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Taking my first steps in CP/M

cappy2112

Experienced Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2014
Messages
52
Location
Bay Area California
Hello,

I'd like to ask for suggestions for the best recommendations for getting started using CP/M.
I'll probably use an emulator for OSX (which I've already downloaded), until I get a physical computer to use.
I've built a Briel Micro Altair, but it's a bit tedious to use with the front panel switches.

Are there any particular books and/ or websites you would recommend to get started with CP/M ?
I'm interested in the following (at least)..

1. Learning the cmd line usage, loading programs, utils
2. Best place for getting software (I'm sure there are many duplicates out there. Which one is the main repo)
3. Compiling code from source
4. Must have apps/utilities
5. Writing my own programs, probably in C, but would also like to dabble in assembly, later.

Thanks
 

Chuck(G)

25k Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
39,416
Location
Pacific Northwest, USA
I hope that you've headed over to Gaby's collection at z80.de. Lots of software and documentation there--including original DRI-supplied documents.

Also worth looking at z80.eu. Compared to today's operating systems, CP/M is brutally simple--basically little more than a set of file operations. It should be very easy to learn.
 

krebizfan

Veteran Member
Joined
May 23, 2009
Messages
5,428
Location
Connecticut
Rodney Zak's CP/M Handbook with MP/M is a good readable reference for the commands used in CP/M 2.2.

If your chosen OSX emulator can work with standard disk images, look at http://www.autometer.de/unix4fun/z80pack/ Many preconfigured CP/M disk sets. Includes some tools. Probably the easiest way to sample the range of CP/M software.

Some of the sites I would recommend seem to be down right now.
 

cappy2112

Experienced Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2014
Messages
52
Location
Bay Area California
I wil be now.

Thanks

BTW- I've forgotten to ask which version of CP/M should I start with?
It may not matter for a newbie, but I probably wouldn't want to go with the buggiest version.
 

cappy2112

Experienced Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2014
Messages
52
Location
Bay Area California
>>Some of the sites I would recommend seem to be down right now.

Thanks.

If you would't mind posting them, I'll check on them later when I get my feet wet.

I like Zak;s books, I'll take a look at that one.
 

krebizfan

Veteran Member
Joined
May 23, 2009
Messages
5,428
Location
Connecticut
CP/M 2.2 is probably the version to get. Certainly the version that had the most success. Much of the CP/M software that supported new functions of CP/M 3 or the multiuser/multitasking MP/M or CCPM variants could still run on 2.2. That takes things up to about 1985 when new CP/M commercial software for Z-80 was getting scarce.

The only website I will recommend right now is www.retroarchive.org which had a good selection. The index page was active if not the subpages. I don't want to send anyone to a page that is supplying very different material from what used to be there.
 

JonB

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2014
Messages
1,639
Location
South Coast, UK
Hi cappy, and welcome to the world of CP/M!

As Chuck says, CP/M is simple, but its minimalism - a natural result of the limited hardware capabilities of the day - is to my mind extremely elegant. I have a number of books on CP/M (I don't know about you, but I prefer printed material when it comes to reference works) and can recommend these:

  • CP/M The Software Bus
  • The CP/M Handbook with MP/M (that's the Zaks book)
  • Mastering CP/M (Alan R Miller), and there is a PDF online you can download)

If you get into programming, you are going to want a copy of "The Programmer's CP/M Handbook" by Andy Johnson-Laird. I can also recommend Ken Barbier's book "CP/M Assemly Language Programming", although annoyingly neither of these deal with Z80 programming, they all have listings in 8080 (compatible, but different mnemonics which are unfamiliar if you are used to Z80 mnemonics).

If you really get into it, you can download the entire source, commented, as Z80 (or 8080 I expect) .asm listings. That's when you get a better perception of its beauty..

Another possibility for you might be to build one of these: http://searle.hostei.com/grant/Multicomp/cpm/fpgaCPM.html. It's a CP/M computer implemented in FPGA with serial ports, VGA and PS/2 and SD card hard drive emulation for chump change. I think mine cost me about £25 in total, and for that I get a very fast CP/M computer indeed, with easy software transfer via serial connection.

Regards
JonB
 

smp

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 4, 2011
Messages
1,677
Location
Bedford, NH, USA
Hello,
I'd like to ask for suggestions for the best recommendations for getting started using CP/M.
<...snip...>
Are there any particular books and/ or websites you would recommend to get started with CP/M ?
<...snip...>

I would strongly recommend The Programmer's CP/M Handbook, by Andy-Johnson-Laird, published by Osborne/McGraw-Hill.

smp
 

Mike_Z

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2013
Messages
1,620
Location
Near Milwaukee Wisconsin
Cappy, welcome to the affliction. I too have recently began using CPM2.2. All the suggestions above are excellent. Collect as much documentation you can. Read it, read it and read it again. Then don't be embarrassed to ask a question, any question. Lord knows I've asked my share. I hope you do ask questions, because I still have much to learn and hopefully can learn from your experiences. I'm not doing much with the machines now, but when the Wisconsin temperatures turn to more reasonable cooler levels, I'll fire up the machine and mostly likely will be wondering about some code that doesn't work as I thought it would. Good Luck Mike.
 

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