Serious use of the Z88 - what can you actually achieve?

Discussion forums for users of the Cambridge Z88 Portable Computer
Post Reply
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Dec 14, 2023 10:03 pm

Serious use of the Z88 - what can you actually achieve?

Post by Journeyman »

Hello all.

I've had my Z88 for a couple of years now, and there's much to love about it. It's a fantastic piece of design and there's much about the OS and software that's really nifty. Pipedream is a very versatile and flexible piece of software, and I've enjoyed using it. I can print nice documents using my Brother EP-44, and if I want to run off a short business letter, I'll often do this.

However, for certain tasks, the thing feels very frustrating. It seems unnecessarily difficult to transfer and convert file formats, and I've never really managed it successfully, besides getting plain text with carriage returns in all the wrong places from the Z88 to the PC. I have a stock original version of OZ, and it seems riddled with annoying practical issues in terms of file transfer etc.

Can these issues be solved or improved upon, and what can actually be achieved with the right hardware mods and software at the PC end? Can I create a Pipedream document and transfer it to a PC with formatting intact, converting it into a modern format? Can files easily be transferred from the PC to the Z88? It's such a nice machine I'd love to use it for writing on an everyday basis, but at the moment it just isn't easy enough shifting data about. I find my TRS-80 Model 100 much better for that, despite the OS being very stone-age in comparison. It seems to support data transfer so much better and I've never had any issues with it.

So...hold my hand, people. What can I actually do to make my Z88 easier to use as a machine for serious writing? Is it actually possible and viable to use it on an everyday basis to produce something that can be got into Word without too many hoops to jump through?
User avatar
Posts: 5189
Joined: Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:56 am
Location: Looking forward to summer in Somerset, UK...

Re: Serious use of the Z88 - what can you actually achieve?

Post by 1024MAK »

Well, many years ago I was very interested in a public inquiry. I wanted to try to keep up with each days sessions. I was going to read these on the train using a Psion. Because of the format that the downloaded files were in, I had to use a BASIC program (GWBASIC I think) on the PC to strip out the large number of unwanted extra spaces, remove unwanted control characters and adjust the line feed and carriage return control characters.

Microsoft Word is now a de facto standard, but it was far from the best word processor years ago. And every word processor used its own file format.

Even so called plain text files use different end of line/next line control characters on different computer systems.

There may be an existing application that can carry out a conversion.

BTW, Pipedream was also available for the PC running under MSDOS. A more modern version is here although I have no idea if it would be of any use with Z88 files. Note that this version runs under RISC OS not directly on a PC.

ZX81 Variations
ZX81 Chip Pin-outs
ZX81 Video Transistor Amp

:!: Standby alert :!:
There are four lights!
Step up to red alert. Sir, are you absolutely sure? It does mean changing the bulb :!:
Looking forward to summer being good this year.
Post Reply