Loadstar

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File Format
Name Loadstar
Ontology
Wikidata ID Q6663396
Released 1984

Loadstar was a diskmagazine for the Commodore 64, originally a sister publication to Softdisk for the Apple (and other later Softdisk publications like Softdisk PC), but later spun off as a separate small company which managed to outlast those publications. For much of its run, Fender Tucker was its editor, and later publisher.

Contents

File formats

Disk format

Loadstar was published originally on 5 1/4" floppy disks of the Commodore 1541 disk format. Later other formats became available including downloadable disk images for those using C-64 emulators on other platforms.

Program files; launching the issue

Many programs on the issues were in Commodore BASIC tokenized files, and these files often had names beginning with "B." (B and a period). Some others were machine-language. The main program file was named "STAR", so you could start the issue with LOAD "STAR",8,1. You could also LOAD "*",8,1 to load the first program on the disk, which is where "Loadstar" got its name. Generally, a program called "!" was actually the first on the disk, before even "STAR", apparently launching an issue title screen or some such thing before launching the main issue menu.

Text files

Text files with diskmagazine articles, editorials, program instructions, and the like were stored as PRG-type files (usually the indicator of programs), although they were actually text (with a few characters having special meanings to the text presenter program). In a Commodore disk-and-file-viewer like DirMaster it may help to change the file type to SEQ instead (DirMaster has a command to do this), where it will then be viewable as a text file. The files are in PETSCII, in the upper-and-lower-case mode, formatted for 40 columns. Filenames begin with "T." (T followed by a period).

Text enclosed in square brackets [] is presented in inverse-video. (Maybe... I think...)

FEATURES file

A file named FEATURES was the main menu used by the presenter program, listing the items on the disk. There were several formats of this for different versions of the issue presenter.

Early in the run

In early issues, with a BASIC presenter, the format was:

First line: Publication name (Loadstar)

Second line: Issue string (Number 31)

Third line: Issue number (31)

Then a series of menu entries, each consisting of four lines:

  • Menu item as displayed on the screen
  • Associated filename (omitting the prefixes such as "T." for text files). An asterisk (*) for text lines to be displayed that don't link to anything.
  • Flags indicating what actions are possible (* when there are none). r = read (opens text files with "T." followed by filename), e = execute (runs program of filename), q = some other action... quit maybe?
  • Finally, a line with a number indicating which disk side the item is on.

Late in the run

The version used in later issues, which had a machine-language presenter, had the following sequence of lines (separated by CR as was normal for Commodore text files):

  • Issue number
  • Issue Title
  • Issue Subtitle
  • Blank line ending issue header

Then a sequence of sections for each article/feature:

  • Name of feature
  • Subtitle/description
  • Filename of text file (omitting the "T." prefix)
  • A number (e.g., 100 or 111); perhaps something to do with which disk the article is on?
  • Another number (seems to usually be 1)
  • Blank line ending item

Other files

A number of other file types might be present on an issue, including graphics, music, etc., sometimes with file extensions to distinguish them. Most were stored as type PRG. Dummy files with dashed lines as their names were used as separators in the disk directory to delineate which files were part of which program or feature; these separator files were of type DEL and didn't take any disk space.

Formats for specific features

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