Epson PX-16 Working

Without too much difficulty I’ve managed to get the PX-16 up and running.  The battery won’t currently hold a charge but thankfully the unit can be used with the AC adapter attached.

On first turning the machine on it would simply beep and display some odd glitches on the screen.  After referring to the manual and simply resetting the DIP switches on the unit to correspond with the display that was attached it booted up.

The unit is currently booting from ROM, it can also be set to boot from floppy but I’ve yet to get the disk unit working, there’s also a 26 pin connector in the disk unit which I assume is some sort of proprietary HDD connection.

I’m having a fair amount of difficulty tracking down much information on the PX-16.  From what I can tell it was mainly used in Europe and often by field service engineers.  Its modular design allows you to swap out the keyboard and screen for alternative versions and like the PX-4 it has a removable cartridge on the right of the machine which can house various peripherals.

Retrochallenge Update

I’ve made a fair bit of progress today, tidied up a fair amount of code, resolved a number of issues that were returning slightly odd results when the player did unexpected things.  I came across some documentation that alluded to setting parameters for the target displays  Sad I know but this was quite exciting given the limitations of the PX-8’s display and the fact that the only CP/M interpreter I have doesn’t as far as I know allow you to specify display settings.

I therefore compiled a version for the PX-8’s 80 column by 8 line display and while I was as it one for the PX-4’s 40 by 8 display.  I transferred them over and… it didn’t work.  At the moment I don’t know why it’s not working and I also don’t know why I took some video of it not working but I did.

Kim Kimberley, Zork & CP/M

I had a spare hour or so today and decided to hunt around for some games for my PX-8.  Given the limitations of the display and my own fondness for interactive fiction I decided to see what text adventure games I could find for CP/M.

A quick search for CP/M games took me immediately to the Retroarchive where I’m pleased to say the first three games of Infocom’s excellent Zork series were to be found along with a number of other games.

Pleased with this result I wondered if there were any CP/M versions of Level 9’s adventure games out there and I quickly found Snowball and Lords Of Time here.

Annoyingly my plans for a bridge machine with both USB and network support remain exactly that, plans, for some reason Filink will not run on the Pentium III under DOS and I have therefore been forced to resort to my Fujitsu in order to transfer files to the PX-8.  The downside of this is I have to burn a CD every time that I want to transfer files downloaded with my Mac on the Fujitsu for transfer to the Epson.

Nevertheless I was soon transferring the games I had downloaded with Filink from the Fujitsu directly on 5.25 floppies via the PX-8 (picture below.)

All of the Infocom and Level 9 games appear to be working fine.  Some of the location descriptions are too long for the PX-8 to display without some of the text scrolling out of view and if I’m honest the LCD on the Epson is not one of the best I’ve seen, in fact the PX-4 has a much better screen with clearer better contrast.

However the keyboard is a joy to use, it has that lovely clackety clack that you don’t seem to get with modern day equivalents so I shall get stuck in again to the world of Zork and see what I can remember.

I’ve copied Zork 1 to the ram disk and will store my save games on cassette for the shear hell of it.

I am indeed standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. Maximum verbosity.

That reminds me, I’m sure there was a another version on the Vic 20 called The Colonel’s House?  Oh, and I’ve also discovered that you can play Zork in your browser at ifiction.org.