andrew's blog

because it's 1999

Tandy part 2

March 25, 2019

One struggle that I'm having for the moment with my Tandy 1000 is how to actually get programs onto it to run. I have a few packs of 720kb floppy disks, which I kept for my Amiga, and will be my method for playing games such as the original King's Quest. I do have a USB floppy drive somewhere in storage, but from what I've read most USB drives are only compatible with HD disks, and will fail on writing to DS/DD disks. I pulled out an old XP machine with USB ports, a wifi card, and a floppy drive, only to discover that I've removed both the floppy and hard drives, so it would take a while to put new drives in, install an OS and drivers, just to set up a "tweener" PC.

My first goal anyway was to get a copy of Kermit onto the Tandy, so that I could easily move files back and forth, and then back up the hard drive. My original plan was to put kermit on a floppy, but I instead managed to transfer it over serial.

Tandy shipped a GUI called DeskMate with their computers, which offered productivity software including a text editor, a calendar, addressbook, and a telecommunication terminal. I haven't been able to find comprehensive documentation of the telecom program, but it looks like it should be able to transfer both ASCII files and binary files using the XMODEM protocol. Sending kermit over xmodem using Deskmate failed, so I found another method.

One method for getting Kermit onto a computer was writing a lightweight bootstrap client in BASIC, and then transferring the full software to the computer. I began typing in the BASIC kermit code, until I started to dread having to double check my typing, and noticed that this webpage provides a method of transferring a kermit-based program as an ASCII hex file, and then using a much smaller BASIC program to convert that to binary.

I don't exactly remember why, but that method still proved difficult for me, until I discovered that LapLink 3 is able to bootstrap itself to a client without any muching about with code whatsoever. I finally got Laplink setup, and proceeded to spend about 6 hours transferring the contents of my 32mb hard drive to my modern PC at 19200 baud.