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Wednesday, 20-Sep-2017 04:40:55 BST


Z88 Programmers Section


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Z88 Assembler Workbench for MSDOS (Now FREE (download here) or for £10 (excluding EPROM))

History & Introduction

The Assembler Workbench enables the Z88 user to develop applications for the Cambridge Computer Z88. As the name indicates you will write your applications in assembler, or more precisely, in Z80 machine code - a widely known low level language for the Zilog Z80 processor also fitted in Britain's most sold home computer, ZX Spectrum from the mid eighties.

The package was created with the intention to enable Z88 users to develop new applications with the minimum usage of a single Z88 and no advanced add-on hardware. Everybody with a basic knowledge of programming skills should be able to produce software on his/her Z88. We have now fulfilled that intention.

Since the Z88 was presented at the PCW in '87 a small group of people have made the effort to launch software items for this compact portable. They didn't have the tools presented in this package. As far as we know, some used the old CP/M-Z80 system and in-built Assembler with special hardware to upload code to the EPROM Cards, others developed their own tools on PC's. Even the SMALL-C (developed in the late '70) system was used to develop software for the Z88 by Wordmongers.

Cambridge Computer had the intention of selling a developers system to third parties (mostly dealers). They announced it in the V2 of the "Developers' Notes", but it never came into a final product. Shortly after the release of the 'Notes in 1989, Cambridge Computer moved to Scotland and all material and people involved in the Developers' system left the company. Only the already established Z88 Software Companies were left to create new applications who already began to leave the market.

On the basis of the shortcomings from Cambridge Computer we decided to create a developer's tool for the Z88. We began late '91 as a spare time project, with months of pauses throughout the years, then completed last year -1995, still with some documents left to be written. Now, with the encouragement of Vic Gerhardi of Rakewell Limited and several Z88 users, the software package has finally been completed. In spite of the long time of development, still many active Z88 users and developers are around. Even so there is lots of potential in the Z88 after 10 years! Start developing...

The Z88 Assembler Workbench includes several software components for the Z88 computer on a 128K ROM Card and executables running on the PC using MS-DOS, supplied on 1.44MB discs.

The 128K ROM Card contains:

  • Z80asm - the Z80 Assembler on the ROM Card.
  • Zprom - EPROM programming utility to Z88 produce Application Cards.
  • Intuition - a code testing environment for your machine code with built-in debugger.
  • EazyLink - file transfer to other computers.
  • ZetriZ - a "TETRIS" look-alike graphics game that exploits the PipeDream map area.

On supplied discs you will find:

  • Z80 Cross Assembler on MSDOS that is 100% compatible with "Z80asm" on the Z88. This allows you to port source and object files to/from the Z88 to work on your assembler projects on both computer platforms.
  • Intuition - stand-alone executable debuggers to be included with your ROM Card application to enable you to debug the application while executing in the Z88 operating system environment.
  • Complete documentation of the Z88 operating system "OZ", also known as "Z88 Developers' Notes V3". 326 pages of PipeDream files. InterLogic have improved many details in V3; more examples, error corrections, new sections and many new low level operating system calls are documented. A complete Z80 instruction reference is also included.
  • Hundreds of pages of documentation of all Z88 applications (on the ROM Card), the Z80 Cross Assembler and "Link" executable for MSDOS. The EazyLink file transfer protocol is also explained.
  • Lots of Z80 assembler sources. You will first of all find the include files for all "OZ" manifestation mnemonic definitions, used in the "Developers' Notes V3". This avoids the need to use "magic numbers", but more correct definition names in your source files. Then, there is thousands of lines of the Z80 assembler source files; the standard library comprising many useful routines for your Z88 application projects, an extract of Z80 sources of the "Z80asm" application for evaluation, and all the Z80 sources for the "ZetriZ" application for evaluation. This enables you to exploit good application development on the Z88. We hope to inspire your programming skills on the Z88. All ASCII use tabulators where appropriate to save space.
  • The "PCLINK II" application supplied as disassembled source. The "PCLINK II" ROM was part of the file transfer package supplied by Cambridge Computer.
  • ANSI C sources for the MSDOS supplied executables "Z80asm" and "Link". This would enable you to recompile the programs on other platforms. Please note that Z80asm is already ported to MSDOS by InterLogic. All ASCII text file use tabulators where appropriate.
  • Also supplied is a utility to produce source files from Z80 binaries, named "DZasm". ANSI C source files for the utility is supplied as well. It supports all Z88 operating system manifests and the undocumented Z80 instructions that ZILOG left out of the Z80 instruction specification when the Z80 was officially released. With "DZasm" you might produce source code from the Z88 ROM and include it in your own applications.

Some of the components of the Z88 Assembler Workbench are Free ware. You are allowed to distribute the following components to other users:

  • Executable and ANSI C source files of "Z80asm", the Z80 Cross Assembler, with documentation.
  • Executable and ANSI C source files of "Link", the "EazyLink" Client transfer utility, with documentation.
  • Executable and ANSI C source files of "DZasm", the Z80 source file generator.
  • The standard library for the Z88 Assembler Workbench with Z80 sources files.
  • "Developers' Notes V3".
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