Two CP/M programs to clear the screen

Sometimes experimenting with the Z80-MBC2 and V20-MBC homebrew CP/M computers leaves the screen garbled or in an unusable state, usually because some program doesn't correctly handle the terminal. The Minicom terminal emulator I use for CP/M sessions has a command for clearing the screen but it may not be enough.

Since a native CP/M solution is more effective I wrote two short utilities in Assembly for properly clearing and initializing the screen.

These transient programs share the same name, CLS. One runs under CP/M-80 on the Z80-MBC2 with a Z80 processor, the other under CP/M-86 on the V20-MBC with a Nec V20 in 8088 mode. Both assume an ANSI/VT100 terminal and are launched by executing CLS at the command prompt:


The programs work the same way not just due to the similarity of CP/M's design across different architectures, but also because they are variations of a hello world demo that prints a text string to the console.

After defining constants for the CP/M system functions and resources they access, the CLS programs call the write string BDOS function to output a string of ANSI escape codes for clearing the screen and moving the cursor to the home position. The definition of the string ends both programs.

CLS for CP/M-80

The CLS program for CP/M-80 is written in Intel 8080 Assembly:

; Clear the screen.
; Runs on CP/M-80 with an ANSI/VT100 terminal.

TPA                 equ     100h
BDOS                equ     05h
WRITESTR            equ     09h             ; Write string

                    org     TPA

                    mvi     c, WRITESTR
                    lxi     d, clshome
                    call    BDOS


; ANSI escapes:
;   clear screen      : ESC [ 2 J
;   go to screen home : ESC [ H
clshome:            db      1bh, '[2J', 1bh, '[H$'


For a short program like this that doesn't need a large stack a ret instruction is adequate to return control to CP/M.

I assembled the program with the asm80 assembler of Suite8080, my suite of 8080 Assembly cross-development tools in Python, and transferred the CLS executable to the Z80-MBC2 over the serial line.

CLS for CP/M-86

CLS for CP/M-86 is written in Intel 8086 Assembly. Aside from the different instruction set and the segmentation directives, this version calls the 00h BDOS function of int 224 to return control as CP/M-86 requires:

; Clear the screen.
; Runs on CP/M-86 with an ANSI/VT100 terminal.

WRITESTR            equ     09h             ; BDOS function write string
TERMCPM             equ     00h             ; BDOS function terminate program


                    mov     cl, WRITESTR
                    lea     dx, clshome
                    int     224

                    mov     cl, TERMCPM
                    int     224


                    org     100h

; ANSI escapes:
;    clear screen      : ESC [ 2 J
;    go to screen home : ESC [ H
clshome             db      1bh, '[2J', 1bh, '[H$'


I transferred the Assembly source to the V20-MBC over the serial line and assembled it with the hosted ASM86 assembler that comes with CP/M-86.

#Assembly #z80mbc2 #v20mbc

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