An interesting development in vintage system emulators

Roger Merchberger zmerch-coco at
Sat Oct 9 09:03:57 CDT 2010

On 10/07/2010 09:45 AM, Liam Proven wrote:

[[ snippity ]]

> Essentially, it's a Spectrum emulator for Windows...

[[ snippity ]]

> It is a really pleasant environment to work in: you get the pleasure
> of working in the old environment, but also the facilities of Windows.
> It may not encompass all the very best of both worlds, but it is the
> closest I've ever seen. I really like the way it merges the fun of
> playing around with an emulated 1980s 8-bit environment with the
> luxuries of a modern GUI OS. Trying to write code with an emulated
> Spectrum brings back many of the horrors of working on those machines
> for real - lousy editors, tiny screens, poor file-storage,
> instability, slowness, etc.
> It strikes me that there's no need for this concept to be limited to
> the Spectrum, although that happens to be my favourite 8-bit machine&
> the one I'm far and away most familiar with. It would be an
> interesting way for emulators of almost any vintage system to develop
> - separating display and code editor, enhancing the editor with modern
> native-OS facilities while keeping the classic execution and display
> environment. It might be a little less applicable to text-only
> terminal-based OSs, but not exclusively so, I think. I'd love to see
> such an environment for a whole load of the old graphics-oriented
> 8-bit home computers of the 1980s, though.

Ask and you shall receive... ;-) There is a similar product out there 
(but more advanced) and it's about to be released in it's 3rd iteration.

The 1st generation was called "Portal-09" and it was designed solely 
around the Tandy CoCo1/2/3. It gives you a Windows editor where you can 
code in Basic or 6809 assembly language, it had multiple tab files, 
syntax highlighting, etc. You could save your source code files on the 
Windows system for easy backups, but when you clicked 1 button, it would 
assemble your program, save it as either a .ROM or .DSK, boot MESS with 
the correct parameters to load those .ROM/.DSK files and put you in the 
full virtual machine for testing, either at "full speed" or at emulated 
CPU speed.

The 2nd generation was called "Rainbow IDE" and the author realized what 
you did above - why keep it just for the CoCo? He modified his system to 
easily add other platforms, and with the help of others, he expanded the 
system to encompass many other systems, even some scientific 
calculators. Here's the webpage for it:

It's a windows application, but he tries to keep it as "compatible" as 
possible so it can be run in things like WINE & whatnot -- here's the 
list of Windows OSs it runs on:

""" Rainbow IDE is a Multi-Target Integrated Development Environment for 
Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000, ME, 98, 95, and LINUX via the Wine system. """

(Of course, for those of us who are primarily Linux based, there's also 
the option of VirtualBox -- so instead of WINE which is a "fake windows" 
-- you can run a "real windows" in a fake computer... ;-)

The 3rd generation is called "Phoenix IDE" and is very near release (and 
with this individual's track record of not creating vapor-ware, I would 
say it probably will be very soon) and is running a preorder price 
special to help bring it to market. I don't know a ton about it (I've 
not had time for the hobbies again until recently, so I've been out of 
the "scene") but it looks interesting:

The author's name is Roger Taylor and as he works for UPS and is quite 
busy himself, so the fact that the applications he writes are amazingly 
good is a testament to his abilities. I'd used Portal-09 quite a bit & 
loved it; I purchased and tinkered with Rainbow IDE, but that was very 
near the time of 1) eliminating all my Windows boxes at home, and 2) the 
stark reduction of spare time that I'm just now recovering from.

Check it out... and tell him "Merch" sent ya! ;-)

Roger "Merch" Merchberger

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