Sept 5, 1989
DIARY OF A FORTH STUDENT - DAY 3
There are many different public domain versions of forth
and for someone new to the language the decision of which one to
use can be difficult. It is not practical for most people to try
to download more than a few versions , although there are some
who are always curious about the ones they have not seen or tried
yet and are always downloading some new version or an update to
a version they have. This file will help those of you who have
not yet decided where to start and maybe even those who have al-
ready started somewhere but may wish to change course.
In this file I will only give a brief preview of what
will follow in later installments of this series. The infor-
mation included with the versions I will cover is far too ex-
tensive to explain in a single file. The directory listings
alone for some of these versions is several pages long. There-
fore I will merely list them, identify their author(s) and give
a BRIEF description of what comes with each version and where it
was acquired. Most of the forths listed were acquired from
Genie's Forth Roundtable but are also available on most of the
1. ZENFORTH by Martin Tracy
a. one of the "tiny forths"
b. filename ZEN160.ARC
c. from Genie's FORTH RT
d. includes source code screen
e. not really for beginners - requires
prior forth experience to understand use
2. PYGMY by Frank Sergeant
a. larger and much more useable AS-IS than
Zenforth yet smaller than F83 BY L&P
b. filename PYGMY11.ARC
d. from Genie FORTH RT
e. includes adequate doc files in screen format
for beginner to use (use Editor to view )
f. includes source code screens
g. limited dictionary makes for easier learning
for a beginner.
h. NOT FORTH-83 STANDARD compatible but used
as is can be a good starting place before
learning FORTH-83 standard forth.(Based on
cmFORTH with improvements.)
i. monochrome and color versions included
j. include primitive decompiler
k. includes assembler,metacompiler & editor
3. PC-FORTH V1.44 by Guy Kelly
a. FULL FORTH-83 compatible plus extentions
b. runs on IBM compatibles BUT DOESN'T USE DOS!
(I know that will confuse some people but it
uses the Rom Bios. I have a Zenith XT clone
and it runs fine on my machine.No problem.)
c. filenames: GKFRTH2A.ARC and GKFRTH2B.ARC
(second file is extended updated version)
d. from Genie's FORTH RT
e. include tutorial information
f. many features and extentions
g. good learning forth , especially since it's
h. prior file GKFORTH.ARC (first version)
this file contained some text files that were
informative but I was unable to create a
working .COM file after following instructions
but had no problems with the later files
mentioned above (2A and 2B).
4. F83 by Henry Laxen and Mike Perry
a. maybe the MOST common PDFORTH and widely known
version , available almost everywhere.
b. FORTH-83 standard compatible
c. filename: F83.ARC
d. includes Editor,decompiler with SEE and VIEW
e. excellent basic forth to have , a CLASSIC ,
good to have so you can run all the many forth
programs written for this version. I have an
extented version with windows FWINDOW.ARC,
there is also a terminate and stay resident
version for F83 called TSRFORTH.ARC
f. a tutorial is available called F83TUTOR.ARC
which is a tutor program which runs in F83.
g. this is in many ways considered a STANDARD in
so far as it is so widely known that other
pdforths are compared to it for features and
FORTH-83 STANDARD compatibility.
h. old version but a real workhorse and standard.
5. F83X by Wil Baden
a. extention for F83
b. filenames: five file set: PING330.ARC,
c. this is one of many "extended F83" forths
which means it IS "F83" by L&P but includes
the author's extention screens with L&P's F83
so you CAN use F83 WITHOUT the extention if
you wish to try learning the root dictionary
words first before learning the extended
wordset words , or if you want to try out a
different extension at some time . You can
of course put the author's version in a
directory with the root F83 duplicated in a
subdirectory so you can switch back and forth
to get a feel for what the author has done.
Make no mistake, the author of this extented
F83 is one of the "Top Gun" forth programmers
you will encounter and if you want to see
what can be done with F83 in the hands of an
expert it might be a good idea to check out this
version. Remember, it's the programmer that
makes the difference.
6. MVPFORTH by Glen Haydon
a. FORTH-79 STANDARD compatible
d. includes decompiler (type WORD GOESINTO
e. includes full-screen editor (type E
f. includes SCREEN COPY program (type
g. includes SCREEN-DOS copy program
h. MATH extension available (MVPMATH.ARC)
download and unarc, put in same directory
and load MVPFORTH.COM, type GET-SCRNS
answer MVPMATH.SCR, first screen is # 10,
last screen is # 360, put blank formatted
DSDD diskette in drive A: (MAKE SURE YOU
CONFIGURE YOUR MVPFORTH FIRST by typing
answer prompts and save configured version
by typing SAVE-FORTH
rename it anything at this point, just
let it use the default name (MVPFORTH.COM)
and then rename it AFTER it is saved. (it
does not seem to accept any names other
than MVPFORTH.COM). You can then use the
2 DSDD drive configured version to convert
the MVPMATH.SCR file as explained above.
(if you only have 1 drive then answer "1"
instead of "2" to the CONFIGURE prompts.
In case you're wondering , 360 screens
would NEVER fit on a single sided single
density diskette which is the DEFAULT
format of MVPFORTH.COM if I remember
correctly, hence the need to configure first.
i. many other extensions are available from MVP.
See DIARY.ARC (first file) for mailing
address and phone number.
j. you will need some form of tutorial for
79-STANDARD forth to get the most out of
this PDforth. You can probably order "THE
COMPLETE FORTH" by Alan Winfield from the
publisher : WILEY PRESS
A division of JOHN WILEY & SONS,INC.
605 Third Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10158
or you can call MVP (Mountain View Press) and
order ALL ABOUT FORTH and the FORTH GUIDE and
you will get THE FORTH SOURCE pamphlet also,
which contains some usefull source code. The
file MVPFRTHA.ARC contains the .4th source
code file for the extentions but you will have
to use the GET-SCRNS command to put it a
floppy so the editor can read it. You must
always use a blank FORMATED diskette whenever
you invoke the GET-SCRNS utility. If you are
not sure what the last screen number is just
use the # 365 since that is all a disk will
hold anyway and the program will just stop
when the last screen is copied no matter what
the number is. I think it is best to always
start with screen # 10.
k. for those of you who wonder why I have devoted
so much space to public domain forth written
for the 79 STANDARD , the reason is that it
is easy to find 83-STANDARD PDforths but much
harder to find a 79-STANDARD PDforth. This has
been for the benefit of those who have a use
for it and wish to be able to do something
with it while they are waiting for their books
to arrive in the mail. I had a little trouble
getting started with this version only because
I didn't have the documentation from MVP for
a week or so and I wasn't familiar with the
commands. After receiving the books from MVP
I found it to be quite user friendly. I would
definately recommend you invest in the
documentation from MVP if you intend to use
this version. The cost is not much at all.
l. I apologize, but this was as BRIEF as I could
get on this one. I hope it is of some use to
It is probably best to learn some standard (FORTH-79, or
FORTH-83) wordset FIRST before learning custom words. Any of the
PDforths mentioned above includes source screens you can study
to see how things are done. Time is of the essence! If you find
yourself spinning yourwheels trying to write (build) programs
then DON'T !, Just study the source code of someone who does know
how to do it and THEN when you understand what they did you can
go back and try variations on it yourself.
PAY ATTENTION (!) to WHO's WHO in the forth community.
Make a list of the names that keep popping up all over the place
and remember them. When you finnally get the chance to attend a
FIG sponsored convention or event, (don't you dare miss it!) you
can carry your little piece of paper with a bunch of names on it
and walk around looking at everyone's nametag.(everyone wears a
convention name tag ). I still have mine. I put it on when I go
in computer stores looking for something. I always get served
right away...the salesmen are always very helpfull. Anyway, get
to know these people who are shaping the world of FORTH. They
have so much experience that 5 minutes with any one of them at
a convention over a cup of coffee (YOU BUY!) could win you a few
hints on programming that might save you days,weeks, months ?
All of the authors listed above and many many more are within
your reach if you use your hardware,software and common sense.
If you have any foresight at all you will call EVERY forth BBS
you know of AT LEAST ONCE ! So what if you blow fifty bucks on
the phone bill. How much is your time worth. If 30 minutes on-
line accross the U.S. (about $12) can save you hours of hassles,
why not ? You must invest in your future. When you are a pioneer
the frontier doesn't come to you, you go to it...
Next week, we'll take a closer look at the PDforths
mentioned above. I will take a few forth words and see how
they are handled by different versions, to see IF there is
any difference. I will also go into a little more detail about
the differences between these versions and try to point out the
similarities. By objective observation perhaps we can arrive at
some conclusion as to when , what and how to use different
May The Forth Be With You...
Please direct all question,comments, etc.
To: Robert Schemmel (R.SCHEMMEL1) - (GENIE EMAIL ADDRESS)