Retrochallenge ’14: Day Four

I rescued the 1500HD’s power adapter from the scrap pile, and thankfully it was the same adapter required by my Tandy 2800HD.

The laptop booted into MS-DOS, but I wasn’t paying close enough attention to determine which version.  If I remember correctly, it was running MS-DOS 5.0, but I’ll verify that later.

I did take a quick look to see which software was installed on the machine: MS-DOS, Windows 3.0, Telemate 4.x (my favourite DOS terminal program), some transfer programs for my Super Nintendo copiers, a few SNES ROMs and save games, and a few handy programs from PC Magazine’s DOS Power Tools series.

My mom had bought me a subscription to PC Mag way back in the early 90s (back when .com was known chiefly as a file extension and not part of a web address), and as a bonus perq they sent three floppies loaded with little programs and TSRs designed to make my MS-DOS experience that much easier.

Three PC Mag programs in particular stood out:  Touch, Sweep, No,  along with two from a friend: RAT,and Hexcalibur; which invariably ended up on each MS-DOS machine I owned (including the 2800HD).

Touch.com let you change a file’s date stamp.  Don’t remember why I needed this, but I remember it was important on some level.  I learned later that the unix command touch was different.  There was also an improved version called Fondle.com, but I don’t remember the specifics.  Probably for the best, as the metaphor was getting out of hand

Sweep.com was cool.  It would execute a command in every directory on your hard drive, and I believe subdirectories, too. I remember using it to rid my hard drive of those small, unneeded files when drive space was at a premium.

for example, you could run:

sweep del *.DIZ

to rid yourself of all those FILE_ID.DIZ files included in every damned archive you downloaded.

No.com would exclude certain files from the effects of another command.  I don’t remember the exact syntax but I believe it went something like this:

no *.txt del *.*

which would exclude all files with the extension .txt from being deleted with everything else.  It was far handier than selecting files manually using DOSSHELL or PathMinder.

I remember using it to purge the contents of my SNES ROM directory (DIZ files, scene docs, BBS ads, read mes, save games, realtime saves, SMC roms), apart from ROMs I’d converted to Game Doctor format (*.078).  Very much a time-saver.

RAT.com, or Resident ASCII Table, was another favourite of mine.  It’s a TSR program that was invoked by hitting the alt key twice, which then brought up a box displaying the values of each ASCII character.  My friend Kevin introduced me to RAT when we were in our Grade 12 computer science class (and when I was still a Coco kid).  I used the ASCII values to design title screens for our GWBasic program assignments.

and finally there was HC.com (Hexcalibur), my favourite Hex editor.  This was another program Kevin introduced me to.  We used to use it to change executable files on the school’s lab computers, in a teenage vandalism sort of way.

Changing (for example):

GW-Basic 2.x

Olivetti Personal Computer

Copyright 1988

to

SW-Basic 6.9

Spaghetti Personal Dinner

Copyright 1973

I don’t recall ever using HC for constructive purposes, I think I kept it around for nostalgic reasons.

Sigh.  Now that was a trip down memory lane…

Anyway, I’ll post some pics of the three laptops when I get home from work.

 

 

 

 


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