Microsoft BASIC For The Dragon 64 Recovered

There are a great many pieces of software of yesteryear that are no longer readily accessible. It’s now possible to cross Microsoft BASIC for the Dragon 64 off that list, with the source code now posted for all to enjoy on GitHub.

The repository concerns the Microsoft 16K BASIC Interpreter as built for the Motorola 6809, as used in the Dragon 64 computer. This is also known as BASIC-69 or Extended Color Basic.

Hilariously, the source code was recovered from 340 pages of fan-fold tractor paper stored in four bundles. The output of a Motorola assembler was printed back in 1983 at Dragon Data’s R&D facility in Wales, and was recently recovered after being stored in an attic for much of the last four decades. The paper was carefully scanned at the 2022 Dragon Meetup, before passing the resulting images through OCR software. The output was then manually corrected and the source code was complete for both the 32K and 64K mode ROMs. There are some differences between the scanned source and what Microsoft shipped, which is outlined in the repository.

We’ve seen other heroic retrocomputer recovery efforts before, too, like the work to save the Polish CROOK OS. If you’ve been working on similar feats, be sure to let us know.