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Synapse SynCalc-program & source code now in PD

Synapse SynCalc source code

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#1 luckybuck OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 4, 2016 2:51 PM

Hi together!

 

Mike Silva, author of Synapse SynCalc has given the program and the source code into public domain.

 

https://atariwiki.or...Synapse SynCalc

 

SynCalc from Synapse and programmed by Mike Silva is the(!) spreadsheet for the Atari 8 bit. No program of that kind reaches the performance SynCalc does. Mr. Silva, the Atari community is forever in your debt! Thank you so much, we really appreciate your help. You are now in the hall of fame:

 

Thank_you_Mike_Silva.jpg

 

Because the source code listing as well as the disk files are lost, it would be cool, if someone out there is in the possession of that, if you can share it with the community. Many thanks in advance. :-)

 

Call for help to the community:

a) If you have a bug-list of the 1983 version, please let us know. Your help is very much appreciated in this case.

b) 1985 version (SynCalc 128K): This version uses extended RAM. The goal should be, to create an atr-image for all Ataris (Classic, XL, XE) free of bugs and just limited to the installed RAM. Further, to get rid of the 90 KB data storage limit.

c) If you have the source code or listing of SynCalc, well, you will be in the hall of, too. That is for sure.

d) Up to now, we do not have an atr-image which runs correct. There are already some RAM-problems, please see the url above. On AtariWiki, there are the raw-files of the latest diskette version. Once in RAM, the master disk is no more needed. Maybe someone out there can make a RAM-shot and compare why? JAC! aready did a great investigating job so far, please see his findings in the url above.

 

Would be cool to have an outstanding 'Excel'-version... ;-)

 

Kevin, again, ultra-thanks for helping in this case again. Without your work, the community would be much poorer...


Edited by luckybuck, Fri Mar 4, 2016 2:53 PM.


#2 MikeSilva OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 8, 2016 8:30 PM

Hi, Mike Silva here.  Kevin Savetz invited me to stop by the forums after he tracked me down and we did an interview.  What a kick to see that people are still using Syncalc!  Now I feel bad about not having saved the source disks.  Have people been able to capture a binary image of the loaded program (seems like that should be easy)?



#3 ACML OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 8, 2016 8:56 PM

What a kick to see that people are still using Syncalc!  Now I feel bad about not having saved the source disks.  Have people been able to capture a binary image of the loaded program (seems like that should be easy)?

Wow Mike.  I own you big time for Syncalc.  I used that in the 1980's and it was an awesome spreadsheet.  You saved me countless hours of computations during my college years working on my Aerospace Engineering degree.  Senior design and wind tunnel projects.  Calculating 1000's of characteristics equations on supersonic airfoils.  My fellow college students maybe had an HP-41 calculator, but nothing like Syncalc.  If you made a mistake on some analysis that had 100's of computations, you could just fix your error on the Syncalc spreadsheet and "bam", recompute!  

 

To me, the two most significant programs on the Atari 8-bit were Syncalc and Atariwriter.  These two titles made the Atari 800 better than any CP/M machine.  Is it true Atari planned to buy out the "Syn" series?  Funny, just Sunday I saw a building in Research Park with the company name Synapse.  


Edited by ACML, Tue Mar 8, 2016 8:57 PM.


#4 MikeSilva OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Mar 9, 2016 12:43 AM

It's great to hear that you found Syncalc so useful.  As you'll hear in the interview, what I really wanted to do at Synapse was to write a game!  Oh well, things worked out pretty good.

 

I don't know all the Atari / Syn details, but I believe only Atari was going to market the programs.  When Jack T. refused to pay for the first huge shipment, Synapse started marketing the programs essentially in competition with Atari.  At least that's how I remember it.



#5 luckybuck OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Mar 9, 2016 8:29 AM

Dear Mr. Silva,

 

Wow, that is great to communicate with a living legend. :-)))

 

Don't worry, T. didn't got the point in those times, but you do! :-)

 

I am responsible for all concerning the SynCalc-site on AtariWiki.

 

Don't worry about the source code. Maybe, you have given it to someone else or the listing?

 

Cool would be to change the 128K version in the way, that we can use up to 4 MB RAM... ;-)

 

http://atariage.com/...-ram-expansion/

 

Further, to come around the 92K barrier for data storage on disk...

 

But 1st of all, we must solve the different amount of RAM-problem.

 

 

 

Just asking, because you might know:

 

According to Steve SynMail and SynText were finished(!), but never sold. :-(

 

Do you might have a trace to them, to make Synapse complete? :-)))

 

Further, we have no trace to SynTax. Do you know something about it?

 

 

So cool, you are still with us. What a great day.

 

Thank you so much for all you have done to the community.

 

ico_notworthy.gif ico_notworthy.gif ico_notworthy.gif ico_notworthy.gif ico_notworthy.gif

ico_goteam.gif

ico_occasion14.gif

 

 

 



#6 MikeSilva OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Mar 9, 2016 10:46 AM

Dear Mr. Silva,

 

Wow, that is great to communicate with a living legend. :-)))

 

Now stop that! :)  Really! :)

 

It's Mike from now on, OK?

 

Honestly, I never even heard of SynMail or SynTxt.  Wish I could have helped!  And I can't help with SynTax either.  I feel my stock slipping... :)

 

It would certainly be fun to look over the program listing after all these years.  What is possible in that area?  Is there hardware to take a binary snapshot of a loaded program?  Or can one of the emulators take such a snapshot?  From there it would seem easy to get a disassembled listing - does one exist?  Then would come the fun part of trying to re-label all the hard-coded data and address values.



#7 luckybuck OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Mar 9, 2016 12:31 PM

O. K. Mike no problem, your are welcome. ;-)

 

Send you a PM.



#8 Kyle22 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Mar 9, 2016 3:34 PM

If it could be rewritten to be SDX compatible, that would solve the RAM problem, and the disk problem.  It would also be nice to use the SDX facility for an 80 column screen.

 

That would take an enormous amount of work, but it sure would be nice. :)



#9 luckybuck OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Mar 9, 2016 3:37 PM

Yeah! Great ideas. Totally forgot. So we first have to ask XUEL for a disassembling. Further, we have to create at least a version which runs properly the way Mike has programmed it.

 

Wow, what a time. :-)))

Thank you.



#10 Heaven/TQA OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 10, 2016 12:27 PM

Dis6502 should help here :)

#11 luckybuck OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 10, 2016 12:33 PM

Thanks, I have already answered to Mike in a PM.

 

Cool would be a disassembler, which converts into mnemonics like in Mappint the Atari.

 

In the end, it should be a source code like we have from Star Raiders now.



#12 Marius ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 10, 2016 12:40 PM

I still use this more than fabulous spreadsheet in my music school. My entire administration is done in this package. I have a professional business and everything is done in Syncalc. It simply works.

 

My wish would be this:

 

A file version of this spreadsheet that can run in SDX and also works with directories. That would be a huge improvement over disk version.

 

I own an original copy including manual of this excellent program btw. 

It's extremely powerful. Only downside is that 90K storage limit. I have to spread my administration over several floppy disks now. In my administration this means every quarter of a year I take a new disk. 

 

on my a8 I have a brother laser printer, and I print with smallest font. This is extremely sharp, and it is amazing to see how much data can fit on a single page.



#13 luckybuck OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 10, 2016 12:44 PM

Did you try the file version on AtariWiki?


Edited by luckybuck, Thu Mar 10, 2016 12:44 PM.


#14 Marius ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 10, 2016 1:45 PM

Did you try the file version on AtariWiki?

I did not see it...

 

Ohw I see it now... I had that one already here on my HD, but it only support 20KB or so. That is by far not enough for my work. 

It should also support extended ram yes ;)


Edited by ProWizard, Thu Mar 10, 2016 1:47 PM.


#15 luckybuck OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 10, 2016 1:51 PM

That is what we want to have in PD, even up to 4 MB RAM... ;-) The idea from Kyle22 is very good for this.



#16 Bryan OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 10, 2016 2:01 PM

I don't know all the Atari / Syn details, but I believe only Atari was going to market the programs.  When Jack T. refused to pay for the first huge shipment, Synapse started marketing the programs essentially in competition with Atari.  At least that's how I remember it.

 

Hi Mike!

 

The story I heard from someone who worked closely with Atari was that Jack refused to pay for the shipment (which was done under a Warner deal), then when the pallets of Synapse software were found he dumped them on the surplus market which meant Ihor was hit by the Tramiels twice!

 

I have a LOT more respect for Synapse than Atari Corp.



#17 MikeSilva OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 10, 2016 5:34 PM

Hi Bryan,

 

I never heard the dumping story.  Remember that Atari had Alan Alda make a number of TV commercials, including at least one that specifically mentioned software developed by Synapse for Atari.  I'm sure people were waiting for that software to be available, and I can't imagine Atari didn't start selling it the very day it was delivered.  So yes, you're right that Synapse, from Ihor on down, got smacked twice by Jack T.

 



#18 luckybuck OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Mar 10, 2016 5:43 PM

Sad to hear. But I had always the impression, that serious software for Atari was blocked...

 

The Alan clip is on the Wiki, too.



#19 MikeSilva OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 11, 2016 12:10 PM

The Alan clip is on the Wiki, too.

 

 

Man were we excited when those commercials came out!  Like a bunch of kids!  Well, we were a bunch of kids, really...



#20 luckybuck OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 11, 2016 12:14 PM

Aren't that part is still in us today and will remain over the times. ;-)



#21 ijor OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 29, 2016 8:08 AM

Hi Mr. Silva,

 

In first place, lot of respect for such awesome piece of software.

 

There is some particular aspect about Syncalc that you might not be aware. The 130XE version of Syncalc was considered at the time, as the most heavily copy protected Atari 8-bit software. I am not talking about the software side of the protection, but about the hardware one. Which means how difficult was to copy the disk (not how difficult was to crack it).

 

I specialize in copy protections, and I am very curious if you have some insider information about this. Do you know how the protection was produced? How the disks were duplicated?

 

Thanks

 



#22 MikeSilva OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 29, 2016 10:01 PM

ijor,

 

I know something about it, but not everything.  I was originally hired at Synapse to do hardware - specifically, a multi-disk duplicator.  The design I came up with could switch on a per-track basis between a standard floppy disk controller (WD-1793, as I remember), and raw bitmapped data.  That is, you could write any sequence of bits you chose onto the track - at a few different clock rates too, IIRC.  Of course it had to be readable by standard drives, but it gave us huge flexibility later on for copy protection.  The board plugged into an Atari 800 cartridge slot (towering about a foot above the computer) and the duplication software ran on the Atari.  It could duplicate 8 floppies at a time IIRC.  It was used for all subsequent disk duplication at Synapse, and was even moved over to Broderbund and used for their stuff.

 

As the copy protection wars heated up, Synapse hired a full-time programmer named Larry ??? just to do copy protection schemes, using the board.  I'm sure he made good use of the raw bitmap track capability, but I don't know any of the details.

 

Mike


Edited by MikeSilva, Sat Apr 30, 2016 3:55 PM.


#23 ijor OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 30, 2016 2:52 PM

The design I came up with could switch on a per-track basis between a standard floppy disk controller (WD-1793, as I remember), and raw bitmapped data.  That is, you could write any sequence of bits you chose onto the track - at a few different clock rates too, IIRC.  Of course it had to be readable by standard drives, but it gave us huge flexibility later on for copy protection.  The board plugged into an Atari 800 cartridge slot (towering about a foot above the computer) and the duplication software ran on the Atari.  It could duplicate 8 floppies at a time IIRC.  It was used for all subsequent disk duplication at Synapse, and was even moved over to Broderbund and used for their stuff.

 

Wow. You might not believe it, but you made my day. Invaluable historical information.

 

I always suspected something like this, but it is just awesome to get this confirmed, and with details, from somebody that actually designed the hardware.

 

Many thanks!



#24 MikeSilva OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 2, 2016 11:00 AM

Well, it pleases me to hear that my board was able to produce some of the very best copy protection of the era!  I never knew that.

 

Mike



#25 Mathy OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 2, 2016 3:57 PM

Hello Mike

 

I guess I'm not the only one who's dying to see this board.   :D

 

Sincerely

 

Mathy







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