Sunday, 22 May 2022

Blog post written with Tasword on Amstrad CPC6128

The text below was written using an Amstrad. Sadly, my HxC floppy emulator refused write operations so I couldn't save the text. Instead I photographed the text from the screen and retyped it all here, without changing anything so all the silliness and possible mistakes are present.

(Later note: Got the HxC write working by disconnecting the CPC internal drive.)

Blog post written with Tasword on Amstrad CPC6128

As soon as I learned that I could use the 80-column wide graphics mode on Amstrad CPC6128 and the 1084 monitor, I wanted to try out text editing on it. The first program I could find was Tasword, and it looked promising enough.

Tasword was a familiar name for me from the Spectrum days. Then it had a reputation with cramming 64 columns on the 256 pixels wide display. And being an overall comprehensive enough editor.

Here with Amstrad CPC6128, I guess the program is the same old, except it doesn't have to resort to gimmicks in order to display 80 columns of text. The 640 pixels wide mode 2 is perfectly capable of showing it all.

In fact, the experience is rather similar to using a text editor on an Amiga or Atari ST. The major difference is the obvious lack of mouse.

Typing text diretly into paragraphs is quick enough. The keyboard has seen better days, but I am not so sure if this is better than the Sinclair QL. The cursor keys are well positioned here, one of the first home computers to get it right I guess.

Writing text between existing paragraphs appears to be fine at first, but when the cursor reaches the edge it will start overtyping the paragraph below. Turning Insert on helps here, the problem was just that the Tasword does not have it on by default. Furthermore, you will have to turn on Auto-Insert to get the behaviour you'd expect nowadays. This is pretty slow! Creating new lines between already existing text is predictably slow, but not horrendous.

I have written this post mostly from top to bottom, without stopping too much to think what I ought to write. If I had to start editing the already existing text, it might result in problems, as I don't know what keys and what functions I am supposed to use.

The above paragraph was moved from above to a more suitable position. This was achieved using the Block Mark, Block End and Block Move commands. Then I had to use Delete Line and Insert Line to tidy up the space between the paragraphs. These are typical functions of old word processors, and I'm no longer under the illusion this is a more modern editor.

As the program is 6128-specific, where I think this shows is the program is occasionally using a RAM disk of sorts. There is more than 60K available for text, surely this would be enough for a school essay or a chapter in a novel.

All in all, not a bad experience, but if I was writing a longer text or something with more thought required, I would be missing the mouse movement and quicker copy and paste. Then again, this kind of old software could encourage planning the text in some other way. Possibly I'd outline and sketch it on paper first and then just clean up the manuscript on the Amstrad.

I did not look into other text editors, I guess the Amstrad scene might have produced slicker applications at a later day. I didn't really look into the matter, but perhaps another time!

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