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ZX Spectrum Browser

Surf the web, 8-bit style
  [vote for,

A web browser purely developed for the ZX Spectrum. There are network cards available for the Speccy (link) so why not give it its own browser?

Capabilities would be necessarily limited (only two colours per 8x8 pixel block - jpeg rendition is tricky...) but it can render text and background colours.

Flash, JS and a whole load of other stuff would be completely out of the question, but it would be interesting to see how far you could get beyond rendering text.

I seriously doubt whether Sinclair Basic would be up to the task, so this would have to be written in assembler.

Be afraid.

wagster, Aug 14 2010

Speccy Tweets... http://www.theregis...tage_computer_fair/
Using a ZX Spectrum NIC [wagster, Aug 14 2010]

ASR-33 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASR-33
The Joy Of Clicks ... [8th of 7, Aug 14 2010]

YouTube: more of that Twitter client on a Spectrum http://www.youtube....gA4&feature=related
[zen_tom, Aug 14 2010]

HyperLink 2.5 http://www.armory.c...e/cwi/hl/shots.html
Internet browsing on the Commodore 64 [zen_tom, Aug 14 2010]

http://www.c64web.com/ http://www.c64web.com/
This site contains C64 information - but what's *really* clever is that it's hosted on a real C64 acting as a web-server. [zen_tom, Aug 14 2010]

ZX Spectrum Emulator in your browser http://www.zxspectrum.net/
Loads of playable games - "Chaos" was from 1985 [zen_tom, Aug 14 2010]

Rough idea of memory requirements needed to accomplish the feat http://www.sics.se/...m/old-uip/size.html
[ixnaum, Aug 15 2010]

Web surfing ZX Spectrum style http://silentdevelo...spectrum-style.html
(see other links lower down the site) [Dub, Aug 15 2010]


       I remember "loading" a program into one of these using a cassette tape player. It was sooooo slow I felt like nailing myself to the floor, and struggling to get free as a diversion from the anguish.   

       I always wanted there to be some sort of analogue display that would match the old technology - like a super-rapid loom which would continuously weave the images instead of a display screen.   

       What I really want is a super fast multi-colour, string-and-nail machine, that builds up images this way, as rapidly as the nails are being pulled out again, and the string unwound..... String and nail animation anyone?   

       Sorry- went "off" on one (+) Sinclair was a GOD - d'ya hear? A GOD!!
xenzag, Aug 14 2010

       Yep. Liking the loom-based display device. That would be fairly high on the far-out list.   

       All Hail Sir Clive.
wagster, Aug 14 2010

       Internet via 110 Baud ASR-33 Teletype, anyone ?   

       Scarily, that would pretty much work for the HB ...
8th of 7, Aug 14 2010

       more scarily I can imagine it... or fitted nicely onto a vt200 (I doubt I posted it but one of my ideas for the HB was to have a dedicated client program for regulars... cut the bandwidth down 70%... except beanie's and vernon's posts where it would probably add 10%)   

       and ditto on the loom-based display (or reusable knitted printout)   

       re: post, I'm not familiar with the machine, but basic html is almost ridiculously easy to parse without javascript and stuff... you probably could do it in Basic.... but almost certainly not real-time, the network card would have to have a pretty big buffer.
FlyingToaster, Aug 14 2010

       //Internet via 110 Baud ASR-33 Teletype, anyone ?//   

       Been there, done that.   

       Losing my 10Mb fibre broadband and having to make do with a 'mobile broadband' dongle as a backup for a week brought it all back to me.
Tulaine, Aug 14 2010

       //would pretty much work for the HB// I'd like that, if I could find an ASR-33 with a Trebuchet print head.
mouseposture, Aug 14 2010

       Ah, the Good Old Days ... when changing a typeface meant ten minutes' work with a screwdriver, and then fifteen minutes de-inking fingers ...   

       Courier New was about all that was available for the 33 series anyway ...
8th of 7, Aug 14 2010

       I want to point out that i have no idea what i'm talking about.   

       It should be feasible to use a Spectrum as a terminal via an RS232 interface to a PC or another device, then run a text browser on that device. However, that text browser cannot be Lynx because it doesn't work by, don't know how to describe it, emitting a steady stream of characters, but optimises what it "prints".   

       There are eight-bit browsers. I've seen one for the Apple ][, whose specs are very similar to the Spectrum's.   

       You will doubtless be aware that this is very much an obsession of mine.   

       I think the best bet would be to have the Spectrum run some kind of terminal emulator, perhaps with its display as a scrollable window on an eighty-column screen, interfaced to the lowest possible spec device for accessing the internet which can do http. Since i've used a 286 on the internet, i imagine this could be done with something as basic as that or lower. That would then just run the software for a text browser, though not Lynx, and interfacing to the internet either via networking or maybe an acoustic coupler. That would then be a small breadboard with, say, a 68000 or maybe an eZ80 on it.   

       Another thought i had last year sometime was to have some kind of server and a network of low-bandwidth walkie-talkies communicating wirelessly with it, using something like CUTS to interact with each other over, well, as it happened, Leicester, maybe separated by a couple of hundred metres each and relaying info across the area. Luckily, i didn't have to try this.
nineteenthly, Aug 14 2010

       Not to reignite ancient C64 vs ZX Spectrum flame- wars - but the C64 was *loads* better than the Spectrum. Although I still boot up ZX Spectrum emulator every now and then to play "Chaos"
zen_tom, Aug 14 2010

       Oh, here we go!   

       OK. The Commodore clearly has better hardware, more RAM and so on, but its Basic just doesn't support the machine's extra features. It's just the same as the PET's. The control codes are just bizarre too. This needn't be a problem if you use something other than Basic, but, when it comes down to it that would mean using the 6510, whose architecture and machine code are just bloody weird and fiddly. I understand that the address modes are supposed to be flexible and the limited number of op-codes is sort of elegant, and the pipelining is good, but the Z80 is much more user-friendly on the level of assembler. The stack pointer can go anywhere, block transfer and compare can be used for string operations and you don't have to use them if you don't want, but they are there. It even has something akin to a built-in random number generator and the interrupt modes are really nice.   

       The sound on the Spectrum is dire but the graphics are OK and it's all more direct, sort of.
nineteenthly, Aug 14 2010

       so ... I was going to comment how insane this is ... but it is actually feasible. Apparently there are TCP/IP stacks that take only few kb of ram (see link)   

       You could even use it as a web server I guess.
ixnaum, Aug 15 2010

       // It's just the same as the PET's ... much more user-friendly on the level of assembler //   

       The main problem with the PET/C64 BASIC is that Bill "Innovator" Gates took almost all the Page Zero locations (practically, extenal accumulators/index registers) unto himself. If it were not for that, then the comparison would be a bit more even.   

       It would be possible to rewrite the BASIC-in-ROM to free up some of the page zero locations.   

       Late versons of the CBM series used the 6809; it's possible, with modest rewiring, to drop a 6809 into many 65020-based boards.   

       // Apple ][, whose specs are very similar to the Spectrum's //   

       No, not really. The ][ has all those expansion slots, and a much more rugged PSU.
8th of 7, Aug 15 2010

       Where's the foetus going to gestate?!   

       This reads like my O Level CS documentation, where I tried to convince people that the ZX81 would make a terrific word processor... "Someone's developing a parallel printer port for it" I opined.
Dub, Aug 15 2010

       Aye, you're right there, Obadiah.   

       Right! There w'er 180 of us, cutting raw machine code for a Naughts and Crossing game in a ZX81's REM statement for 200 hours a day. When the program ran, t'RAM Pack'd move and the whol' thing'd crash n'explode into a MILLION hot and sharp pieces... which we'd have to reconstruct t' run t'gain... You try tellin' t'young'uns today about that, and they won't believe you... I.. I say, they won't believe you!!1!
Dub, Aug 15 2010

       {Wonders for half-a-nanosecond if you can emulate the Speccy's colours by careful selection of the JPEG's DCT coefficients}
Dub, Aug 15 2010

       The Speccy could actually show more than two colours in a character block - Andrew Hewson figured it out when he wrote Exolon. Mind you it does involve updating the display RAM at *exactly* the right moment while the display is scanning it. I'm not sure you could use that trick for a full-screen jpeg.
wagster, Aug 15 2010

       That presumably involved each row of eight pixels displaying two colours?
nineteenthly, Aug 15 2010

       I would suspect so, yes. I tried to dig up the exact technique but it doesn't turn up on google. Someone wrote in and asked him how he did it in Sinclair User (he wrote the programming column) so he explained the general approach and challenged users to develop their own implementation which he would then publish.   

       I fear he overestimated the skills of the readers.
wagster, Aug 15 2010

       Elite programmers reprogrammed it's {BBC Micro] video chip at specific parts of the frame to allow multiple video modes simultaneously   

       Oh, and [Linkies]
Dub, Aug 15 2010

       //Face Lumping 0 ...... Arbroath 2// Even better than a teletype -- a tickertape.
mouseposture, Aug 15 2010

       If you could find the code for the game and disassemble (sp?) it, you might have an answer, but would it be worth it?   

       Easier to do it with a 6845 i think. The Spectrum just had a ULA.
nineteenthly, Aug 16 2010


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