Adventures in Math (1983)

To start “Adventures in Math” (if it doesn’t start automatically), either press the Reset button or, at the DOS prompt, switch to drive B: and run “A:BASICA CASTLE”.

[PCx86 Machine]

Adventures in Archiving

The files for this game were obtained from the Internet Archive. The contents of their ZIP archive contained:

[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff  18688 Dec 24  1996 Adventur.bas
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff      0 Dec 24  1996 Adventures in Math (1983).ba1
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff  54277 Dec 24  1996 Basica.exe
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff  11904 Dec 24  1996 Castle.bas
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff   6400 Dec 24  1996 Exit.bas
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff   4992 Dec 24  1996 Help.bas
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff   1418 Dec 24  1996 Maze1
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff   2179 Dec 24  1996 Maze2
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff   3892 Dec 24  1996 Maze3
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff  10496 Dec 24  1996 Monocode.000
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff     15 Dec 24  1996 Run.bat
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff     13 Dec 24  1996 Sn
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff    369 Dec 24  1996 Topten

Unfortunately, that archive did not contain a complete dump of the original “Adventures in Math” diskette, and all the files in the archive were dated “Dec 24 1996”, making their authenticity questionable.

After digging around a bit more on the Internet Archive, I discovered that A Large Collection of DOS Collections contained:

  • DOS Collection v0.7/DVD1/Adventures In Math (1983)(Ibm).zip
  • main torrent/1983/Adventures in Math (1983)(IBM) [Educational].zip

In the first ZIP file:

[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff  18688 Dec 24  1996 adventur.bas
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff     16 Dec 24  1996 autoexec.bat
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff  54277 Dec 24  1996 basica.exe
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff  11904 Dec 24  1996 castle.bas
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff   4964 Dec 24  1996 command.com
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff   6400 Dec 24  1996 exit.bas
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff   4992 Dec 24  1996 help.bas
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff   1418 Dec 24  1996 maze1
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff   2179 Dec 24  1996 maze2
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff   3892 Dec 24  1996 maze3
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff  10496 Dec 24  1996 monocode.000
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff     13 Dec 24  1996 sn
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff    369 Dec 24  1996 topten

And in the second ZIP file:

[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff  18688 Aug 11  1983 Adventur.bas
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff  54277 Sep 17  1999 Basica.exe
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff  11904 Aug 11  1983 Castle.bas
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff   6400 Aug 11  1983 Exit.bas
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff   4992 Aug 11  1983 Help.bas
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff   1418 Aug 11  1983 Maze1
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff   2179 Aug 11  1983 Maze2
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff   3892 Aug 11  1983 Maze3
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff  10496 Dec 19  1985 Monocode.000
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff     15 Jan  4  2003 Run.bat
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff     13 Aug 11  1983 Sn
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff    369 Sep 17  1999 Topten
[email protected] 1 Jeff  staff    170 Jan 22  2011 file_id.diz

I decided to start with the contents of the second ZIP file, since the timestamps of most of the files appeared to be legitimate.

One strange file common to all the archives was MONOCODE.000. Dumping that file revealed:

00000c60  20 4d 4f 4e 4f 50 4f 4c  59 20 69 73 20 61 20 72  | MONOPOLY is a r|
00000c70  65 67 69 73 74 65 72 65  64 20 74 72 61 64 65 6d  |egistered tradem|
00000c80  61 72 6b 20 6f 66 20 50  61 72 6b 65 72 20 42 72  |ark of Parker Br|
00000c90  6f 74 68 65 72 73 2c 20  49 6e 63 2e e8 f7 7d e8  |others, Inc...}.|
00000ca0  a1 64 e8 d4 79 e8 d6 7d  3c 20 20 20 20 20 20 20  |.d..y..}<       |
00000cb0  20 20 20 20 20 20 4d 53  2d 44 4f 53 20 61 64 61  |      MS-DOS ada|
00000cc0  70 74 61 74 69 6f 6e 20  28 43 29 20 31 39 38 35  |ptation (C) 1985|
00000cd0  20 44 6f 6e 20 50 68 69  6c 6c 69 70 20 47 69 62  | Don Phillip Gib|
00000ce0  73 6f 6e 20 5b e8 96 7d  03 35 2e 31 b8 5d 00 50  |son [..}.5.1.].P|

So at some point, unrelated “MONOPOLY” files were mingled with this game. I deleted MONOCODE.000.

Another unexpected file was BASICA.EXE (54277 bytes) from 1999. It seems unlikely that IBM would have distributed any BASIC binary with this game, because DOS was a prerequisite, and at the time, all versions of DOS included BASIC. IBM’s PC-DOS shipped with BASICA.COM and OEM versions of DOS shipped with either GWBASIC.EXE or BASIC.EXE.

Unsurprisingly, this BASICA.EXE is neither from 1999 nor from IBM. It’s virtually identical to the circa 1983 BASICA.EXE found in COMPAQ DOS 1.11, and it’s 5 bytes larger only because the string “MsDos” was appended to the file. They both contain the following strings:

The COMPAQ Personal Computer BASIC
Version 1.13
(C) Copyright COMPAQ Computer Corp. 1983

It’s safe to say that IBM would not have distributed a COMPAQ binary; if IBM had distributed any BASIC binary at all, it would have been their own BASICA.COM. Of course, the problem with IBM’s BASICA.COM is that it also requires an IBM PC with ROM BASIC installed, which is why some people would have preferred the COMPAQ binary: it had no ROM dependencies. Anyway, I deleted BASICA.EXE.

Finally, there was FILE_ID.DIZ:

Adventures in Math (1983)(IBM) [Educational].zip
Name:Adventures in Math
Version:1.0
Language/Country:English
Flags:
Year:1983
Publisher:IBM
Genre(s):Educational

and RUN.BAT:

basica castle

and TOPTEN:

The Ultimate One,83519,LARGE,07-15-81
MathsWhiz,78613,LARGE,01-01-80
[z],70946,LARGE,07-13-81
[z],56728,LARGE,04-24-80
[z],56727,LARGE,07-25-81
[z], 56277,LARGE,07-28-81
[z],56157,LARGE,07-24-81
[z],55677,LARGE,07-24-81
[z],55197,LARGE,07-23-81
[z],54792,LARGE,07-23-81
^Z,07-28-81
[z],56157,LARGE,07-24-81
Z[z],55677,LARGE,07-24-81
[z],55197,LARGE,07-23-81

All those files were deleted as well, leaving 8 files dated “Aug 11 1983”. Next, I used the PCjs DiskDump utility to create a disk image from a directory (“archive/advemath.100”) containing those files:

diskdump --dir=archive/advemath.100 --format=json --output=ADVENTMATH100.json --manifest

Here’s a directory listing of the resulting 160Kb disk image:

 Volume in drive A is ADVEMATH100
 Directory of  A:\

ADVENTUR BAS     18688 08-11-83  12:00p
CASTLE   BAS     11904 08-11-83  12:00p
EXIT     BAS      6400 08-11-83  12:00p
HELP     BAS      4992 08-11-83  12:00p
MAZE1             1418 08-11-83  12:00p
MAZE2             2179 08-11-83  12:00p
MAZE3             3892 08-11-83  12:00p
SN                  13 08-11-83  12:00p
        8 file(s)      49486 bytes
                      108544 bytes free

This disk has now been added to the PCjs IBM PC Disk Library as “Adventures in Math (1983)”.

To run the game, I originally selected an IBM PC (Model 5150, 64Kb) with Color Display, which boots PC-DOS 2.00 by default. However, in the course of starting the game, it crashed:

ADVENTMATH-CRASH

It appeared to run fine with 256Kb of RAM, but these were IBM’s “System Requirements” for the game:

IBM Color Display, or a television

64Kb of memory for PC and PC XT, 128KB for PCjr

One diskette drive

so I reconfigured the machine to boot PC-DOS 1.00, which requires less RAM than PC-DOS 2.00, and that worked. Note that the game was released in October 1983, well after the March 1983 release of PC-DOS 2.00, so it should have been tested with PC-DOS 2.00 on a 64Kb machine, but perhaps it wasn’t.

The machine on this page is configured with the following “autoType” sequence:

autoType: $date\rB:\rA:BASICA CASTLE\r

which translates to:

<today's data>      [enter an arbitrary date]
B:                  [switch to drive B:]
A:BASICA CASTLE     [run BASICA on drive A: and load CASTLE.BAS on drive B:]

This is one of the preferred methods of demonstrating software in PCjs: loading unmodified disk images into machines that match the software’s system requirements as closely as possible, powering the machine, and then automatically executing a series of commands that that hardware and software combination would have required.

The other preferred method is to use a machine state file, which restores the machine to a state where the software is already running. That’s the quickest method for starting the software, and it’s useful when the software has an involved installation process, but it takes more effort to set up. The VisiCalc (1981) demo is configured that way, but that’s purely a matter of convenience – and because it predates the “autoType” feature.

For more classic PC software experiences, see the PCjs collection of IBM PC Application Demos.

References