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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Vintage Apple Computers : Microsoft Softcard for the Apple II with CP/M

Microsoft Softcard
A peripheal for the Apple II with CP/M and Microsoft BASIC on diskette

Produced by Microsoft

Microsoft Consumer Products
408 108th Ave N.E. , Suite 200
Belleveue , WA 98004


The Softcard Explained

The Circuit Card

The Microsoft Softcard is a plug-in card for the Apple II microcomputer , but be sure to read the Installation and Operations Manual to ensure that you do it correctly.

Once you have installed the SoftCard , you will be able to operate your Apple in either 6502 or Z-80 mode using software commands to switch between the two. Whenever you are in 6502 mode , the SoftCard in no way affects operation of your Apple.

While in the Z-80 mode , you can run both the CP/M operating system from Digital Research and Microsoft's BASIC interpreter Version 5.0 , which are included in the SoftCard package.

The SoftCard is easy to install and requires no hardware or software puter that greatly enhances the software capability of the Apple . The SoftCard actually contains a Z-80A microprocessor , allowing the Apple to run software that was written for Z-80 based microcomputers.

CP/M Operating System

Next to the circuit card itself , CP/M is the most important key allowing a wide variety of Z-80 software to run on the Apple version 2.2 of CP/M is included in the SoftCard package.

CP/M (which stands for Control Program/Microprocessors) is an operating system designed for use with the 8080 and Z-80 microprocessors . It is composed of many small programs whose collective function is to write information to and retrieve information from microcomputer floppy disk. CP/M has been adapted to run on almost all computers running the 8080 or Z-80 families of microprocessors and because of its widespread use , a very large group of high level languages and application software has been written to operate in the CP/M environments.

With the advent of the SoftCard Apple owners are now able to take advantage of the CP/M Operating System. Microsoft has implemented CP/M on the Apple II ,making all modifications needed to make to make CP/M run on the Apple.

Standard CP/M programs will be compatible with Apple CP/M . There is just one difficulty
in loading them on the Apple. Apple disks have a physically diffirent format than CP/M disks. Before a CP/M program written for another type of computer can be run on the Apple , it must be downloaded from a standard CP/M computer to the Apple. This program is described in detail in the Software Utilities Manual .

In addition to supporting a wider variety of software , CP/M offers several convenient features not found in Apple DOS. These include easy interface machine language programs , faster click I/O ; simple file transter , and wild file-naming conventions that allow you to refer to multiple files with one name.

Microsoft Basic

Microsoft's ANSI-standard BASIC interpreter, in its fifth major release , is also included as part of the SoftCard package . Microsoft BASIC has many features not found in Applesoft . Among them are PRINT USING CALL, WHILE/WEND , CHAIN and COMMON and built in Disk I/O statements. In addition , most of the graphics features of Applesoft have been incorporated into Microsoft BASIC to take advantage of the Apple's special capabilities . A complete list of the diffirences can be found in Part 4 , the Microsoft BASIC Reference Maual.

The Diskettes

Two diskettes , each containing CP/M and Microsoft BASIC , plu several utility programs , are provided . One of the disks is in 13-Sector format and should be used if you don't have a Language Card or DOS 3.3 . The 16-Sector disk , also contains an enhanced version of Microsoft BASIC with a high-resolution graphics capabilites .

Designers and Manufacturer
The Softcard Circuit Board

Designer : Hne SoftCard circuit board was designedby Don Burtis of Burtronix , Villa Park California . Microsoft Consumer Products is greatfull to Burtronix for its contribution to making the SoftCard a reality .

Manufacturer : The SoftCard circuit board is manufactured for Microsoft Consumer Products by Vista Computer Co. of Santa Ana , California .

SoftCard Software

The CP/M opearating system , Version 2.0 is licensed by Microsoft from Digital Research Inc. , of Pacific Grove , California . The BASIC interpreter included in this package is Microsoft's ANSI-standard BASIC -80. Version 5.0 , with additional enhancements to take advantage of Apple's special capabilities . Neil Konzen of Microsoft Consumer Products , was instrumental in implementing , all of the SoftCard software on the Apple II.

System Requirements

The Softcard will operate on an Apple II Plus microcomputer with a mini,um of 48K RAM and one disk drive.

The SoftCard supports the Apple Language Card system can utilize 12K of the 16K on the Language Card in the Z-80 mode.

CP/M occupies 7K of RAM, only 5K of which is needed during the execution of user programs of CP/M and MBASIC together occupy just over 29K RAM. CP/M and GBASIC (BASIC with a high resolution graphics m found only on the 16-Sector disk) occupy just over 37K RAM

When you are in the 6502 mode , the Softcard in no way affects operation of the Apple II.

When in Z-80 mode , all standard Apple I/O peripheal cards and some independent peripheals are supported.

The full Microsoft Softcard : A Peripheal for the Apple II with CP/M and Microsoft Basic on diskette available for download at link :


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