Avalon Hill's Telengard for Z-90 or H/Z-100 with CP/M-85 and MBASIC: A casual tale of making it work in photos and videos

Bill Loguidice's picture

Telengard (Z-90/H/Z-100 version)Telengard (Z-90/H/Z-100 version)This right-after-the-fact casual blog posting will be about the rarest known version of Telengard, one that has not previously been documented in otherwise exhaustive historical accounts, so bear with me a bit as I set the scene... Since I lack any real electrical engineering skills, I recently sold off the non-working portions of my Otrona and Heathkit collections. Both collections went to fellow collectors who should be able to get the various systems working. While it was difficult to part with even those non-working portions of my 430+ system videogame and computer collection, this will give me more room and time to focus on all of the items that do work, and at least shows that psychologically I'll be able to part with more redundant and/or non-working portions of my collection going forward. One item in those groupings that I didn't sell off was my Zenith Z-100 all-in-one, which is the pre-assembled version of the Heathkit H-100, able to run Heathkit-branded versions of CP/M and MS-DOS thanks to its dual processors. As you may or may not recall, I was trying to get my low profile (same system, no built-in monitor) to run way back when. Long story short, among many other hurdles and much fact finding, and after acquiring an unnecessary replacement power supply and a necessary replacement disk controller board, it had a memory error on boot-up. So, I sold it along with various other Heathkit items. However, when I was going through my saga of acquiring those replacement parts, I was able to acquire a working all-in-one version, the Z-100. Now, I obviously love old technology, but truth be told, I was most interested in running the aforementioned rare versions of the official Avalon Hill games on the system. Interestingly, these ports run on the Heathkit/Zenith Z-90 or H/Z-100, as long as they're running CP/M-85 and MBASIC. Now, I did not have a copy of CP/M-85, but I was able to acquire a replacement set (among other disks) from a gentleman who provides that service for a modest fee. Unfortunately, the Avalon Hill games require MBASIC, which was NOT included by default with the Heathkit/Zenith systems apparently. Luckily, a gentleman from the SEBHC mailing list was able to come through with a copy for me. Here is what went down, told casually, as it happened a little while ago, complete with equally casual photos and videos (by the way, check out Matt Barton's old interview with the late great author of Telengard, Daniel M. Lawrence, here):

So, I received the disk with MBASIC and other BASICs in the mail today... The challenge was to get the MBASIC.COM that the Avalon Hill games require off of the disk in drive B: and get it on the CP/M-85 boot disk in drive A:, so it can boot from A: and run the Avalon Hill program in drive B:. My working CP/M knowledge was rusty to say the least, and there's no copy command, so I tried DUP.COM and BACKUP.COM to no avail. I was able to look up - and finally remembered - the PIP command. Now it was just a matter of getting the structure right.
I tried several variations to no avail, until I figured out that I'm not intuitively copying from drive B: to A:, but instead telling it what the destination was FIRST, then telling it what the source to copy from was. So the structure ended up being PIP A:MBASIC.COM=B:MBASIC.COM.

Now, you'll note what the instructions tell you to get this particular version of Telengard running:
They're wrong. As you can see from the previous screenshot, TELENG does not exist on the disk, just GARD and TELEN. So, I tried to run TELEN.
It wouldn't run! Then I remembered, hey, I probably should reboot. I did and tried again.

Disk error! My heart sank. All this effort, and my sealed Telengard had a bad disk!?

But hey, what about running GARD instead? It's not like anything else was logical up to this point.

Success! Note how the game seems to be playing itself sometimes. Yep, Telengard is real-time, and, if you don't make a move within 5 seconds, it makes a move for you or external events affect you.


Now, obviously this was a VERY superficial look at the game and getting it working, but this represents major progress for me, and at least provides proof that yes, Avalon Hill did indeed officially port this game to a CP/M-based system, making about as much use of the text-based graphics and some of the basic features of the Heath version of CP/M as they could. I have the other Avalon Hill ports mentioned in those instructions boxed as well that I need to try, but I'll save that for another day and something a bit more formal. With that in mind, it's unfortunate I had to part with my low profile Z-100, because that had a simple composite video out that I could have captured direct feed video from. To my knowledge, there's no easy way to do this on the all-in-one Z-100 I have now. I'll figure something out eventually, though.

EDIT: Brief follow-up here - http://www.armchairarcade.com/neo/node/4851


Shawn Delahunty
Shawn Delahunty's picture
Joined: 08/01/2011
Wicked Cool!

That is really slick Bill. I got to mess with a H-100 once, at a crusty, dusty old Radio Shack store. The owner was a curmudgeonly guy, who very much acted like anyone in his store was a pain in his butt. (He chain smoked up a storm too--I can remember buying single floppy disks there, trying not to gag as I counted out my saved up lunch-money. All my disks smelled like they had been manufactured at a Marlboro plant...)

Just seeing the green phosphor display, and hearing the clack of a mechanical keyboard sent shimmering waves of sparkly nostalgia rippling through me.


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