QL, monitor and printer for $850. I used Quill for a number of papers. I used Metacomco Pascal for a number of classes. I just kept adding on to the QL (disk drives, ext. keyboard, romdisq, etc). Until 1998, it was my main computer. It really did pretty much all I needed it to do.

Since then, when I want to do programming, why have to learn a whole new system, so I just go back to the QL.

Tim Swenson


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Re: Why the QL ?

Postby SinclairSociety » Thu Mar 21, 2019 8:02 pm

Very cool! Nice that you were full on Sinclair up to 1998.

I was Atari full on from 1979 to 1995... then work meant I needed something better at home, although I had already been using other platforms at work from late 80s on. At home I stayed Atari for as long as I could.

Since you were in the USA... do you remember where you heard about Sinclair? Did you see some ad in a magazine?

I don't recall seeing Sinclair at any local stores in Bay Area where I lived since 1972 until 1990.

TJ

swensont wrote:In late 1981 the choices for a home computer were:
Vic-20 $400
Apple II - $1300
TRS-80 CoCo - $600

Then the ZX81 was advertised for $250 w/ 16K, I ordered one. Color and sound was not critical for me.

I used the ZX81 for a few freshman college classes. I them moved onto the T/S 2068. In April 1986, the QL price dropped to $300. I wanted a better machine to use in college. I got the QL, monitor and printer for $850. I used Quill for a number of papers. I used Metacomco Pascal for a number of classes. I just kept adding on to the QL (disk drives, ext. keyboard, romdisq, etc). Until 1998, it was my main computer. It really did pretty much all I needed it to do.

Since then, when I want to do programming, why have to learn a whole new system, so I just go back to the QL.

Tim Swenson


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Re: Why the QL ?

Postby swensont » Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:08 pm

It was either in Popular Science or Popular Mechanics that had an article about the ZX81, sometime after it came out in the UK. The Oct. 1981 issue had a full two page ad for the ZX81. I pretty much immediately sent away for my ZX81. It arrived the day before Thanksgiving and I spent that look weekend tinkering with the ZX81 and reading the user guide.

After that, I was hooked into the Sinclair community via Sync magazine and a couple Silicon Valley magazines. I knew in college that I really should get a better computer after my T/S 2068 died (although most Comp Sci students did not have computers at home). I had saved up and got the QL, QL printer and QL Vision monitor for $850 from Sunset Electronics in S.F. I had to eventually get an ExpandeRAM to be able to compile graphics programs with Metacomo Pascal (Pascal was the primary language for my college classes). I even brought the QL to college to demo my program for one professor. That was the last that I had to do for college.

Tim


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Re: Why the QL ?

Postby SinclairSociety » Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:15 pm

swensont wrote: I had saved up and got the QL, QL printer and QL Vision monitor for $850 from Sunset Electronics in S.F.

Tim


Once I get my QL, even though I will use it on my larger LCD type display, I hope to find one day the QL Vision or equivalent black display to match the QL. Then next would be the printer too.

But I love the looks of stock original gear so will be a goal of mine to find a working QL Vision. If that fails, maybe the CUB displays I hear were for the QLs.

If I end up REALLY enjoying my QL experience, I may get a 2nd one where I can leave in my main Atari/Sinclair room a QL setup 24/7 with a QL Vision as a stock machine... and then play with a Supped up QL in my home office on a nice big screen.

That is my dream.

But 1st thing is first... to get my QL and explore.

I already purchased and in transit from afar the QL World magazines I plan on starting from issue #1 and work my way up through them exploring the QL platform. As I find interesting things, I will do it and video what goes on.

I may video document this whole process too and YouTube it. :D

TJ


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Re: Why the QL ?

Postby Silvester » Sat Mar 23, 2019 9:50 am

SinclairSociety wrote:So what about the QL do you feel attracted you to buy one and is there anything unique about them you feel make it better than other systems out there from the same time period.

Just curious.

TJ
It was the first computer I had that didn't feel like a toy. Within the first hour I knew it would be a computer I could do worthwhile things on and invest a lot of time getting to understand. It's a system which it is possible to completely comprehend every detail. Everything in the OS('s) just seemed the right way of doing things.

Surprised 34 years later I still find it as useful :D


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Re: Why the QL ?

Postby dilwyn » Tue Mar 26, 2019 12:55 pm

In my case, a period of illness gave me the time to buy and learn to use my first computer back in 1981. I ordered a ZX80 and actually received a ZX81 as it had just been launched. The next few weeks were spent working through the manual and generally getting painful eyes from squinting at the little black and white TV set it was plugged into. Soon wrote my first simple programs and subscribed to Tim Hartnell's Interface magazine for ZX computers.

Then the Spectrum came along and I got one of those, a 16K at first, then a 48K. So much more enjoyable than the ZX81, although the ZX81 had its own magic!

Then I got a QL (having also somewhere along the line acquired a BBC micro and an Oric 1 and an Oric Atmos. All respectable computers in their time). And never really looked back. Yes, there were times I could have kicked Sinclair for some of their design decisions, but there must have been something right in the design, because we're still using QLs some 35 years later!

For me, it was the ease of programming the beast with its nice structured BASIC and multi-tasking, especially after pointer environment came along.


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Re: Why the QL ?

Postby NormanDunbar » Tue Mar 26, 2019 6:07 pm

Took me years to get my head around the Pointer Environment. I loathed it when it first arrived. But, I got there in the end. (I think!)


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