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CharlieChaplin

Silica Shop 100 User Programs...

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Hello folks,

 

last week I was busy from monday til sunday with copying 6 tapes from the Silica shop, titled "Silica Shop 100 User Club Programs". The tapes contain only programs written in Atari Basic and errm, there are in fact 105 programs, but only 103 of them available on tape (2 are disk only programs).

 

Well, after the first tape gave me headaches and almost none of the tapes wanted to work with my 1010 Hong Kong, 1010 Japan and XC-11 tape recorders, I put them into my Hifi tapedeck (JVC 502TDK or so) and loaded the data from there. Sometimes I even had to make a copy onto CD-RW first (with my Hifi CD-Recorder PDR-W8039 from Pioneer) and load the data from CD. Both Hifi devices were connected to a 1010 with a tape-adapter... Why so complicated? Well, all tapes made various problems, e.g.

 

- the tapes used both channels, right channel filled with data and left channel filled with awful/terrible music; problem: data channel was very silent (tapedeck says -20db, just one LED was lit), while audio channel was very loud (tapedeck says +7db to +9db, almost all LED were lit); in other words the record level of the data channel was much too low

 

- in the past we were advised to use max. 60 minutes tapes for the computer, because 90 minutes and especially 120 minutes tapes do have a much too thin magnetic tape; think the Silica tapes are somewhere between 90 and 120 minutes (45-60 minutes per tapeside) and of course the magnetic tape is very thin and therefore has dozens of bends - and of course all Atari data recorders are forced to stop and crash immediately when they encounter a bend (even when you would require an electronic microscope, because the bend is so small, you cannot see it with your own human eyes)...

 

- all six tapes did have problems with moving, meaning the wheels in the sky, errm, the wheels of the tapes did not turn or move like they should (the Atari data recorders were eeking and squeeking and producing all kinds of strange noises and of course quite often they were moving too slowly, so the data could not be played back correctly; my Hifi tapedeck was also producing many strange and ear hurting sounds, but it seemed to keep the correct speed; if I have damaged my tapedeck's playback head, I am gonna sue Silica Shop for this of course...)

 

- Tapes 1-4 did have a complete data backup on tapeside B, so sometimes it was possible to get a working version from the backup (sometimes even this failed); but tapes 5 and 6 did use both tapesides and there was no backup...

 

- did I mention, that all tapes have terrible, terrorising, ear-hurting audio sound ?!? With my Hifi tapedeck I used a Y-splitter and connected only the right (data) channel, so I did not have to listen to this terrible music; but evil as I am, I will upload some of it (or maybe all of it) at AA in a few days... @Mclaneinc: Weren't you working at Silica shop ?!? If so, I will bind or handcuff you on a chair and force you to listen to this terrible music! (The sound is so bad, it could have been written by me! Most of the time you do not hear a full music piece, but just single notes being played - but all the notes appear to be wrong / faulty / ... and your ears are begging to stop that torture.)

 

Enough of this. In the end I was able to transfer most of the data onto diskette, except a few programs that were completely defect on tape (side a+b) and are therefore incomplete on diskette. (I used a tape+disk copy program named C/D Copy 54k by M.Thiel from Halle/Germany; whenever an error occurs this program can still save all data to disk that was in memory, when the error occured.) There were also two programs missing on the tapes, because they were/are disk only (an Autorun.SYS creation program and a Disk Dir. program) - I was so evil to put similar programs from my own collection there instead...

 

My wish: If somebody out there owns the disk version of this package, maybe he could upload it and/or 1) replace the two missing disk programs with the original programs and/or 2) replace the defective programs (*.DEF on the ATR images, where DEF simply means defect and incomplete) with good / working programs.

 

Attached are therefore all six ATR images I created from the tapes, the original instructions (scanned in greyscales, two A5 pages as one A4 page) and a short ASCII text file that notes the missing and defective programs.

 

P.S.: Nope, I did not make any CAS files! The tapes were so faulty, I doubt that would have ever worked...

 

Silica_Tapes.zip

Silica_Instruct.zip

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Here is the short ASCII text, that gives an overview of the tapes or better which programs were missing or defect. When loading the tapes from Atari Basic with CLOAD, a tape Error 143 did only give a Ready prompt but no program at all, therefore I used C/D Copy 54k by M.Thiel to save at least a portion/fragment of the defect program...

 

-----

 

Silica Shop presents:

An Introduction to the
100 User club Programs

- Tape 1: 20 programs
=> Automate.BAS is not the original file;
Autorun.SYS generator was only available on diskette!

(all programs could be rescued)

- Tape 2: 20 programs
=> Filedir.COM is not the original file;
the Disk Dir program was only available on diskette!
=> Electronic Components was defect on tape (side a+b),
thus Elecomp.DEF is incomplete!

- Tape 3: 20 programs

(all programs could be rescued)

- Tape 4: 20 programs
=> Gamepak 1 was defect on tape (side a+b),
thus Gamepak1.DEF is incomplete!

- Tape 5: 20 programs
=> Baseball was defect on tape,
thus Baseball.DEF is incomplete!
=> Cannon was defect on tape,
thus Cannon.DEF is incomplete!
=> Gr8Demo 1 was defect on tape,
thus GR8DEMO.DEF is incomplete!
=> USA-Flag & Anthem was defect on tape,
thus USAFLAG.DEF is incomplete!

- Tape 6: 25 programs
(all programs could be rescued)

 

I am not sure, if all 20 *.AMC (Atari Music Composer) files that were present on tapes 1-5 are fully okay, since I have not tested them all.

-----

 

Now you have to wait for those sounds from the tapes left audio channel... ;-)

 

Big thanks go to FredM for lending me these tapes (and many others) !

 

 

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Thank you for doing this!

 

I remember looking at the Silica Shop advert every month on the back page of Personal Computing Today magazine - a black and white scan of that stock Atari photo with the 400 and the 800, and in large text across the top of the ad "100 FREE PROGRAMS"

 

The 12yr old me imagined the 100 programs would include Space Invaders and Pac-Man. Going to be fun to see how wrong I was :)

 

post-10949-0-82980900-1559081011_thumb.jpg

 

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How excellent!

Thank you for doing that, I'm eagerly awaiting the audio-hellscape as well :D

 

What a fun thing to dig through!

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Here is the short ASCII text, that gives an overview of the tapes or better which programs were missing or defect. When loading the tapes from Atari Basic with CLOAD, a tape Error 143 did only give a Ready prompt but no program at all, therefore I used C/D Copy 54k by M.Thiel to save at least a portion/fragment of the defect program...

 

 

- Tape 2: 20 programs

=> Filedir.COM is not the original file;

the Disk Dir program was only available on diskette!

=> Electronic Components was defect on tape (side a+b),

thus Elecomp.DEF is incomplete!

 

- Tape 3: 20 programs

(all programs could be rescued)

 

- Tape 4: 20 programs

=> Gamepak 1 was defect on tape (side a+b),

thus Gamepak1.DEF is incomplete!

Now you have to wait for those sounds from the tapes left audio channel... ;-)

 

Big thanks go to FredM for lending me these tapes (and many others) !

 

I could have saved you a lot of time..... I already had started to dump these tapes :-D

 

What I have so far is the complete contents of tapes 1, 2, 3 and parts of tape 4. I also tested the Atari Music Composer files for the first 3 tapes and they work. So if you download these atrs, you can complete your tape 2 CharlieChaplin :grin:

silicia.zip

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Thank you both...I just want to look at them for reclaiming old memories, even the cover which I probably have (thank you Oracle Jedi) is a wonderful memory of Hatherly Road in Kent (I almost don't count the Tottenham Court Road shop (was filled with blaggers in the end although Noel and Errol worked there as well).

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Is there a reason why Fred_M and CharlieChaplins disks would have different contents?

Here are the two Disk 1's for example

 

 

The shorter listing is Fred_M's

 

post-62759-0-70563500-1559167660_thumb.jpg

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Good question Mr Robot ;)

 

I don't know. These are the pages of the contents of tape nr. 1

 

post-6711-0-70699600-1559168136_thumb.jpg

 

UTL3 is not available on tape, so that leaves 15 programmes plus the contents program at the beginning of the tape.

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Very easy:

 

- Every tape contained two programs at the start: 1) The Atari Fuji logo (pirated from one of the Basic Atari tapes I guess, since it has the same "bug" in line 50 like all the commercial Atari Basic tapes - a redundant PRINT statement), 2) the contents of the tape

 

- Then every tape has a short Basic loader/title program (always 4 sectors on diskette) that shows the name+number of the program that is loaded, e.g. UTL1, or GAM3 or something like that (the program is always the same, only the short name is changed); this program contains the same tape loader code found in the Atari Fuji logo program...

 

Fred did not save the Atari Fuji logo on his disks and he also did not save the many short (but redundant) Basic loader programs on his disks, just the contents of the tape and the programs themselves.

 

More precisely:

- INF1.BAS = Atari Fuji logo program (most likely pirated!)

- INF2.BAS = contents of the tape

- UTL1.BAS = short Basic loader program (not on Fred's disk),

- DaysDate.BAS = the first utility program (named UTL1.BAS on Fred's disk - just compare the length!)

- UTL2.BAS = short Basic loader program (not on Fred's disk)

- HexDec.BAS = the second Utility program ( = UTL2.BAS on Fred's disk)

etc.

 

In other words, I tried to save everything that was on the tapes, while Fred saved only the tape content and the programs themselves (not the Fuji logo, not the Basic loaders). Every game, demo and utility program did have a Basic loader (title) before the program (length = 4 sectors on disk) and every tape did start with the Atari Fuji logo... but you do not need them, since they try to continue loading from tape (the machine code does a CLOAD)...

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Very easy:

 

- Every tape contained two programs at the start: 1) The Atari Fuji logo (pirated from one of the Basic Atari tapes I guess, since it has the same "bug" in line 50 like all the commercial Atari Basic tapes - a redundant PRINT statement), 2) the contents of the tape

 

- Then every tape has a short Basic loader/title program (always 4 sectors on diskette) that shows the name+number of the program that is loaded, e.g. UTL1, or GAM3 or something like that (the program is always the same, only the short name is changed); this program contains the same tape loader code found in the Atari Fuji logo program...

 

Fred did not save the Atari Fuji logo on his disks and he also did not save the many short (but redundant) Basic loader programs on his disks, just the contents of the tape and the programs themselves.

 

More precisely:

- INF1.BAS = Atari Fuji logo program (most likely pirated!)

- INF2.BAS = contents of the tape

- UTL1.BAS = short Basic loader program (not on Fred's disk),

- DaysDate.BAS = the first utility program (named UTL1.BAS on Fred's disk - just compare the length!)

- UTL2.BAS = short Basic loader program (not on Fred's disk)

- HexDec.BAS = the second Utility program ( = UTL2.BAS on Fred's disk)

etc.

 

In other words, I tried to save everything that was on the tapes, while Fred saved only the tape content and the programs themselves (not the Fuji logo, not the Basic loaders). Every game, demo and utility program did have a Basic loader (title) before the program (length = 4 sectors on disk) and every tape did start with the Atari Fuji logo... but you do not need them, since they try to continue loading from tape (the machine code does a CLOAD)...

 

This is the stuff that should be in your readme!

 

Thanks guys

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Well,

 

I replaced the defective "Electronic Components" program (tape 2) with the working version from Fred. Furthermore, it looks like several of my *.AMC sound were either defect or too long (sometimes also too short), so I replaced them with Fred's versions as well.

 

Alas, Fred has not digitized/archived tape 4 fully yet, so I could not replace my defective "Games Pak 1" file. He also has not digitized or archived tape 5 yet, so I could not replace the four defective files on my disk (and/or the AMC music files). Will do that, as soon as I get the proper working files...

 

Again, if someone else has this collection, it would be nice if he could upload it here, so I can update my version.

Edited by CharlieChaplin
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Here are the audio files (MP3s) of the tapes 1-3.

Download and listen to them at your own risk!

 

(I did not use any noise-reduction, so they are as noisy and terrible as the original ones.)

 

 

The quality sounded good to me, and the tunes were good too. Thanks.

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I can imagine with all the tight-loose bends and stretching that a better set of tapes might yield better if not more correctly ear and auditory reactive tinnitus ringing goodness.

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Well,

 

here is Silica tape 5 audio. At some points, the tape wheels did not want to turn and so I had to torture my JVC tapedeck to play it nonetheless. The result is some eeking and squeeking noise (e.g. from 10:30 to 13:30 and at other points)... someone with good (but rare) Silica tapes could make better recordings, I guess...

 

 

Silica_Shop_Tape_5_audio.zip

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Thanks CC...My tinnitus will not like these but I will...Thanks for the dumps..

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My HiFi tapedeck also did not like the Silica tapes, especially tape 5 and 6 were eeking and squeeking a lot. In the end I was not sure anymore if my tapedeck still worked correctly, so I made a recording from CD to tape and then played it back. Have not made a recording with my tapedeck for more than 20 years! In the meanwhile I had sold all Chromdioxid and Metal tapes, so I had to use the cheap Ferro tapes from the A8, but the recording (My Immortal by Evanescence) was fine. So most of the noise you hear in the above MP3 audio is not from my tapedeck but from the old Silica tapes and/or my tapedeck fighting with the tape wheels...

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I'm not sure why the old pencil trick wasn't employed on the taped, gentle rapping on something firm and the spin the pencil, rinse-repeat, until re aligned and loose, free spinning tape fun...

keep an eye out for loose lost pressure pads the glue is mostly dead and the tape won't always touch the head properly

Edited by _The Doctor__

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Ha ha...yeah the old pencil trick, used it a lot on old music tapes but as a sign of age I had forgotten it.....The hell of a tape wrapped around a head and the tinkering after with the pencil...old times, not always fun ;)

 

Don't remember having the head issue on the Atari recorders....Mind you as most of us got off tapes asap I guess I would have with the oxidation / tape coating in the end had I used them more..

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21 hours ago, CharlieChaplin said:

My HiFi tapedeck also did not like the Silica tapes, especially tape 5 and 6 were eeking and squeeking a lot. In the end I was not sure anymore if my tapedeck still worked correctly, so I made a recording from CD to tape and then played it back. Have not made a recording with my tapedeck for more than 20 years! In the meanwhile I had sold all Chromdioxid and Metal tapes, so I had to use the cheap Ferro tapes from the A8, but the recording (My Immortal by Evanescence) was fine. So most of the noise you hear in the above MP3 audio is not from my tapedeck but from the old Silica tapes and/or my tapedeck fighting with the tape wheels...

 

Those tapes are terrible 😞 That's why I stopped dumping them. I have one option left to get them to work: lubricating the tape itself: 

 

 

 

I have done this before. It does work, but it takes several weeks before the tape is playable and after a few months the tape will probably not be playable at all.

 

Edited by Fred_M

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I'm sure it works but it looks like a HUGE amount of hassle and then you say the tape itself will die (almost certainly) at some point...

 

On a less serious note, that man just loved saying lubricant....And the odd lube...Methinks he was too excited :)

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you have to pick a lube that won't break down the tape or it's coating that's why silicon can be a good choice... I have found loosening up the tape and lubing the wheels and plates, then light application to the head more beneficial and immediate, but that sometimes requires disassembly and reassembly...

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