ScuzzBlog: Diaries January 2021

Entry 20th January 2021: Post 1: Amstrad 6128 - Arnor C and Protext.

Amstrad 6128 - Arnor C and Protext.
In 1987 all the talk was about Amiga around the dinner table at
home. Both my dad and my sister were very keen and dad eventually
bought not one put two Amiga 500s. He was sold on the Amiga and
very much enjoyed the golf game Mean 18. My sister on the other
hand worked for a large Birmingham based computer company selling
machines around the world. She was keen to point out that if you
wanted professional software for business you would need to think
about a different machine.

My budget was pretty tight as I had just taken out a mortgage for
what was our second house since moving down south. I had only
just qualified as an architect and I was in need of a business
quality machine that could produce letters, quotes, invoices and
keep tabs on all my business papers. My sister recommended the
PCW9512 as it came with a monitor and printer and was just 500.

I didn't regret buying the Amstrad and although both my dad and
my other sister bought into the Amiga 500 I was content that the
computer did what I needed. I have to say I loved lazy Sunday
afternoons playing golf with dad and Sensible Soccer at my sisters
with her young lad. It was particularly boisterous at my sisters
as quite a few of my nephews kids came round to play Sensi.

The Amstrad got hammered during its life here from 1987 to 1993.
I had it repaired twice cus the armature broke. Eventually the
drive packed in and I finished up with an Amiga 1200.

It was an interesting time for computing as the paths of certain
types of machines were splitting off in different directions. On
the one side there was the Apple machines and the Amiga that were
embracing the 'pointy-clicky' interface and then there was the
console style interface as used by business software. Although
MS was in the picture most were using CP/M and there was just so
much software about for it.

Both CP/M and BASIC  (in what ever guise ) usually held hands on
computers and it was a case of flicking between one and the other.
On the PCW I was generally using LocoScript for all my main needs
including file management and the like. CP/M was the main artery
out to use other software. Mallard BASIC was where I lived a lot
of the time as I enjoyed writing text based games.

At the same time of me getting the PCW, Amstrad were going all out
to try and emerge from the CPC era with a more edgy range of machines.
The 6128 for me would have been the perfect choice for my next
generation machine. I kinda regret not buying one and would have
done if money had been kinder. I was well versed in CP/M by now
and also just loved BASIC. The PCW strapped itself in to its own
world way too much and even today it is impossible for me to
read all my disks on another Amstrad with the 3" compact drive.
Even the 8256 has different double sided disk format to the
PCW9512. For years I wanted something to read the books that I
had written over the years on the PCW9512. I eventually did fix
the busted drive and she still works today.

On the 6128 the CP/M software launches everything and you enter
the |CPM command and your suddenly out of AmsDOS. The screen font
format changes and you are gifted a whole different range of
command tools. It all works on simple command inputs to launch
different programs. Kinda like AmigDOS but not. The software lets
you customise your operations and provides helpful guidance by
entering help commands. Examples are given and it really is very
user friendly. I never found Microsoft MS-DOS anything like as
easy to use.

Anyhoo Arnor was big with their Arnor C, Compiler Linker and
Editor suite, in addition to the very successful ProText which
eventually found its way onto the Amiga.

I feel that the the CP/M story turned out to be a very sad saga
that ended quite tragically. It was a case of matters could have
been very different. I suggest you read up on the life and times
of Gary Kildall and Digital Research to understand more. So sad.

Here are some images of the 6128 in action with ProText. I also
show a few images of CP/M starting up and Arnor C basic menu. To
give Arnor C real justice would need me to first learn how to use
the software. I am not a programmer so not gonna happen.

Never underestimate the strength of the Amstrad products. Alan
Sugar was pretty decisive in his thinking and he managed to sell
some of the most popular ranges of machine in Europe. However as
is the case with so many systems at the end of the eighties the
tide had changed in favour of new 32bit machines and 'clicky-pointy'
interfaces were king. The markets diminished and so many companies
got caught in the back-wash. Commodore went to the wall and by
the time the dust had settled we were thrown into a tin-box wars of
PC hybrids all running Microsoft it seemed for years till Apple were
able to pull themselves from the flames. And so Amstrad, Acorn,
Atari, Amiga etc all perished.

Just wish it had been different. 

Amstrad 6128 - Arnor C and Protext.

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Last updated 20th January 2021

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