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This site provides information about my software of the pre-internet era, now all archived.

The Archives

The LOS Archive
In the 1970's many moderate sized organisations acquired a single central "minicomputer" into which multiple "dumb" terminals, printers and disc storage devices could be directly wired. Although ASCII had become the standard character encoding between components and there was a rather loose adherence to RS232 for serial communication, each computer manufacturer provided their own proprietary software to run applications and "drive" compatible peripheral devices.
The LOS Archive takes a look at the BCL Molecular 18 Minicomputer running the multi-user "Leicester Operating System". The "Molly" was in commercial use in the United Kingdom from 1972 to 1999 and found a niche notably amongst wholesale distributors who appreciated the fast response of its applications software written entirely in Machine Code.
The HX20 Archive and The QX10 Archive
By the 1980's stand-alone desktop "microcomputers", generally incorporating floppy diskette drives and running the single-tasking CP/M operating system, had become common business equipment. It was also practical, within an ordinary dialed telephone call, to connect remote devices through acoustic couplers or (preferably!) modems, albeit at 30 characters per second through noisy mechanical telephone exchanges.
Pharmaceutical wholesalers, with a long tradition of prompt delivery, were particularly keen to offer their customers the option to submit their often lengthy orders electronically. In 1983 the Epson HX20, a self-contained A4-size computer which could be squeezed into the smallest pharmacy, became widely available. Wholesalers could now offer their customers a completely electronic order service.
The HX20 Archive presents the User Guide to my HX20 application for bulk electronic ordering from pharmaceutical wholesalers. The application source code is also included in the archive. This application was in commercial use in the UK from 1984 to 2001 and an adapted version was used by one company's salesmen to take orders whilst visiting clients.
At the wholesalers' premises, a number of factors determined that electronic orders should be handled by a "front-end" microcomputer replacing one of the minicomputer's terminals. The QX10 Archive presents the source code of my original electronic order entry front-end software for pharmaceutical wholesalers as implemented on the Epson QX10. An adapted version was used by Staples Chemists where, in the dead of the night, a QX10 at head office would auto-dial and exchange data with early (1985) EPOS tills installed in their shops around Stoke on Trent.
The QX10 front-end software was written in 8080 Assembler with the Peachtext word processor and assembled with CP/M's ASM.COM, both provided with the QX10. The multi-tasking implementation interfaced directly with the QX10 hardware, entirely bypassing the built-in CP/M operating system, thus enabling concurrent communication with the wholesaler's central computer and with the remote customer's equipment (through separate RS232 serial ports).
The MS-DOS Archive
In the 1980s hardware evolution deserted the microcomputer (with its myriad of incompatible diskette data formats) in favour of "compatibility" to the IBM "Personal Computer". Although the installed QX10s continued running trouble free for year after year, by 1989 I had transferred all development of the front-end software to MS-DOS on the PC. The MS-DOS Archive presents my User Guide to this software, which remained in commercial use in the UK until 2013.
The MS-DOS front-end software was written in x86 Assembler with Microsoft Word and assembled with Microsoft's MASM 6.11 Assembler. The implementation, derived from that on the QX10, was now more formally structured into an operating system providing multi-tasking and other primitive services on top of the single-tasking MS-DOS services to the three available optional applications: Terminal Emulation, Electronic Order Entry and Document Archiving.
The implementation represents something of a compromise from the multi-tasking viewpoint, as MS-DOS services were used to access all devices other than the screen, the keyboard and the serial and parallel ports. However, hardware advances ensured that the delay incurred while waiting for MS-DOS to execute, say, a hard disc access was normally imperceptible to the user. Furthermore, MS-DOS's innovative concept of the "installable device driver" transferred driver development from the operating system to the device manufacturers, enabling a multitude of new devices to be readily incorporated into existing systems.
The Information Exchange Protocol Archive
A "handbook" specifying the rules underlying data exchange with my front-end software; this web-based resource acted as a reference for developers (mostly active during the 1990s). There are two sections: Server side for local information exchange with the wholesalers' minicomputer and Client side for information exchange with (usually remote) customers' platforms.
At the physical level all data exchanges took place via RS232 serial cables (with modems interfacing the POTS where necessary).
The Psion Archive
The Psion Series 3 (and Series 3a) enjoyed a brief but happy life as a "Personal Digital Assistant" in the mid 1990's.
The Psion Archive presents the User Guide to my Psion Series 3 application offering bulk electronic ordering from pharmaceutical wholesalers and was in commercial use in the UK from 1993 for a brief period. The source code is also included in the archive.
The Palm Archive and The Android Archive
A digression into smartphone application development, presenting the User Guides to my 2003 Palm application for settling-up shared expenses, and its 2012 Android successor.

My first keyboard - the Royal Bar Lock typewriter (built to last to the end of time)