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Ancient chess programs: Sargon and Sargon 2 
Wednesday, September 12, 2018, 02:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
Well, usually chess programs must have a beautiful user interface to be played, as well as playing chess very well (so not only "Minimax" algorithm, but also some openings).
Looking back to these old days of CP/M computers, screen graphics were rare and properitary programmed. Usually the screen output was characters only.

Sargon is a well known, famous chess program for vintage computers. The first version was SARGON for Z80, and runs (adapted already) on *any* CP/M 2.2 computer. The screen output is ... unique (not beautiful at all). But it is playing chess very well, I lost a few games even with Level 1.

SARGON looks like this:

SARGON 2 starting screen:

... and board display (this time, Sargon started first):

Related link offers the CP/M binaries. It was taken from >Udo Munks download page< (the files from the disk image there can be extracted with cpmtools, disk format is 'ibm-3740', use 'cpmls' and 'cpmcp').
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REVERSI - A QBASIC program from 1990 ... playing stronger as you think 
Wednesday, August 1, 2018, 10:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
Almost every Windows 3.x user knows REVERSI aka OTHELLO as a 16-Bit Windows game.
But Microsoft published the same game also as a QBASIC game.
QBASIC was part of MS-DOS 5.0, development of MS-DOS 5.0 reached beta level in 1990.
I was curious and tested REVERSI.BAS from that MS-DOS 5.0 BETA (which is quite the same as one year later in the final MS-DOS 5.0 version), and guess what happened...

I lost it several times even with 'Novice' setting. Finally I managed it to win, but hell it was not really easy. And I did not tried the 'Expert' setting...

Just judge yourself about the game playing strength of that program and start QBASIC from DOS 5 again (e.g. with the help of DOSBOX, which is running even with Windows 10).
Or compile it with >QBASIC64< (which compiles it to a native Windows program).

Related link points to the source code ZIPped.
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VGACOPY is running again - but not with the Pentium 200 CPU... 
Tuesday, June 5, 2018, 12:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
It seems that something is very different with the Pentium 200 Board (in a 430FX mainboard).
I exchanged the ASUS P55TP4 with a SOYO SY-5EAS5 board, and plugged in an AMD K6-2/400AFR CPU. Surprisingly VGACOPY is running again (reading a 360KB floppy disk in a 360KB floppy disk drive), but HD-COPY 2.0a is still not working. This is indeed a surprise, because my first theory about it was, a faster CPU makes more problems than a slower CPU. But the AMD K6-2/400 is definitely faster than a Intel Pentium 200 (no MMX).
Will stop with further investigations, also because floppy copy programs aren't really worth to start a one-year project ;-)

Btw.: CCS64 v3.92 (running with Windows 98) is working very well with that AMD K6-2 CPU, fast enough to emulate a C64 with 100% speed and excellent compatibility.
WinVice, even the DOS version, isn't optimized for speed. It's about ten times SLOWER than CCS64...

The DOS version of CCS64 v2.0 is running even with the Pentium 200 with enough speed, but unfortunately without good compatibility (e.g. Bomberman - see picture - isn't working with the v2.0)

(related link points to CCS64 web site)
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Cont'd test of disk copy programs (Part 5)  
Tuesday, May 22, 2018, 04:30 PM
Posted by Administrator
Last but not least I tested Disk Copy Fast and Disk Copy Plus, which seems to be almost the same (the first one is the shareware version, the second one seems to be the full version).

Both are working very well, even with the 360KB floppy drive in my Pentium machine.

A true exception is Locksmith, this name is well known since years for Apple II users.
It seems NOT to be related with the makers of the Apple II version, although it is also usable as a disk copier, but not only. The usage of the program is a bit cumbersome:

I do not recommend it.

(for the 4th part of the article series, go on >here<)

The "related link" points to a download site with Disk Copy Fast, but also other already described diskcopy programs.
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Cont'd test of disk copy programs (Part 4)  
Monday, May 21, 2018, 10:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
Now the rest of the "gang". QCOPY Professional works quite ok, Blitzcopy seems to be the same but is a trial version for it. It can be used without loaded mouse driver (pressing the TAB key very often), although it's a lot of easier to use it with a mouse.

Remember you have to deselect multiple sources/targets if you just want to copy one disk.
Also, the option "Diskette Change" means the program waits for a DC signal coming from the drive itself, if you exchange the floppy disk. This can be tricky if you are using a floppy drive with READY signal only and an isolated pin 34 (only one side of the pcb !).

CopyStudio looks also really nice, although it is a bit difficult to use (too many buttons with non-standard names) and it's a time limited version (not yet reached the limit/not tested):

The "related link" points to an URL for downloading Blitzcopy.

(for the 3rd part of the article series, go on >here<)
(for the 5th part of the article series, go on >here<)

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