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Classification: Spreadsheet
Publisher: UpTime (Softdisk, Inc)
Programmer: Gregory R. Schmalhofer
Year: 1988
Disk: turbocalc.d64

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I'm very pleased to report that I have finally found a half-decent spreadsheet application for the C128! It's called TurboCalc 128 and it was published in Volume 2, Issue 3, of the floppy disk magazine, UpTime. TurboCalc 128 was written by Gregory R. Schmalhofer, back in 1988, and is a successor to TurboCalc 64, which he wrote for the C64 and published by UpTime the previous year.

Although it lacks some of the interface functionality found in other spreadsheet applications, it covers the basics very well. When compared to the very few spreadsheet programs I've been able to find for the C128, TurboCalc 128 is fantastic. It performs very similarly to Calc, written for the C64, but makes use of the C128's 80 column display.

TurboCalc's work area isn't particularly large, providing 175 rows and 26 columns (for a total of 4,550 individual cells). I'm assuming that one of the reasons for the small worksheet is to maintain compatibility with the C64's version of TurboCalc. One of the features that Gregory cleverly included in his application was to allow for C64 owners, who may have upgraded to a C128, to easily import their spreadsheets over to their new system.

To be honest, for all of the times I've used a spreadsheet for my home finances or small business needs, I've never created anything larger than what TurboCalc provides. I suppose, if you were a moderately sized company and had a large inventory of items you wanted to track, a hundred and seventy five rows may be limiting. But, then, you'd probably be investing in a more sophisticated spreadsheet app, like SwiftCalc, or you'd just have to get creative.

All the basic functions one would expect to find in a spreadsheet application are represented in TurboCalc and accessed via a menu system. Selecting a function is as simple as typing the first letter of the function's designation. For example, if you wish to edit the contents of a cell, you type E to “edit”. To specify the number of decimal places values are to display, you type D, and so on.

TurboCalc also has a very useful built-in help documentation, which identifies all of the available functions and formulas. The ones I found to be most helpful include the ability to freeze (a.k.a. “hold”) particular rows or columns so they stay in place when scrolling, and the ability to “replicate” formulas across cells. The difference between replicating cells with formulas, rather than just copying them is that, when you replicate, TurboCalc will adjust the cell references respectively.

You also have the ability to show the formulas in the cells, rather than the results of the formula. This is handy when you want to check your work. With other spreadsheet applications, to do this you have to go to each cell, one by one, to view the formulas being executed.

A few other niceties include the ability to display a time clock in the top-right corner of the screen, using the function keys to navigate around the spreadsheet a screen at a time, and being able to change the screen and text colours.

There are a couple of functions that I found confusing, like the SPEED setting. You can activate and deactivate fast calculations setting, but I don't understand why it would be necessary. Why would you want to calculate the formulas at a slower rate? There's also a function that exports the contents of the spreadsheet (blank cells and all) to an SEQ text file. The help screen describes the feature as “writing a spreadsheet to a disk file for basic input.” I'm not sure what purpose this would fill.

All in all, I think TurboCalc 128 is a fantastic and much needed application for the C128. I really wish I had it, back in the day. It would have made my C128 much more useful to me. And TurboCalc 64 is also a well written spreadsheet application for the C64. It's not quite as robust, in my opinion, as Calc, but still brings great functionality to the system.

It just goes to prove that the C128 really was a very capable business machine for the time.

TurboCalc 128 Main Interface
File Menu Options Show Formulas Option
Help Screen TurboCalc 64

Composed on my C128 with Free Base.

reviews/turbocalc.txt · Last modified: 2020/02/28 20:05 by David