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Sunday, 12-Jul-2020 01:11:13 BST


Z88 Reviews


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Three Essential Items for the modern z88 enthusiast -2020 edition!

Review by Jamie Bradbury

I am new to the z88, having bought mine on ebay 5 years ago. It is a wonderful machine, and there is so much to enjoy and explore. The device can be a great detraction free word processor and there are also lots of great games, including a number of Manic miner games, Jet Set willy, Lemmings (fantastic sound and music), Tetris, Chess, Transworld Golf is an awesome, beautifully presented z88 exclusive – and many more!

There are also a surprising amount of text adventures ported over from other machines – and there is even a tool to import Spectrum and Amstrad text adventures. I had never played a text adventure until I started exploring the z88 software back catalogue, and I was surprised how fun these were. Nothing beats firing up legacy software on real hardware, especially when you find that are blown away by how well it has stood the test of time.

And there is even more to do. Back in the 1980/90s there was the Z88 user club that authored hundreds of programmes and games, all documented in the z88 user club magazine which is now available for free on at https://cambridgez88.jira.com/. On top of all that, the z88 is still being actively developed for. The operating system has gone through numerous iterations over the past 30 years. Notably OZ4.5 which fixed most of the bugs with the original operating system, of OZ4.7.1 that makes it easier than ever to install applications and games onto the Z88. OZ Version 5 is currently in development and there is a stable release to try out.

I have had a lot of fun exploring the rich history and software catalogue of the Z88, and have fallen in love with this great machine, in the same way many others have done in the past.

There are three items that I bought from Rakewell that I consider essential to unlocking the potential of this computer in 2020. These are:

  1. A modern power adapter, which is really much better than batteries for all the heavy use I my device through.
  2. possibly the most essential of all, a serial cable to connect my z88 to my modern laptop. This allows my to download all the Z88 applications which are freely available online. There is also freely available software for windows that means passing files and software between old and new computers could not be simpler. Without this little cable the z88 would be much less fun.
  3. Finally, my third recommendation is the 512/512 Flash and RAM card. This card boost the power of the Z88 considerably, and has 3 key benefits:

a) Boosts the z88’s RAM from 32 to a massive 544. This RAM boost is noticed by the operating system which means your Z88 will now be operating in EXPANDED mode, a mode required by some of the more powerful applications on the system.

b) You can use the card to upgrade the OZ operating system (If you put a version of OZ on the card then the z88 will boot to that version rather than the the version of OZ that is built into the computer).

c) In addition to the 512 RAM, the card also has 512 flash memory. This means you can save your files permanently and use this card like a hard drive for the Z88. 512K of flash memory is really bags and bags of room to store the applications and games built for this machine.

Armed with a stable power supply, a cable that transfers files to and from a modern laptop, and the 512/512 card that gives the Z88 the space and power to play the Z88 really is a lot of fun as well as a practical solution for distraction free writing and note taking. I just heard today that the author Douglas Adams wrote a book on his!

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