Here it is! What you have all been waiting for, the beginnings of this software. I was digging around on one of my old archive CD's and happened across the original source code and distribution of the original release of the software. Version 2.4 was the first "Official" version and I released it on about July 30, 1993. There was no Internet for distribution in those days, so Tad Cook (yes, Tad was writing the bulletins back then to!) had this note in ARLP030 (July 30, 1993):
THE FREE SOLAR CYCLE GRAPH PROGRAM FROM WA4TTK IS NOW AVAILABLE.
TO RUN IT YOU WILL NEED AN MS DOS PC WITH VGA OR EGA DISPLAY. IT IS
BEING POSTED TO A NUMBER OF BULLETIN BOARDS AROUND THE COUNTRY, WITH
THE FILE NAME OF SOL24-1.ZIP. IT SHOULD BE ON THE ARRL BBS SOON, AND
IT IS ALSO AVAILABLE BY MAIL FROM THE AUTHOR. SEND A FORMATTED
3.5 INCH OR 5.25 INCH DISKETTE, HIGH OR LOW DENSITY, TO SCOTT CRAIG,
409 JESSIE DRIVE, NASHVILLE, TN 37211. BE SURE TO INCLUDE A STAMPED
ADDRESSED RETURN MAILER.
The bulletins were transmitted over W1AW and I used to get them on the RTTY transmissions each week. Then we started getting sophisticated and started using Packet BBS's for distribution of the info. Remember those days Tad?
Want to take a look at it? Here is a link to the Zip file that contains it. It won't take long to download, the Zip file is only 61,444 bytes and the executable doesn't take a lot of disk space (all of the associated files are about 134kb). It will run in a DOS window under Windows, so just unZip the file and double-click GRAPH.EXE to run it. Take a look at it. Even if you don't care anything about this software, it's fun to see just how far we've come in less than 10 years.
I had some notes to myself that listed the various versions and what I had changed in them. One of the things I listed bears repeating here:
Added "Percentage Completed" bar on title screen and on "Window"
when averaging interval or lag days are changed. I ran the program
on my 8086 machine for the first time yesterday, and it is so slow I thought
it was hung. I added these features so people with the same machine
can see that it is still working. Also edited HELP file to tell those with a
slow machine that it takes about a minute to do the calculations.
What makes this significant is that when you run the program you'll notice that the data file contains data from 01/01/89 through 01/05/94 Actually this version was released about 7/30/93 so the data file was a little smaller when I wrote that. From 1/1/89 to 7/30/93 is 1,671 days and it took a minute or so to load. Version 3.12 with 4,750 days in the data file takes the blink of an eye to load on even a relatively slow computer by today's standards.
Another note that I had in there reads:
Broke program into smaller modules to speed compilation time.
It was getting too big to remain in one source code module.
The version at that time had 761 lines in the source code (excluding the compiler header files) whereas the current version has right at 13,000 lines of code!
It had some cool features for a DOS program of that day though. It had support for a mouse (although most people didn't have one because they were too expensive and too hard to use)! If you run it you will notice that the screen has a thin border around the plot area. The mouse is limited to that area (except on the bottom for some reason) and when the mouse hits the line it will stop :-) It also used an external "Configuration" file to save program settings in, a forerunner to the Windows .INI files, I guess. It even had a built-in Help file!
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