1.  What were the (disk) Operating Systems available?

2.  What programming languages could the CoCo do?
3.  Which communication programs are available for Serial/RS-232? (24 and counting...)
4.  How about Word Processing? (20 and counting...)
5.  Tell me about graphics programs.
CoCo Max Rat ColorMax DaVinci 3 MV Canvas
Max9 (any more?)

Q1) What are the (disk) operating systems available to the CoCo?

RS-DOS was the original disk OS for the CoCo.  Without a disk drive, the CoCos would run Color BASIC, and you had to purchase the Extended Color BASIC ROM to take advantage of extra graphics! Plugging in the standard (although there were two versions) Radio Shack disk controller, gave you Disk Extended Basic, or RS-DOS.  Standard RS-DOS is reviewed in the hardware FAQ.  Essentially, the standard disk commands were available, including DIR, OPEN, SAVE, LOAD, CLOSE, INPUT, WRITE, KILL, DSKINI (format), BACKUP, and COPY.

A-DOS was developed by Art Flexser.  It came in three versions, ADOS for the CoCo 1 and 2, and ADOS 3 & Extended ADOS 3 for the CoCo 3.  It was 100% compatible with RS-DOS if you didn't need to patch Disk BASIC, and added features to RS-DOS, noteably  40 and 80 track drive support. ADOS came on a disk, and could be loaded into the CoCo, or you could customize ADOS, program an EPROM, and use the EPROM as your disk ROM, therefore booting your CoCo with ADOS.  This was a neat, because many users then set their CoCos to boot with the 80 column screen.  It also ran the CoCo at double-speed, even during disk and printer i/o, featured auto- line numbering, arrow scroll through listings, auto edit of errors, macros, etc. Extended ADOS 3 added things like parellel printer output (assuming you had the right hardware), wildcard filenames, and a RAMdisk..

OS-9 Level 1 (for CoCo 1 and 2) and Level 2 (for CoCo 3) was a completely different OS than the DOS versions.  OS-9 supported the full 512k of RAM (on a CC3), multi-tasking, multiple windows, etc.  The modular approach allowed users to add or change code modules for additional features, such as 40/80 double-sided drive support. Apparently OS-9 Level 1 was for the 64k CoCo 2, but did not work really well.  OS-9 Level 2 was a welcomed upgrade.  I think there was a Level 3 upgrade released recently (a few years ago), but I'm not sure what was upgraded in terms of performance.  Possibly the OS-9 was optimized for use with the famous 6309 Hitachi chip that boosted the CoCo speed by 20% to 30% when executing native code.

J-DOS was sold by J&M Systems of New Mexico.  J-DOS supported all RS-DOS commands, auto-line numbering, error trapping, baud selection, os/9 boot, memory minder(disk check program)

MY-DOS was sold by HawkSoft.  It was customizable and EPROMable.  Features that it added to RS-DOS included lowercase program entry, SAY command for S/S Pak, point/click disk directory, double-sided 40 track drives, screen power-up options

MKJ DOS and MKJ3 DOS were sold through CoCo Connection of Philadelphia.  They were EPROMable, and included the following features:  80 track DS drives, wildcards, alphabetical and dated file listings, full screen BASIC editor, spelled-out errors, repeat key, SAY (for S/S Pak), plus other special commands for editing.

SCS DOS was also EPROMable, and sold through Second City Software.  From what I could find, it added 24 new disk commands and 2 new hi-res screens, 40 tracks/DS disks, 6 ms stepping, disk search, and error trapping (the error trapping leads me to believe it worked for the CoCo 1 and 2)

OWLDOS was sold through OWL-WARE, of Mertztown, PA.  OWLDOS claimed 25% faster disk access, double sided drives, and correction of a floating point error.

SPECTRUM DOS (again, EPROMable) sold by Spectrum Products of New York.  Added 24 new disk commands, 2 new hi-res screens, 40 track and double-sided drives, 6ms step, disk search, error trapping (sounds a lot like SCS DOS)

RGB-DOS was sold by Burke and Burke of Washington.

STAR DOS sold by Star Kits of New York for the CoCo 2

DOUBLE-DOS BASIC sold by Double Density Software of Texas allowed the CoCo 2 to use 35,40 and 80 single/double sided drives together, and added reset-protection.  100% compatible with RS-DOS.

AMDISK was a 3 inch micro-floppy system sold by Amdek.  The disk held 312k (flippable for 624k).  Not sure if a patched RS-DOS or a special "AMDISK-DOS" was used to gain access to these little cartridges.  Further literature in RAINBOW indicates that the AMDISK came with a controller, and two drives, each disk holding 156k on one side.  So we have 2 disks x 156k x flipping each over = 624k!  Since each disk actually holds the same as a standard RS floppy, it's very possible that the regular RS-DOS could be used.

FLEX was a product of Technical Systems Inc, of North Carolina.  The official name was "6809 FLEX Operating System".  FLEX was then "ported" to the CoCo under the name of "The FLEX 9.0 Disk Operating System for teh Radio Shack Color Computer using 64k RAM" by Steve Odneal, or Missouri, and licensed to Computer Publishing Inc, or Tennessee.  FLEX was competition of the very popular (at the time) CP/M system for the 8080 and Z80 chips.  CP/M could be considered a forerunner to what we now call DOS on the PC.  FLEX worked very well on a 64k CoCo, whereas apparently OS-9 Level 1 did not work as well on a 64k CoCo. 

Q2) What are the languages available to the CoCo?
 Without disk drive:
 - Assembler (tape)
 - Basic (built-in, old CoCo 1s)
 - Extended Basic (built-in, newer CoCo 1 and newer models)

 RS-DOS:(and compatible variations of RS-DOS)
 - Assembler
 - Disk BASIC (built-in)
 - Compiled BASIC (Sometimes called C-BASIC)
 - C
 - DEFT Pascal

 - APL
 - Assembler
 - BASIC-09
 - C
 - Forth  (sold as Forth09)
 - Pascal
 - RSB
 - Sculptor

- Crunch COBOL marketed through Frank Hogg Labs

Q3) Which communication programs can I get for the CoCo?
Name Format Type VT100? ANSI? Protocols * Auto
KBCom OS-9 sw/com yes xy z*** yes double high/wide support
WindowWriter OS-9 com CoCo 3/Level II
V-term DOS com yes no xy & x/crc yes VT-52, 80x28, Vidtex, serial port to 2400
Kermit DOS free no kermit no
Kermit OS-9 free kermit
OSTerm OS-9 share yes partial xy yes
SuperComm OS-9 free partial xy z*** yes
Greg-E-Term DOS share x
Greg-E-Term DOS com xy y-batch
AutoTerm DOS/Cass com no x yes scripting, also doubled as a basic word processor
X-Term OS-9 com no x
VIP Terminal DOS/Cart com 32/51/64/85x21/24
for CoCo 1,2,3
Warp 1 OS-9 com no yes macros, timer
DataPack III DOS com yes no x macros, RAMdisk, 80x28
Wiz OS-9 com no no x/kermit yes VT-52
ColorCom/E DOS com no x CoCo 2, 51x24
MikeyTerm DOS share x yes Autodial with MikeyDial program
DelphiTerm DOS share xy yes macros, RAMdisk, not just for Delphi users
Ultimaterm DOS share yes xy yes key repeat, VT-52
TwilightTerm DOS share no yes none yes claims up to 9600 through the serial port with no lost characters!
DFT II DOS/Cass com no no only ASCII no CoCo 1 and 2
ColorTerm Plus DOS/Cass com no no no
DYTERM Cart/Cass com "BASIC program with m/l subroutines"
TermTalk DOS/Cass com when combined with Spech Systems "VOICE", it will read the terminal text to you "just like in the movie War Games"
MicroText Cart com the cartridge added a second serial port so you could print as you downloaded.
MicroTerm Cass com MC-10 only
(Blanks in the table mean I don't know)
* Protocols: X=Xmodem (usually not Xmodem/CRC), Y=Ymodem (non-batch), Z=Zmodem(recovery/batch features unknown), Kermit=Kermit.  Except for TwilightTerm (which was coded for ANSI support rather than downloads), all these comm programs also have ASCII transfer protocol.
** Autodial in this chart can mean either a phone directory built in, or programmable macros that can be used for dialing.  Either way, the user does not have to type ATDT ### ### #### to dial.
*** To use Zmodem, the program calls an external zmodem program, either rz or sz for receive or send.  SuperComm calls the rz/sz automatically, while KBComm requires a macro.

Q4) What word processing programs could be used on the CoCo?
Name Format Type CoCo Features ***
Simply Better DOS com 3 two windows, merge, indexes, forms, spool, autosave, sort, calc., numbering, paging, WYSIWYG mode, etc.
Word Power 3.3 ** DOS com 3 spell/punct, merge, calc, spool, 2 columns
VIP Writer DOS/Cart com 1,2 the basics
VIP Writer III 2.0 DOS com 3 spell, undo, print preview, spool
TeleWriter 64 DOS/Cass com 1,2,3 51/64/85x24, lowercase, cassette/disk i/o
Stylograph CoCo Version OS-9 com 1?, 2? From Stylo Software of Idaho, apparently better than the comparable WordStar for the PC.  (WordStar was later replaced by Word Perfect and Microsoft Word)
TeleWriter 128 DOS/Cass com 3 macros, preview, 80x28, etc.
EZWriter DOS/Cass com 1,2,3 letter writing only, merge, cheap
TextPro IV DOS com 3 up to 212x28, on screen bold/ital/etc., buffered keyboard, merge, RAMdisk, laser printer support
DynaStar OS-9 com 3 windows, merge, macros, etc., DynaSpell optional
WindowWriter OS-9 com multitasking, pull down menus, more
XWord OS-9 com 2,3 worked with WordPack, regular screen, Xscreen, block commands, find/replace, proportional, headers/footers, page numbering.  Optional XSpell checker.
Ved/Vprint OS-9 pull-down text menus, multitasks, etc.  (from Bob Van de Poel)
Autoterm DOS/Cass com 2,3 Basic word processor that doubled as a terminal program.  Search, embedded printer codes, margins, compatible with TeleWriter
Elite-Word DOS/cass com 1,2 buffered keyboard, block, upper/lower, merge, etc.
SCRIPTSIT Cart/DOS com 1,2,3 I have to mention this poor pathetic Radio Shack word processor.  Not having seen the disk version, I can say the cartridge one was pretty sad.  The 32 column "windowed" over the full page, so you could never see the entire document.  Enough said.
Keep Text II (formerly Chromasette) DOS/Cass com 1,2 32x16, embedded printer controls, search/replace, key repeat, centering, margins
MasterWriter DOS/Cass com 1,2 Inexpensive, full-screen, block, menus, macros, print spool, etc.
CoCoWriter DOS/Cass com 1,2 32/51/64/85x24, menus
Max-10 DOS com 3 I don't really want to get into desktop publishing (versus basic word processing) but Max-10 from Colorware (designers of CoCo Max) deserves a mention as being the first true desktop publishing program for the CoCo 3 with WYSIWYG, columns, built-in spell checker, resizing imported graphics, undo, margins, etc.
(Blanks in the table mean I don't know)
** Many of these programs were available in earlier versions for just the CoCo 1 or 2.  With the advent of the CoCo 3, every started to add 80 column support.  A print spooler and RAMdisk were also popular enhancements due to more available memory.
*** Except for Max-10, as far as I know, all the other programs with spell-checkers had "external spell checkers". That is, after typing, you ran the spell-checker, often by quitting the main word processing application.  I remember one disk spell checker that I had.  It checked almost every word, and the drive spun and ground back and forth for ages and ages.  It worked, but slowly.

Q5) Tell me about graphic programs.

CoCo Max (1,2, and 3) were probably the MOST WELL KNOWN graphic programs for the CoCo, and the CM3 file format almost became a CoCo standard.  CoCo Max 3 featured two 320x192 screens that could be
linked to form a giant 320x384 screen.  The menus were easy to use, as were the tools and textures.  Using their own hi-res interface, and later, the Tandy hi-res interface, the joystick/mouse could access the entire screen.  CoCo Max featured undos, animation (color slot flipping) fonts, slide shows, stamps,  shrink/ stretch, rotate, zoom, lasso, etc.  One feature that tickled everybody was the color selecting.  You would see ALL 64 colors on the screen at the same time, and then pick the 16 that you wanted.

The Rat was sold by Diecom (and others).  It supported 320x200x16, lines, shapes, fill, stamp, shrink, rotate, textures, etc.  Diecom included a mouse if you ordered from them. 

ColorMax was similar to CoCo Max.  ColroMax 3 debuted before CoCo max III, and ran with 128k.  Later ColroMax Deluxe added GIF load/save, palette animation, multiple screens with cut/paste.

Da Vinci was sold through Owl-Ware.  It featured 320x192x16, custom paintbrushes, fonts, boxes, etc., zoom, menus.  It did not require a hi-res interface.  Instead, the joystick/mouse/x-pad could input either a "coarse" or "fine" mode.  I"m sure you can guess how this worked.

MVCanvas 2.0 sold by HyperTech Software of Nevada, was for OS-9 Level II and Multi-Vue.  Featured multiple resolutions up to 320x200, with 16 colors, palette animation, clipboard, fonts, etc.

Max9 (free) written by Kevin Darling for OS-9.  A demo program using OS-9 calls.  Ran in all 4 windows.

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July, 1999
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