Extended Color BASIC to Arduino Sketch

See also: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and full source.

  • 2014/03/16 Update: The source code to this is now on GitHub. Check the Arduino link at the top of each page of this site.

In 1983, I released a BBS (bulletin board system) for Tandy/Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer (CoCo). Unlike all of the other ones available at the time, mine was rather unique. Instead of requiring “3-4 disk drives” to operate, mine would work with… zero disk drives.

The *ALL RAM* BBS system was designed to run on a 32K CoCo with a cassette tape deck. On startup, it would read in the userlog and message base in to RAM, and then as users called in, messages they posted would be stored in memory. When the SysOp (system operator) needed to use the computer, or was ready to shut things down for the day, he would save the system back to tape.

It was small and primitive, but considering how primitive the state-of-the-art was back then, it was still pretty usable.

The software was meant to be marketed by a CoCo software company, but things ended up not happening, and the software was eventually released as freeware (even though, back then, we did not yet have the names “shareware” or “freeware”. I still remember an experiment a software company did for something they called “pass the hat software”… I guess their name just wasn’t catchy enough).

But I digress.

Tonight, thanks to the XRoar Color Computer emulator, I was able to get my thirty year old software running again thanks to the software being available at the wonderful BBS Documentary website.

My oh my. What a simpler time.

Tonight, I wondered how hard it would be to translate Microsoft Extended Color BASIC to Arduino C. After all, C has a “goto” statement…

And here is part of the *ALL RAM* BBS system running on an Arduino:

The 1983 Radio Shack Color Computer BBS package is back... This time on Arduino!

The 1983 Radio Shack Color Computer BBS package is back… This time on Arduino

The userlog and message base is not yet functional, and likely never will be since the Arduino only has 2K of memory versus 32K on the CoCo 1 it was designed for. But, when I have some time, I will finish it up and maybe support a few users, and a few messages. Perhaps I can even use some of the memory saving tricks I have been using on some work projects to compress things quite a bit.

We shall see.

Hello, *ALL RAM*. Nice to see you again.

P.S. – The *ALL RAM* BBS ran in Houston, Texas under the name Cyclops Castle. The version running there was disk enhanced. Instead of loading and saving to cassette, it used a single disk drive. The software was modified to support dozens of separate message bases, and the user could switch them from the menu. It was quite a feat on a single floppy disk. One day I will have to track down the SysOp, Graham, and see what he remembers from this great experiment.