Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 76 / SEPTEMBER 1986 / PAGE 47


Vorpal Utility Kit

N. Randall

Requirements: Commodore 1541 disk drive.

It has never been any secret that a major problem with a Commodore 64 system is the speed of the disk drive. It's slow. Several companies, understanding the impatience of the regular 1541 user, have released products that speed it up. One of the most popular has been Epyx's Fast Load cartridge, which many owners now swear they could scarcely do without. Following the success of Fast Load, Epyx has now released the Vorpal Utility Kit. For anyone who needs to manipulate files, copy disks, or make use of extremely fast loads and saves, the Vorpal package could quickly become indispensable.

The Vorpal Utility Kit is actually several utilities in one. With VFiler, you can load and save user-created programs at about 25 times the normal 1541 speed. Note that this does not apply to commercial software; the Fast Load cartridge takes care of those. What the Vorpal kit does is add a fifth file type to the 64's normal four (program, sequential, user, and relative). These files make use of the kit's greatly increased speed.

As a nonprogrammer, I must confess to a thorough disinterest in these super-fast files, simply because I never create programs that could use them. They can be used, though, with any BASIC program (and some ML programs) which you receive from user groups or type in from a book or magazine, in addition to those you create yourself. Epyx makes it clear on the package that the high speed applies only to user-created software and BASIC programs.

20-Second Formatting

More exciting, for nonprogrammers at least, are the disk and file utilities. With the Vorpal Utility Kit, you can format a disk in 20 seconds rather than the usual two minutes. And you can copy an entire disk—including formatting—in less than three minutes. For those with two or more disk drives, the software allows you to renumber both the origin and the destination drives as needed.

File commands include Delete, Undelete, Protect, Unprotect, and Rename, in addition to the following special functions. You can change a file from one type to another. For example, if your old word processor stores documents as USR files, and you buy a new word processor that stores them as PRG files, the Vorpal Utility Kit lets you change them in seconds, without the tedium of reading a file into memory and writing it back to disk in the new format. You can also copy files and convert them at the same time.

The final utility in the Vorpal Utility Kit is a hardware check. The program will check your 1541's head alignment and drive speed, and will even attempt to correct a minor alignment problem. Impressively, all the commands on the Vorpal kit respond to the touch of a single key, and the manual, although certainly complete, is practically superfluous. Even if you use only the 20-second formatting or the three-minute disk copying, the Vorpal Utility Kit is one package you will not want to pass up.

Vorpal Utility Kit
1043 Kiel Court
Sunnyvale, CA 94089