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What is the best BASIC Pocket Computer
03-30-2014, 03:31 AM
Post: #1
What is the best BASIC Pocket Computer
Hi All,

Want to ask you all to give your opinion for the best (vintage) BASIC pocket Computers, taking into account the following aspects:

1. Amount of basic and upgradable memory.
2. Number of lines in display.
3. Flexible variable names (supporting two or more alpha characters).
4. Support for SUB routines
5. Support for separate user-defined function.

I am listening!

Namiir
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03-30-2014, 04:08 AM
Post: #2
RE: What is the best BASIC Pocket Computer
I don't know if it fulfills all requisites, but "BASIC pocket" immediately reminds me of the Sharp PC-1262;-)

All the other (much more powerful) BASIC machines like the PC-500S are much heavier in every respect.

-- Ray
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03-30-2014, 07:01 AM
Post: #3
RE: What is the best BASIC Pocket Computer
IIRC the Tandys were pretty neat. But they are expensive now.

It ain't OVER 'till it's 2 PICK
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03-30-2014, 11:38 AM
Post: #4
RE: What is the best BASIC Pocket Computer
Radio Shack was selling Sharp (and Casio?) BASIC pocket computers with the TRS80 brand name.
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03-30-2014, 11:59 AM
Post: #5
RE: What is the best BASIC Pocket Computer
(03-30-2014 11:38 AM)Namir Wrote:  Radio Shack was selling Sharp (and Casio?) BASIC pocket computers with the TRS80 brand name.

You just ruined my whole afternoon. Now you'll tell me the regular TRS-80s were also made by Sharp or Casio?

It ain't OVER 'till it's 2 PICK
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03-30-2014, 12:57 PM
Post: #6
RE: What is the best BASIC Pocket Computer
Hi Namir,

With the exception of the display, I'm sure Valentin would rightfully say the HP-71B meets and exceeds your requirements.

So I'll give you my favorite pocket computer: Sharp PC-1600.

Has four line display.
Can expand memory to about 77kb free for basic programs.
You can have memory file systems for storing programs.
Has RS-232C port,
Has Analog input port.
Best Feature: Z80 processor.
Well written Technical Manual that details all the machine routines that can either be called from Basic or used in Z80 programs.

Now for the downside:
All numeric variables are reals - there is no DEFINT command.
Variable names are two characters or less.
No support for separately defined functions.
Subroutines are the standard Basic GOSUB type.

For me, the downsides pale compared with the ability to program in Z80 machine code, save programs to memory modules as files, and ability to easily transfer files to/from the PC using the RS-232.

I do some Z80 programming (just for fun), using a cross compiler on the desktop PC and then transferring to the PC-1600. A lot of fun.

Bill
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03-30-2014, 12:58 PM
Post: #7
RE: What is the best BASIC Pocket Computer
Most if not all of your questions can be answered by the HHC BASIC Comparison Sheet from Marcus
Sylvain
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03-30-2014, 01:11 PM
Post: #8
RE: What is the best BASIC Pocket Computer
(03-30-2014 12:58 PM)Sylvain Cote Wrote:  Most if not all of your questions can be answered by the HHC BASIC Comparison Sheet from Marcus
Sylvain

Thanks for posting Marcus' work. First time I had seen it. He must have spent a lot of time putting it together. Quite amazing. I've saved a copy for future reference.

Bill
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03-30-2014, 01:17 PM
Post: #9
RE: What is the best BASIC Pocket Computer
(03-30-2014 12:57 PM)Bill (Smithville NJ) Wrote:  Variable names are two characters or less.
The 1500 models allow for more characters while everything beyond the first two characters are disregarded. With some care one can have descriptive variable names.
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03-30-2014, 01:46 PM
Post: #10
RE: What is the best BASIC Pocket Computer
(03-30-2014 01:17 PM)Thomas Radtke Wrote:  
(03-30-2014 12:57 PM)Bill (Smithville NJ) Wrote:  Variable names are two characters or less.
The 1500 models allow for more characters while everything beyond the first two characters are disregarded. With some care one can have descriptive variable names.

The same is true for the PC-1600. I usually just maintain a text file that describes the variables - if there are very many. If only just a few, then a few REM statements will describe them at the start of the program.

But would be nice if they had allowed for longer variable names. Or if they had allowed the underscore character. Then could do something like T1_TOTAL with the system ignoring the _TOTAL in the variable name.

Bill
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03-30-2014, 02:11 PM
Post: #11
RE: What is the best BASIC Pocket Computer
I'd highly recommend checking out the Psion handhelds. They have a built-in OPL compiler, which is a very BASIC-like language (but without the warts like line numbers). You can probably get a Siena or Revo relatively cheaply.

An HP palmtop running QBASIC/QuickBASIC is also very capable.
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03-30-2014, 03:39 PM (This post was last modified: 03-30-2014 04:16 PM by W_Max.)
Post: #12
RE: What is the best BASIC Pocket Computer
(03-30-2014 02:11 PM)Dave Britten Wrote:  An HP palmtop running QBASIC/QuickBASIC is also very capable.

And even more capable with Turbo BASIC from Borland Smile

Namir
According to your wishlist all machines will be big and bulky, as you want multiline display and more memory. Well... This is HP forum, I know, but if you want capable vintage math tool w/BASIC-like language - the best machine, that can fit in for your needs is TI-92 Plus Smile
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03-30-2014, 06:34 PM
Post: #13
RE: What is the best BASIC Pocket Computer
(03-30-2014 03:31 AM)Namir Wrote:  1. Amount of basic and upgradable memory.
2. Number of lines in display.
3. Flexible variable names (supporting two or more alpha characters).
4. Support for SUB routines
5. Support for separate user-defined function.

I would like to add a very basic feature: what about accuracy and mathematical functions? At last that's what a calculator is all about. HP's series 70 offers true BCD arithmetics with 12-digit precision, a working range from 1E-499 to 9,99999999999E+499 and a very comprehensive set of math functions.

How do "the usual suspects" compare in this regard?

(03-30-2014 03:31 AM)Namir Wrote:  I am listening!

Me too. ,-)

Dieter
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03-30-2014, 07:29 PM
Post: #14
RE: What is the best BASIC Pocket Computer
Is the HP-71 too big to qualify? I have never seen such a good BASIC, even when I was working with Rocky Mountain BASIC 5.1 at work which was a huge disappointment compared to the 71 with math module and a bunch of LEX files from the Paris users' group. I often wrote programs in text without line numbers, using indentation and white space for readability, then had a program to add the line numbers and transform it to BASIC.

http://WilsonMinesCo.com (Lots of HP-41 links at the bottom of the links page, http://wilsonminesco.com/links.html )
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03-31-2014, 08:59 PM
Post: #15
RE: What is the best BASIC Pocket Computer
I would go with the CASIO PB-1000.

Up to 40k memory.
4 lines x 32 characters
Flexible variable names, as long as you want
Sub routine supported
User defined function

Plus

Touch screen :-)

Ability to program the unit in assembler. Everything is included in the computer, editor and assembler; no need to load or plug an external package. Very easy. The documentation is also very good.

Can be used with different interfaces giving RS-232 and Centronic connectivity and even floppy disk access.

It is not an HP pocket computer, but it still nevertheless a nice machine!

Fran├žois



(03-30-2014 03:31 AM)Namir Wrote:  Hi All,

Want to ask you all to give your opinion for the best (vintage) BASIC pocket Computers, taking into account the following aspects:

1. Amount of basic and upgradable memory.
2. Number of lines in display.
3. Flexible variable names (supporting two or more alpha characters).
4. Support for SUB routines
5. Support for separate user-defined function.

I am listening!

Namiir
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03-31-2014, 09:16 PM
Post: #16
RE: What is the best BASIC Pocket Computer
(03-31-2014 08:59 PM)Francois Lanciault Wrote:  I would go with the CASIO PB-1000.

Up to 40k memory.

Plus Touch screen :-)

Ability to program the unit in assembler. Everything is included in the computer, editor and assembler; no need to load or plug an external package. Very easy. The documentation is also very good.

It is not an HP pocket computer, but it still nevertheless a nice machine!
Yes, but except the awful touch screen.
I bought one PB-1000 new when it was new, and also invested in the 32K memory module. The PB-1000 has many interesting features, but the touch screen was a big disappointment. The touch segments are very big (no way to access a single pixel), and if you try using the touch option while the unit is standing on the desk, it will simply fall over and lays on the display cover, the keyboard facing into the sky;-)

And another typical weak point of many machines back then are the display hinges, which tend to break.

-- Ray
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03-31-2014, 09:34 PM
Post: #17
RE: What is the best BASIC Pocket Computer
(03-30-2014 07:29 PM)Garth Wilson Wrote:  I have never seen such a good BASIC, even when I was working with Rocky Mountain BASIC 5.1 at work which was a huge disappointment compared to the 71 with math module and a bunch of LEX files from the Paris users' group.

Off topic:

Wow, I thought RMB was the best thing ever coming from mbasic on CP/M. I was struck by the elements it shared with Pascal and FORTRAN. It was also extendable with Pascal or 68K assembler. I loved the "knob" on the Nimitz keyboard too. But I was most impressed with its I/O capability. We were typically collecting data from radio navigation and bathymetry, plotting a fix and graphing and logging that in real-time, all on a 9816 with 256K. We also interfaced with a menagerie of other marine instrument systems, from pingers to sidescan to LORAN and on and on. HP71B BASIC was and is a wonderful handheld BASIC, but it can't do any of that stuff.

It was a fun start to my professional career. "Offshore Programmer" was not a typical job title. Smile


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Howard
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03-31-2014, 10:03 PM (This post was last modified: 03-31-2014 10:05 PM by Garth Wilson.)
Post: #18
RE: What is the best BASIC Pocket Computer
(03-31-2014 09:34 PM)Howard Owen Wrote:  
(03-30-2014 07:29 PM)Garth Wilson Wrote:  I have never seen such a good BASIC, even when I was working with Rocky Mountain BASIC 5.1 at work which was a huge disappointment compared to the 71 with math module and a bunch of LEX files from the Paris users' group.

Off topic:

Wow, I thought RMB was the best thing ever coming from mbasic on CP/M. I was struck by the elements it shared with Pascal and FORTRAN. It was also extendable with Pascal or 68K assembler. I loved the "knob" on the Nimitz keyboard too. But I was most impressed with its I/O capability. We were typically collecting data from radio navigation and bathymetry, plotting a fix and graphing and logging that in real-time, all on a 9816 with 256K. We also interfaced with a menagerie of other marine instrument systems, from pingers to sidescan to LORAN and on and on. HP71B BASIC was and is a wonderful handheld BASIC, but it can't do any of that stuff.

It was a fun start to my professional career. "Offshore Programmer" was not a typical job title. Smile
My use of RMB was on a 68000-based Viper board that plugged into a slot in a PC. RMB by itself took half a megabyte, without the user's application. This board had and IEEE-488 port and native support. I did the heavy I/O to several lab instruments at once on the 71 (and before that, even the 41, although not in BASIC on the 41) with the HP82169A HPIL-to-HPIB interface converter. RMB 5.1 did not allow certain things in the program editing, did not allow more than one program in memory at a time (whereas the 71 allowed any number, and your main application could take advantage of subprograms in other program files, with their own environments, without importing them), forced you to use a certain case for variables (I seem to remember it had to start with a capital letter and the letters after it had to be lower-case), and had plenty of other annoyances.

http://WilsonMinesCo.com (Lots of HP-41 links at the bottom of the links page, http://wilsonminesco.com/links.html )
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04-01-2014, 08:42 AM
Post: #19
RE: What is the best BASIC Pocket Computer
The TI-74 has a very powerful BASIC with high accuracy (BCD), subroutines, long variable names, and complete IO. It stems from the CC-40. The BASIC seems to be similar to TI-99 BASIC.

Marcus von Cube
Wehrheim, Germany
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04-01-2014, 09:55 AM
Post: #20
RE: What is the best BASIC Pocket Computer
Raymond Del Tondo
That's why I, generally, do not recommend PB1000. PB2000c (with it's solid and attractive design) + OM53b BASIC card can be the clue, but those modules are extremely rare. However, If topic starter accept C - may be PB2000 can be the the best choice Smile
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