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Even more BASIC: PC-BASIC on the Mac (posted 2020-07-06)

After my BASICODE adventures a few days ago, I really wanted to see if I could run a BASICODE game on my VT420 terminal. I found a promising game: zeeslag (battleship) from Best of BASICODE 6.

Porting it to Python turned to be too large of a project, not helped by the many loops and multidimensional arrays. So I went looking for a BASIC interpreter for on the Mac, and found PC-BASIC, a cross-platform GW-BASIC emulator.

As luck would have it, ZEESLAG.BAS contains the BASICODE subroutines for GW-BASIC, so the program runs as-is. The only issue is that the program runs way too fast. You'll want to add a couple of zeros to the delay loops on lines 20160 and 20560. (Delay loops? Yes...)

The next step was to see if I could run the whole thing from the command line on the terminal. PC-BASIC does let you run it from the terminal:

/Applications/PC-BASIC.app/Contents/MacOS/pcbasic -t

But... only if your terminal settings are recognized. A quick export LC_ALL=C does wonders here. However, the program didn't recognize the terminal settings for the VT420, and I couldn't find any setting that worked. Until I realized I could run the program in screen, and that worked:

export LC_ALL=C
export TERM=vt420
screen
/Applications/PC-BASIC.app/Contents/MacOS/pcbasic -t
load "zeeslag"
list 20160
(use the cursor keys to go to the 400 value, change it, press enter)
list 20560
(use the cursor keys to go to the 1000 value, change it, press enter)
run

So it can be done. That should be enough nostalgia for a while.

by .


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