Skip to main content
© Omega (with E altered by Cronos)

THE QL EMULATOR by Jos Moonen

Futura Data Center from Norway, originally designed the emulator
only for its own purpose: Communication. Because of the research
costs, it has been refined for commercial release.
Those who have had a Sinclair QL (Quantum Leap) know why the
emulator was made. If you haven't had a QL, let me tell you.
Without exaggeration, QL Superbasic is the best implementation
of Basic there is! And there is more, Real MULTI-TASKING, not
limited, you can start up as many jobs as you like and you still
won't reach the limit.
The emulator consists of a PCB (which is actually a kind of
video converter and an off-switch for ATARI mode), an ATARI-
formatted disk containing the QL-ROM and a QL-formatted disk
containing several patches (BEEP-emulation , MDV-patch and so
on). MDV stands for microdrive. This microdrive uses a cartridge
which is a miniature audio-tape in an endless loop. It contains
about 220 sectors, i.e. 110K. Since there is no other computer
that has these microdrives, all calls to them must be trapped.
Jochen Merz, one of the suppliers, wrote the adequate patch for
it. The original supplier, SCS, had some problems with it.

Actually, emulating the QL is quite straightforward. Mostly
because the QL-ROMs start at address 00000, which is RAM on an
ATARI-ST. So they can be loaded at their own address - simple
isn't it?

Mounting the emulator is a story to itself, and should be done
by experienced solderers with steel nerves. It concerns soldering
to the GLUE and as there are many issues of ATARI-ST as there are
of VOLKSWAGEN, it is advisable to let the supplier install your
emulator. Costs? 25 DM! It is also possible to burn the ATARI-
disk on EPROM; then you get an instant reply at switch-on: the
familiar QL copyright screen:

F1....Monitor
F2....TV

© 1983 Sinclair Research Ltd.

Now you must place disk number 2 into your drive and select F1
or F2 to load the patches and THE TOOLKIT II, written by the
designer of QDOS and Superbasic! (Mr Tony Tebby). In the meantime
you must realise that you are actually working with a QL. This
also means that you have an interpreter at your disposal. You can
enter commands directly from your keyboard. There is another
significant advantage regarding an original QL. All programs run
at least two times faster. And I mean AT LEAST! The QL word
processing program QUILL or XCHANGE(PC FOUR) is originally slow,
but on a ST it is even faster than First Word Plus! And more
user-friendly.

A QL texteditor written in BASIC is faster than our Tempus, and
a professional Desktop Publisher is almost too fast to use.
Especially when selecting items in a menu, the cursor movement is
ultra sonic! There is a solution for this 'shortcoming'. You
won't believe it. There is a command that actually slows the
emulating process down! When putting the emulator in slow motion-
mode it is still faster than the original QL.
The emulator only works with four colours, depending on the
mode you're in. But only games and not serious programs work in
low resolution mode, and they won't miss the other three colours.

As it should be, the emulator is able to use the MIDI-port, the
printer-port and both the disk drives and last but not least you
can use the ST mouse. Mr Tony Tebby himself is busy writing the
software for DMA and accessing the ATARI harddisk.
But most of all, you can MULTI-TASK. While calculating your
yearly income tax, you can assemble a program you're writing and
edit at the same time, play a game, write a letter to your
mistress, have a clock, calendar and alarm clock running and
still have one hand free to pet your dog (not included).

Now you might think what all this will cost, especially if you
know what a QL costs with a nice keyboard, memory expander, disk
drive, midi, etc.etc. You will have to pay much more. The QL
emulator costs 850 DM this includes a professional mounting of
the emulator by an experienced solderer.

Finally, you might think: "Why do I need such an emulator?"
Think of the tremendous potential of the system. The utter user
friendliness, the fabulous programs written by Tony Tebby and
Jochen Merz, and the easiness with which you can write your own
software.
If you want to use your computer instead of the other way
around, and if you want to use all of your fingers and you have
the ability and creativity of writing your own programs, then
with the hardware of the ST, the emulator, and some QL software,
you have an unbeatable system.

If you have any questions,you can always write me a letter or
you can call me. After 18:00!! (Dutch time)

Jos Moonen
Klokkenlaan 12
NL-5175 NV Loon op Zand
The Netherlands
Tel. 04166-2617

QL-emulator supplier
Jochen Merz
Im Stillen Winkel 12
D-4100 Duisburg 11
West Germany
Tel. 02035-97283

Disclaimer
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.