Sunday, 22 January 2012

Retrospective - Digital Precision's The QL Collection

Here at QL Heaven Digital Precision's bombastic adverts are fondly remembered. Despite the hype and hard sell of their adverts, Digital Precision as a software house had many of the essential and also premium priced QL programs in their catalogue.

When the commercial prospects of the QL market started waining DP dumped virtually their entire catalogue as a bargain bundle. £2100 worth of software for £149 screamed the advert. At the time QL Heaven had never been able to afford to buy much software for the QL and so leapt at the opportunity of this bargain bundle. How many others did so is an unanswered question. The software came with minimal instructions and zipped on 10 DD floppy disks with a bespoke boot program to allow users to choose which package to unzip. Most software came with full user instruction manuals as well. How much of the software was worth anything? Actually quite a lot of it was useful and has stood the test of time. Some of it has continued to be developed including the Turbo Compiler, and Perfection the word processor. Some are now public domain such as SuperForth and some such as Digital C remained a viable programming system capable of making use of the much updated operating system smsqe and the GD2 drivers despite having been written long before these were developed.

One problem QL Heaven encountered on attempting to use the original package was that DP had zipped the source and destination device names as part of the file name of the files to be unzipped which meant that if the system had only one floppy disk drive then unzipping failed. QL Heaven remembers writing a small SuperBasic program to go through the zip files to poke "ram2_" in place of "flp2_" to allow unzipping to the ramdisk as the Amiga 1200 QL emulator was the only QL system available to QL heaven with a disk drive at that time and it only had a single disk drive.

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