Early QL Software

Psion logo    

Updated: 21.07.2005

The Sinclair QL was originally supplied with a suite of four business applications written by Psion for the QL:

QL Abacus screen QL Archive screen
QL Abacus spreadsheet QL Archive database
QL Easel screen QL Quill screen
QL Easel graphics QL Quill wordprocessor

At the time these were considered pretty powerful, especially given that they had to be compact enough to run in a modest 128K of memory. They were written to be user friendly - they all had built in help screens for example - and had useful features such as being able to work on larger files than memory would accomodate by using microdrives as 'virtual memory' while working on the files. The original version 1 software was slow and suffered from a number of bugs and problems which caused them to crash from time to time.

Version 2 was quickly released and considered a great improvement in speed and reliability. Later versions did appear, with V2.30 being probably the most common versions in use today. Individual programs were released with higher version numbers - Quill at version 2.35, Archive version 2.38 and a special 'runtime' version of Archive for software developers.

Psion went on to produce an enhanced version called Xchange, which retailed for about 300 Pounds. This included TSL (Task Sequencing Language), mail merge and background printing in Quill, up to 65536 records in Archive and 3D graphics in Easel for example. In time, a cut down version closer to the QL programs called PC Four was released for about 80 Pounds. QL World August 1987 reported that there was an Xchange User Association for this software by then.

QL Quill, Archive, Abacus and Easel

As I understand the situation, Psion have given permission for these programs to be freely copied for QL users, but have retained copyright on the software. So it is permissible to give away copies as long as you don not profit from it. For example, someone with a damaged master cartridge could freely be given a replacement, or someone who buys a second user QL without its software could be give copies. So in the hope that someone will find them useful, I'll make them available for download here. You'll need a copy of QL Unzip - which you can get from Jonathan Hudson's Web site if you don't already have a copy to unzip the files after downloading them. Don't unzip the files using a PC version of Unzip for example as the job headers of the executable programs may be lost and they won't work properly. Most of these zip files are about 55KB long, to give you some idea of how much you have to download. The various versions can be downloaded from this site - please click here to visit the download page.

Xchange for the Sinclair QL

Xchange screenWhen CST brought out the Thor computer, an integrated version of Quill, Archive, Abacus and Easel was produced in collaboration with Danish software house Dansoft, called Xchange. Helmut Stuven of Dansoft was later to permit the free distribution of this version of Xchange and some other Dansoft Thor utility software. Erling Jacobsen and others (including Gunther Strube and Simon N. Goodwin) updated Xchange for QLs over the years. Erling Jacobsen maintains an Xchange Web page which you can visit for latest information.

Click here to visit a page where you can download two zip files, the first containing the QL version of Xchange itself, and the second containing the documentation files (as Quill docs). Although Xchange specific, the information in these documents may also prove useful to QLers using the 'standard' versions of these programs.

QL Demo Program

QL Demonstration ProgramNow purely for nostalgic reasons you understand, here is an example of an early demonstration program run on some QLs in shop displays etc before a ROM cartridge version was issued. It's actually not a bad little demonstration, although it runs rather fast on modern QL hardware. It contains some rather interesting displays, including some graphical displays which must have seemed quite impressive at the time! The zip file contains 2 files - DEMO (a SuperBASIC program) and DEMO_dat. It's configured to run from microdrive but don't let that put you off downloading it since you can always use FLP_USE MDV to run it from disk!

Download QL demo (16KB)

QL Games Cartridge

QL Games cartridge screenSome QLs were supplied with a free games cartridge, consisting of 5 games, Pirate, ZFred, Gun, Breakout and Hunt. Note that not all the games will run on some modern QL compatible systems.

Some of the software on this cartridge can be controlled by a joystick on the CTL1 port of a QL, as it uses cursor keys and space for controls. Updated 17/11/02 to include a missing file called 'mc' which failed to zip correctly in the original version.

Download microdrive Games Cartridge (33KB)
Download floppy disk Games Cartridge (33KB)

Return to section index | Return to home page