BOOK REVIEW #9

Oric Atmos and Oric-1 Graphics and Machine Code Techniques

by Geoff Phillips

INTRO. Isn’t it gorgeous ? Oh yes - this time we are going to have a look at one of the most sought after books for the Oric. Geoff Phillips tome with the long title .

THE BOOK. This book was released a little late on in the career of the Oric. For that reason and due to a bit of a lack of advertising the book didn’t sell like it should.

There aren’t too many good books for advanced programming and so when the guys that want to try that found out about Geffers book, they all wanted one. The people that did have one though, were not so willing to part with such a useful item and so it became number one on the Oric enthusiasts ‘most wanted’ list.
Some stay with a single user never seeing the light of day but others manage to travel a bit. Just to illustrate, the copy I have has the owners names written in it of three previous owners, (David Lucas, Arthur Jackson and Ken Evans)

WHAT’S IN IT ? There are 9 chapters of useful information. The only similar books are the Advanced User Guide and Getting More from Your Oric. Take away the Disassembly from the AUG and shove the rest of the two books together and you have something resembling Geffers book.
It starts off looking inside the Oric and describing how the ROM and RAM work and the main chips, followed by detail

of the screens and keyboard, cassette system and printer interface.
The information at this stage isn’t perhaps quite so detailed as in the other two books, but there is sufficient and things gradually get more technical.

I said this book was for the advanced programmer, and that is true, but there is plenty of information in here that others will find useful. Indeed, the next chapter deals with how BASIC works and has such tips as how to get a proper random number when using the RND function.
Chapter 3 moves on to machine code. Here the book tells you the advantages of machine code over BASIC, something the advanced programmer would know, but it doesn’t show enough to learn machine code, so the aim becomes a little unclear -Such little niggles aside it is a great book that can help to learn machine code. It is said you usually need more than one book. Alongside a book specifically set out to teach machine code, this gives you a good chance of understanding the Oric.

In theory, if you can program one computer with a 6502 you can program another with a 6502. It isn’t quite so simple as the structure of chips and memory make a difference. this is where this book helps, telling you how Oric’s funny screen system can be controlled and giving detail specific to the Oric which a capable machine code programmer would need to know to be able to program that machine properly.
The next 3 chapters look in more detail at the keyboard and cassette system, the ROM, and ‘Maths, screen and music’. All stuff specific to the Oric. Then we have a chapter dedicated to graphics/ Perhaps there could have been a little more given that the title of the book is ‘graphics and machine code techniques’. The information appears quite useful though, especially for speeding up routines.

Finally we have some useful utilities and example programs to stretch the Oric ‘to the limits’. Not bad, but I think Dbug and Twilighte are now pushing beyond such supposed limits !
So there you are; a very useful book, but not one that is better alongside others. Geoff kindly scanned the book and has it available on his website for free - www.geffers.demon.co.uk A must have item for any serious programmer ! Get it now - go on ....

 

 

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