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[OT] Re: yabasic problem

On Mon 20 Aug 2018 at 09:35:35 (+0200), Thomas Schmitt wrote:
> Hi,
> i wrote:
> > > (Found the booklet. It's HP BASIC 3.0, not 2.0. Newest techology of 1985.)
> David Wright wrote:
> > I thought we were up to version 4.0¹ by 1985,
> Indeed, the booklet says "June 1984 ... First Edition".
> I think i did not get to BASIC 4.0 because in 1986 i wrote a BASIC program
> which translated our other BASIC programs to C (with some handwork being
> left to do).
> > Would you agree, though, that "BASIC" is the language that must
> > have the biggest contrast between its well-endowed versions and
> > the most dire cr*p.
> Well, back then i perceived HP BASIC as the best language of all. It made
> me boss on all those expensive HP machines (from 9845B to 9000/320).

For our purposes, that was true, and consequently we spent £20,000 on
a 9845 with a £1000/year contract (1979 prices). The back was well
populated with 16-bit GPIO, HPIB and RS232 interfaces. Later we bought
a 9836, before makiing the transition to HTBasic on 486DX/DOS5.0.

If they had a weak point, it was those little tape drives; I lost
count of the number we had replaced, and memories of rethreading the
tape under that plastic drive band. But I gained much kudos with
the engineers when I managed to rebuild one of the cassettes where
the band had come completely off.

> But C ran on all Unix workstations. And as soon as i became ambidextrous
> enough, i fell in love with the display manager of the Apollo Domain DN3000.
> Microsoft's Visual Basic is said to have surpassed HP BASIC in the years
> later.

DOS6.22 was an incredibly stable platform for HTBasic. We ran NFS
clients (into linux servers) on it too (they only output; no input)
as well. The idea of exposing our instruments to Windows of the time
was laughable. These machines had to run non-stop with complete


> > If you've not come across the 9845 machine, it was in my experience
> > unique, in that you could edit the program while it was executing,
> > not even having to pause it.
> Yep. I have seen users countering Error 17 by hitting the EDIT key and
> throwing out the offending line. (One can imagine the effect on the
> collection of emerged CAD files. We got much less repair work after the
> users were re-seated to Apollo, DEC, and Sun where they had to submit
> a bug report when the program crashed.)

Ah, well there's the difference. When you're developing software
interactively that's controlling a machine analysing a sample (which
represents a foreign field trip and a week's chemistry lab work by
the person sitting next to you) and said sample is burning away in a
vacuum on an incandescent filament with a lifetime of perhaps 20
minutes, a bug report is their saying "Er, Houston, we have a
problem". That's peer pressure.

It was very rare to actually need that particular editing facility
(which IIRC you didn't get with the 9836). But the ability to
interrogate and set any variable in the current context (which could
be made very large with COM statements) was invaluable, as was the
ability to PAUSE, EDIT, RUN and CONTINUE within seconds and be back
running your sample.


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