Related systems:

FAQ - comp.sys.sinclair FAQ list for the Sinclair QL computer

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          comp.sys.sinclair FAQ list for the Sinclair QL computer
            This FAQ list has last been modified at 1996-Jul-14

0 Introduction to the FAQ

*** Warning ***
The data within this FAQ is outdated (except the
"news" section)  The rest of the FAQ resembles the
QL scene in 1994.

0.0 Preface and forward

    Dear reader,
this is the second edition of the FAQ for the Sinclair
QL computer.  Great parts are incomplete or I haven't any idea
about the topic.  Perhaps you want to have additional material in
the FAQ.  Many thinks may be unclear or simply wrong; please
don't blame me to much for this.  This second version is not that
much different from the first one.  The main changes are that I
updated the SMSQ/E entry and extracted the Service list from the
FAQ.  The Service list will be posted from time to time while
the FAQ will be posted much less frequently if ever.  Both
documents (as well as other QL related stuff) will be available
via WWW at .

The use of the words QL or QDOS sometimes includes unwritten that
the actual topic also includes compatibles.

If you have any ideas, suggestions, criticism please mail me
.  (But please be patient and
rational, and keep short if possible: I've only a limited

Well, now relax and enjoy.


0.1 NEWS *** NEWS *** NEWS

The SuperGoldCard is now reproduced by QUANTA.  The QXL
is no longer available, but Miracle now offers the QXL2
instead.  There will be no QXL Gold, but you have the
option to trade in your SGC or GC for a QXL2.

Miracle has stopped the development of the masterpiece enhanced
graphics card.  Another graphics card, from Nastasic/Qubbesoft
is currently in development.  Estimated release date is about
August 1996.  This card is not only a graphics card, but a 
replacement for the QL motherboard.

0.2 Contents

    * means, that I have not enough information to write 
      anything about the marked FAQ part or that I'll try to
      do it in future.

   0 Introduction to the FAQ
   0.0 Preface and forward
   0.1 NEWS *** NEWS *** NEWS
   0.2 Contents
   0.3 Warranty information
   0.4 How to submit new material to tha FAQ
   0.5 Miscellaneous information
   0.6 What's the Sinclair QL
   0.7 Facts about the Sinclair QL

   1 QL, QL Clones Hardware
   1.1 QL
   1.1.1 The Motorola MC 68008 CPU
   1.1.2 The Intel 8049 IPC (or 8749)
   1.1.3 ZX8301 (Peripheral Control)
   1.1.4 ZX8302 (Peripheral Chip)
   1.1.5 HAL/GAL 16L8
   1.1.6 Microdrives
   1.1.7 Power supply
   1.1.8 Build Standards, Differences
   1.2 Sandy Q-XT 640
   1.3 CST Thor PC (later Thor 1)
   1.4 Sandy 68000 PC (Futura, formerly QLT; never apperared)
   1.5 CST Thor 20, 21
   1.6 CST Thor XVI
   1.7 Futura Data Centre QL emulator board for the Atari ST
   1.8 Miracle Systems Gold Card
   1.9 ICL One Per Desk (also Merlin Tonto or Computerphone)
   1.10 Merz QVME Card
   1.11 Miracle Systems QXL Card
   1.12 Miracle Systems Super Gold Card

   2 QL Device Operating System (QDOS) and Compatibles
   2.1 QDOS
   2.2 Minerva
   2.3 Argos
   2.4 SMSQ/E
   2.5 QDOS enhancements
   2.5.1 SuperToolkit II
   2.5 2 Pointers, Menus, Hotkeys and Things
   2.6 SMS2

   3 Programs for the QL / Compatibles
   3.1 Emulators of other systems on the QL
   3.1.1  PC Conqueror
   3.1.2 The Solution
   3.1.3 CP Mulator
   3.1.4 Success
   *3.1.5  Spectrum emulators ZM/HT etc
   3.2 Psion Quartet
   3.2.1 Quill Import/Export

0.3 Warranty information

   In no circumstances will the maintainers of this FAQ be liable
for any direct, indirect, incidental or consequential damage or
loss including but not limited to loss of use. stored data,
profit or contracts which may arise from any error, defect or
failure of the FAQ or the information supplied with it.

   The FAQ maintainers have a policy of constant development and
improvement of their FAQ.  Therefore, the right is reserved to
change the FAQ contents at any time and without notice.

   Each part of this FAQ may be reproduced in any form whatsoever
without the written permission of the FAQ maintainers.

0.4 How to submit new material to the FAQ

   In general, if you think the answer to a question needs to be
clarified or corrected, or wish to propose a new question AND
answer (please provide BOTH at the same time), send it to me. For
new questions/answers, you should also provide an indication of
what section of the FAQ the Q&A belong in. I am the maintainer of
the FAQ, but not the overall author. If a change is in the
category of a small correction, I go ahead and make it. If it is
something significant, I'll try coordinate with the original
submitter to obtain an appropriately worded answer.

0.5 Miscellaneous information

   This FAQ list has been made by Jennifer Louise Yockney and
Robert Klein.

   Many thanks to all the people who helped us to put this list
together, especially to (alphabetically):
                Richard J. Kettlewell
                Scott Telford
                Jennifer Louise Yockney
                Richard Zidlicky

   The abbreviation SQLW means Sinclair QL World.

   Any suggestions, criticism please email to

0.6 What's the Sinclair QL

   The Quantum Leap computer was launched by Sir Clive Sinclair
in 1984 aimed mainly at the business market rather than the games
market which dominated Spectrum sales.  From a current point of
view it has at least reached the latter goal.  It seems like
if most current QL users are like the first `home computer'
users -- hardware and software tinkerers.  Other prefer the
strict simplicity against the complexity of most computer
systems currently in use (e.g. MS Windows).

   The QL was supplied complete with a suite put
together by PSION comprising of a fully functional wordprocessor,
spreadsheet, database and a business graphics programs (bar
charts, pie charts etc).

   The concept of the QL is to plug in and go. The only extra
required to get started is a standard TV and 10-15 minutes time
(i.e. to start typing a letter).

   There is a host of additional peripherals available for the QL
including printers, disk drives, monitors, interfaces and
specialist hardware and software. The QL has its own magazine -
"QL Today" which carries interesting articles and advertisements.

0.7 Facts about the Sinclair QL

   [From a leaflet from WN Richardson.]

   Following his successes with the 'ZX' and 'SPECTRUM' computers
Sir Clive Sinclair produced the 'QL' -- 'Quantum Leap' --

   Although out if production now for some years it was ahead of
its time, and is still up-to-date in most respects, and in use in
the USA and many other countries.  It is very versatile and the
basis for even more sophisticated versions which are still being
produced by independent designers.  It was intended for use by
small businesses, students, and hobbyists, and was remarkable
value for money from the outset.  Today there are many businesses
still buying QL's rather than spend thousands on more elaborate

   It is extremely well supported with inexpensive programs, some
library ones only GBP 2, or free.  They cover all kinds of
subjects from games to business, as well as graphics, and the
really complex.  As supplied the QL includes four standard
programs.  An excellent and quick to learn word-processor
'QUILL'; a very useful spreadsheet: 'ABACUS'; a database filing
system: 'Archive'; and 'EASEL' for designing graphs. Help and
advice is always available from the active support group

   Since the 'QL' is now such outstanding value for money a great
number of owners have two: one in use and the other as back-up,
networked, or doing other jobs such as scientific work or
operating a modem.  Many users are students of the applications
of computers, and the art of programming.  The 'QL' improved
BASIC 'SuperBASIC' encourages the design of well structured
programs, and is easy to write and read.

   The small size and lightness of the 'QL' and the facility to
display on 'TV' or 'Monitor' aided by the built-in microdrives
makes it portable, for example between office and home.

   Emulator programs (such as 'PC Conquerer', 'The Solution',
'CP/M' enable files and programs to be used to and from the 'QL',
'PCs' and most other computers. There are also many specialist
programs for accounting, desk top publishing, graphic art,
computer aided design, and other subjects.

   The QL can operate all devices such as printers and modems via
RS232 ports and where necessary interfaces.  Disk and hard-disk
systems are available.

   The QL is based on the famous Motorola 68008 microprocessor,
and the basic machine has 128K of RAM expandable by 768K using
expansion cards without another CPU on it, a ROM expansion port
is provided.  Two microdrive units are built in for input and
files.  An expansion connector allows up to six further
microdrive units to be added if desired.  Other facilities are:
two RS232 ports, a network port, two joystick ports, and a
built-in speaker. The 'QL' is capable of multi-tasking and can
utilise disc systems. It provides 255 possible colour effects.
Sound, though of fixed volume, is controlable for duration,
pitch, oscillation between pitches, variable 'bounce' rates, and

1 QL, QL Clones Hardware

1.1 QL

   Two main versions of the QL's PC board were used.  The first
QL's used issue 5 of the PCB, which had either ROM or EPROM
versions with another ROM mounted pickaback onto IC33. The second
is build standard issue 6 (volume production) which features 48k
of on-board ROM which is realised in two Chips, one 32K ROM and
one 16K ROM (Minerva uses one 48K ROM).  The main differencees
are the deletion of IC17 and IC27 and the addition of IC38 (HAL).

   It is recommended to have a QL Circuit diagram for this part
of the FAQ but it is intended to be comprehensible without.

1.1.1 The Motorola MC 68008 CPU
    IC 18

    The MC68008 is a 32-bit microprocessor with 8-bit data bus
and 20-bit address bus.  It is the QL's main processor and
responsible for the overall timing and control of the QL.  For
more information get Motorolas data sheets (Family Reference:
M68000 FR/AD; Programmers Referenz Manual M68000 PM/AD; User's
Manual M68000 UM/AD) or read Wilf/Nausch "M 68000 Familie" pt 1&2
(I don't know if this book is available in english).

1.1.2 The Intel 8049 IPC (or 8749)
    IC 24

   The 8049 receives the RS232 interface signals, controls the
loudspeaker and joystick ports and monitors the keyboard. Instead
of the 8049 some QL's have the 8749 inside which is an EPROM
version of the 8049.

1.1.3 ZX8301 (Peripheral Control)

   The ZX8301 is responsible for TV picture generation, master
clock generation, system address decode, DRAM refresh and control
of the bus receiver.

1.1.4 ZX8302 (Peripheral Chip)
    IC 23

   The ZX8302 controls all signals to and from the peripheral
devices. It supervises the following signals: - Keyboard,
Speaker, Joystick and RS232 (one half) by serial link to the 8049
IPC. - RS232 (other half), net, microdrive, real-time clock and
interrupt control.

1.1.5 HAL/GAL 16L8
      IC 38

(The following is from a brother of mine, he used a SG18
(Samsung) QL to determine it.  Bad english is my fault.)

title    QLMOD HAL16L8
pattern  QLMOD 
revision A 
author   Michael Klein  
company  Klein  
date     9/9/93 
chip QLMOD GAL16V8 
; pin 1   2   3    4    5    6   7  8   9   10  
      fc1 a16 a17 /dsmc a6  /zx1 e8 e11 fc0 gnd 
; pin 11 12     13  14   15 16  17   18 19    20 
      d7 dsmct /vpa int /oe o1 /pcen o2 dtack vcc 
                   ; according to QL CIRCUIT DIAGRAM (Issue 5) 1.17
int   = e8 * e11   ; IC27 2xNAND = (serial port)
vpa   = fc0 * fc1  ; IC27 1xNAND = 0 at interrupt
dsmct = fc0 * fc1  ; IC27 1xNAND = 1 at interrupt
                   ; (behind vpa = AND with fc0, fc1
; ZX8302 is (in german (SG18 - Korea made)) connected directly
; with the 68008 databus  :
; The oe signal for the 74LS245 may not be active then.
oe    = zx1 * /pcen * dsmc
; New Chip Select for the ZX8302
pcen  = a16 * /a17 * /a6 * dsmc
; o1 =  pcen * /fc0  +  pcen * /fc1   ; not necessary , test
; DTACK from new Chip Select.
; Also generated by the ZX8301, because it generated the pcen in
; times when the ZX8302 was connected to the CPU through the
; 74LS245.
; Now that's the job of the GAL.
dtack.trst = pcen
dtack = gnd 


1.1.6 Microdrives

   The microdrives are used as 'mass storage device' in the
Sinclair QL. As media you have little 'cartridges', which tend to
be unusable after a more or minder long period of time.  Only one
microdrive may be used at any time.  The selection of the drive
and operation type (read or write) is done under software
control.  You can write protect any cartridge by removing the
write protect tab on the micro drive cartridge.  When the tab is
removed a microswitch is released which disconnects the write
heads power supply line. Sometimes it's possible to format a
cartridge though it is write-protected.  The problem is caused by
several things which are supposed to tell you whether the
spinning MDV is write-protected (SV_WP, which is extracted from
the IPC 'info' command) tend to lie. [Oh, and surely most MDVs
could be described as 'badly made units'? ].

1.1.7 Power supply

   (I think I should write something about it, but I don't know

1.1.8 Build Standards, Differences

Build   | IC | ROM / EPROM | Software | Remarks
Stand.  |    | ROM   EPROM | Standard |
  D6    | 33 | ---    32K  |   AH     | 16K of EPROM mounted
        | 34 | ---    16K  |          | pickaback on IC33
  D7    | 33 | ---    32K  |   JM     | 16K of EPROM mounted
        | 34 | ---    16K  |          | pickaback in IC33
  D8    | 33 | 32K    ---  |   AH     | ---
        | 34 | ---    16K  |          |
  D9    | 33 | 32K    ---  |   AH     | ---
        | 34 | 16K    ---  |          |
  D10   | 33 | ---    32K  |   JM     | ---
        | 34 | ---    16K  |          |
  D11-  | 33 | 32K    ---  |   JM     | ---
  D14   | 34 | 16K    ---  |          |

   If you have build standard D8 or below or D10 an upgrade to
D11 or later firmware is highly recommended.

   Build Standards D16 and higher incorporate some modifications
to improve microdrive performance.

   The last standard of britain made QL's was (at least) D17
(SQLW Apr. 87, p. 13).  Samsung QL's were of standard SG18 (I
don't know of more).

The various QL PCB's also had issue numbers which corresponded to
blocks of the D numbers:

Issue <= 4: pre-production
Issue 5 : D06 - D13
Issue 6 : D14 - D15
Issue 7 : D16 - D17.

1.2 Sandy Q-XT 640

   The Sandy Q-XT 640 had a Original QL main board with 128K RAM;
a Super QBoard with 512K RAM, Centronics printer port, Super
toolkit II, Floppy disk controller; 1 or two 3.5" drives (1MB);
a Full travel keyboard IBM-AT style; a new internal 60W switching
power supply and 3 expansion slots.

1.3 CST Thor PC (later Thor 1)

   The Thor PC had 640K RAM; 128 user EPROM space; a JS based
'extended' operating system; battery backed clock; IBM style 84
key keyboard; centronics and serial ports; mouse port; ICE +
front end; full user port at rear. 3.5" floppy disk storage;
network capability; optional 20MB harddisk. The Thor PC had a new
PCB.  Each Thor computer came with the PSION XCHANGE package
(version 3) which was an enhanced version of the PSION QL
packages.  You can run up to six tasks simultaneously,
automatically switching data between programs.  XCHANGE hat the
TSL task sequencing language to automatically control each task
via a simple program. Included with the Thor was an improved
version of the ICE computer front end.  The Thor PC came in three
variants: a) Thor PC 1F with single 720K 3.5" disk drive b) Thor
PC 2F with double 720K 3.5" disk drive c) Thor PC 2FW with 20MB
Winchester + one 720K 3.5" drive.

1.4 Sandy 68000 PC (Futura, formerly QLT; never apperared)

   The Futura had following technical details:

   a) Hardware.  MC68000 8MHz CPU; 128K exchangeable system ROM;
512K to 8MB RAM; two externam ROMPer connectors; two internal
ROMPer connectors (ROMPer/RAM bus); complete bus connector; QL
compatible display controller; two full duplex, independent baud
rate serial ports; MIDI output port; QL compatible network
through port; parallel port; mouse port; sound generator; up to
three 3.5" floppy disk drives or one 3.5" hard disk drive and up
to two floppy disk drives; battery backed real time clock;
internal PSU; 89 key IBM AT style keyboard with CAPSLOCK LED and
joystick port.

   The Futura also had 16-bit video, ie 65536 colours at a time.
(source : QLSUB#0)

   b) Software.  QDOS compatible operating system with extended
window handling, pull down and static menu handling, integrated
pointer environment and improved error reporting; a SuperBASIC
compatible programming language with faster execution and all
Supertoolkit facilities; a hotkey/mouse driven interface with
file manager, spooler and job manager.  (Tony Tebby design) (This
seems to be the beginning of all this SMS2/Ora things now)

1.5 CST Thor 20, 21

   (This parts consists of excerpts from articles and
advertisements in SQLW in 1988.)

   The Thor 20 system is based on the Motorola MC 68020 32 bit
processor with optional MC 68881 Floating Point Coprocessor and a
choice of two clock speeds (12.5 (12.0?) and 16.7 MHz). The Thor
20 was supplied with Motorola's User Manuals for the MC 68020 and
MC 68881.  Also provided was a suite of development software
comprising an extended Macro Assembler by Talent Computer Systems
which supports the full MC 68020 and MC 68881 instruction sets,
and a Linker by GST. Plus (of course) the software which already
the Thor PC came with. The Thor 21 was the Thor 20 with the FPC
option. Both came in the same three variants as the Thor PC.

1.6 CST Thor XVI

   The main processor board of the THOR XVI contains a 68000
processor running at 8 Mhz. The onboard half Megabyte of memory
is multiplexed between the processor and the video control
circuitry, which generates a superset of the QL video modes. The
expansion memory slots allow up to 6 Magabytes to be added
concurrently (with the new 4Mbit devices this will be increased
further). All input and output functions are carried out by a 2
Mhz 6802 on the I/O processor board, which is designed to be
standard across the range of THOR machines. Video pixel rate is
10.67 MHz, which allows 512 pixel per line display on a standdard
monitor without overscan. The video modes now include a 16 colour
facility for colour monitors which have an intensity input, or a
16, level grey scale in monochrome.

   The advertised "superset of QL video modes" was in fact the
two normal QL modes (512x256x4 and 256x256x8) with one extra
"MODE 12" giving 256x256 pixels in 16 colours. The promised
higer-memory expansion cards never went into production and so
the maximum memory which may be fitted to a Thor XVI is 6.5Mb.

   The QL compatible expansion slot allows the use of existing
add on cards (except memory).

   The input/output board has two type of function: interfacing
with disc storage devices and the real time clock, and providing
communications to the outside world via the mouse, serial,
parallel, keyboard and network ports.

   Floppy disc and optional SCSI interfaces are controlled
directly by the main processor as the peak data transfer rate is
high but intermittant and so causes only a low CPU overhead. Also
directly accessed by the main processor is the battery backed
real time clock (there is no CPU overhead in accessing this) and
the "User" eprom slots which are 8 bit wide for ease of

   All other I/O functions are handled by the 2MHz 68B02
microprocessor: this receives commands and data via the dual
ported ram, shared with the main processor, which only sees
"perfect" devices, Qdos compatible queues and buffers.

   It is the intelligence of the 68B02 that releases the main
processor to get on with its own work. It also provides greater
functionality: e.g. as well as "BEEP" interface to the
loadspeaker's driver, there is a queue allowing digitised sounds
to be generated and then simply sent to the I/O Board.

   The "outside world" interfaces are seen from right to left at
the front: the video output, the network ports (an enhanced
version of QNET), serial ports which support the proposed BS-5/8
(DIN connector) standard, split baud rates, x-on/x-off protocols
etc, AT compatible keyboard connector, parallel port (BBC micro
style) and a fully useraccessible mouse port.

   While fully compatible with Qdos and the QL, the Thor XVI has
enhanced networking, single key multitasking, up to 6.5 Mb of
dynamic ram and all delivered at the very least at twice the
speed of the QL. For the professional user there are now 20MB and
40MB hard discs complemented by a choice of either single or dual
3.5" floppy disc drives.

   For overseas Thor XVI users (and for not a few foreign
language students in the UK), the keyboard layout may be selected
dynamically along with national error messages ans character sets
for more esoteric languages such as Greek and Russian.

   The Thor XVI Range
    Thor XVI CF    (Workstation)
    Thor XVI IF    (Single Floppy)
    Thor XVI FF    (Dual Floppy)
    Thor XVI W20F  (20MB Winchester, 1 Floppy)
    Thor XVI W20FF (20MB Winchester, 2 Floppies)
    Thor XVI W40F  (40MB Winchester, 1 Floppy)
    Thor XVI W40FF (40MB Winchester, 2 Floppies)

   A pleasant revelation and against all reasonable expectation
the Thor User Guide proved not to be a direct copy of the often
maligned QL manual. With a few minor exceptions the manual is
presented in a clear and concise manner.

   The user guide is a single document comprising four manuals
and five parts relating with the XChange program suite and deals
with various aspects of using the Thor and its accompanying

   Manual 1 describes the Thor hardware and connections to the
system. Manual 2 provides detailed axplanations of SuperBasic and
its syntax. Manual 3 is a glossary of SuperBasic keywords and
provides evidence that much of Tony Tebby's Toolkit II has been
incorporated into Thor SuperBasic.

   From Manual 4 onwards users are given detailed instructions
concerning the use of XChange and the parts following it deal
with each of the components of the XChange system. Parts 2, 3, 4
and 5 are for Quill, Abacus, Easel and Archive respectively.

   Part 6 is devoted to the appendix which is divided into three
sub-sections, covering finer details such as Import and Export of
files and matters relating to printers. Copious explanations and
examples concerning language syntax have been provided in manual
2, initiating a user new to SuperBasic and the finer points of

   Looking through the section devoted to keywords it soon
becomes obvious that SuperBasic on the Thor includes a
fully-implemented version of the skeletal framework of
error-trapping added to the QL JS ROM.

   In common with the QL User Guide before it, an index of the
contents has not been provided, leaving the user to search for
specific information in relevant sections.

   In common with the QL, the Thor package includes the now
industry-standard Psion quartet of business software XChange and
is supplied as a single program package with an integtral
dedicated multi-tasking controller. Users may elect to switch
between any number of versions of Psion Quill, Archive, Abacus
and an enhanced Easel with an option for a 3D graph display,
within the limitations of available memory. Individual copies of
the programs are assigned user-defigned task names.

   The serial ports on the Thor XVI are completely under the
control of the I/O Board's MC68B02 processor, relieving the
MC68000 Main Processor of the handling overhead. The ports are
implemented using the MC68682 DUART (Dual Asynchronous Receiver
Transmitter for acronym buffs) allowing multiple baud rates
between channels. For example, port 1 could "talk" to a Prestel
type modem running at 75 baud for transmission and 1200 baud for
reception by opening a channel called "Set 11/7561200". With port
2 simultaneously driving a standard serial printer at 9600 baud
(the default) with a 10 kilobyte buffer as "ser-10k". The baud
rates can be selected from: 75, 110, 134.5, 150, 300, 600, 1200,
1800, 2000, 2400, 4800, 9600 and 19200; CST claim that this
should cope with almost all possible configurations!

   Other options available are the setting of parity (odd, even,
mark, space or none), bits per byte (5, 6, 7 or 8) and
translation protocol (various interpretations of newline are
supported as is "TRA" for international users). A new facility is
the built in support of the x-on/x-off software protocol (as used
by DEC, Unix etc) which allows simple three-wire cabling to be

   Physical connectors and voltage levels are as defined by draft
British Standard BS-5/8, which uses audio-style 8-pin DIN
connectors for convenience; most aplications will only need five
of the pins (the remainder providing auxiliary handshake and 5
volt power) and can be connected by "sterio" reversing audio
leads; if x-on/x-off is used, as "mono" cable may be used. The
voltage levels are CMOS; these can normally be interfaced with
the older RS-232 by means of a simple resistor.

   The Thor XVI network is upward compatible with the standard
Thor's and the QL's. It is again driven by the I/O Board's
processor, significantly reducing the main processor overhead;
this is particularly important with machines acting as file
server, as no network overhead occurs on the new system unless
data is actually being transferred.

1.7 Futura Data Centre QL emulator board for the Atari ST

   This emulator board was also called Strong QL/Atari emulator.
It was developed originally by the Norwegian firm Futura Data
Centre - no relation to the QL derivative - for its own
communications system and has since been refined for commercial

   The complete emulator kit consists of the hardware adaptor, an
Atari-formatted disc containing the relevant files for switching
the ST into QL mode and a QL-formatted disc containing a routine
which will extract the QL ROM and transfer QDOS from your QL to a
previously Atari-formatted disc.

   The emulator hardware consists of a small printed circuit
board on which is mounted the displaced Atari Shifter chip, a QL
8301 ULA and several surface-mounted TTL chips. Installation of
the emulator card requires that all of the Atari internal metal
shielding be removed.  Connection to the ST is made with only
seven wires but two connections to the Atari GLUE chip must be
modified to allow software to switch the Atari into QL mode.

   (source: SQLW, Oct. 1988, p.20)

1.8 Miracle Systems Gold Card

   The Gold Card has a 16 MHz 68000 prozessor, Supertoolkit 2 and
a floppy disk controller with Level II device drivers. You can
connect up to three disc drives with DD, HD and ED drives in any
mix to the Gold Card.  The Card has 2MB of dynamic RAM in four
SIM chips.  At startup the card copies the original ROM into its
RAM.  The 68008 is disabled, but the ZX83 custom chips and the
8049 IPC work normally.  It is possible to connect a hard disk,
but no other extension. The same software as in the Trump Card is
included. The Gold Card's current version is 2.32.

1.9 ICL One Per Desk (also Merlin Tonto or Computerphone)

(This FAQ part is an (shorted) article in SQLW in Oct. 1991)

   The OPD (One Per Desk) computer was made by ICL Ltd., as a
collaborative project between ICL, British Telecom and Sinclair
with Psion providing the software.  The same machine was badged
for BT as the Merlin Tonto and for Australian Telecom as the
Computerphone.  The machine was intended for the busy executive
with only limited computer skills.  Most operations use multiple
choice menus.

   The hardware is based on the QL using the same 68008
microprocessor, QL ULAs, 128K of RAM and microdrive data storage.
The machine has a 'footprint' of about the same length but twice
the depth of the QL.

   Being launched shortly after the QL, the OPD suffered from the
bad publicity attached to the microdrives, although ICL had much
improved the reliability of the units.  Despite this poor start,
many hundreds were sold to local authorities, government
departments and large companies.

   A typical OPD featured a mono (black and white) monitor, twin
microdrives, battery-backed clock, on-screen calculator, enhanced
telephone handling, modem, XChange software (Abacus, Archive,
Quill and Easel), Basic and messaging (fax look-alike between

   The OPD is designed to be left on and the screen will blank if
no keys are pressed for 10 minutes.  Pressing any key, or an
incoming call, re-activates the screen.  The monitor is intended
to be switched off between sessions leaving the computer powered
for unattended functions. Monitors are available in 9 inch black
and white or 14 inch Microvitec colour.

   The microdrives are similar to those on the QL, bat save the
data in a different density. Although blank cartridges can be
used on either machine, the OPD cannot read QL cartridge data.
There is a program (for the QL) by Dave Walker of DiscOver fame,
that can convert data and Basic from the OPD to the QL and vice
versa.  The OPD records cartridge use and read failures, and
warns when the cartridge is due to renewal.  The microdrives are
very reliable.

   The telephone has auto-dialing from a saved Telephone
Directory / Adress file of as many as 500 entries if required,
with optional monitoring of cost and duration of calls.  A
running total is kept in memory.  The directory has a search
routine and short code dialling. There is a re-dial facility of
any of the last six calls.  Calls can be initiated through a
built-in loudspeaker, the handset being picked up only when the
connection is made.  The machine will answer incoming calls using
a programmable computer voice chip with different replies
available for different times, eg lunch, holidays, gone home etc.
There is no facility to record incoming calls.

   The modem is built-in and capable of Viewdata and Glass
Teletype communications.  This enables connection to Prestel,
Yellow Pages, Tony Firshman's Board and many others.  Screens can
be saved to memory using the 'Snapshot' option, or entire
programs can be downloaded to microdrive. Text can be prepared
off-line to save phone charges.

   The software is an enhanced suite of the programs supplied
with the QL with the import/export of data between applications
simplified.  Being ROM-based, it loads quickly and without read
failures. The four are brought together under an operating
'shell' called Xchange Task Control.  Up to eight 'tasks' can be
in progress at one time.  Import and Export between Psion
programs is fast and simple.  Xchange was an optional extra.

   Basic is loaded from certridge and is a reduced version of
Superbasic. Many of the features of Superbasic are not available
on the OPD.  There are no graphics as such (CIRCLE, LINE, BORDER,
FLASH etc.), no EXEC and no DIR.  The screen size is also
slightly smaller.  QL Superbasic programs can be transferred to
the OPD but need considerable editing before use.  Although using
the same CPU, QL machine code programs cannot be run on the OPD.
There are differences in the way the OPD handles the screen etc.
that make QL programs incompatible.

   Many OPDs were supplied with 'Messaging', a fax look-alike.
This is in the form of a capsule that plugs into the back of the
unit. The capsule contains a ROM eith the necessary code, which
enables OPDs to send pre-types text to each other using the
telephone system.  Received Messages can be edited and sent on to
other users, printed or saved on microdrive.  Later ROMs allow
the messages to be sent at pre-set times and to different numbers
to take advantage of cheap rate calls.

   The OPD is provided with a serial port, but works in one
direction only, being intended solely for printer use.  It is
possible to download Basic files directly to the QL usingthe
SER2 port on the QL and a suitable cable.  No input from the QL
is posssible by this route.

   Later improvements included disk drives from PCML (with 256K
extra memory), and another from Computer One, but these are no
longer manufactured and can only be obtained on the second hand
market. A variety of plug-in capsules were also provided, but
most were to enable the OPD to ICL mainframe computers and are of
little use to enthusiasts.  There were later options to allow
direct transfer of files direct from microdrive, via the
telephone line, between OPDs and to import data into Quill or
Abacus from Bulletin Boards.

   It is not possible to simply plug-in extra memory as on the QL
because the OPD requires special code to 'log-on and identify'
the memory. A 128K expansion unit was made but few seem to have
been sold.

   Software is in very short supply, possibly because there is no
organized usr group such as Quanta, although some business
oriented programs were produced.  A diary/ appointments program
has been seen and also a CP/M operating system is available on
one version of the disk drives.  It is reported that Basic and
'C' compilers were produced but no sign of one has been seen.

   QL owners who use their machine mostly for the Psion package
will find the OPD easy to use and in a business environment, a
very useful tool.  Sadly, it suffers from the lack of
compatibility with the QL in the most important area, programs.
Very little software is produced for the QL in Superbasic now and
useful programs and Tony Tebby's utilities cannot be used.  The
most promising area lies in Xchange applications and it is
possible to transfer the Archiver group of programs once sold by

1.10 Merz QVME Card

   The QVME Card is a VME-based plug-in card for the Atari STe
and TT series which contains a QL emulator.  This card emulates
standard QL, the screen resolution is programmable (at runtime)
e.g. 1024x830 or 1280x700.  The card has simply to be plugged
into the STe's (TT's) VME bus.  For use with the standard ST you
need an extra adapter.  The caard has a monitor connector to be
connected directly to a multisync monitor.  The QVME card can't
use monochrome monitors.  It has a 'compatibility mode' for use
with programs which write directly into the QL's screen (i.e. the
RAM area which represents the screen output).  You can use up to
4MB of the Ataris RAM for QDOS.  Furthermore all of the Atari's
devices could be used for QDOS, e.g. disk drives, serial ports,
the parallel and the mouseport, harddisks.  By reason of the
different hardware there is no QL network available on the Atari.
The Devicce drivers are offering additional options, e.g. real
subdirectories on harddisk, named pipes etc.  The emulation
software is on a disk and has to be loaded into the Atari (that
means, you can use the Atari as Atari as well.).

1.11 Miracle Systems QXL Card

(This part is a copy of Miracles advertisement in SQLW plus some
additional information.)

   The QXL turns the common PC into a QL compatible.  The
package comprises a half card that plugs into an 8 or 16 bit
standard ISA slot and a diskette loaded with a QDOS compatible
operating system and a Superbasic compatible interpreter.  After
installation simply type QXL and the PC will appear to be a QL
allowing QL programs to be run from QL format diskettes.

   The card itself has a 32 bit 68EC040 processor running at 20
MHz which gives a good turn of speed.  This processor has access
to its own RAM and so performance is virtually independent of the
host system whether it has an 8088 or a Pentium.  In fact the PC
is used purely as an I/O system giving QL programs access to the
PC's floppy disc, hard disc, keyboard, display, serial and
parallel ports.  The card itself has QL style network ports to
allow connection to a QL network.  The minimum PC specification
required is an XT with EGA display and a spare standard slot.

   RAM sizes of 4M and 8M can be supplied.  Smaller capacities
(1M and 2M) will not be longer sold. The
smaller capacity can be upgraded to the larger one and the
cost is simply the price difference.  Not all the RAM is
available to the user programs; The 1M version equates roughly
with a Trump Card QL, the 2M version with a Gold Card QL and
the 4M QL eith a SuperGold Card QL.

   Miracle intends to provide software upgrades free of charge.

   Supported screen resolutions are 512x256 (with a huge black
border), 640x350, 640x480, 800x600 ( i.e. QL screen, EGA, VGA,
800x600SVGA); half those in mode 8.  The 'FLASH' attribute is not
supported.  There's no support for more than 4 (8) colours, not
for changing the appearance of the 4 (8) that you get.

The 'hard disk' as seen by the QXL is in fact a large file
C:\QXL.WIN which contains a filing system which is (presumbly)
similar to that found on other QDOS hard disks. You're not
restricted to the C: drive, you can have win2_ on D:, win3_ on
E:, etc.  It still works if you create a QXL hard disk on a
double-spaced MSDOS drive.

   You can't format a disk from the QXL directly.  As Tony Tebby
pointed out in IQLR DOS has a somewhat awk formatting routine
(about 32K, as big as QDOS), so you must 'preformat' your disk on
MSDOS and then 'crossformat' it from the SMSQ prompt with the
standard 'FORMAT flp1_' command.

   Currently (v2.50) you can use four different keyboards and/or
languages: american, french, english, german.  The manual
explains the additional and altered commands.  This manual is in
fact a Toolkit II manual with supplements for GC, SGC and QXL.

1.12 Miracle Systems Super Gold Card

(This part is a copy of Miracles information paper about the SGC)

   The Miracle Systems Super Gold Card has the following
features: - 24 MHz 68020 processor -> 3x speed of GOLD CARD - 4M
bytes of 32 bit wide RAM - CENTRONICS parallel port - Built in
improved Disk Adapter for DD/HD/ED - Virtuallly crash proof
battery backed clock - External 5V socket for optional 5V supply

   This is the first major revision of Miracles highly successful
QL GOLD CARD.  Its most signeficant attribute is the speed of the
68020 processor running at 24 MHz yielding a threefold speed-up
over the GOLD CARD - so you can now get QXL speed from your QL.
The RAM is increased to 4M bytes and a CENTRONICS port has been
added which is especially good for sending graphics information to
printers efficiently.

   The disk interface has 2 connectors so that 2 double disk
drives (4 mechanisms FLP1_, FLP2_, FLP3_, FLP4_) can be connected
without the need for a DISK ADAPTER. The drives can of course be
DD (double density, 720K), HD (high density, 1.44M) or ED (extra
high density, 3.2M) in any mix.

   Another minor improvement is the protection of the clock time
against crashes. A special sequence of accesses is now required
to alter the clock so it is not affected by 'stack crawl', etc..
And if you run your QL system off a switch mode power supply you
do not need to hack the regulator; just plug the 5V straight into
the SUPER GOLD CARD.  WARNING: You'll have to power the SGC and
the QL PCB from the same power supply or you are likely to get
into trouble!

2 QL Device Operating System (QDOS) and Compatibles

2.1 QDOS

(this part of the FAQ is based on articles in SQLW Aug. 1987 and
Dec. 1990)

QDOS is the original QL operating system. The versions are:

  v0.08      : last pre-release version.

  v1.00 'FB' : came out in April 1984. This version of QDOS had
lots of errors.

  v1.01 'PM' : Faster than FB, more tolerant of the microdrives,
but it had still lots of errors.

Both FB and PM ROMs were packed with bugs and needed a 'kludge
board' to carry extra chips outside the computer.

  v1.02 'AH' : three 16K EPROM chips, the 'first useable version
of QDOS' (Sinclair QLW Aug. 1987 p.18)

  v1.03 'JM' : first ROM supplied in two chips. Similar to AH but
four bugs less (according to QLW Aug. 1987 p.18).

AH and JM ROMs soon replaced the FB and PM ROMs. These were
inside the box and had fewer bugs.

  v1.10 'JS' : arrives early in 1985. Last version used in
machines made for sale in britain. First version which is able to
link more than one plug-in device to the QL. New problems with
function VER$ in the JS ROM.

        'JSU': a special version for American QLs because of
other television standards. contains 'all the JS bugs and
features' (QLW Aug 87 p.20), plus the changes for the American

  v1.13 'MGx': European ROMs. Has one new bug in the line drawing
routine and kills several bugs.  The third Character indicates
the national variant of the ROM.  The national messages,
character sets and so on are in the smaller 16K ROM.
      MGE : spanish ROM
      MGF : french ROM
      MGG : german ROM
      MGI : italian ROM
      MGS : Sweden

  v1.13 'EFP': should mean sigma-FP but the mexican chip makers
couldn't find a sigma stamp (according to QLW Aug. 1987 p.21).
These ROM's are further developments of the "MG" ROM and cannot
be mixed with other QDOS 1.13 chips.

2.2 Minerva

   Minerva is a QL ROM upgrade from TF Services.  The Minerva ROM
consists of a tiny circuit board and two chips.  The biggest Chip
is a 64K EPROM which holds the new operating system. Below is a
logic chip which makes the EPROM seem like the Sinclair 48K ROM.
The remaining 16K of EPROM is disabled, so you can use the ROM
port as normal.  This can be enabled by cutting pcb track.

   Minervas SuperBASIC interpreter has some major improvements.
Now you can integer and string SELect and FOR loops.  In the
keyboard editor now SHIFT-SPACE and SHIFT-ENTER works like SPACE
resp. ENTER.  ESC aborts the editor; ALT-LEFT and ALT-RIGHT move
the cursor to the start and end of the text.  SHIFT-TAB and TAB
move the cursor back and forth in eight character steps.  You
also can delete to the end of the line in one step.  (The
keyboard editor is used by INPUT, EDIT...).  It is possible to
compose accented characters: Press the 'compose key' CTRL-ENTER,
then the required letter, then the type of accent, then the type
of accent - '/' for acute accent, ''' for grave, colon for umlaut
and so on.  If you want to type an arrow simply type CTRL-ENTER
and then the arrow key.  With Minerva you can have a second
screen, but this causes problems with some older and not well
coded programs.  The system can be restarted with
SHIFT-CTRL-ALT-TAB.  At startup it's possible to press other keys
with the usual Fx keys to make Minerva ignore RAM expansions or
ROM devices.  Graphics is also improved and runs now much faster.
String handling is faster and more reliable.  Another improvement
is made with WHEN ERRor and WHEN handling which works well under
Minerva. A new feature of Minerva is Multibasic with which you
can run extra BASIC interpreters.

There is Minerva MK II out there, which has an I2C bus, a battery
backed clock and other enhancements.

2.3 Argos
   Argos is the CST THOR's equivalent of QDOS.  Thor 1 and 20
systems claim to use QDOS 4.xx and 5.xx, but they're really based
on the QL JS ROM.

   "The operating system is an entirely re-written version, with
many enhancements, of Qdos, providing upwards compatibility with
QL software. The reverse is not true; Thor software may not run
on the QL. As a matter of interest and to illustrate the
increased ability of the new operating system Argos, Qdos is
contained in 48KB of ROM; Argos occupies 28KB. The Thor XVI is
based on the 8MHz Motorola 68000 processor but plans are included
to upgrade it to the 68020 and, possibly, improved versions of
that chip." (SQLW, Aug. 1988, p.17, 18)

   Like Minerva, Argos was promised to be faster and more
reliable than Sinclair's original QDOS.  The first versions of
Thor XVI's ROM were esseentially MG ROM's with altered device
drivers and modified tables.  Earlier Thor's used Sinclair's JS
ROM's.  Users however tend to report that, since development and
production of the Thor XVI ceased so quickly, the Argos ROM was
never properly debugged and so a great many QL programs will not
run on the Thor XVI.

2.4 SMSQ/E

   SMSQ/E is a QDOS compatible operating system has been firstly
developed for use with Miracle Systems' QXL card for the PC and
then further developed to use it on GC QL's, SGC QL's and the
Atari ST/STE/TT series.  The QL's SuperBASIC has been replaced by
SBASIC, of which you can start multiple instances.  SMSQ/E
includes all the QL SuperBASIC commands, the TK2 commands and the
commands which have provided to support the various add on
drivers. The CON driver of SMSQ/E includes the Pointer Interface,
Window Manager and the Hotkey System II -- you don't need to load
them within your boot file any longer.  Lightning (from Digital
Precision) cannot be used when the Pointer Environment is already
installed, but according to the SMSQ/E manual this doesn't matter
too much as the CON driver of SMSQ/E would be ('in most
circumstances') within 'a few percent of that speed'.

N.B. The SMSQ supplied with the QXL has the Pointer Environment
on disk as extra files (ptr_gen, wman and hotrext)

2.5 QDOS enhancements

All the described enhancements are built in to SMSQ/E.

2.5.1 SuperToolkit II

   The SuperToolkit II from QJump is intended to correct errors
in the Sinclair ROM's and to provide SuperBASIC enhancements
which were intended to be built into every QL but weren't.

2.5 2 Pointers, Menus, Hotkeys and Things

[This part of the FAQ is the pointer FAQ Richard Kettlewell
posted to c.s.s. on Feb. 24, 1994. -ed]

Version 0.1 24/2/1994 Richard Kettlewell
Version 0.11 24/2/1994 Richard Kettlewell

This document describes the some of the advantages and pitfalls
associated with the following pieces of software:

        Utility                         Usual filename

        The Pointer Interface           ptr_gen
        The Window Manager              wman
        Hotkey System II                hot_rext
        The Thing system                (part of hot_rext)

All will run on any Ql provided you have sufficient memory (I
recommend 256K minimum, but you really want more than that.)

**** TO DO:


* Why the Pointer Interface?

There are a number of problems with 'unmodified' QDOS. For
example, if two windows overlap then, unless you take great care
over which you output to, their contents will rapdily become
confused. Of course if you're only running a single program then
this isn't too serious --- the program can arrange for its own
windows not to overlap each other, and if they do overlap then
the program will know about it and be able to act accordingly.

However, as soon as you start running more than one program, you
meet problems. For this reason many early QDOS programs have a
'screen redraw' key, for use when other programs have mangled its

There is a neater solution, however: the Pointer Interface. If
you install this then no program can mangle another programs
windows unless it breaks the rules. (Most games have problems

There's more; the PI also supports mice. It contains the code to
read the 'QIMI' mouse interface and also allows you to use the
cursor keys to move the pointer. The PI also contains a number of
extended screen handling routines for working with the more
complex window structures it supports.

* What hardware do I need?

It is possible to install the PI with no extra hardware, but it
would be almost useless to do so. I wouldn't even consider doing
so with less than 256K RAM, and I'd not feel comfortable with
less then 640K.

A mouse is useful but not essential. A disk drive is also not
essential but a Ql without one is almost unusable anyway.

* Will it slow my computer down?
* How much extra memory does it use?

The screen runs very slightly slower under the PI; this is an
unavoidable consequence of the way it intercepts screen handling
calls. However, the difference is not very noticable --- I find a
small subjective difference but that's because I know that it has
to run slightly slower. I can't produce figures.

As for memory, the PI consumes quite a lot of memory, to save
images of windows while they are buried. If a program has windows
covering the whole Ql screen, this will amount to about 32k per
program (or more on QDOS machines with higher resolution
displays). However, many programs do not use the full screen and
the PI does not waste memory in such cases.

There is a small additional overhead for every open window but
this is only 48 bytes so it's unlikely to make a significant
difference. There's also a few hundred bytes of fixed tables,
again trivial, and then there's the code for the PI itself, which
(obivously) varies in size from version to version.

* How do I get it?

The best way to get the PI is to buy a program which uses it ---
such programs almost invariably come with a copy of it. Although
the PI provides some benefits when used on its own it is best
used with the Window Manager and programs which make use of the
extra features provided.

A good place to start would be with Qpac2, which includes the PI
and a number of file/Job/system management programs. It also
comes with a manual for the PI and related software.

* How do I install it?

Once you have the PI, you install it before you install anything
else (unless you have a utility with specifically states that it
must be installed before the PI.)

Typically you would use a command like

        LRESPR flp1_ptr_gen

...assuming you have TK2. Without TK2, you must use

        base = RESPR(NNNN):LBYTES flp1_ptr_gen,base:CALL base

...where NNNN is the length of the ptr_gen file (not quoted here
because it is different for different versions.)

* How does it work?

A useful analogy is of a desk with a pile of papers on it. Each
piece of paper represents the window(s) belonging to one program;
the desk represents the screen.

Some of the pieces of paper (windows) will be partially covered;
call these 'buried'. Others will be completely visible. What the
PI does is suspend all attempts to write to buried windows ---
when the window is unburied, it becomes possible to print to it

It should be emphasized that the programs are not suspended
unless they are trying to print text, graphics or what have you
to a buried window; a program which displays nothing will quite
happily get on with what it is doing even if any windows it owns
are buried.

If there are several windows which are not buried then one of
them is regarded as at the 'top' of the pile; this determines
which one you can type data into. Windows which are not the top
window but which are not buried can still be written to.

* How do I switch between programs?
* How do I unbury windows?

Switching between programs is accomplished the same way as
without the PI --- just press CTRL-C and the cursor jumps to
another window (assuming there *are* other windows, of course.)
There are two differences; first, if the new window is buried
(i.e. partially or completely covered by one or more other
windows then it is uncovered, and the windows which covered it
will now be buried.

Secondly, without the PI pressing CTRL-C only switches to windows
which have a cursor in them. (SuperBASIC channel #0, for
example.) Under the PI it will also switch to windows *without* a
cursor. However, if a job owns two windows and one has a cursor
but the other doesn't, it will only switch to the one with the
cursor in it.

It is also possible to select a window by moving the pointer into
it (e.g. with a mouse --- see below) and pressing HIT or DO. It
*does* matter which of these you use --- for some programs (but
not all) using DO instead of HIT will cause the program to update
its display to match changed conditions (e.g. the Jobs menu from
Qpac2 checks to see if any of the jobs it lists have

* What are HIT and DO?
* What is the difference between them?

On a mouse, the left button is called 'HIT' and the right button
'DO'. From the keyboard, if the pointer is visible, you press
SPACE for HIT and ENTER for DO.

The exact effect of HIT and DO depends very strongly on the
context you use them in. HIT is supposed just to change the
status of something (e.g. turn an option on or off) and DO is
supposed to provoke some kind of action.

* How do I get a mouse pointer?

If you have a mouse then you should be able to make the pointer
appear just by moving the mouse. Without a mouse, you need to
persuade the pointer to appear some other way.

If you have programs written with the PI (or more likely, the
Window Manager --- see below) in mind then whenever you CTRL-C to
get them you will probably find a pointer appears automatically;
you can then move this around with the cursor keys.

* What do different pointers mean?

The shape of the pointer will change depending what sort of
window is underneath it; it depends in particular on what program
owns the window.

                PI-aware program

                Buried window
                Also appears if you pressed CTRL-F5 to freeze the

        'No entry' sign
                PI-unaware program
                Program doing some work
                Also sometimes appears if the program in question
                has crashed!

        Black-on-white K
                Program waiting for keyboard input
                SuperBASIC will often have this kind of pointer

        Empty box
                No window underneath pointer!

        Box with a number in it
                There is a window underneath the pointer, but you
                can't see it because it's in the wrong screen

* How do I connect a mouse to my Ql?

There are two ways of connecting a mouse so that it will work
with the PI. The first is to use QIMI (Qjump Internal Mouse
Interface) which requires you to open your Ql, remove a chip and
plug QIMI into the space left (you then put the chip into a space
on QIMI.) This works with 'Atari' mice. No soldering is needed,
just caution and common sense. (Don't touch or damage the legs of
the chips!)

The other way does not involve open-heart surgery on your
computer; it is SERMouse, which is a piece of software allowing
you to use serial mice (i.e. as used on PC compatibles) with the
PI. You need an adaptor to connect such a mouse to the QLs serial
port, and the SERMouse software itself (available from various
sources, written by Albin Hessler.)

* If I have a mouse, how do I stop the cursor keys moving the

The command


stops the cursor keys from affecting the pointer. The reverse
command is


Don't use CKEYOFF unless you have a mouse!

* Program XXXX doesn't work with the PI installed.

Many programs make certain assumptions about the layout of
various system tables. These assumptions become invalid when the
PI is installed. Mostly the assumptions are unnecessary anyway,
and demonstrate that the author of the program didn't know what
they were doing.

One important case is programs which write directly to the
screen. There are two ways of doing this; unfortunately the
quicker way will generally speaking not work properly with the
PI. You can tell this is happening when windows 'show through'
even though they are buried.

Some programs with peculiar window arrangements also run into

As for solutions, it might be worthwhile looking for a more
recent version of the program; not only is it more likely to work
better with the PI but it might have other bugs removed as well.

If that isn't the case, you might be able to solve it using the
'freeze' option when running from Qpac2 or Hotkey.

* How do I use the PI in my programs?

From assembler:

        You'll need the QPTR pointer toolkit, which describes the
        extra screen handling and mouse support routines offered
        by the PI.

From SuperBASIC:

        You'll need the QPTR toolkit, which contains extra
        commands for accessing the PI.

From C:

        You'll need libqptr_a and  from C68.

From other languages:

        If anyone has written libraries supporting pointer access
        from other languages, let the FAQ maintainer know so it
        can go here!

* What's the difference between window outline and window definition?

A window definition is the screen area occupied by a window as
set by the WINDOW command. It is the part of the window which you
can print into, and is the only concept of window size without
the PI.

With the PI, there is also the concept of the window outline.
This must be at least as big as the window definition. It doesn't
affect PI-unaware programs a great deal.

QPTR contains an OUTLN command to set the outlines of SuperBASIC
windows; from assembler one must use the IOP.OUTL trap.

* What's the difference between primary and secondary windows?

Every program has at most one primary window and zero or more
secondary windows. All the secondary windows must lie within the
outline of the primary window; however, this does not seriously
affect PI-unaware programs since the PI automatically extends the
outline of the primary window to make this work.


* What is the Window Manager?

The Window Manager is a collection of utility routines designed
to simplify the writing of programs which use menus and such
like; for example it contains the code to do most of the hard
work for scroll bars on a long menu.

The WM is contained in file wman, and is installed as follows:

        LRESPR flp1_wman


        base = RESPR(NNNN):LBYTES flp1_wman,base:CALL base

...where NNNN is the length of the wman file. The PI must have
been already installed.

The combination of the PI and the WM is called the 'Pointer

* What good will the WM do me?

Many modern programs will not run without the WM; it does
sufficient work on a programs user interface that if a program
uses it at all then it will probably not work without it.

* What programs use the WM?

Lots. Almost all such programs will be supplied with a copy of

* Program XXXX doesn't work with the WM installed.

Highly unlikely --- the WM doesn't muck around with the system
the way the PI does. It's probably a bug in the program in

* What do all the sprites mean?

There are various 'sprites' (also known as icons) which appear,
often without much explanation, in programs using the WM.

Two boxes like this:

                x   x
                x xxxxx
                x x x x
                xxxxx x
                  x   x

        This is the 'move window' sprite. HIT or DO on it and the
        pointer will become the same shape; move the pointer to
        somewhere else on the screen and HIT or DO there. The
        window will move to that place.

Divided box like this:

                x   x
                x xxx
                x x x

        This is the 'change window' sprite; it typically appears
        in the top left corner of a window. When you HIT/DO on
        it, the pointer changes to the same shape. Move it
        somewhere else and HIT/DO.

        If you moved it up and left, the window will grow; if you
        moved it down and right then the window will shrink. (Of
        course, there will be some smallest size below which the
        window cannot shrink.) Moving e.g. left and down has the
        obvious combined effect.

        All you need to remember is that the bottom right corner
        remains fixed; what you are doing is moving the top left
        corner. This is the opposite way around to quite a number
        of other systems, which can lead to confusion.

Lightning bolt (I'm not doing to try and draw this)

        This is the 'wake' sprite. HIT/DO on it will cause the
        program which owns the window to update the information
        in the window --- for example, a list of files will be
        updated to reflect any new files created or old files

Zzz sprite:

        This is the 'sleep' sprite. HIT/DO on it will (depending
        on the program and also on whether you have Qpac2
        installed) turn the program into a 'button'. This is
        similar to minimising a program under Windows.

That's about it for 'standard' sprites.

* What's a 'loose menu item'?

There's quite a bit of technical sounding jargon relating to the
WM. Mostly you can ignore it since it refers to the data
structures used to communicate between programs and the WM.

A menu window is divided up into several areas; each area is one
of the following:

        Loose menu item
        Information sub-window
        Application sub-window
        Menu sub-window

A loose menu item is just a word or sprite which you can HIT or
DO (e.g. the 'standard' sprites described above usually appear as
loose menu items.) In many cases the effect of HIT/DO is the same
on them, but not always.

An information sub-window is a rectangular area of the window
which contains text and graphics; HIT or DO have no effect there.

An application sub-window can be almost anything; the effect of
HIT/DO, or even of merely moving the pointer into that window,
depends entirely on the program.

A menu sub-window is actually a special type of application
sub-window; however it is much more closely controlled by the WM.
Menu sub-windows are typically a list (or grid) of menu items
(e.g. filenames) which can be selected using HIT or DO for some

* How do I use the WM in my own programs?

The simple answer is ''see the same question about the PI above;
you need the same software and documentation.''

However, you may find the 'EasyPTR' program simplifies matters.
It allows windows definitions to be constructed in a rather more
managable fashion than typing in a long assembly source file.
EasyPTR can produce tables for use by SuperBASIC, assembler and C

* Who wrote this FAQ?

Most of this was written by Richard Kettlewell.  Please do not
try to contact him as he is no longer using any QL or compatible.

Small credits to:
        Luke Roberts

2.6 SMS2

[This part has been taken from an info from Jochen Merz. Believe
it or not. -ed]

[A newer Merz info states, that SMS2 is not intented for the QL
user, but for the Atari user.  Also neither he nor Furst Ltd.
(SMS2  supplier in the UK) have made any effords to sell SMS2 to
QDOS users.  Therefore I'll exclude the following information in
future editions of the FAQ and only leave a short statement about
Merz' or Fursts intention with SMS2. -ed]

SMS2 was designed with a fundamental understanding modern
hardware.  It was built to multitask as a first principle. It is
tiny, efficient, reliable and easy to use. Advanced computing
concepts have been built in at a fundamental level.

In order that the average QDOS user can have access to SMS2 it
has been implemented on the Atari range of computers with a user
interface that provides a stepping stone to the future by
supporting the most advanced QDOS programs.

As might be imagined SMS2 has to have a user environment. Most PC
and mini operating systems have user environments that are
exceptionally hostile from a system point of view. The only other
operating system that is remotely like this SMS2 is QDOS with the
Pointer Environment. The adoption of the extended QDOS user
evironment provides QDOS users with a reasonably familiar
computing system that is also a stepping stone to the future.

SMS2 is a complete ready to use computing environment supplied in
ROM. It needs no configuration or startup procedure. It will be
supplied with an integrated graphic user interface (an advanced
Pointer Environment), a networking system, a set of access
programs (QPAC2) and (as a set of options) an improved "Super
Basic" system known as SBASIC2.

There are many people who believe that SMS2 is the most advanced
operating system in the world, so apart from the obvious
characteristic of allowing the QDOS user to explore the world of
advanced computing systems on some of the cheapest hardware, it
allows the QDOS user to migrate to a future environment that will
have no equal.

By including a fully configured advanced GUI (that no other can
match) multitasking and all its ramifications become obvious,
meaningfull, useful, even pleasurable. The SMS2 user interface
allows the user to explore the complexities of advanced computing
without creating difficulties. Background drawing, real-time
moving and resizing of windows, and visual communication with
partially hidden jobs will be possible.

SMS2 was developed on the Atari range of computers because they
use a very fine processor (the same as in the QL, only faster)
and because they are cheap and simple. SMS2 does not need vast
amounts of complex hardware just to enable it to function. It
turns an ordinary games computer (the STe) into a workstation.

The following input/output facilities are fully supported as

   * Serial and parallel ports.
   * Floppy discs and SCSI hard discs (including 
   * Ram disc.
   * Key board and mouse
   * Standard Atari mono high resolution display (600x400 
   * High resolution 4 colour display (mega STes and TTs 
     1000x900 pixels)
   * MIDI ports either for networking or for use as MIDI.

It must be understood that, although networking is supported via
a device that was never intended for such a purpose, the user can
very easily do things on an SMS2 network that are either
impossible or extremely difficult to do on classic systems. The
SMS2 network allows the average user to explore the joys of

  SMS2 provides as standard the following capabilities:-

   * Advanced multitasking that is easy to use.
   * Response times better than the fastest real-time 
   * High performance windowing.
   * A very high degree of modularity.
   * The ability for jobs to share this modularity.
   * Memory resident for reliability and performance.
   * Efficient inter-process communications.
   * Easy to program. etc. etc.

The future:   Ora is a long term project that will provide
advanced computing environments that are easy to use. This is, of
course, claimed by all system suppliers but without arguing, at
great length, that our system is whiter than white or better than
best. The only way you will be able to experience this exciting
future is to buy a copy of SMS2. To encourage the doubtful the
system has been made exceptionally affordable:

Firstly it was developed on a range of computers, the simplest of
which can be purchased second hand for less than 150.00 pounds
(in England), including the monitor.

Secondly SMS2 will be available on ROM for prices that start at
99 pounds (?)

As far as we know Ora and thus SMS2 is unique in the world of
computing. It is a powerful system that actually works on readily
affordable hardware. Purchasing a copy of SMS2 provides the only
path, at present, to a future world of understandable high
performance computing. The owner of SMS2 becomes part of a
growing number of users who are becoming more knowledgeable of
the advantages of Ora technology.   It is planned that, in the
near future SMS2 will be made available to the Atari ST user. It
is quite probable that the name SMS2 will not be used as this has
no significance for this market but this is of no importance, a
wider market will be good news for SMS2 users and software
suppliers. At present the largest problem for QDOS users is a
lack of competitive applications software. This is a direct
result of the small number of people actually using QDOS. Given
time and a bit of interest the Ora project will change this.


   Despite its name, it must be made clear that SMSQ is not part
of, or a derivative of the Ora project. SMS2 is not SMSQ or vice
versa. SMSQ is a QDOS clone, it's purpose is to mimic the QL as
accurately as possible.

3 Programs for the QL / Compatibles

3.1 Emulators of other systems on the QL

3.1.1  PC Conqueror

    Digital Presicion's PC emulator for the QL.  This emulates
the PC's hardware environment and the Intel 80x86 CPU.  It does
not emulate the MSDOS operating system, thus allowing you to pick
any version of MSDOS or DRDOS you wish to run on your emulated
PC.  The QL's 68xxx processor means you can access more memory
than on a standard PC (667K on a Gold Card, with PC "extended
memory" implemented using the rest of the Gold Card's memory if
you wish).  Limited to CGA graphics by the QL hardware.

3.1.2 The Solution

    Digital Precision's original PC emulator for the QL.  As with
PC Conqueror, a separate PC operating system is needed. Not as
powerful as PC Conqueror, but significantly cheaper. Runs PC
programs on a 640K QL at about the speed of a 0.5Mhz XT.  As
with PC Conqueror, limited to CGA graphics due to the QL's own
limited graphics capabilities.  If your QL is able to run the
PC Conqueror use it instead.  The Solution is _not_ part of
DP's ``QL collection.''

3.1.3 CP Mulator

    Sandy's CP/M emulator.  Produced as a 16K ROM cartridge to
plug into the back of the QL.  Also available as a ROM for the
Thor. The great advantage of this emulator was that it's code was
on ROM, which on a 68008 based QL runs at up to twice the speed
of RAM.  Now only available second hand.

3.1.4 Success

    Digital Precision's CP/M emulator.  As this is software based
it runs more slowly on a basic QL than Sandy's CP Mulator but is
better on an expanded QL.  On a fast QL (Gold Card or an Atari ST
with emulator) this runs like a fast Z80 based CP/M computer.
CP/M disks can only read and written via special commands.
Success uses special CP/M disk files on QL disks.

*3.1.5  Spectrum emulators ZM/HT etc

3.2 Psion Quartet

The QL specific XChange versions are now given into the
public domain.  Erling Jacobson has modified the Thor
version of XChange (3.90) to run on QL's.  He has also
eliminated some bugs and in the current version you can
move the XChange screen (only available on screens larger
than the original QL screen).  Other amendments are the
availability of up to 50 printer translates, utilities
for alteing the help screens et cetera.  The current 
version is 3.90L.  This is also the first version that
incorporates the XChange manual in Quill format.

3.2.1 Quill Import/Export

[Person A:]
Import requires files to be in the Export format from the other
Psion packages.  What is also annoying is that there is no Export
for Quill 2.35 & earlier. (Xchange has this though).

[answer from hclase:]
It is not as restrictive as this.   I wrote an article about
transfering files between quill and other formats for QL World
that was published a couple of years ago.

Quill's import procedure WILL import an ASCII file with any
combination of end of line codes; i.e. LF, CR, LF+CR or CR+LF
(CR=$13, LF=$10).   I tried all of them.   The restriction is in
the file NAME (!), this must be in psion format i.e. no more than
8 letters or numbers followed by an extension of no more than
three printable characters. There must be an extension, if it is
_exp there is no need to type it in, but otherwise you must.
There should be a blank line between each paragraph and then if
you inport by _paragraph_ you will have it in quill format (you
will have to tidy up the margins).   If you import by _line_ then
each line of your original text becomes a quill paragraph; OK if
it's a BASIC listing, but hopeless for regular text.

Assuming that you have the wherewithal to get the files into the
QL (e.g. via disk or RS232) you can import files from MSDOS or
BBC format without any problem.

Going the other way is a bit more tricky, but only a bit. You
have to print the doc to a file using a special printer driver
that more or less ignores all control codes except end of line
codes - put in whatever your target desires. (Use install_bas and
save it as e.g. MSASC_dat; you might need it again!)  You can
also write a filter in superbasic, but it is possible to do it
straight from quill.   The fiddly bit is removing all the
formatting spaces before you "print".   You should set left and
indent margins to the extreme left, move the right margin to 60,
set left justification, set page size to 0, and remove headers
and footers.   (My article has a key by key account of all this,
but an experienced quill user should have no problem.)

The version of quill in Xchange does have export, which
simplifies all this, and also the facility to chop out a bit of a
quill doc so that it can be merged into another one, but I don't
use this much, I find the whole Xchange suit a bit cumbersome!

I'm often surprised to learn that many experienced psion users
still haven't tumbled to the fact that the extensions (_doc,
_lis, _exp, _aba etc.) are just defaults, there must be an
extension but it can be any 1,2 or 3 printable characters you
like (try _#$%) as long as you type them in. I always use a code
to date my docs instead of the doc extension.   The file type in
coded into the file header.

This should probably go into an FAQ file - I seem to be always
posting it!

Howard Clase

[This was taken from one of Howard's postings in css. -ed]
(FAQ source)