|Hardware Feature #2|
|Currah Microsource||Currah Computer Components||£44.50|
The following article was taken from Your Sinclair Issue 6 - June 1986
Now this is clever - a ROM pack that plugs into the Speccy to give instant access to an assembler and a debugger plus a noddy version of Forth.
Unlike assemblers that load from tape, this one doesn't take up valuable memory and it doesn't go away when you crash the Spectrum. Neat huh ? The assembler itself is excellent; two-pass assembly, macros and conditional directives as well as complex maths in hex and decimal. You can assemble or list to the screen and memory or out to any OPENed stream - such as a microdrive file or a second Spectrum connected via the interface 1. Shame the editor is so naff; you enter your source program as a normal Basic program, each line beginning with REM ! It works but the screen get very messy. And you don't get useful things like the block move, find, auto-number and so on. To assemble your program you enter the line LET assemble=1 before your source lines and run the basic program.
The debugger's also excellent - it gives you a full screen 'front-panel' disply showing all the Z80's registers and relevant memory location. You can single-step or trace your program or execute it to a certain point, all the time seeing whats going on inside the machine. Or you can opt to watch a block of memory or switch to a more limited register display in order to speed tracing up. There's no disassembler but otherwise it's great - especially recommended for beginners.
Now for the bad news. Microsource Forth is completely potty. You enter your Forth commands as REM # statements in a basic program proceded by the line LET forth=1; to execute them you RUN the Basic program. But the idea of Forth is that everything happens the moment you enter it - so there's no stored program as such. And it gets weirder - right down to using % for definitions instead of the : everybody else uses ! It's not fast, it's not interactive, it's not standard, it's not.........
The whole thing comes with an adequate if bland manual but without a through-connector for other add-ons, so it must be the last thing stuck onto your Speccy. Still, if you need a decent assembler/debugger, it certainly shouldn't be the last thing stuck on your shopping list.
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