Turbo Macro Pro is a heavily modified and improved descendant of the original Turbo Assembler Macro, which is itself a follow up version to the original Turbo Assembler. The software can be thought of as having two distinct yet highly integrated parts - editor and assembler. The editor provides interactive commands for moving quickly through source code; buffering and copying lines or blocks of source code; saving, loading, and printing source code; search and replace; etc. In addition to editing and I/O, the user is able to trigger an assembly from within this editor itself. At that point the assembler takes over, producing 6502 machine code and providing error output and, upon successful assembly, an option to execute the code or return directly to the editor.
The integrated nature of Turbo Assembler is just one reason for using it. When you learn the key commands and develop a familiarity with our REU and X2 mods (here forward called Turbo Macro Pro+REU or TMP+REU, and Turbo Macro Pro(x2) or TMP(x2) for short) you will have at your control a very powerful native rapid development environment that speeds up the code-test-code cycle.
Furthermore the Turbo Macro Pro family continues to grow as we add new support for exotic hardware and memory configurations, including in the present the DTV and DTV v2 (or PTV) joystick systems, and in the future additional hardware such as IDE64 and memory expansions such as GeoRAM.
The first version of Turbo Assembler (referred to in shorter form as TA when speaking generally, or as oTA when speaking specifically about the 'original' version) was developed in 1985 by a German company called Omikron Software, and in particular a man named Wolfram Roemhild. As with most software, cracked versions eventually made their way, and spurred adoption of TA as the de facto standard assembler for most of the c64 scene.
Over the following years multiple versions of TA were subsequently released by various persons and groups claiming to have improved the tool. In truth, most of these variants are fairly simple hacks where little more than the color scheme and the opening credit line are "improved"... Nonetheless, some versions did achieve useful additions or even significant steps in advancing the tool.
Perhaps the most significant alterations have been those adding the capability of using the REU (RAM Expansion Unit or also referred as 'xmem' by some sceners). REU capable versions of TA include Fairlight's "Xass v3.3" and Micron/Success's "Tasm v5.6x".
But what about Turbo Assembler Macro (referred to in shorter form TAM or oTAM)? A significant upgrade of TA, it kept the editor system essentially the same while making major upgrades to the capabilities of the assembler including macros, local labels, assembler variables and loops, etc. For whatever reason, the scene adopted the first version, the 'original' Turbo Assembler, to a huge majority over Turbo Assembler Macro. Still, a few people have also claimed to make upgrades to the Macro version, with a similar ratio of dubious to genuine improvements. REU versions of TAM were also produced; perhaps the first was Antitrack's mod, and also Paradroid/Sharks who made an REU mod.
Finally we come to our version. Its root is the Antitrack mod of oTAM (called "Turbo Assembler Macro+ 1764"). This was subsequently updated by Massive Onslaught who added an invokable 'REU Menu' and the 'jumpback routine' concept that allowed an easy and built in way to return back to the editor after testing code; this version was called "Turbo Assembler Macro++ REU". Then, in late 1993 Massive Onslaught and Count Zero worked together to actually reassemble that code base. The project stalled for a while, Massive Onslaught joined Style and eventually collaborated with Elwix, brain storming ideas and upgrades going far beyond a standard REU modification. They finally launched into the real coding in fall 1995, removing significant sections of redundant code or size optimizing the existing code. After over a year of lazy off and on coding, optimizing, and bug fixing, they arrived at a much improved version of TAM with several new editor functions including fully integrated REU commands, as well as introducing in this release the unique capability to bank and swap between up to 6 separate source codes (with a 512k REU) at anytime, giving the user full control over source and object banks; you could assemble one source directly to your non-volatile object bank; you could then assemble a different source and start the code. The potentials were endless for quickly backing up a source to the REU while making changes, or for using source code libraries in separate files, or for working on very large projects where the source is better handled split into 2 or more parts.
The first release of this advanced mod was made in January, 1997 and dubbed "Turbo Macro Pro v1.0". In March and October 1997 two additional releases were made with more improvements as well as a version for non-REU expanded systems and dual-c64 systems. Then after 7 years of absence from the niche scene of Turbo modding, Style returned in 2004 with a brand new modification supporting the DTV joystick system, and a year later expanding that for the DTV v2 joystick/wheel systems.
Elwix/Style: General improvements including features, bug fixes, optimizations; DTV/PTV mods.
Massive Onslaught/Style: General improvements including features, bug fixes, optimizations.
The Wiz/Style: X2/R2 mods for dual-c64 systems.
Bacchus/Fairlight: for *numerous* suggestions and bug reports and generally taking a real interest in our project and sending so many friendly and helpful emails!
Antitrack: for the fascinating chat about Turbo's dongle protection and for several suggestions. Also some of the examples in the general reference document come from the Vizawrite (argh!) files ATT made by translating parts of the original German manual.
Paradroid/Sharks: for our discussions about Turbo Assembler modding and sharing experiences about same.
XmikeX: for making good suggestions.
Macbeth/PSW: for a highly frustrating but necessary collection of bug reports, and also for generally being enthusiastic about this project!
Fungus/Carcass: for more frustrating bug reports.
Six/Style: DTV expertise (assistance, testing, prototype borrowing, joystick hacking, and general ass kicking).
Yes in this day and age more and more freaks are turning to their PC and cross assembler alternatives, which are admittedly quite powerful. On the other hand there remains the diehard sceners who prefer coding on the real thing even into the 21st century. It is for these sceners that we remain determined to continue building out the Turbo Macro Pro family, as well as for the simple sake of tradition and respect for this amazing tool that touched so many coders in the 80's and 90's. How many sceners can say that some Turbo Assembler variant was their first assembler, ever?