Palmtop Software -- Compilers and Assemblers
Yes, you can write software for -- and on -- a Palmtop...
HP's Palmtop Home Page
Compilers and Assemblers
- Pascal: I have an old copy of
Borland Turbo Pascal 4.0 thats runs on my 100 LX
and 200 LX. (I used the command-line Turbo 4.0 compiler on my 95 LX
without much problem -- except those involved in switching between
Memo and DOS on the 95.) 4.0, unlike 5 and up, does not have the
integrated debugger, but it does take up very little space. I haven't
yet tried out 5.5 on the 200, but I see no reason why it shouldn't
work, and the debugging capability will help too. Changing the
display colours (a bit hard in 4.0, definitely possible in 5.5 and
up) may be necessary to make everything visible.
Borland Turbo C 1.0 is fairly small (although not as small as
Turbo Pascal -- and remember that you need the .h files too) and
works pretty well on the Palmtop. Bear in mind that it, too, has
no integrated debugger. The command-line versions of the older
Microsoft C compilers (recommended for use with the
Palmtop Software Development Kit) may also
fit, but I haven't tried these yet either.
There are many people
using Borland compilers with the SDK; this may be a better choice,
especially if you can use the (usually smaller) command-line
compiler. (Instructions for using the Borland compilers with the
Palmtop SDK pop up often in the
Palmtop user's newsgroup and
the Palmtop forum on Compuserve.)
- NOTE: Borland now makes available, free of charge
(but also free of support), copies of old versions of Turbo C and
Turbo Pascal for download at their
These include Turbo Pascal (versions 1, 3, and 5.5) and Turbo C (versions
1.0 and 1.5); this is not a complete list.
- FORTRAN: Microsoft FORTRAN compiler, version 5.0, works just
fine on a Palmtop. I have not tried my copy of 5.1, but it probably
works OK, too, since it too is DOS-compatible. Just be careful
about disk space for temporary files (this is why I now have a 32 MB
Compact Flash card in my Palmtop).
- Assemblers: Any 80x86-family assembler should work with
the Palmtop. I have a spare copy of the IBM/Microsoft MASM,
version 1.0, that does fairly well. (MASM 5.1 should work also,
and may be preferable since 1.0 doesn't allow for the 80186
instruction set. It also produces CodeView-compatible .EXE
files, and CodeView should also run on the Palmtops, although
I haven't tried it out yet.)
- BASIC: QBASIC (I use version 1.0) runs well on the Palmtop,
debugger and all. I assume that GWBASIC would also work, and
probably also Microsoft Quick BASIC (and Quick C, for that matter).
Palmtop Software Development
Although any program capable of running on an IBM PC/XT or the equivalent
can run on a Palmtop, you need special tools to develop programs compatible
with the Palmtop System Manager (which runs over DOS and provides I/O,
task-switching, and function-key, hot-key, and memory-management capabilities
similar to that enjoyed by the built-in Palmtop applications). These tools
are found in the HP Palmtop System Design Kit,
and comprehensive documentation for them and for the Palmtop itself are
in the HP 100LX/200LX Developer's Guide, which is available
in package form or as part of the annual Palmtop CD InfoBase from
Thaddeus Computing, publisher of the
HP Palmtop Paper. The HP tools
include software that allows your desktop or laptop to behave like a Palmtop
(including all the System Manager calls and graphic capabilities) while you
develop your application, as well as a converter to turn your finished EXE
file into a System Manager-compliant EXM file so it can be run on your
Palmtop. The C header files and the sample software (which includes the
source code for the Hex Calculator found on the D: drive of the 200 LX)
are written to be compatible with Microsoft C 6.0 or later; Microsoft C is
the compiler underlying their Visual C++ package. Although you may have to
rewrite the header files to make it work properly, programmers have reported
successful Palmtop software development using the Borland Turbo C compilers
For those of you who don't want to put up with the hassles associated with
the SDK, the Palmtop Applications Library provides C-callable functions
that can give your software the look and feel of System Manager-compliant
programs but will run under standard DOS and compile with any ANSI C
compiler (including Borland and Microsoft). The PAL is included with the
HP Palmtop System Design Kit and on the Palmtop CD InfoBase, and may also
be downloaded from the Internet (see
the Simply Unbeatable Palmtop Essentials Repository).
I have posted a brief
introduction to System-Manager-compliant Palmtop programming. It is
still rudimentary, but System Manager novices may (I hope) find it helpful.
I will expand on it as (and when) I have time.
Palmtop Ring Homepage
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Vinay N. Reddy, M.D.
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Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004
Vinay N. Reddy, M.D. All rights reserved.
Written 08/20/96; major revision 04/05/00; last revised 05/10/04