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by Steven B. Combs, Ph.D. tags: commodore - retro - plus4 - unboxing - vic20 - video - keyboard - keys - characters - software - diskdrive - datasette - cassette
In this Commodore Plus/4 retroCombs episode, I cover chapter 3 of the Commodore Plus/4 user’s manual. This chapter is dedicated to Using Software and there are several ways to load and save software using; cartridges, datasettes, and diskettes. In this post and the accompanying video, I cover each auxiliary storage device in detail; however, I add a modern spin and instead of the original devices; I use a new 264 diagnostic cartridge, a Tapuino, and a Pi1541.
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Table of Contents
This episode is a small part of my larger Commodore Plus/4 series. You can read the entire series and view additional resources at:
As I progress through the user’s manual, I enter and execute sample programs. The link below is to a
.d81 image that contains every program from each episode. Currently, the image is not complete since we still have several chapters to go.
retroCombs User’s Manual Disk Image - UPDATED AS OF: 2020-11-01
I use the following file name convention to make it easy to locate specific programs:
Sample Program Name:
02 RCOMBS SCROLL.PRG
02- The chapter number
RCOMBS SCROLL- my self assigned name for the BASIC program which will be immediately identifiable if you follow along.
As part of my Commodore Plus/4 YouTube series, I work through each chapter of the Plus/4 manual. I’ve taken the time to scan each chapter so you can read and follow along. Use the link below to view chapter 3:
Below are the links for previous chapters covered:
In the video below, I work through Chapter 3 of the user’s manual. I deviate slightly from the manual in topic presentation order to add clarity and I also add a bonus command. Along the way, I also share how to use a cartridge, the Tapuino, and the Pi1541
Below are the links I mention in the video.
Because the Commodore Plus/4 keyboard is so different from modern keyboards, I devised a modern key nomenclature to identify keystroke combinations as shown in the table below:
THANKS TO EVERYONE FOR THE FEEDBACK!!! It makes this project more fun and I’m (re)learning much. I will add video corrections or additions below.
HEADERare also avaialble on PET Computers with Basic 4.0, the C128 (BASIC 7), and the C65 (BASIC 10).
The Plus/4 includes four built-in software packages that are covered in their own user’s manual that’s even thicker than computer’s user manual. To load built-in software, press the
F1 key (see last episode). To exit this software you have to reset or power on/off the Plus/4.
Cartridges include a variety of personal, education, business and games software. The only cartridge I own is a diagnostic cart from TFW8B.com. Let’s try it:
The Commodore 1531 and tapes are similar to music cassettes. While other computers could use a standard music playing cassette player, the Commodore uses its own “Datasette.” Use the Datasette to
LOAD programs. I use a Tapuino instead of a Datasette. Let’s use the Tapuino to load and save programs.
LOAD (or use the shortcut:
⇧ + o) and press
⏎. The computer will display:
PRESS PLAY ON TAPE
Press the play button on the Datasette (or Tapuino) and the screen will will blank and then display:
FOUND "PROGRAM NAME"
C=to load the program or else wait 10 seconds for the program to be loaded automatically
RUNto run the program
If the program is a basic program, you can use the
LIST command to view and modify the program contents.
SAVE "PROGRAM NAME" (alpha-numeric up to 16 characters and you can get creative with upper-lower case modes) and press
⏎. The computer will display:
PRESS RECORD AND PLAY ON TAPE
For both the
RSto stop the process. For
RSfirst then press stop on the Datasette.
(Commodore 1551 that was a parallel, rather than serial, device that was faster than the 1541. The default format was not backward compatible. It uses a 5¼ inch diskette 💾 to load and save programs. Let’s give it a try:
DLOAD "PROGRAM NAME"or
F2followed by the program name and press
NOTE: I believe the DSAVE, DLOAD, and DIRECTORY commands were added with the Commodore 128. The old muscle memory remembers,
The screen will display the following:
SEARCHING FOR PROGRAM NAME LOADING READY █
RUNto run the program.
LISTcommand to view and modify
More information on the
HEADER command is on page 101 (The Plus/4 Encyclopedia)
DSAVE "PROGRAM NAME" (same name constraints as cassette drive storage) and press
⏎. The computer will display:
PRESS PLAY AND RECORD
The screen will blank and when the program is saved, the Plus/4 will display:
⏎, or press
F3, and the Plus/4 will display the contents of a diskette drive
DIRECTORY "MY*". The Plus/4 will display all files that start with
SCRATCH command deletes a program on the diskette.
In preparation for this episode, I had to assemble the Pi1541. That in itself was a post and a video.
I also delayed this video to create a Tapuino (an Arduino based modern Datasette clone). You can view that process here.
Both of these modern auxiliary storage device replacements allowed me to create this video since both of the Plus/4 specific devices are very difficult to find.
Help make this series better! Post feedback, questions, and ideas. Let me know if you are following along. Let’s make this a community project. For now, Leave your comments and thoughts below or in the comments under the YouTube video.
Thanks for watching and if you are so inclined, please let other Commodore fans know about the series by sharing these videos using #retroCombs.
🕹️ retroCombs, OUT!