Binary distribution of Micro version of SPITBOL-386 with all of its functionality but with a much reduced memory capability.
Assembly C Batchfile
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The file SPIT88.ZIP contains the files as shipped in the 1990's by Mark Emmer of Catspaw,Inc.

The remaining files in this distribution are the files contained in SPIT88.ZIP with licensing information attached, using a BSD-style license contained in the file LICENSE.

The directory S&LP has been renamed SANDLP to avoid the use of '&' in the name.

This is a "micro" version of Catspaw SPITBOL-386 with all of its functionality but with a much reduced memory capability. It generates EXE files and is useful in situations where you wish to distribute a program that is capable of running on all MS-DOS platforms, from 8088 through Pentium.

Although the memory limitations are severe, you'll be surprised at how large a program can be accommodated in the 56 KB workspace. For example, the large demonstration programs KALAH.SPT and ATN.SPT fit comfortably. Programs that accumulate data in tables and arrays will be more of a problem, but for simple filtering or reformatting applications, SPITBOL-88 should prove useful.

By maintaining full functionality with SPITBOL-386, you'll be able to move '386 programs directly to SPITBOL-88, with no source code changes in most cases.


Two versions of SPITBOL-88 are provided: SPITBOLS.EXE and SPITBOLL.EXE. They are identical except for the size of integers; they provide 16 and 32-bit integers respectively:

SPITBOLS' 16-bit integers are the same as those in Robert Dewar's PC-SPITBOL. Values range from -32,768 to +32,767. SPITBOLS stands for "SPITBOL Short".

SPITBOLL's 32-bit integers are the same as SPITBOL-80386. Values range from -2,147,483,648 to +2,147,483,647. Because the 8088 is fundamentally a 16-bit machine, integer arithmetic with SPITBOLL will be slower than in SPITBOLS. Also, an additional two bytes are required to hold each integer value, which may be significant in programs that store many integers. SPITBOLL stands for "SPITBOL Long".

Integer Keywords

Both 8088 versions limit the values of integer keywords to &MAXLNGTH (see below).

Real Numbers

SPITBOL-88 provides 64-bit floating point support identical to SPITBOL-386, including trigonometric, logarithmic, and exponential functions. A software emulator is included, so an 80x87 numeric coprocessor is not required (but will be used if present).

Memory Usage

SPITBOL-88 uses a small memory model that provides approximately 56 KB of workspace (for compiled program and data). Default memory values are:

Name 8088 version 80386 version
&MAXLNGTH 9,000 bytes 4 megabytes
Workspace 56 kilobytes 64 megabytes
Stack 2,812 bytes 32 kilobytes

The initial stack and &MAXLNGTH values can be adjusted from the command line, subject to the overall limitations provided by the small memory model. The -s# command line option will change the stack size to "#" bytes, while -m# changes the maximum object size (&MAXLNGTH). Changing either will affect the workspace size. Increasing the stack size will diminish the workspace and increase &MAXLNGTH. A smaller stack will enlarge the workspace and decrease &MAXLNGTH.

Type SPITBOLS or SPITBOLL at the DOS prompt (no arguments) to obtain a complete list of command line options.

I/O Processing Options

SPITBOL-88 follows the I/O conventions of SPITBOL-386. Options formed according to the syntax of Dewar's PC-SPITBOL are not valid.

I/O Record Length

To prevent unnecessary memory thrashing in the small memory model, the default record length and buffer size is 512 bytes, not 1,024 bytes as is the case in SPITBOL-386. This may be increased to 1,024 with the -b and -l I/O options in the INPUT or OUTPUT function. See the description of the INPUT funciton in manual chapter 19 for more information on these options.

SET function Support

The SET function provides random-access positioning within a file. In addition to the standard SET function arguments documented in the SPITBOL-386 manual, SPITBOL-88 supports most of the SET argument forms of Dewar's PC-SPITBOL. This is essential for SPITBOLS, because there is no other way to set file positions larger than 32,767. Specifically, the forms supported are:

Call Position
SET(file, 'P', m) Position to file offset m.
SET(file, 'H', m) Position to m*32768 + (current position mod 32768).
SET(file, 'R', m) Position to current position plus or minus m.
SET(file, 'C', m) Change record length of binary file to m.
SET(file, 'D') Delete record is not supported.

While these new SET functions are now available in all versions of Catspaw SPITBOL, they are not needed in any of the 32-bit versions, including SPITBOLL.

HOST Functions

SPITBOL-88 provides identical HOST functions (including screen, keyboard, and BIOS calls) to SPITBOL-386. The numbering of some host functions differ between Dewar's PC-SPITBOL and SPITBOL-88:

Obtain parameter string HOST(1) HOST(0)
Obtain Shell variable HOST(2, S) HOST(4, S)
Sound note HOST(3, I1, I2) HOST(200, I1, I2)
Play string HOST(4, S) HOST(201, S)

The include files PCHOST.INC and HOST.INC provide two different version-independent ways of accessing these functions.

External Functions

SPITBOL-88 supports runtime-loadable external functions. Calling arguments and methods are similar to SPITBOL-386, except that string lengths are 16-bits, and pointers use the conventional 8088 16:16 segment:offset notation.

For convenience, arguments specified as INTEGER in the LOAD call are passed to external functions as 32-bit long integers, regardless of which 8088 version is running. Thus the same external function can be used with both SPITBOLS and SPITBOLL. However, if an argument is passed as unconverted, a pointer to the integer block is passed, and either a 16-bit or 32-bit integer will be there, depending upon the version. The LOGIC.ASM file shows how to determine which version is running.

External functions must be COM files, ORG'd to location 100H. Assembly-language examples are provided in sub-directory EXTERNAL\ASM. With limitations, external functions can be written in C as well. See sub-directory EXTERNAL\C and the READ.ME file there for more information.

Floating point instructions may be used if the /e (emulated) option is used with Borland's Turbo Assembler, or the -f option (the default) with Borland C++ 3.0. Such functions must be linked with FLOAT.OBJ (provided) to produce the memory fixups needed to produce floating point emulator opcodes.

Utility Functions

Several utility functions are provided in directory EXTERNAL\ASM. See comments at the beginning of each file for usage information. Some have associated include files to simplify usage.

  • CVTNS Convert numeric to 2, 4, or 8 byte string. Useful for outputting the internal binary form of integer or real values.
  • CVTSN Inverse of CVTNS.
  • FILENAME Perform wildcard filename lookup in directory.
  • LOGIC Perform a variety of logical and base-conversion operations.
  • LTRIM Trim the left side of string.
  • PATHNAME Returns the file and pathname associated with and I/O channel.
  • TESTEF? Test functions that show how different types of results can be returned.

In directory EXTERNAL\C:

  • REALCVT Provides real-to-string conversion with precision and format controls similar to SNOBOL4+.

Save Files, Executable Files

Save files (execution snapshots of SPITBOL's workspace) may be created prior to execution with the -y command-line option, or during execution with EXIT(-3,filename) or EXIT(-4,filename).

Executable files (full, stand-alone EXE files) may be created prior to execution with the -w command-line option, or during execution with EXIT(+3,filename) or EXIT(+4,filename). Use +3 or -3 with EXIT() to terminate execution after writing the file. +4 or -4 will continue execution after writing the file (but with all files except INPUT, OUTPUT, and TERMINAL closed), and may be used to periodically checkpoint a long-running program.

It is now possible to EXIT to a filename that is the same as the file being executed. That is, an EXE file can recreate itself as it acquires and "remembers" additional data.

Control-C Interrupts

SPITBOL's SETEXIT function can be used to trap Control-C interrupts. The &ERRTYPE code for such an interrupt is 320.

Time Keeping

The TIME function returns version-dependent values. SPITBOLS' TIME function returns execution time in deciseconds (tenths of a second). SPITBOLL's TIME function returns execution time in milliseconds.

Compilation and runtime statistics (-c and -x command-line options) are in deciseconds for SPITBOLS, in milliseconds for SPITBOLL. Both express storage usage in words, where a word is defined to be 2 bytes. The COLLECT() function returns available storage in words as well.