\ Binary Dinosaurs - Torch Disk Pack
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Torch Disk Pack
This was one of the first addons produced for the BBC Micro, in itself it's a stout metal box containing a pair of Mitsubishi M4853 DSDD floppy drives and an ASTEC power supply. There is also a Bulgin power connector designed for a separate power harness to drive the BBC itself - the internal PSU was recommended to be removed.
The real driver behind the TDP is the Torch Z80 Communicator, the first co-processor released for the Beeb. It's an add-on board that hooks up to the TUBE socket and contains a 4MHz Z80 and 64K of RAM. Along with a slightly modified version of CP/M called CP/N running from ROM it turns your humble BBC Model B into a 'powerful workstation' capable of running pretty much all the available CP/M software out there, assuming you could get it in the correct disk format of course. To make things easier to the first time buyer Torch bundled the PerfectOffice suite in which contained PerfectWriter, PerfectCalc, PerfectSpell and PerfectFiler. Naturally the industry standard (as it became) Kermit file transfer protocol was also made available.
In with the Utilities disk was the menu known as the Torch XA - Executive's Aid. Actually pretty powerful, it gave you a lot of options in configuring, backing up, setting up and running the whole environment including Telecoms and Viewdata/Prestel. It would even play tunes at you and let you have a go on SNAKE! Yes, the old Nokia favourite. But in 1983.
Torch rebranded the kit as the Torch Unicorn containing the ZEP100 Z80 board and the FDP240 Floppy box. 2x 400kb floppies, geddit? I recently spent a few days putting disks together to run this setup and was surprised at how quick it is. There's even Wordstar 3.0 and ADVENTURE, the classic adventure itself which most folk probably know better as ZORK these days. If it runs those two then it's a proper CP/M setup.
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