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Those with a working ZX Spectrum in their cupboards but lacking a working cassette deck with which to load programs need fret no more: there's an app for that. The app in question, Speccy Tape for iOS, allows users to access the World of Spectrum database of abandonware. Once loaded into an iOS device, it then plays back the …

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Love it

For two reasons

1/ it gives me a chance to dig my Speccy out

2/ there is no way Eadon can comment FAIL MICROSOFT from his spittle flecked screen.....

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Give him an hour or two to wake up

I have confidence in Eadon's ability to embarrass peguinistas everywhere.

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Windows

Re: Love it

+1

4 2

The post is required, and must contain letters.

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Meh

Re: Love it

But it's iOS!!

Er, FAIL?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Love it

Which means it will work. With an Android tablet you have no idea if the output volume will be sufficient as it may vary from each model, some being more weedy with their headphone output than others.

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Re: Love it

Oh look, it's eadon's mirror-universe counterpart.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Love it

"Which means it will work. With an Android tablet you have no idea if the output volume will be sufficient as it may vary from each model, some being more weedy with their headphone output than others."

What can you say about this stupidity? Other than how fucking stupid!

Bloody iPhone owners, send 'em back to school.

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Re: Love it

I'm sure he'll be along as soon as he's worked out that Sinclair sold the spectrum without open-sourcing the rom contents.

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Happy

Re: mirror-universe counterpart.

With evil goatee....

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Re: mirror-universe counterpart.

Ho will that look alongside Eadon's no doubt fullsome neckbeard?

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Go

I have a old Acorn Electron, and have all my games saved as wav's. they are also on my s3's memory card and with the audio lead, I can load from my phone to the Acorn with no problem. First tried a few years ago with my nokia n80 with 100% sucess.

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Same here, but I use an old MP3 player I had at the back of a drawer. Don't need an app for this.

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Midi

about twenty years ago I tried converting stuff to Midi - it seemed to work but I never thought to keep all that - I've still got the MPU401card somewhere.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Midi

MIDI? are you sure?

You tried converting game data into MIDI? you do realise that MIDI is musical notes, control changes etc.

Okay, you could be clever and store data in SysEx packets, but how on earth would you convert that back to audio for a speccy?

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Re: Midi

I dont know if you know but the spectrum stored data on cassette as audio frequencies or ...notes - use midi to recreate those notes on a synthesiser, feed the audio signal to the spectrum and the spectrum cant tell the difference. And you dont get wow and flutter with midi!

I may have had to slow down the spectrums audio conversion but this was a long time ago .

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Re: Midi

I don't know about the Speccy, but the Dragon used one tone for a 0 bit, and a second tone of double the frequency for the '1'. Both bits were of the same duration. As long as MIDI allows the representation of pure sine waves at arbitrary frequencies, then you can MIDI it.

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Re: Midi

I think as well as getting the frequenciess right you probably also need to make sure that the sine waves are syncronised so that each bit starts on the beginning of a cycle of a 1200Hz or 2400Hz tone (well, for the Acorn tape interface that used the Kansas City tones anyway - not sure whether the Spectrum used the same frequencies)

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Boffin

Strange to say I had to do the same thing in the 90s. I worked for a data recovery company and a tape came in from a suspected kiddie fiddler. I already had quite a lot of knowledge of the 'format' because when I was at college I modified the ROM code to see just how fast the routines could reliably go.

It's actually a very simple format. You just need to time the interval between signal transitions and differentiate between long and short. Pretty much just Morse Code for computers. The tricky bit for us was that it turned out to be an adventure game (featuring bronze tanned boys which was where I stopped reading it) written in BASIC and I had to find a table of tokens and codes to complete the job.

Rather amusingly at the time we were trying to develop off-spindle HDD platter reading and had an expensive analyser rig in the office. So there was one guy trying to come to terms with MFM recording with signal analysers and there was me decoding Spectrum tapes. At least I completed what I was working on :)

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Anonymous Coward

There were kiddie porn text adventures for the Spectrum? Bloody hell, I thought I'd heard it all, this being the Internet.

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Happy

HOW DARE YOU!

...so we've not been able to test the app to see if it meets the Speccy's notoriously finicky audio ingestion requirements.

RIGHT! You and me, on the playground, by the history block at lunch-time. You're 'AVING it mate!

Finiky audio ingestion requirements! Pah! The old Speccy was a BREEZE to load tapes on compared to the Vic20 and the C64! Pah! Don't get me started! (It was also easy to copy the tapes with my Dad's Amstrad tape-to-tape deck, not so the C64 tapes with their crappy turbo loaders (cos the built in loader was so shit!))

Ohhhh.... I get it.... You're an ORIC owner, aren't you!

Naaa na na naaaa na!!! Simon owns an Oric! Simon owns an Oric!

See you at playtime, pleb!

:-)

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Devil

Re: HOW DARE YOU!

R Tape loading error, 0:1

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Boffin

Re: HOW DARE YOU!

The old Speccy was a BREEZE to load tapes on compared to the Vic20 and the C64!

Would have been better with some more parity though. I loved the way the BBC format was stored in blocks. If one failed you knew fairly soon and could rewind. With the Speccy all you had was a final byte(**) which (IIRC) made the total either even or odd. So you could churn your way through over 40k of data and have it fail just because the very first byte got blatted.

Firebird produced a block based loader which was nice.

My favourite though was the Fairlight loader. They dispensed with the lead-in. So you got a normal short load to get the reader in memory. Then silence for 10 seconds. Then the screeching started and the screen loaded from the top down(*). Seriously cool. And when loading was complete it had polyphonic sound coming from the piezoelectric buzzer. Clever stuff considering the only thing you could do with that speaker was move it in or out by writing 0 or 1 to a port 254.

(*)Which took a little bit of effort because the in-memory layout was a bit odd. Split vertically into three blocks then within each block the top row of each group of eight rows, followed by the second row of each group. The ROM used mathematics to work out the address of the byte for a pixel coordinate but I worked out the logic and managed to shave a minute amount of time off it by bit shifting. Happy days.

(**)Pretty sure that's right. If you saved 100 bytes of data the tape contained 808 bits - 800 bits of data and 8 bits of 'parity'. Oh the anticipation of loading a game from a dodgy tape :)

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Re: HOW DARE YOU!

I actually wrote a couple of utilities so that you could load and save data in blocks just like the Beeb: http://mdfs.net/Software/Spectrum/Coding/MCODE1.TXT

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Mushroom

Re: HOW DARE YOU!

That was because someone with half a brain at Commodore decided that instead of using a checksum, they would write 2 entire copies of all data to the tape!

And if one copy was corrupt it would fail to load - without any option to select the other copy!

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Windows

Re: HOW DARE YOU!

"The old Speccy was a BREEZE to load tapes on compared to the Vic20 and the C64! Pah! Don't get me started! (It was also easy to copy the tapes with my Dad's Amstrad tape-to-tape deck, not so the C64 tapes with their crappy turbo loaders (cos the built in loader was so shit!))"

Really?... Don't recall ever having a C64 game fail to load, even with copies of copies that were so endemic at school! Spectrums on the other hand I recall being very pernickity at what would load.

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Joke

Re: HOW DARE YOU!

When I were a lad, we had to hand-punch our programs with an arrow head on a piece of buffalo hide.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: HOW DARE YOU!

Commodore didn't supply a fast loader. Thus every company created their own. Which at least meant you had the freedom to do what you wanted. There were loaders with music playing and even one with a simple space invaders loader.

Commodore was a very crazy place to work, you should read about it, there is a good book called Commodore A Company on the Edge. It does explain why (despite their brilliance) their computers and software were a bit unfinished in places. Their employees were very clever and devoted, but Tramiel was a tough boss.

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Re: HOW DARE YOU! (@ ForthIsNotDead)

"It was also easy to copy the tapes with my Dad's Amstrad tape-to-tape deck, not so the C64 tapes with their crappy turbo loaders"

I copied dozens of C64 games with my tape to tape deck. The only one that gave me serious trouble was a game called 'StarPaws", which as I finally found out relied on the length of tape left after the first part of the program was loaded. Took me a while to figure that one, but some fiddling with scissors, a ruler and a screw driver finally fixed the issue, by cutting the excess tape. The girl got her copy, but I didn't score. :^(

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Re: HOW DARE YOU!

"When I were a lad, we had to hand-punch our programs with an arrow head on a piece of buffalo hide."

You had arrow heads?

We had to wait until one of granny's teeth fell out and sharpen it on a rock.

Granpa had been out in the sun all his life so we didn't need to hunt for buffalo.

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Re: HOW DARE YOU!

"It was also easy to copy the tapes with my Dad's Amstrad tape-to-tape deck, not so the C64 tapes with their crappy turbo loaders"

Any difficulty in copying was completely intentional ;)

I think the reason it worked better at making copies fail on C64 is better hardware. A suitable hardware timer and nothing stealing CPU cycles meant we could use much tighter timing. I remember setting turbo speeds based on its effect on copying as much as the speed improvement. It's a miracle anything every loaded!

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Pint

Re: HOW DARE YOU!

Maybe the Vic's 'turbo loader' was crap, but the basic Commodore tape tech was pretty good. You had a dedicated tape deck hooked up to a dedicated port on the machine. No levels to fuss with and the computer could control the tape motor (somewhat) The programs were stored twice for redundancy, and you could verify and do limited searching (if you didn't mind waiting) Just sayin...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: HOW DARE YOU!

I saw your joke icon, but when I was at school, our introduction to computers course consisted largely (as far as I can remember) of making holes in punch cards (in exactly the right place) following instructions. The only feedback we got was a week or two later, when we were told if we made the holes in the wrong place. It's a miracle it didn't put us all off computers for life. Best. Lessons. Ever. (Not)

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Re: HOW DARE YOU!

Arrowheads? Buffalo hide?

Luxury... All we had were scraps of old bark and pointy twigs to punch the holes.

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Thumb Up

Finally a use for my iPhone!

I applaud this for it's "just because" attitude \o/

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Go

What I really want it to do...

Do an OCR of a magazine listing, compile it up, then do the tape emulator bit.

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Yeah, but

This app accesses the archive on WOS directly so you dont have to keep the MP3;s around.

Also, WOS isnt an archive for "Abandonware", they get permission for all the stuff they make available on there.

Its a good example of doing it properly.

http://www.worldofspectrum.org/permits/

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Not really anything special. Just about any emulator will let you play back the noise and, quite literally, the noise IS the data that the Speccy used to use. Spectaculator has a way, even back to Gerton Lunter's old DOS Z80 program. Hell, most of them let you load in from audio sources which is the same thing in reverse too. How do you think those TZX's on WoS got there in the first place? (and WoS is missing an awful lot of titles that it used to have because of various copyright assertions - I have any number of games as TZX's from my own tapes that have never been on WoS or have been removed)

Hell, I remember Codemasters putting out a CD (when nobody could afford a CD player) that was basically an audio-CD recording of a load of their games. You could just play one track (no searching through the tape) and it played the same "screeches" to load the game (so it still took just as long to load). I even remember an instance where my brother and I were desperately trying to work out what was on an old tape we found and couldn't work out why it would load halfway and then fail. Then we hit play without the lead being in and discovered that it was actually a recording of us playing about with the tape recorder and mic while the Speccy was loading something in the background. Just the hint of a background noise of the loading sounds was enough to convince the Speccy to start loading data.

The Speccy's tape loading routines were genius for the time. Just a shame their Interface 2 ROM's never really took off. Again, I still have some of those that aren't available on WoS or other places.

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"I remember Codemasters putting out a CD... that was basically [a] recording of a load of their games... so it still took just as long to load."

Well no. It used a much higher data rate than cassette and came with a special adapter that had to be plugged into a joystick interface. Unsurprisingly they didn't sell many.

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Pirate

I'm sure you can find a torrent including all the ones that were removed. (Such a collection certainly exists for the Beeb, which is how I rediscovered Granny's Garden, which legit emu sites also don't have.)

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"Well no. It used a much higher data rate than cassette and came with a special adapter that had to be plugged into a joystick interface. Unsurprisingly they didn't sell many."

Not "much higher", in fact. Nothing more than a turboloader, really (the first part of each track is basically a truncated cassette waveform, nothing more, the next is just a slightly higher speed like tape turboloaders used - I reckon they were actually intended to just use it direct as audio with the tape loader at all, but something got in their way - probably the quality of their mastering given that it appears to be an analog -not pure digital - recording on the CD!). Hell, parts of it use pretty much the same format as the original ROM loading routines, just without quite so much lead-in and syncing. Each track is 25K, from what I can find out. That's not outside the bounds of any program intended for a 48K/128K Spectrum on cassette.

And it was only really available for Speccy, C64 and CPC because two of those used the same chips and had very similar loading routines. Sure, it used an "adaptor", I'll give you that, but it was basically just a transistor or two using the joystick pins rather than the audio cable (it wasn't "intelligent" at all). Probably was just their way of overcoming the default ROM to cram on more games rather than anything particularly fancy.

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Trollface

Actually the code master CD loaders were much faster as they required a special (well, bespoke, nothing complicated) to connect your CD player to your joystick port as this was more accurate than using the ULA's EAR socket.

I think they did miss a trick however of not usilising more than one bit of the 16 available on CD.

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Happy

Works on ZX81

I've been using FLAC & WAV files to load stuff on to my ZX81 for years. Absolutely no reason why this app won't work for the Spectrum - and if it includes binary-to-audio on the fly, then that's impressive.

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Re: Works on ZX81

"and if it includes binary-to-audio on the fly, then that's impressive."

That is exactly what this is, it isn't playing a recording of the raw tape noise, it is an app that takes the actual binary data and generates the appropriate wave forms. It is something that is built into most emulators but this allows you to provide the data to a real ZX Spectrum.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: binary-to-audio on the fly

that's what it is and it's not such a big deal if you think how any audio is stored on your phone

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Re: Works on ZX81

"and if it includes binary-to-audio on the fly, then that's impressive."

Is it really impressive? That's what 8-bit computers were doing in 1980.

The Acorn Atom with its 1MHz 6502 processor did most of its cassette interface in software - admittedly it did have a 2404Hz timebase derived from dividing the 4MHz master oscillator by 16x13x8 to use as the high tone, but generated the low 1202Hz tone in software from this and sorted out the start and stop bits and data shifting in software. To make it a bit more sine-y than a square wave, there was an RC low pass filter on the output.

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WTF?

Re: Works on ZX81

and if it includes binary-to-audio on the fly, then that's impressive."

Wot, sort of like the SAVE routine built in to all those old 8-bit computers?

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Cause to dig the speccy out I reckon

I just need to find someone with an iPhone willing to sit still long enough for me to load up River Raid.

I still find the screechy white noise comforting in a way.

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Re: Cause to dig the speccy out I reckon

"I still find the screechy white noise comforting in a way."

I was startled to realise that my kids had never heard dial-up internet either.

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Boffin

Re: Cause to dig the speccy out I reckon

still find the screechy white noise comforting in a way.

Load up your favourite emulator. Type the keys 'T' 'CTRL+SHIFT' 'L' then '1' '3' '3' '1'

Then hit 'ENTER'.

Enjoy :)

This starts executing machine code at that ROM address. The colours will be off but the sound is there. Press 'SPACE' to cancel.

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Re: Cause to dig the speccy out I reckon

I was half expecting that dial-up link to be a dubstep track.

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