With the 64's slow loading and saving to cassette, we have seen the development of a variety of fast or Turbo loading systems. These are handy if you buy games to play but are of no practical value to people who want to develop large programs with only a cassette drive. Enter Arrow Plus. This program, amongst many other things, enables you to save and load programs at 1541 speed as easily as normal SAVE and LOAD.
The cartridge is inserted into the user port and is active when you switch on. All commands are single letters prefixed by "". Four fundamental commands are supplied for the SAVEing, LOADing, VERIFYing and APPENDing of BASIC programs at 3600 baud (about seven times faster than normal). There are also commands for the SAVEing, LOADing and VERIFYing of blocks of machine code. The commands perform in the same manner as their BASIC counterparts except you are given the size of the code handled. To complete the suite of commands there are options for tape positioning and extra-long headers.
I performed a simple bench mark test to check the system out. Arrow Plus takes 43 seconds to load a 16K program compared to 45 seconds using a 1541 and five minutes 30 seconds using BASIC.
In addition to the speed facilities, there are a number of other useful facilities. First there are some toolkit commands including FIND, AUTO, RENUMBER, DELETE and number conversion. For machine code users there are a monitor and memory move and compare commands.
The final section is a two pass assembler. This performs exactly as expected allowing the use of labels and the normal pseudo op-codes. Assembly is to memory which, when combined with the speed save, will enable the assembly of large slices of source code with a cassette.
An additional item in the package is a cassette based reverse-assembler. Whilst a disassembler simply allows you to examine code, a reverse assembler creates a source code complete with labels from any object code. You can then modify the source code and reassemble it. This is an extremely powerful tool which will be invaluable to serious users.
In spite of the fairly high cost this is a highly useful and powerful package which will be a life saver to those who cannot afford a 1541.