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Programming: BASIC
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Chris Bourne

Mcoder has the longest history of all the Spectrum compilers. It began life in the July 1983 issue of Your Computer magazine; in those days it was a 2K program for the ZX81 called ZX-GT. Like the Softek compilers, Mcoder now occupies about 6K.

The MNcoder documentation is unimpressive: seven cassette-sized pages, in the form of a brief question and answer session and a list of commands allowed by the compiler. PSS offer a three page 'help sheet' to users who miss the significance of some of the comments in the cassette insert. The code produced is faster than that from the IS compiler, especially when it comes to string handling.

Mcoder looks very much like the Softek compilers (or should that be the other way around?) and performs in a similar way, with the same fast compilation and simple error indication. Mcoder and IS are very similar - Mcoder handles numeric arrays and has better deguggin facilities, while IS is slightly more compatible with normal BASIC and offers simple sprites.


Not Rated

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Eight standard BenchMark programs were used in the comparison; timings for the execution of each benchmark program are given in seconds, with the speedup ratios achieved by each of the compilers printed on a grey background.


BM1: 4.9

BM2: 9.0

BM3: 21.9

BM4: 20.7

BM5: 25.2

BM6: 62.8

BM7: 90.0

BM8: 25.0


BM1: * (0x)

BM2: 0.065 (138x)

BM3: 9.0 (2.4x)

BM4: 4.2 (4.9x)

BM5: 4.2 (6.0x)

BM6: * (0x)

BM7: * (0x)

BM8: * (0x)


BM1: 1.75 (2.8x)

BM2: 2.1 (4.3x)

BM3: 8.7 (2.5x)

BM4: 9.4 (2.2x)

BM5: 9.4 (2.7x)

BM6: 19.7 (3.2x)

BM7: 24.0 (3.8x)

BM8: 22.5 (1.1x)


BM1: 0.058 (84x)

BM2: 0.076 (118x)

BM3: 0.57 (38x)

BM4: 0.98 (21x)

BM5: 0.99 (25x)

BM6: 1.32 (48x)

BM7: * (0x)

BM8: * (0x)


BM1: 0.043 (113x)

BM2: 0.097 (93x)

BM3: 0.62 (35x)

BM4: 0.90 (23x)

BM5: 0.92 (27x)

BM6: 1.17 (54x)

BM7: 1.47 (61x)

BM8: * (0x)

ZIP 1.5

BM1: 0.031 (158x)

BM2: 0.064 (141x)

BM3: 0.194 (113x)

BM4: 0.108 (192x)

BM5: 0.115 (219x)

BM6: 0.29 (235x)

BM7: 0.46 (191x)

BM8: * (0x)