the HP200LX home

GEM on the HP200LX

(See also the GEM package for the LX in the S.U.P.E.R. archive!)


There must be a few of you out there who remember the GEM desktop from the Atari days. Well, I came across the GEM World website, and am happy to report that the PC version in fact runs quite well on the HP200LX, (and quite snappy too, even on my 1x machine). You can even run it from Sys Manager (give it at least 256k memory), and the blue keys still work too.

For those who are not familiar with GEM, it is "a graphical environment for the IBM PC and the Atari ST. PC GEM was a fairly widely used GUI until the release of Windows 3.0. a graphical interface", to quote from John Elliott, who runs another GEM-related website (there are some screen shots here) . It was made by Digital Research, and is owned by Caldera now. According to Tim Olmstead who runs GEM World: "Permission has been granted by Caldera, Inc. to distribute this software free to individuals for PERSONAL, NON-COMMERCIAL, use.".

You should read the terms and conditions here

The setup, including a word processor, mail-merge, and a paint program, occupies less than 1.4 MBytes. That includes about 33K of fonts, and 37K of patterns (for the paint program, I presume), and about 7K of sample documents, about 137K of sample images, and drivers for HP LaserJet and Postscript printers. Adding the Publisher and Draw apps, and a bunch of their sample files, bumps the total disk usage up to about 2.5M .

BTW, if you follow the "Back to Main Page" link on GEM World, you will find some CPM files. I hastily tested one of the CPM86 emulators there, and it seems to sorta work. Given there is a large depository of CPM apps out there (at Oak, particularly), it might make sense to explore this treasure chest, and see if there are any oldies-but-goodies that would run on the LX.

There are a few more applications that I have not tested (Graph, Chart, Write). The most important part however is that there is a programmer's toolkit. Look for them on both websites above, there seem to be several packages for different compilers.

I captured a few screen shots on the HP200LX below.

Here's the desktop. Clicking "bow-tie" button on the top left of the window is equivalent to selecting the ".." directory where such an operation makes sense, or otherwise closes the window.

Here's the WordPlus word processor. Notice that it opens multiple windows and imports graphics. It has a spell checker, and does superscript and subscript. The character chart in the background allows you to insert symbols in your document. It imports and exports ASCII (deselect WP Mode to export ASCII). It also does real, numbered footnotes (not just header/footer). (Just curious, how dows this compare with MSWord/WordPerfect for DOS ?)

And here's the paint program. Read the hints below on how to "drag" the mouse. It also does multiple windows.

Double-clicking on a DOS application launches it. You are presented with a dialog asking for parameters to pass to the program. (Scrabble is a commercial product from Virgin Mastertronics.)

The "output" tool. I suppose it is some kind of printer setup dialog. The File Redirect option lets you print to a file. I haven't performed an actual print-test yet. Note that it suppors postscript printers.

The object/vector based Draw app. Objects can be glued together.

Write: A simpler "word processor". Some limited graphics capabilities.

WordChart: A simple presentation slides/transparencies maker. Doesn't do graphics except fo the frame (which you choose from templates) and bullet items.

The Publisher app is almost WYSIWYG. It actually runs reasonably fast on my 1x machine. There are some filters for Word/Wordperfect/Worstar/etc that came with the publisher package. I am not sure how/if they work.

Here's a graphing tool, GEM Graph. Allows import from .wk1 (Lotus) files, but no spreadsheet functions.

There is also a doodle pad (Dr Doodle). Might be good for "picture-based" conversation in a foreigh land .. 8-) ..

You can get everything you need at the GEM World website (start with GEM v3.01d. I did not use the "GEM Installer" package, which I think is the same thing with some customization). You should read the terms and conditions here first

A few hints:

Hope you find this information useful. If you find out more about running GEM on the 200LX, please drop me a line. Whay S. Lee