Retrochallenge, Retrochallenge 2016/01

Retrochallenge 2016/01: Post 1

(This is part one of the chronicle of my Retrochallenge 2016/01 submission, which is to port some classic Star Trek text games to the Mattel Aquarius. To jump to the beginning, go here.)

Let’s Play the HP Time Shared BASIC Version of STTR1

I recorded a “Let’s Play” video of an abbreviated session of STTR1, enough to exercise all of the commands at least once. This was very, very late night recording – my mental acuteness was the opposite of acute.

How/Where to Run the Original STTR1

In preparation for my Retrochallenge, I spent some time in December trying to learn about STTR1 and how to play the original game. Well, I assume the “original” original game, which ran on an SDS Sigma 7 computer is lost to us and now resides in bit heaven. But the HP Time Shared BASIC port survived because of its inclusion in HP’s User-Contributed Library and the success of the HP2000 Family. In the end, I found at least three options for playing the HP version of STTR1:

  1. Locate and restore (2) HP2000 Series computers. One unit is needed for multiplexing terminals and one to run Access/Time Shared BASIC. And don’t forget tape drives or paper tape readers. And the media (magnetic and/or paper tapes). So – this option is impossible.
  2. Download, compile, configure, and run the SimH simulator. If you haven’t heard of SimH, it is to minicomputers what MESS is to microcomputers – only difficult. I did, in fact, have success with this route after several weeks of trying and would like to document my setup and perhaps share some configuration files. But that is a lower priority at the moment. If I fail to document this, I did find everything I needed, (though not in any single, tidy package) at the HP2000 Yahoo Group but you’ll need to join the group to gain access to the necessary files.
  3. Telnet to an already-running instance of a simh simulator. There are two such machines available at the time of this writing due to the generosity of the HP2000 Yahoo Group members :
    mickey.publicvm.com
    hp2000.brighton.ac.uk

The “Too Long, Didn’t Watch” Version

So, assuming these machines are still listening when you read this, the telnet option is the most straight-forward way to try out STTR1.

To Launch STTR1:

  1. Launch a terminal, such as the classic ‘xterm‘, that won’t be confused by the HP’s strange End-of-Line characters.
  2. Do this:
    telnet mickey.publicvm.com or hp2000.brighton.ac.uk
    CTRL+m,CTRL+j
    HELLO-T001,HP2000,1
    GROUPS
    EXECUTE-*STTR1

For your convenience, the instructions for STTR1 have been pulled from the original source and reformatted in my previous post.

To Quit STTR1:

  1. Use Command 7,2
  2. Enter a long string at prompt for using the calculator. This causes a string overflow and breaks out of the program.
  3. BYE

These machines have many other early text games including 1975 version of Oregon Trail. When looking at the list of programs in the output of GROUPS, the programs with a “C” attribute are semi-compiled and may need to be started using the command EXE-*progname, otherwise you should be able to use EXE-progname.

Up Next

Due to incompatibilities between HP’s BASIC and the version of MS BASIC found on the Aquarius, I’m forced to climb into the head of a teenage programmer from 1972.

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