String Operations on Commodore Computers

Commodore BASIC has some interesting and simple string functions built in. Three of them are self explanatory: LEN, LEFT$ and RIGHT$. But others, like the mysterious MID$ and INSTR functions, are a little tricker, and I can never remember how they works.

So here’s a quick recap on how they all work.

LEN (A$)

Returns the length of any given string. For example,

a$=”the cake is a lie”

print len (a$)
17

returns 17, which is the number of characters in our string.

LEFT$ (A$,X)

The LEFT$ function takes the x left characters from a given string. Here’s an example:

We get “one”, because those are the 3 leftmost characters in our string a$.

RIGHT$ (A$,X)

Likewise, RIGHT$ takes the x right characters from any given string:

Here we get “three”, because those are the 5 right characters of a$.

MID$ (A$,X,Y)

MID$ is a little more complex. It takes x characters from a given string, starting at position y. Let’s look at our earlier example again:

We get “two”, because those are the 3 characters, starting at position 5. The first position in all these string operations counts as one rather than zero.

But did you know that MID$ can also be used to assign and replace different characters in a string? Consider this:

Now we’ve replaced the 3 characters in our string with another string, starting at position 5.

I had no idea it cold do that! All these string operations work in all variations of the Commodore BASIC, except for the MID$ assignment which only works on the Plus/4 and the C128.

 

INSTR (A$, B$)

On the Plus/4 and C128, we can even check if one string is contained in another and at which position this occurs. Consider this:

In our example, INSTR returns 5 because “cake” has been found at position 5 of “the cake is a lie”.

We can also specify a position from which the search shall be started like this:

Now INSTR returns 0 because “cake” has not been found beyond position 6 of our input string.

About Jay Versluis

Jay is a medical miracle known as a Super Survivor. He runs two YouTube channels, five websites and several podcast feeds. To see what else he's up to, and to support him on his mission to make the world a better place, check out his Patreon Campaign.

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