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1997 Fools: ANNOUNCEMENT: New IF Hardware: Z-Code Execution Machine

Subject:      ANNOUNCEMENT: New IF Hardware: Z-Code Execution Machine
From:         russotto@wanda.vf.pond.com (Matthew T. Russotto)
Date:         1997/04/01
Message-Id:   <5hsme4$d7b@wanda.vf.pond.com>
Newsgroups:   rec.arts.int-fiction

In article <E7z6vJ.KJp@undergrad.math.uwaterloo.ca>,
Stephen van Egmond <svanegmo@undergrad.math.uwaterloo.ca> wrote:
}I can! (It might be explained in the rec.games.int-fiction faq.)
}The # in .z# refers to the "revision" of the z-machine the file is encoded
}for.  Imagine that the Frobozz Magic Computer Company came out with 8
}versions of the machine.  The .z# contains code that can be understood by
}only one of those machines.
}Recent interpreters from the Frobozz Magic Interpreter Company can
}pretend to be any of the 8 computers from the FMCC.  Some interpreters
}don't know how to do version 6 yet, though, since that has all the
}pictures, bells, and whistles.

Ahh, a perfect lead-in for my own announcement:  ZEM!  The Z-Code
Execution Machine.  That's right, it's a hardware implementation.
Based on a never-released workstation, ZEM executes all versions
of the Z-code, including V6.  The Z-code itself is executed on a
re-microcoded 68008 processor core, with a TI 34020 used for the
windowing, text, and graphics processing.  A separate 68008 handles disk and
keyboard I/O for both the Z-machine proper and the graphics engine, as
well as the bootstrapping of the Z-machine.  

Features include

1) Loadable fonts -- up to 65535 separate fonts may be used.  Comes
standard with scalable versions of Z-Machine Fixed, Variable, Picture,
and Rune (IBM and Mac variants) fonts.  Options include Apple //c Mousetext
and IBM PC Character Graphics fonts, as well as Egyptian Hieroglyphs
and Linear A and B.

2) Infocom (Apple II, IBM, Mac, Amiga, Atari 8bit, Atari ST, CP/M, or
PDP-11), Standard 0.2, or Standard 1.0 execution selectable during bootstrap.

3) All 31 Infocom Z-Machine games included in ROM at no extra cost.

4) Multi-undo, up to available memory.

5) Reads and writes all known Infocom, Frotz, ITF, and ZIP save file formats.

6) True Color support for V6 games

7) Up to 16-bit 44khz stereo sound samples using built-in speakers,
plus optional external MIDI support.

8) Kibitz mode analyzes your moves and offers helpful advice.  e.g.

> up
It is dark.  You are likely to walk into the fangs of a slavering grue.
KIBITZ: What did you pick up that brass lantern for, your health?
KIBITZ: Turn it on.

> east
Oh no!  You have been eaten by a grue.
KIBITZ: *SIGH*  I told you so.

9) Optional auto-play mode solves the game for you.  Warning: If game
has no solution, this may take a while and entail modification of
read-only memory.

10) Finally, an optional machine-level debugger for programmers.

ZEM is the state of the art in Interactive Fiction technology.  Order
one today.  Operators are standing by, have your credit card ready.
Monitor not included. Not responsible for incidental or consequential
damages. Cave Canem. April Fools.

Matthew T. Russotto                                russotto@pond.com
"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit
of justice is no virtue." 

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