SINCLAIR QL's 25th birthday

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Urs Koenig

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Jan 12, 2009, 1:36:53 AM1/12/09
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On January 12th 1984 Sir Clive Sinclair presented the Sinclair QL
Professional Computer in a Hollywood-style launch event at the
Intercontinental Hotel, Hyde Park Corner, London. This was exactly
12 days earlier than Steve Jobs presented the Apple Macintosh.

Today, 25 years later we congratulate and celebrate the 25th birthday
of the Sinclair QL!
http://www.qlvsjaguar.homepage.bluewin.ch/SinclairQL_25th_anniversary_1984_to_2009.html

The QL still is a very good example of an innovative, stylish, powerful
and underestimated product. On one hand it failed in the market in the
long run but on the other it influenced many developments which ended in
today's products. At least in seven aspects the QL was a real Quantum Leap:

1. First 32bit micro for both home and office use (Motorola MC68K CPU).
2. First PC with preemptive multitasking operating system with linear
addressing, Windows and Mac OS offered those important features only
years to decades later. The QL could run hundreds of jobs in parallel.
3. First PC with bundled Office suite (PSION XCHANGE offering word
processing, spreadsheet, business graphics and database).
4. First PC with a highly integrated two chip North-/Southbridge, IBM
and Apple still used dozens of standard chips.
5. Innovative and timeless industrial design (case, motherboard and
keyboard), Sony's Playstation 2 or some later Apple designs look
very similar.
6. Innovative SuperBASIC Programming Language for Rapid Application
Development (RAD), years later Microsoft's Visual Basic closed the gap.
7. Even only around 150'000 QL's were sold, one user became very
important to the industry. Linus Torvralds used and programmed a
QL before he created what became Linux.
http://groups.google.com/group/comp.os.misc/browse_thread/thread/ebc0ad379434cb7c?q=linus+torvalds+ql

Check out this 25th anniversary presentation.
http://www.cowo.ch/downloads/SinclairQLis25-compressed.ppt

Try QPC, a virtual QL:
http://www.cowo.ch/downloads/QPC_a_virtual_QL.zip

Happy 25th anniversary and QL forever!

Urs König (aka cowo)
http://www.qlvsjaguar.homepage.bluewin.ch/


Chris Young

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Jan 12, 2009, 3:02:15 AM1/12/09
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On Mon, 12 Jan 2009 07:36:53 +0100 da kidz on comp.sys.sinclair were rappin'
to MC Urs Koenig:

> On January 12th 1984 Sir Clive Sinclair presented the Sinclair QL
> Professional Computer in a Hollywood-style launch event at the
> Intercontinental Hotel, Hyde Park Corner, London. This was exactly
> 12 days earlier than Steve Jobs presented the Apple Macintosh.
>
> Today, 25 years later we congratulate and celebrate the 25th birthday
> of the Sinclair QL!

Happy birthday Mr QL.

Chris


--
+-------------------------------------------+
| Unsatisfactory Software - "because it is" |
| http://www.unsatisfactorysoftware.co.uk |
| Your Sinclair: A Celebration |
+- http://www.yoursinclair.co.uk -----------+

DISCLAIMER: I may be making all this stuff up again.

OwenBot

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Jan 12, 2009, 4:35:11 AM1/12/09
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It's also Virign Atlantic's 25th birthday. You should see the ad
they're showing -- 1984 was a scary year for music and fashion tastes.

> On one hand it failed in the market in the
> long run but on the other it influenced many developments which ended in
> today's products.

I'd say it failed in its intended market. The One Per Desk was a great
success.

> At least in seven aspects the QL was a real Quantum Leap

Bad science. A quantum leap is about the smallest leap possible.

> 1. First 32bit micro for both home and office use (Motorola MC68K CPU).

Can't argue with that, although the 8-bit data bus was a bit
restrictive and the full 32-bit portential of the series wasn't really
realizes until the release of the 030.

> 2. First PC with preemptive multitasking operating system

Followed closely by the Amiga, and the Archimedes if memory serves.
There is a tenuous connection between the QL and Amiga OS, but I've
forgotten it again.

> 3. First PC with bundled Office suite

And PSION were still at it, right up to the 7 Series, although I think
they dropped the suite from the Symbian phones.

> 4. First PC with a highly integrated two chip North-/Southbridge

And in English that means?

> 5. Innovative and timeless industrial design

Rick Dickinson has some very interesting photos of his work on the QL
here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/9574086@N02/sets/72157600854938578/

> 6. Innovative SuperBASIC Programming Language

I've heard good things about it, but what makes it different from,
say, BBC Basic?

> 7. Even only around 150'000 QL's were sold, one user became very
>    important to the industry. Linus Torvralds used and programmed a
>    QL before he created what became Linux.

It's a very important kernel, but it is still simply a kernel. Let's
not get carried away. :)

Brian Gaff

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Jan 12, 2009, 4:58:17 AM1/12/09
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I think several things annoyed me about the Ql.
First, a Quantum is the smallest non divisible part of the universe, so the
image of Clive jumping a long way was completely at the wrong end of the
Spectrum (pun intended)
2, The guy behind the QL from the press point of view was an ex BBC micro
man spit spit..
3 It was launched with half the Rom hanging out the back of the machine.
5, Despite the accepted wisdom that disc drives were going to come down in
price and were faster and more reliable than Microdrives, it still used
them.
Brian

--
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Email: bri...@blueyonder.co.uk
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________


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Brian Gaff

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Jan 12, 2009, 5:02:23 AM1/12/09
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PS there is no 4 as it was lost during the manufacturing process.
Brian

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Richard Hallas

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Jan 12, 2009, 5:40:58 AM1/12/09
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On Jan 12, 9:35 am, OwenBot <cheve...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > 2. First PC with preemptive multitasking operating system
>
> Followed closely by the Amiga, and the Archimedes if memory serves.

Actually, no. RISC OS, the 32-bit Acorn OS, used (and still uses)
co-operative multitasking.

That's not as bad as it sounds. RISC OS remains the best example
I know of co-operative multitasking done well, and hence is very fast
and efficient (more so than it would have been had it been pre-
emptive).
But it would be wrong to pretend that it was a fully pre-emptive
system,
because it wasn't, and a co-operative system is of course technically
less sophisticated than a pre-emptive one.

OwenBot

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Jan 12, 2009, 8:36:46 AM1/12/09
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I wasn't sure about the Arc. I had a vague recollection of it being
pre-emptive but obviously I was misremembering. The old MacOS never
had proper pre-emptive multitasking. Then again, neither did the old
Windows. We had to wait for X and NT respectively.

Oh, and the QL keyboard was awful, and more expensive than the Cherry
keyboards available at the time (according to former Sinclair employee
Rupert Goodwins).

Jules

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Jan 12, 2009, 9:21:22 AM1/12/09
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On Mon, 12 Jan 2009 10:02:23 +0000, Brian Gaff wrote:

> PS there is no 4 as it was lost during the manufacturing process.
> Brian

Quality control to rival Uncle Clive's? :-)


Jules

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Jan 12, 2009, 9:24:36 AM1/12/09
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On Mon, 12 Jan 2009 07:36:53 +0100, Urs Koenig wrote:
> 1. First 32bit micro for both home and office use (Motorola MC68K CPU).

68008, no? ("68K" implies 68000, but maybe that's just me :-)

OwenBot

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Jan 12, 2009, 10:37:37 AM1/12/09
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On Jan 12, 2:24 pm, Jules <jules.richardsonn...@remove.this.gmail.com>
wrote:

> On Mon, 12 Jan 2009 07:36:53 +0100, Urs Koenig wrote:
> > 1. First 32bit micro for both home and office use (Motorola MC68K CPU).
>
> 68008, no? ("68K" implies 68000, but maybe that's just me :-)

Yes but the 68008 was a 68K with an 8-bit bus. Still a 32-bit forward
compatible CPU. In theory you could stick a 68040 in a QL and run the
original software. I wonder if anyone has done that.

Jules

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Jan 12, 2009, 10:54:15 AM1/12/09
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On Mon, 12 Jan 2009 07:37:37 -0800, OwenBot wrote:

> On Jan 12, 2:24 pm, Jules <jules.richardsonn...@remove.this.gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> On Mon, 12 Jan 2009 07:36:53 +0100, Urs Koenig wrote:
>> > 1. First 32bit micro for both home and office use (Motorola MC68K CPU).
>>
>> 68008, no? ("68K" implies 68000, but maybe that's just me :-)
>
> Yes but the 68008 was a 68K with an 8-bit bus. Still a 32-bit forward
> compatible CPU.

For sure - merely commenting on the "M68K" designation. No
disagreement on the internal data width. Lesser CPU (compared to 68000) it
may have been, but still a pretty powerful beast (I've got a couple of
68008 setups, but never had a QL, sadly)

(it's a *real* shame that IBM went the x86 route; poor software aside, it
could have been a far better hardware platform if it wasn't saddled with
such a bad CPU choice)

> In theory you could stick a 68040 in a QL and run the original software.
> I wonder if anyone has done that.

I'm *really* tickling braincells here, but I thought that the 68000 and
'010 had a way of dropping them to 8-bit mode for 68008 compatibility, but
that this wasn't necessarily carried over to later CPUs in the family.
That is going from very hazy memory of comments from way back which were
possibly wrong anyway, though ;-)

cheers

Jules

Brian Gaff

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Jan 12, 2009, 11:32:52 AM1/12/09
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Yes, don't worry, we have sellotaped a correction email to the top of the
first so it looks right.
Brian

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Andrew Halliwell

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Jan 12, 2009, 11:08:15 AM1/12/09
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Errrrr... no you couldn't, the 68008 wasn't pin compatible. I *think* there
were also a few instructions missing. The 68008 not only had an 8 bit
databus, it also only had 20 address lines out from the chip meaning a max
of 1Meg of addressable RAM.
However, there are the gold and supergold cards which take over the
motherboard and replace the cpu with (gold=68000 and supergold=68020 iirc)

If you want a 68040 powered QL you'd need to buy a Q40 or Q60 (for a 68060)
Which are redesigned computers based on the QL.
--
| |What to do if you find yourself stuck in a crack|
| spi...@freenet.co.uk |in the ground beneath a giant boulder, which you|
| |can't move, with no hope of rescue. |
| Andrew Halliwell BSc |Consider how lucky you are that life has been |
| in |good to you so far... |
| Computer Science | -The BOOK, Hitch-hiker's guide to the galaxy.|

Mentore Siesto

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Jan 12, 2009, 5:52:42 PM1/12/09
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Tu, Andrew Halliwell <spi...@ponder.sky.com>, hai scritto questo in
data Mon, 12 Jan 2009 16:08:15 UTC:

> OwenBot <chev...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > On Jan 12, 2:24 pm, Jules <jules.richardsonn...@remove.this.gmail.com>
> > wrote:
> >> On Mon, 12 Jan 2009 07:36:53 +0100, Urs Koenig wrote:
> >> > 1. First 32bit micro for both home and office use (Motorola MC68K CPU).
> >>
> >> 68008, no? ("68K" implies 68000, but maybe that's just me :-)
> >
> > Yes but the 68008 was a 68K with an 8-bit bus. Still a 32-bit forward
> > compatible CPU. In theory you could stick a 68040 in a QL and run the
> > original software. I wonder if anyone has done that.
>
> Errrrr... no you couldn't, the 68008 wasn't pin compatible. I *think* there
> were also a few instructions missing. The 68008 not only had an 8 bit
> databus, it also only had 20 address lines out from the chip meaning a max
> of 1Meg of addressable RAM.
> However, there are the gold and supergold cards which take over the
> motherboard and replace the cpu with (gold=68000 and supergold=68020 iirc)
>
> If you want a 68040 powered QL you'd need to buy a Q40 or Q60 (for a 68060)
> Which are redesigned computers based on the QL.

The 68008 was, IIRC, just a reduced-bus width version of the 68K. Same
chip, same address lines, half data bus width. It wasn't pin
compatible because of this and (if memory helps a little) it lacked
some part of the interrupts circuitry - but I'm not sure.

I just have a thing to say about SuperBasic and Visual Basic:
SuperBasic is way superior to VB imho. I worked with VB and it's
really sluggish in some aspects compared to SuperBasic, while being
similar in most of the others. The only thing SuperBasic fails versus
VB is the need for number lines, which is not so bad a thing.

Just my €0.02, though.

--
Mentore Siesto
eComStation Developer Team

OwenBot

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Jan 12, 2009, 7:00:16 PM1/12/09
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On Jan 12, 4:08 pm, Andrew Halliwell <spi...@ponder.sky.com> wrote:

> OwenBot <cheve...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > In theory you could stick a 68040 in a QL and run the
^^^^^^

> > original software. I wonder if anyone has done that.
>
> Errrrr... no you couldn't, the 68008 wasn't pin compatible.

Read what I wrote again.

Jules

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Jan 12, 2009, 7:38:06 PM1/12/09
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On Mon, 12 Jan 2009 09:54:15 -0600, Jules wrote:
>> In theory you could stick a 68040 in a QL and run the original software.
>> I wonder if anyone has done that.
>
> I'm *really* tickling braincells here, but I thought that the 68000 and
> '010 had a way of dropping them to 8-bit mode for 68008 compatibility, but
> that this wasn't necessarily carried over to later CPUs in the family.

Ahh - "dynamic bus sizing" seems to be the thing... it's present in up to
(and including) the '030, but absent from the '040 and '060. So an '030 QL
might be viable (assuming the in-built MMU doesn't get in the way), but it
sounds like anything newer might be a bit of a hassle.


Tony Firshman <"

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Jan 14, 2009, 3:37:25 PM1/14/09
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OwenBot wrote, On 12/01/09 09:35:

>> 6. Innovative SuperBASIC Programming Language
>
> I've heard good things about it, but what makes it different from,
> say, BBC Basic?
>

I have never used BBC basic, but I thought the real innovative thing
about SB was being able to ignore line numbers.
One used function/procedure calls and structured loops. GOTO, although
there, was not needed.
All the lion numbers did was order the basic.

.... and when the basic program was loaded, the function/procedure calls
were usable on the command line.

It also could force values to match the required variable type.

I liked the concept of embedding machine code in BBC Basic.

My only contact with BBC Basic was when I had a UK101 Basic program to
direct drive an IBM Golfball using a PIO interface. Those were fun days!
My brother had a BBC, and I wrote a UK101 Basic program to output the
required data to cassette tape which was readable as a Basic program by
the BBC. That was a very hard exercise, as the BBC had a CRC (or was it
checksum?) in the header and very tight formatted data.

... but it worked!

--
Tony Firshman
<firstname>@<surname>.co.uk

Rich Mellor

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Feb 2, 2009, 1:14:36 AM2/2/09
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Just a reminder:

Don’t forget the QL’s 25th Anniversary workshop and show being held by
Quanta on 18th – 19th April, in Coventry -

http://www.quanta.org.uk/news/index.asp#25thworkshop

Rich Mellor
http://www.rwapsoftware.co.uk

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