Z*Net: 17-Nov-90 #546

From: Kevin Steele (aj205@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 11/24/90-09:01:47 PM Z

From: aj205@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Kevin Steele)
Subject: Z*Net: 17-Nov-90  #546
Date: Sat Nov 24 21:01:47 1990

-Also thanks to: aj434@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Bruce D. Nelson)

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                        Z*NET ATARI ONLINE MAGAZINE
                            November 17, 1990
                                Issue #546
                         SPECIAL COMDEX COVERAGE
 Publisher/Editor : Ron Kovacs             Assistant Editor  : John Nagy
 Z*Net New Zealand: Jon Clarke             Z*Net Canada: Terry Schreiber
           Comdex Correspondents:  Terry May and Dr. Paul Keith

 by Ron Kovacs
 There are a few things to update you on..... The release date effective
 with this issue is Saturday.  Make a note of this change since we will
 NOT be found in the regular Friday evening listing.  This change take
 place for a number of reasons which I am sure everyone will understand.
 Due to a change at my regular place of REAL employment, I cannot make
 time available and release an issue that is edited properly.  The
 holidays are quickly arriving and the placement of these dates plays
 havic with my current schedule.  And last, I am going to be traveling
 during the next few weeks and will not be available to produce the
 issues on Friday, John Nagy is going to be making an attempt to fill the
 void and we have time zone differences.
 This change will stay in effect until at least January when we will take
 another look at the release time.
 Dr. Paul Keith informed me yesterday that Atari was covered in great
 detail in Friday's USA Today on page 8.  I tried my best to locate an
 issue to discuss the contents without any luck.  I can tell you that
 the article was written at the Comdex show and the author did interview
 the Atari press people.  Please make an effort to read this positive news
 about Atari!
 John Nagy worked extensive overtime this week producing excellent
 VIDI-ST pictures from the Comdex show.  Currently there are 13 pictures
 available with more on the way.  These pictures are available on GEnie
 and the Z*Net BBS.  CompuServe will be updated shortly.  Included in
 the releases are pictures of the MegaSTe, Atari Booth, Nathan Potechin,
 Bob Brodie and the Portfolio to name a few.
 We greatly appreciate the reception and comments passed our way during
 Comdex week.  We are pleased that you enjoyed the coverage and took the
 time to tell us how you feel.  I have passed along your comments to
 John Nagy and Dr. Paul Keith, (John's Assistant and Z*Net Correspondent)
 the people behind the reports.  Thanks again and enjoy this wrap-up
 issue of the events at Fall Comdex 90.
 by John Nagy
 Twice a year, the INTERFACE GROUP throws the biggest computer show the
 USA ever sees.  It is COMDEX, with the Fall show in Las Vegas and the
 Spring show in Atlanta.  This is where manufacturers meet the
 distributors and dealers who will buy the newest and best Computer
 products to put into their stores and catalogs.  COMDEX is the computer
 re-sellers mecca.  Atari was there, and so was Z*NET NEWS SERVICE.
 Through the last week, I released a series of on-site reports from the
 Las Vegas COMDEX show.  In this show report, I'll summarize most of the
 information that was included in those live reports, and add a lot more
 of my final observations... as well as share my benchmarks for the new
 faster TT030 and the MEGA/STe.

 It's setup time at the ever-more massive COMDEX computer exposition here
 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  I visited the new show floor at the Sands
 Convention facility on Saturday afternoon to see the Atari exhibit being
 built.  It is the largest floor area for a COMDEX that I have seen Atari
 have yet, with a mixed color scheme that clearly illustrated the
 differentiation of the Atari Personal/Home computer products from the
 Atari Business products.  The Home area is accented by rainbow colored
 banners, rich in fluorescent oranges, while the Business area is a
 dignified Black and  White.
 Yes, the MEGA/STE is REAL, and I am writing this first report on one!
 The configuration is as predicted weeks ago in Z*Net, identical
 construction to the TT, although in Grey rather than off-White.  It is
 NOT in production yet, and may see distribution in very early 1991.
 (See the complete MEGA/STe review, following this story in this issue of

 At least five Mega/STe units are set up in the Atari booth, along with
 more than seven TT/030 units.  All the Mega/STe units here on display
 are hooked to the new Phillips 14" color monitors, the STEREO SOUND
 units, model SC1435.  This is VERY nice, large screen unit that will
 replace the SC1224 monitors completely, and should retail at or just
 above the current color monitor price (around $399 retail).  It IS a
 step UP.  The picture is every bit as good as the smaller screen units
 that preceded it, but comfortably larger.  Full adjustments are offered
 (from the outside!) for picture size and centering.  The internal sound
 is indeed stereo, but the amplifier and speakers are sadly no better
 than in the older mono units, leaving you to use external amps and
 speakers if you want the really clean, loud, distortion free sound that
 the new output of the STe series is capable of.

 The TT's are almost old news by now after a year has passed from the
 COMDEX introduction in 1989.  But today they are running the new SC1434
 color monitors that offer the new TT resolutions ($450), and at least
 two are on the new Atari 19" monochrome monitors... VERRRRY impressive
 at under $1,000 each.  The latest TT configuration, running at 32 Mhz
 with the new TOS and GEM NEWDESK, is expected to base price at nearly
 $3,000 (no monitor) for a four meg, fifty megabyte hard drive unit.
 Many developers are worried that this price is just too high to be
 competitive with the MAC II, available in similar (albeit slower)
 configurations for as little as $2,500.  While "street price" of the TT
 may well match or barely beat the Mac II, there must be some additional
 incentive for buyers to select against the MAC name and software base.

 How fast is the TT030 now that it is officially 32 Mhz?  Here is the
 QUICK INDEX report (see the explanation of the chart in the MEGA/STe
 review that follows this report).  Figures shown are in percent of a
 "standard" ST with TOS 1.6 or 1.4, with 200% meaning double the speed of

                  TT030 in Medium Resolution
 Function     Compared to "old" 16 Mhz TT     ...to ST w/TOS 1.4
 CPU Memory               303%              |       497%
 CPU Register             410%              |       827%
 CPU Divide               228%              |      1024%
 CPU Shifts               228%              |      3534%
 Graphics:                                  |
 TOS Text                 108%              |       137%
 TOS String               113%              |       157%
 TOS Scroll                36%              |        67%
 GEM Dialog               113%              |       195% 

 No, I have no idea why the TT is such a dog in scrolling.  I know that
 QUICK ST and probably TURBO ST will do wonders for it.  Other
 resolutions may fare much better... but I was happy to get ONE set of
 tests done in between the demos for the "real" customers.

 The REALLY bad news is... the TT has NOT passed the FCC testing, and so
 it is NOT ready for US distribution.  Yes, Atari had promised that the
 TT would be shipping right after COMDEX, and the failure to have it
 ready is a major blow to both morale and sales impact at this pivotal
 show.  There are now NO promises on WHEN the TT030 can be shipped,
 despite the hopeful words of "real soon now".

 Attending third-party Atari vendors are quite dismayed, both to find
 that the TT will not be available, and also to find that a new machine
 has been "sprung" on them, as the Mega/STe was NOT announced even to
 developers.  There are wide concerns that the new machine may cause new
 software compatibility headaches.  Atari assures them that it will NOT.

 In keeping with the business flavor of COMDEX, the "Home" part of the
 Atari booth is small... featuring twin setups of 1040STe units on modems
 for CompuServe and GEnie.  It looks like the ONLY computer that Atari
 considers as a HOME unit now is the 1040STe.  It may, in fact, become
 available to ALL dealers of any hardware or software if plans to place
 the 1040STe line with national distributors come to fruition.

 Portfolios are all over the place, with hookups to a couple "alien"
 computers...  a Mac SE and an IBM PS/2.  It was a bit odd to see those
 computers in the Atari booth, but they are there to demonstrate
 connectivity with the palmtop Portfolio computer.


 The first day of Comdex is over, and I now sit wearily in the plush
 Caesar's Palace, ruminated over the day's events.  It has been pretty
 good for Atari.

 This Fall Comdex spans 2.2 MILLION square feet, and perhaps even MORE
 than 2.2 million SORE feet.  The crowds are at least as large as ever,
 although there was much more traffic in the "established" convention
 halls than there was in the Sands Exposition and Convention Center
 (SECC), the brand new facility that helps make this Comdex 20% larger
 than any ever before.  Unfortunately, Atari Corp is in the new SECC, and
 enjoyed less than throngs of people today.  The traffic grew throughout
 the day, however, and most of us expect that the newness of the facility
 (this is the FIRST show of any kind in it, they just opened days ago)
 will wear off and that Comdex "regulars" will visit the hall later in
 the week.

 The Atari exhibit looked even better today, with the last of the boxes
 and plastic carpet protectors put away, revealing further division
 between the "Home Computing" and "Business" areas of the booth.  The
 Home area is about 20% of the booth, separated by a wide isle of
 burgundy carpet that exactly matches the regular isles.  The visual
 impact is that Atari has two adjacent booths.  I am told that at CES,
 the same concept will be used, with the proportions reversed.

 Third party developers are again the focus of much of the booth.  It was
 worthwhile coming to this COMDEX if only to see BOTH Dave Small AND
 Charles F. Johnson in sport coats and ties... that aren't just painted
 on t-shirts!  They were showing the Mac emulator SPECTRE GCR (with
 version 3.0 software) and the Codehead products, respectively.  And you
 should see SPECTRE flying on the TT030!  Dave estimates that it runs
 about four times the speed of the GCR on a ST, clocking in right at
 about MAC II performance.  Simultaneous demos on a TT and a Mega (old
 version) made me think a 4 factor is too low... it was FAST.

 Also present: Gribnif with NEODESK 3, also showing a new CLI (still beta
 testing) that will run ANY .TOS program IN A GEM WINDOW, even LHARC!

 Goldleaf, in the person of Lauren Sellars and John Fox, was showing the
 beta version of WordFlair 2 that will ship at the end of the year.  It
 DOES include an integrated spell checker, and will be available as an
 upgrade to existing WordFlair users for only $25, and will retail for
 $149.95.  They showed the new version using the new FSM GDOS (see more
 later in this report) and the result was stunning speed and versatility.
 TALON is showing their IBM emulators... yes, emulatorS.  Earl Miller
 says he now is the exclusive US distributor of PC-SPEED (now at only
 $199!!) and AT-SPEED, and is co-distributor of both ATonce and
 Supercharger.  Talk about cornering a good market!

 Nathan Potechin has several workstations going showing Calamus and
 Dynacadd (in color!) on TT030 units.  The new Phillips-built 19" monitor
 really looks good, and the Atari SLM605 laser printer produced some of
 the most flawless, fastest first copies I have seen.  Forget about the
 605 doing "only" 6 instead of 8 copies a minute (as the old SLM804 was
 rated).  The first copy is FASTER... dunno why, but I don't care either.
 I just WANT one.

 Nevin Shalit is here with Step-Ahead Software's TRACKER/ST database

 Zephyr's Bill Yerger showed his STeFax machine, a combination scanner,
 printer, FAX, and copier for under $1,000.  It was impressive but slower
 than I hoped.  Still, the versatility is remarkable.  Bill also is about
 to offer SHERLOOK optical character recognition software for the ST.
 To be ready before Christmas, this German import will examine an IMG
 file of text (scan it in with any scanner), and in about a minute a
 page, deliver an ASCII file at 95% or better interpretation.  Training
 the software for new fonts is reasonably painless but takes some time.
 Two versions will be available: Sherlook Jr. for $189 will handle one
 font at a time; Sherlook Professional can interpret as many as seven
 fonts or sizes at one time for a mere $789 (software only).

 GEnie had Don Rice, a systems programmer for the telecommunications
 service, on hand to show the Atari and other services offered online.
 I thank GEnie for letting me use their live link to upload reports and
 pictures from the Comdex floor.

 DREAMPARK DEVELOPMENT showed their Power Drive, a 1.44 meg floppy
 adaptor kit for the ST.  Actually, it will allow putting up to 1.7 meg
 on a floppy using the included software.  They hoped to show MAKPORT, a
 host adaptor device that makes MAC compatible SCSI for the use of any
 MAC device on the ST, either in ST or MAC emulation (GCR) mode.  It will
 be available in weeks for near the $100 mark.

 HYPERLINK is a new database application generating language/interface/
 presentation system from JMG Software of Canada.  Look for a release in
 December at $50 off of the to-be-regular list price of $149.50 (US

 Artisan Software showed TRANSPORT, a long awaited way to move data
 between Atari ST computers and the Portfolio.

 PAGESTREAM 2.0 was almost there, with SoftLogik promising that the ST
 version will be out in January.  A beta version was offering fast, clean
 COLOR desktop publishing on a TT.  The Amiga version is already done and
 out, and the Atari version 2 will replace the old version altogether as
 well as cost $100 more, $299.  The improvements are legion in number.

 MIGRAPH showed a new version of their TOUCH-UP software that offers
 additional features, and talked about an exciting new COLOR HAND SCANNER
 that they will bring first to the IBM and Amiga, then to the ST and TT
 in short order.  To be out in the first quarter of '91, the color
 scanner needs at LEAST 2 meg of RAM, and REALLY shines with the 4 to 8
 meg and high processing speed of the TT.  Color DTP will be a reality on
 the Atari, with full graphics... for a mere $800 or so.  Trust me, these
 will SELL.
 DR. T's software was there in the tiny MIDI area, showing on a pair of
 STACY laptop computers and playing through KORG keyboard and speakers to
 the passers-by.

 Portfolio developers included XETORIX with their remarkable tiny hard
 drive, and IBP with PORTALOG, a mobile systems logging and analysis
 system for monitoring of environmental control systems, like huge plants
 or office buildings.

 Atari itself showed their new FSM GDOS ("Font Scaling Module"), to be
 released this winter, perhaps as a freeware update to the world, perhaps
 as a bundle with every new machine sold and some small fee to everyone
 else.  This outline font technology updates the old and limited GDOS
 system to provide completely scalable and rotatable GDOS fonts.  The
 outlines will be standard Ultrascript outlines, although from the IBM
 family of fonts rather than the Atari ST Ultrascript family.  The added
 interchangability is probably worth the inconvenience to existing ST
 Ultrascript users.  I played with the FMS system long enough to know
 that although it is even MORE complicated to install than the OLD GDOS,
 the power and versatility it adds to even simple printing programs is
 going to be worth every minute of effort.

 On hand were Jack Tramiel, Sam Tramiel, Garry Tramiel, new General
 Manager Greg Pratt, and the Atari regulars including Bob Brodie, Art
 Morgan, Mel Stevens, Dan MacNamee, J.Patton, Don Thomas, Ceazar Dennis,
 Diana Goralcyzk, and the new guy, Bill Rehbock.  Greg Pratt is younger
 than I expected, and is very approachable.  His enthusiasm for Atari
 shows in every word... and Greg is no newcomer to Atari, having been
 head of the Financial division for some years.  It looks like he must
 have reason for optimism.  I remain ready to believe.

 Yes, Atari looks GOOD at this COMDEX, and has more square footage in the
 largest hall of the convention than any vendor except JVC.  While one
 developer observed that they wished some of the COMDEX show dollars were
 going to support the developer and dealer network, in a very real way,
 they ARE.  Here at COMDEX, in the largest computer resellers convention
 in the world, ATARI is making sure that NO ONE thinks that ATARI is a
 second class manufacturer.  THAT MATTERS, friends.  Across the board.


 Tuesday brought larger numbers of visitors to the SANDS convention hall,
 the new facility that was comparatively lightly traveled on Monday.
 This brought crowds into the Atari booth, the largest and most central
 to the front doors in the entire hall.

 Atari had some of the nicest literature on hand to date, fold-out color
 brochures for the "TT030 Graphics Workstation", the "Mega STe Business
 Computer", and the "1040STe Personal System".  These were prepared by
 Marken and Associates, just recently re-signed with Atari after a less
 than dramatic stay with the advertising firm of Bob Thomas and
 Associates.  Andy Marken was on hand throughout the show to help, talk,
 and learn more about what the users seem to want to know.  That can only
 help in his efforts to promote Atari products.

 While many of the passers-through were most intrigued by the rows of
 Portfolio palmtop computers, others were interested in what they
 perceived as a "more advanced Macintosh" environment.  Still others knew
 of Atari "way back" and wanted to know what these new machines could do.
 We won't get a real report of the true effectiveness of the Atari
 presence at Comdex until (or IF) we hear what kind of numbers of dealer
 inquiries and distributor contracts are made.

 Openly discussed by sales representatives and exhibitors was the
 possibility/likelihood of placing the 1040STe line into the major
 distributor channels, making them as easy for any dealer anywhere to buy
 as any given software title.  Pricing would become uniform for any
 quantity, and delivery would be out of Atari's hands.  While this idea
 has a great deal going for it, Atari has concerns over possible abuses
 of the plan, such as distributors or dealers "unbundling" bundles of
 hardware and software for the purpose of selling it separately for more
 total income.

 Bundles?  Yes, there are at last approved Atari bundles for fourth-
 quarter distribution and promotion.  There are still several to be
 approved, mostly including games and leisure software, but here are the
 ones that are a go so far.  Remember, the prices here are SUGGESTED

 *     520STFM HOME ENTERTAINMENT PACK: 520STFM, Missile Command, Star
       Raiders, Crack'd, Moon Patrol, NEOChrome, Joust.  Retail: $579.65

 *     520STFM COMMUNICATIONS PACK: Computer, SX212 modem, STALKER and
       STENO telecommunications software.  Retail: $529.85

       Touch-Up, Easy Draw 3.0.  Retail: $1,398.90

       PAINT ANIMATOR.  Retail: $799.90

 *     DTP PACKAGE #1: Mega 2 computer, SM124 Mono Monitor, Megafile 30
       hard drive, SLM605 Laser Printer, CALAMUS.    Retail: $2,199.00

 *     DTP PACKAGE #2: Mega 2 Computer, SM124 Mono Monitor, Megafile 30
       hard drive, SLM605 Laser Printer, DESKSET II.  Retail: $2,099.00

 *     PORTFOLIO PC TRAVELER:  Portfolio computer, File Manager ROM
       card, PC CARD DRIVE, and 128K Memory Card.  Retail: under $500.

 *     New SC1435 COLOR MONITOR, 14" screen, STEREO SOUND, swivel/tilt
       stand.  Retail: $399.00

 If any of those prices sound a bit high, remember that Atari is now
 offering about a good markup in their retail prices, so dealers can
 either actually make some money OR offer great deals.  Dealer costs tend
 to be about 66% of the retail, and street prices may be closer to 3/4 of
 the retail.

 Late word is that the Portfolio may soon be in PRICE CLUB mass-marketing
 discount stores CHEAP.  Dealers need not fear too much, since Price Club
 and other similar membership-oriented warehouse stores usually carry NO
 accessories, so dealers can pick up on the considerably more lucrative
 support market.

 More promotion of the Atari Line came as a surprise to Bob Brodie, ISD's
 Nathan Potechin, and new Atari U.S. General Manager Greg Pratt on
 Tuesday night.  The three attended the Beach Boys concert at Caesar's
 Palace as guests of the Beach Boys, longtime Atari MIDI users.  During
 the opening act, the comedian Andy Bumatai mentioned that he was a
 computer fan and that the Atari TT "just blew me away".  He wasn't
 joking at the time, either.  Later, during the Beach Boys set, Bruce
 Johnston of the band stopped the music and said that he had a dedication
 to make, despite dedications being "old stuff these days".  He proceeded
 to explain that the little computer at the corner of the stage had
 performed flawlessly for three years, "saving their behinds" over and
 over.  He finished by saying, "Atari, this one's for you", and the bad
 went into "Don't Worry Baby".  The Atari table was totally surprised,
 and Greg asked Bob how he pulled that one off.  Bob, as surprised as any
 of them, recovered enough to say "it was just a phone call..."  Betcha
 Greg remembers Bob at Christmas...


 This is perhaps the longest review of a show I have ever assembled...
 and perhaps it should be.  Although I left before the Friday close of
 the show, I know that I could have walked non-stop all week and NOT have
 seen MOST of the show.  I did see the COMMODORE exhibit, a ways back in
 the same hall as Atari.  It was perhaps 25% the size of Atari's area,
 but was filled with very dramatic video presentations on the Amiga
 machines.  One, a real-time color video digitizer, was so good that it
 made our VIDI-ST pictures look like kids drawings.  Of course, it was
 maybe 10 times the price... or more.  But the crowds weren't there.
 Atari had lots more general interest.  Much of it for the Portfolio.

 There was LOTS of Atari to see and discuss at this COMDEX, although much
 of the discussion was less than a treat to participate in.  The
 disappointments from Atari just keep coming.  But the presence of Atari
 simply won't go away, either.  Atari proves over and over that there is
 every reason to expect that the company can indeed produce the right
 machine at the right price.  This time it is the Mega/STe.  (My personal
 opinion of the TT030 is that it is too much money for what it delivers.)

 The amount of money and effort that goes into a dramatic showing of best
 intent, as Atari has shown and spent at this COMDEX, once again has
 pulled many users and developers (and writers!) back from the brink of
 jumping ship.  We hope that it will do the same for dealers and
 distributors of Atari hardware in the USA.  That's what COMDEX is for.

 by Terry May
                                                  Z*NET SPECIAL REPORT
 John Nagy has been providing excellent coverage of Comdex, detailing
 all of the latest wares from Atari.  Rather than simply repeating what
 John has already said, and giving you a list of all the new goodies,
 I'll simply give you my impressions of Atari's presence at Comdex and
 what the future looks like (to me, anyway).
 Obviously, excitement abounds at all the great new hardware Atari
 showed.  The TT is relatively 'old news,' since it was shown at last
 year's Comdex.  The 32 Mhz and new desktop are important new additions,
 however.  It would've been nice to get a 1.4 meg drive and a new case,
 but hey, that's the breaks.  I think the TT we saw is likely to be
 awfully close to the TT we'll someday be able to buy.
 The Mega STe was probably the hit of the show, since it was somewhat of
 a surprise, and it's definitely something a great many users have been
 screaming for.  I'm sure many people will be disappointed that it comes
 in the TT "wedding cake box," but I don't blame Atari for doing that.
 As long as they're going to stick with that case for the TT, they may as
 well keep their manufacturing costs down by using the same case for the
 Mega STe.  Also, it's expected this will speed up FCC approval.
 Atari was smart to give the Mega STe 16 Mhz speed and the new TT
 desktop.  It also comes with a new control panel that people are going
 to love.  One of the neat things about the control panel is controls for
 the stereo base, treble and balance!  The Mega STe is obviously not just
 a simple 1040STe with a separate keyboard (albeit still mushy - why
 can't Atari make a keyboard with a tactile response?).  It has its own
 Everyone's been raving about the new stereo monitor, and for good
 reason.  It has a larger screen without sacrificing quality.  The only
 thing that puzzles me is the new "green mode" switch.  I was unable to
 find anyone that knew of any use for that.  I could see if it allowed
 you to run monochrome software, or if it improved medium rez text, but
 it does neither.  If it costs $10 to build that in, it's $10 wasted, in
 my opinion.  Still, all in all, the new monitor is an excellent
 replacement for the SC1224.
 The new laser printer is also very exciting.  A much smaller size, with
 only slightly slower output (though many swear it's _faster_ than the
 SLM804 -- at least on the first page), and perhaps most important --
 it's more affordable.  This could be a big seller.
 Atari seems to be pushing the Portfolio more than anything, and the
 public seemed to be responding, as the many on display were being kept
 very busy.  They even had one hooked up to a Mac and had one of the RAM
 card drives hooked up to an IBM.  I also personally saw several people
 inquire how and where they could purchase one.
 Alright, so I did kind of do a list.  But it's  worth hearing about more
 than once!  Now about those impressions.

 Atari's display was very spacious, although a lot of it was unused.  Of
 course, that unused space allowed room to breathe that wasn't available
 at past shows.  It was very well laid out and very professional looking.

 If Comdex is about showing off, Atari certainly did that.  It's also
 always a time for optimism, and it's apparent they have inspired quite a
 bit of optimism, at least as far as many Atarians are concerned.
 I wish I could share that optimism, but I guess Atari has made me a
 skeptic.  As always, I see a lot of great new hardware, but at the same
 time (and at the same show), I hear grumblings that dealers cannot get
 hardware for the Christmas season and developers moving on to other
 platforms.  I also see that the "promise" of the release of the TT at
 Comdex was broken.
 Two words keep popping in my head when I think of Atari:  "Vaporware"
 and "Marketing."  They seem to have a plenty of the former, but not a 
 lot of the latter.  To be fair, 1990 brought us the Stacy (sort of) and
 the 1040STe.  But, of course, we're the only ones who know about them.
 Atari says they don't advertise because they sell all they can make.
 So I guess the problem is their production capacity is too low.

 Enough of the commentary.  I told you I'd give you my impressions that
 Comdex left me with, and I did.  Simply put, I was very impressed with
 the new hardware, but just as skeptical as always.  Sorry to end on a
 sour note, but I think with all the unbridled optimism being bandied
 about, it's important to keep things in perspective.  Regardless of what
 Atari's engineering team comes up with, until they learn how to get the
 stuff to the dealers and advertise, the Atari market will continue to
 dwindle.  Here's hoping that 1991 will be the year Atari shuts all of us
 skeptics up!

 by John Nagy
                                                    Z*NET SPECIAL REPORT
 Atari's major new product announcement for COMDEX was the totally
 redesigned MEGA STe.  To be available after the first of the year, it is
 identical in appearance to the TT030 but in grey rather than off-white.
 Base configuration is not completely settled, but may be 2 meg RAM, 40
 meg internal hard drive, TOS 2.2 or higher with the Atari NewDesk
 enhanced GEM and Extensible Control Panel.  The Mega STe also has a 16
 Mhz 68000 CPU, which is switchable (with and without static RAM cache,
 or vanilla 8 Mhz for compatibility with problem software).  Price for
 the base unit will be "under $1200" retail, making the Mega/STe with
 mono monitor retail for less than a similarly outfitted Mac Classic...
 and twice as fast.  It is possible that street price for a monitor-less
 Mega/STe will be just under $1,000.
 In my discussion of the new machine, keep in mind that I am trying to
 respond to as many issues as possible... trivial and important.  The
 questions I fielded at the GEnie RTC last Wednesday night pointed out
 the level of detail that the public wants... and wants NOW.
 The Mega/STe is, above all else, an STe.  By this I mean that unless
 stated differently in this discussion, you may assume that any feature
 on the new Mega is the same as on the 1040STe.  That includes, NO new TT
 resolutions, NO new colors or video outputs, etc.  The Mega/STe has the
 STe standard 4096 color palette with the same mono high res, four-color
 medium res, and 16 color low resolution modes with hardware scrolling.
 Also like the STe, GENLOCK is available without modification, but
 requires JRI's external hardware.  A 68881 math coprocessor socket is
 also offered.  The internal floppy is 720K, and the ones in the sample
 machines refused to deal with extended format disks, although I am
 assured that this will not remain the case.
 According to the literature offered at Comdex, the Mega/STE DOES OFFER A
 BLITTER, unlike the 1040STe.
 Ports include the full complement of the 1040STe line MINUS the analog
 joystick ports.  This was a surprise considering that they were just
 added to the STe.  This may signal the ultimate demise of the ports in
 any commercial software.  Additional ports are: LAN port, Appletalk
 compatible, same as the TT; TWO modem ports in the new smaller connector
 configuration that is becoming standard (although the second port shares
 internal hardware with the LAN port that may make simultaneous use with
 the LAN impractical); VME BUS CARD PORT, same as the TT and accessible
 from the rear of the machine (can be anything but most units on the
 COMDEX floor featured a "third RS232" port card).  The Mega/STe does NOT
 offer the "real SCSI" port that the TT has, and the DMA port is now
 called "ACSI" as it is on the TT.
 All other ports are the same as the STe, right down to and including an
 RF output jack to run a TV or VCR, and composite video available on the
 monitor line just like the older ST standard.  Midi is unchanged, and
 the cart port is in the same location.  However, the cart port may be
 electrically different by some degree: VIDI-ST will NOT operate on the
 Mega/STe OR the TT regardless of CPU speed settings (SPECTRUM pictures
 show fine at 8 Mhz).  This can't yet be seen as a major concern, since
 Vidi-ST does some pretty unorthodox timing games in order to digitize
 the video, and all other cartridges tested to date (including SPECTRE,
 MIGRAPH SCANNER, etc) seem to operate flawlessly.  (Vidi-ST works just
 fine on the 1040STe.)
 The power switch for the Mega/STe is placed in a very awkward place, in
 the center of the back panel right below where you are certain to place
 your monitor.  One observer stated that the only worse position would be
 UNDERNEATH the machine.  Fortunately, the RESET button is within easy
 reach, on the left side of the machine, just behind the LAN, MIDI, and
 CART ports.

 While some observers find the design of the TT and now Mega/STe case to
 be hideous, I find it quite acceptable.  The wider base takes more desk
 area, but the internal hard drive earns its footprint.  A minor problem
 will be the fact that the existing line of Atari hard drives share the
 "old" Mega look, which just does NOT integrate at all with the new case.
 You can't stack it and have it look like anything but... a pile.  While
 you could set your monitor to the side on top of the older style
 equipment, the new case allows use of a slick new custom monitor base
 that fits and locks into place on top of the TT/Mega STe.  Of course, if
 you have two monitors, your arrangement "problem", such as it is, is
 The Mega/STe keyboard is the same as the TT030 as well, featuring a
 better feel than the "old" Mega keyboard principally due more to a
 better, isolated keytop style than to different keyswitches.  The
 function keys are now much more distinguishable due to better spacing,
 clear markings, and finger stops at the left edge of each button.  The
 mouse port is on the right edge of the keyboard, and the keyboard cord
 exits to the right.  This is odd since the cable must then cross over in
 front of the computer to enter its left side.  It makes the "keyboard
 docking" feature (where the keyboard sets in a relief on the front of
 the CPU unit) less usable, as you almost have to stand up to route the
 cord in a manner that allows the dock.  But this is, frankly, no big
 deal either.
 The two best features of the new Mega/STe are the 16Mhz speed and the
 new TOS/Extensible Control Panel.  Speed is switchable via the new
 control panel to 8 Mhz or 16 Mhz with or without the static RAM cache.
 Performance figures are very good, as fast or barely faster than an ST
 with any 16 Mhz accelerator, and are reported via Quick Index numbers at
 the end of this article.  The new desktop is subtle but addictive.  User
 configurable hot keys for most every function, plus applications
 installed on function keys, plus new icons, plus live desk icons for
 programs, plus selectable window, border, and desktop colors and
 patterns... you get the idea.  The NewDesk will probably not cut into
 sales of existing desktop alternatives, however, as the scope of the
 features is far below that of Hotwire, NeoDesk, etc.  But when running
 without one of these, the new features are truly appreciated.  The
 Mega/STe I used extensively during Comdex did show some peculiar crashes
 and bugs, and I am assured that TOS 2.2 will be revised before release.
 By the way, Atari calls this TOS 2.02 internally, and in fact, TOS 1.4
 is 1.04 to the folks inside.  The zero gets dropped due to the way the
 number is stored in the ROM.
 Atari's new "Extensible Control Panel" offers hooks for a variety of
 environmental additives, including the normal CP functions plus GDOS
 control, mouse acceleration, and more things than have yet been
 imagined.  The look and feel of the new panel is all new, and it
 includes graphic accents that make it more fun to use without being too
 cute.  The smiling face with headphones that turns one way or the other
 depending on the stereo sound balance setting is one example.  Control
 Panel Extensions are loaded via a "CPX" configuration, sort of like a
 cross between the way desk accessories and GDOS fonts are loaded.

 Please keep in mind while looking at these comparisons that Quick Index,
 a benchmarking program by Darek Mihocka, merely provides timing measures
 of the repeated execution of several common procedures.  It was designed
 for use on the ST series of machines, and makes certain reasonable
 assumptions about what is happening in the CPU and operating system.  It
 is likely that these assumptions and measures have application to new
 hardware and firmware in new Atari computers, but it is always possible
 that some measures might be systematically distorted by some new factor
 that was not anticipated by Darek.  Additionally, the TOS in the Mega/
 STe is NOT the final production version.  Therefore, use this table of
 measurements as nothing more than it is presented for: to give an
 initial, general, relative indication of how fast a given function might
 be executed on the new Mega/STe compared to a standard machine and to
 other accelerated machines.  Figures shown are in percent of a
 "standard" ST with TOS 1.6 or 1.4, with 200% meaning double the speed of
 execution.  Graphics numbers are presented but are not directly
 comparable as the Mega/STe TOS is not yet finalized, and matters of
 Blitter and Mono/Color variables further confuse the comparison.
                  Mega STe, Med Resolution        Stacy      Mega4
 Function      8 Mhz    16 Mhz   16 w/Cache   ICD ADSPEED    T16
 CPU Memory     100%      100%      165%     |    164%       135%
 CPU Register   100%      100%      204%     |    204%       204%
 CPU Divide     100%      183%      204%     |    203%       203%
 CPU Shifts     100%      179%      208%     |    207%       207%
 Graphics:                                   |
 TOS Text        93%       99%      158%     |    161%       155%
 TOS String      95%      100%      157%     |    158%       145%
 TOS Scroll      78%       78%       88%     |    114%       140%
 GEM Dialog      76%       79%      124%     |    116%       189%


 Overall, I found the Mega/STe to be a treat to use: fast, nicely
 featured, and probably priced very well.  It is a much more attractive
 package for a serious user than the older MEGA or the 1040 style
 machines, and will be actually much cheaper than adding an accelerator
 and hard drive to an STe.  Look for this machine to be the hottest mover
 in the Atari computer line.

 I understand that there was considerable political debate in Atari about
 showing the Mega/STe at Comdex.  It seems that there are many unsold
 MEGA 1 units in Germany that the Atari division there fears will not
 move now that the world has seen what is to come next.  These cannot be
 sold in the USA since they are not 110 volt or FCC approved.  Germany
 may not see the Mega/STe until AFTER the USA is already shipping them.
 It's about time we had the advantage.


 by D.A. Brumleve
                                                            SHOW REPORT
 After having just put on a successful "SwapFest" last April, the Lake
 County Atari Computer Enthusiasts (LCACE) presented the equally-
 successful Chicago AtariFest '90 on Sunday, November 11.  The site for
 this show was a two-story American Legion Hall in the suburb of Gurnee.
 Each story held a separate showfloor; most of the commercial vendor
 booths were on the first level, while user groups offered a variety of
 used wares and public domain disks for sale and swap on the second
 Users came from around the Chicago area and beyond.  Greater Chicago
 ACE, Local Area Users' Group (Chicago), LCACE, Milwaukee Area Users'
 Group, MilAtari Ltd. (Milwaukee), Rockford Atari Computer Club, Suburban
 Atari Chicago Atarians, STar Users Group (Scott AFB, IL), and The Users'
 Group (suburban Chicago) all had booths at the show to solicit members,
 promote user education, and sell equipment and software.  Other groups
 provided caravans of members to attend the event; EAUG brought a VW
 vanload all the way from Alton IL (near St. Louis)!  Visitors of special
 note included the elusive Ralph Turner, writer of self-help books for
 the Atari ST user and a column in ST Informer.
 Users came expecting bargains, and they were not disappointed.  The swap
 tables, of course, offered numerous items at incredibly low prices, the
 kind of amazing sale in which you buy even though you don't need it.
 Commercial vendors had special offers, too.
 WizWorks! was selling MUG SHOT!, Dr. Bob's MVG (the all new version 2.0)
 and IMAGE CAT at discounted prices.  Dr. Bob had just released his
 scanner modules for MVG and these were offered at Chicago for the first
 time anywhere; the module supporting the MiGraph hand-scanner is $19.95
 and the one supporting the Geniscan/ST scanner is $14.95.  Quite a few
 eager folks picked up the Golden Image mouse which WizWorks! was selling
 for a mere $40.  Some clip art disks and of course MUG SHOT! mugs were
 on their table, too.
 John Eidsvoog of CodeHead, assisted by his wife Julie, were
 demonstrating the CodeHead's many fine utility offerings.  Always on the
 lookout for something new, I discovered at their booth size XXL
 t-shirts!  Vendors, take note!  There's a _big_ need for oversize shirts
 among Atari users.  CodeHead's display included a TT, and those who came
 early had a chance to see it running; it gave up the ghost partway
 through the day.  Both John's and Julie's parents dropped by during the
 show, and theirs was not the only family affair.
 Carl Stanford and Henry Murphy of M-S Designs brought along Henry's
 wife, son, and daughter to help man/woman/child the booth.  M-S Designs
 offers a variety of fonts for both Calamus and PageStream (both versions
 on the same disk, a boon to users who own both DTP programs). 
 I brought two of my children, too, in the hope that they would keep my
 booth computer busy, but I needn't have.  They had plenty of help from
 Chet Walter's daughter and the Murphy children.  My table offered
 Kidpublisher Professional, Kidpainter, Super Kidgrid, and a special
 price of $20 for Telegram.
 Unicorn Publications introduced their AIM t-shirt, which is adorned with
 the same multi-colored ship as appears on the November issue.  (The
 shirts are available from Unicorn Publications for $10 + $2 for
 shipping.)  They also sold copies of the magazine, their disks of the
 month, and The Scrolls of Mount Anaias.  They picked up two new AIM
 groups at the show and had inquiries from others.
 Chuck Steinman of DataQue sold products for the 8-bit user, and there
 were plenty of interested folks at the show.  His booth offered
 Turbo-816, Software for Turbo-816, and PD software.  T-816 has been on
 the market for two years, yet Chuck reports that there was still a great
 deal of interest.  "I also was distributing info on the Transkey PC-
 Atari keyboard adapter, which was very popular with attendees."  He
 hosted a seminar which was well attended.  "That is an indication that
 there are quite a few which are not ready to abandon their 8-bit yet."
 Reeve Software also had a booth promoting its products for the 8-bit.
 Assistant Sysop of the ST RT Jeff Williams manned a booth for GEnie.  He
 distributed black disks (to match my STacy, I guess!) with GEnie's new
 Aladdin ST terminal program.  While demonstrating the program, he also
 had numerous opportunities to explain GEnie's Star*Services plan.  Since
 October, users have paid a basic rate of $4.95/month, which includes
 many GEnie services.  Services not included in the plan now cost $6/hour
 even at 2400 baud.
 CompuServe was also represented at the show.  Sysop Bob Retelle was
 assisted at the booth by Jim Ness, author of a CIS navigation program,
 QuickCIS.  They gave away a number of CIS starter memberships with $15
 credit.  "I have not personally been to a recent Atari show, and was
 very pleasantly surprised by the crowd, and the attitudes.  The Atari
 world is very much alive and kicking.  We had a good time," Jim reports.
 Craig S. Thom and Cliff Terry represented ICD.  "For the first time [at
 a show] someone could actually walk up and buy an AdSpeed ST," Craig
 says.  ICD also had all three host adaptors, Cleanup ST, Personal Pascal
 for the ST, and t-shirts for sale.  The entire 8-bit line was available
 at their booth: Printer Connections, P:R:Connections, Multi I/Os,
 Action!, MAC/65, BASIC.  Attracting attention on their table was a Mega
 cut open to reveal the AdSpeed ST and internal hard drive.  Suggested
 retail price for AdSpeed ST is $299.95.  ICD had not attended the April
 show even though Rockford, where they are located, is only a few hours
 drive.  What did Craig think of this show?  "ICD was pleasantly
 surprised by the show.  Very worthwhile."
 The branch of Atari (Lombard IL) which specializes in Lynx support
 brought along some un-released games to tantalize the game players at the
 show.  A representative of A.P.E. Newsletter solicited subscriptions for
 this brand-new Lynx quarterly.
 Kelly Webb of SKWare One showed his new Seurat 2.0, a graphics design
 program that has come a mighty long way since publication of the
 original version in STart.
 Other vendors included several Chicago-area dealers.  Turnout is
 estimated at approximately that of the previous MidWest Atari SwapFest,
 between 600 and 1000 visitors.  Vendors seemed very satisfied, and
 certainly the crowd did as well.  "We will return!" says Chet Walters.
 "We liked the folks (all very enthusiastic and friendly folks) and we
 also liked the location.  Wonderful time and great show!"  All in all,
 it was indeed a very good show, with plenty to interest all who came.
 LCACE has struck again!
 A.P.E. Newsletter
 2104 Kostner / Chicago, IL 60126 / 312 227 2353
 CodeHead Software
 P.O. Box 74090 / Los Angeles, CA 90004 / 213 386 5735
 5000 Arlington Center Blvd. / Columbus, OH 43220
 D.A. Brumleve
 P.O. Box 4195 / Urbana, IL 61801-8820 / 217 337 1937
 DataQue Software
 P.O. Box 134 / Ontario, OH 44862 / 419 529 2478
 401 N. Washington / Rockville, MD 20850 / 800 638 9636 ext. 21
 1220 Rock St. / Rockford, IL 61101 / 815 968 2228
 M-S Designs
 611 West Illinois St. / Urbana, IL 217 384 8469
 Reeve Software
 29 Old Farm Lane / Warrenville, IL 60555 / 708 393 2317
 SKWare One
 P.O. Box 277 / Bunker Hill, IL 62014 / 618 585 4535
 Unicorn Publications
 3487 Braeburn Circle / Ann Arbor, MI 48108 / 313 973 8825
 P.O. Box 45 / Girard, OH 44202 / 216 539 5623 


 Branch Always Software
 14150 N.E. 20th St., Unit 302
 Bellevue, WA  98007  USA

 November 9, 1990

 ** new credit card order line ** Quick ST II Challenge in full swing **

 Seattle's largest Atari ST dealer, Cave Creek Computers, is now making
 it even easier to order Quick ST 2.2 or Quick Tools.  Simply call the
 order line during normal business hours, and have your name, address,
 and Master Card or VISA card number ready.

 Order line: (206)-783-0933, Monday to Saturday 10am to 6pm.

     Quick ST 2.2: $18.95 + shipping ($1 saving)
     Quick Tools:  $27.95 + shipping ($2 saving)
     Quick Tools and Quick ST 2.2: $39.95 + shipping ($10 saving)

 Shipping is $3 and up, depending on the method of shipping (UPS, first
 class mail, etc). These prices are slightly lower than our regular list

 If you don't have a Master Card or VISA card, you can still order our
 products by check or money order at the following prices:
     Quick ST 2.2: $19.95 + $3 shipping
     Quick Tools:  $29.95 + $3 shipping
     Quick Tools and Quick ST 2.2: $39.95 + $3 shipping ($10 saving)

 The Quick ST II Demo Disk is now also shipping.  It is ABSOLUTELY FREE!
 If you are not aware of our free offer, download the Quick ST II
 Challenge text file from Compuserve or GEnie and read our offer.  If you
 don't have access to these services, then let us save you the trouble..
 The Quick ST II Challenge is this: we are so sure that you will not be
 able to live without the speed that Quick ST 2.2 will add to your ST,
 that we will send you a FREE DEMO DISK of Quick ST 2.2 just for the
 asking.  Write your name and address and a description of your ST system
 down on a piece of paper or post card, and mail it to us at the above
 address.  Take the Challenge!  You even get to keep the disk, whether or
 not you buy.

 Darek Mihocka - President, Branch Always Software
 November 1, 1990

                                                       * PRESS RELEASE *
 Product Marketing Seattle is pleased to announce an exciting new ATaRi
 ST product by Azeroth Publishing - Just Another War in Space.
 Just Another War in Space is a game of interplanetary tactics and
 strategy for the Atari ST.  You assume the role of spacecraft captain
 for either the Empire or the Federation.  Control your spacecraft from
 the captain's computer console, showing 3-D sensor data and a variety of
 displays containing controls and detailed status information for
 weapons, maneuver, damage controls, force field, electronic warfare,
 tractor beams, settings for your ship's computer, and much more.
 The game accurately models real-time spaceflight mechanics, and packs a
 wealth of on-board systems detail into its 500 KByte simulation program.
 The mouse and menu-driven interface and step-by-step tutorial get you
 into the action right away.  The game provides many user options,
 including the design of spacecraft from modular components and variable
 computer-opponent strength and expertise.
 Seven scenarios of increasing complexity give you the chance to command
 everything from individual spacecraft to task forces and fleets of
 starships.  Victory goes to the commander with the ability to make time-
 critical decisions that efficiently use the resources available.  The
 opposing spacecraft are controlled by sophisticated artificial
 intelligence, making even a single enemy spacecraft a deadly opponent.
 Includes a 138 page reference manual, sector map, and spacecraft
 identification guide.  $49.95, plus shipping, handling and sales tax
 (if applicable).  Requires 1 megabyte RAM, color monitor, and double-
 sided floppy-disk drive.  Available from:
 Azeroth Publishing
 3020 Issaquah-Pine Lake Road
 Suite 341
 Issaquah, WA 98027
 (206) 392-9941
 Sales: (800) 594-4798 in the US, (206) 868-2332 in Canada.

                                                Z*NET NEWS SERVICE (ZNS)
 QUAR SEPT. 30     1990               1989
 SALES             $89,146,000        $81,444,000
 INCOME             (3,855,000)        (5,395,000)
 EXTRD CRED     A    6,858,000          ----
 NET INCOME          3,003,000         (5,395,000)
 INCOME             (.07)              (.09)
 NET INCOME          .05               (.09)
 SALES             259,588,000        252,960,000
 INCOME               (782,000)        (1,780,000)
 EXTRD CRED       A  6,858,000         ----
 NET INCOME          6,076,000         (1,780,000)

 INCOME              (.01)             (.03)
 NET INCOME           .11              (.03)


 Fall Comdex 90 opened and closed this week as 1850 corporations provided
 a look at their latest offerings.  The booths combined cover 2.2 million
 square feet in seven convention centers and aisles cover 22 1/2 miles.
 This is the largest annual trade show in the United States.  The show
 is sponsored by The Interface Group and well over 120,000 people
 attended the week long affair.  The show began with a keynote speech by
 Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft Corp. on Monday morning and throughout the
 week there were 48 conference sessions.  The price tag just to enter the
 exhibit area was $75.00 and for $300.00 conferences and exhibits.

 Mediagenic has posted a $4.3 million net loss for the second quarter
 ended September 30.  A year ago Mediagenic reported a net loss of $1.9
 million.  Revenues during the period fell 48 percent to $8.7 million
 from $16.8 million a year ago.

 Hayes has reduced prices by up to 67 percent on its JT Fax products.
 JT Fax 9600B with Smartmodem 2400 Module and Smartcom EZ will drop from
 $695 to $499; the JT Fax 4800B is reduced from $295 to $199; the JT Fax
 4800 Portable comes down from $495 to $199, and the JT Fax 4800P reduces
 from $595 to $199.  Hayes also said it also will offer an easy upgrade
 path for current users of its Ultra 96 modem requiring the new CCITT
 V.32bis standard.


 by Terry Schreiber
 In talking with Darek Mihocka tonight I receive a rather interesting bit
 of information regarding the Atari TT's.  One would naturally assume 
 that Atari had supplied developers with units before releasing units for
 public sale but not the case.  Darek explained that Atari was releasing
 TT's to developers in order of their Zip Codes.  I really find that hard
 to swallow, surely they should have gone out on a first come first serve
 basis or at least some sort of list.  Darek also planned to be in the
 Sunnyvale area next week and was hoping at that time to pick one up -
 his request was met with "We don't distribute that way".  This coming
 from a company that bought up a retail chain to go into competition with
 their own dealers.  Developers are the first people who should be
 receiving your units before they go on sale to the public or dealers.
 Do you expect John Q. Customer to purchase his machine when he hears
 that the people doing software support for his machine don't have one.
 Developers should have machines a minimum of three months before they
 are released for public sale.
 In all fairness to Atari we do realize that their is a shortage of
 machines available at this time, perhaps a second look will be made
 next time before machines are released not only on this continent as to
 supporting the developers with machines before selling to the end users.
 Vancouver B.C. has become the buyers haven for clones.  Price wars are
 in full flare as dealers fight for a piece of the market share.  Looking
 for a DOS machine?  Perhaps a long distance call and shipping could save
 you quite a bit of cash - but remember your local dealer can also supply
 you with support and service.  These might far out-weigh any price
 Yes it's that time of year again, just six weeks left.  We all know what
 we want and now is the time for dropping those suttle hints.  The
 average computer user would like to see something for their system.  The
 problem with this is most people purchasing gifts for you do not even
 give a second thought to getting you that software program or printer
 stand because they don't know exactly what you want.
 If you are a regular shopper to a computer store, more than likely you
 are on their customer database with a complete list of hardware and
 software that you have purchased from them.  There are three ways you
 can get lucky here.
 1)  You could drop the hint as to which store to go to to shop. (a
     little extreme at times but it does work once in a while)

 2)  Have a sales person from that store call and recommend something
     you want.

 3)  The salesperson you normally deal with will take it upon themselves
     to contact your spouse and discuss a suitable gift.  (This may sound
     far fetched but I have done just this in the past with great

 There is one more alternative I have failed to mention because I think
 it is a little under-handed but here goes.  Take your spouse shopping
 and just happen to kill two hours at the computer store on a Saturday
 afternoon.  Make sure that you introduce the salesperson to them and
 repeat their name a few times during the conversation.  When the
 salesperson asks for a close, reply with " Well I just looking right now
 but maybe for Christmas".  You can now bet your spouse's ears perked up
 with that, two hours and we are finally leaving - now what was it we
 even came here for - oh yes a modem.  There it is hook, line and sinker.
 One more thing I should add before closing is that software for children
 is another item not even considered as gifts at Christmas.  Why?  If you
 enjoy receiving a new program don't you think they would?
 A quick word of warning - DO NOT leave this article around for the
 spouse to find.  A two hour stint could prove hazardous to your health.

 by Keith MacNutt
 DICTION V.A by Dan Panke
 Diction is a program with a difference, it may be a spell checker but
 it doesn't come with a dictionary file.  The author decided to allow the
 user to create their own by entering words that are used in their
 respective fields.  The dictionary that is used by a doctor is not the
 same as a lawyer or the home hobbyist that needs to check his article on
 computers.  In letting the user choose the words that are entered into
 the dictionary, the author allows for a wide range of occupations to
 customize a spell checker to fit their needs instead of getting a pre-
 packaged dictionary that they will have to add to anyway.
 Diction works in medium or high rez and loads dictiona.ry as it's main
 spelling file.  When first run there is no dictionary file so the
 program will ask if you wish to create one, this file should remain in
 the same path as it is easier to find at run time.
 Once you have Diction loaded with the appropriate speller file you are 
 asked to insert your text file, which calls for a disk swap or if you
 have it installed on a hard drive, involves picking the path to the
 correct file.  Files must not exceed 3500 lines (60k) or be in anything
 but ascii format.
 Diction allows you very simple editing and entry control.  Once Diction
 finds a word that is not in the dictionary file it asks if you want to 
 left mouse click to continue or right click to add the word to the
 speller.  If you accidently add a word to the dictionary you cannot
 delete the word from within Diction, you must edit the dictiona.ry file
 or the file you have assigned for your words with a text editor.  Don't
 delete the word entirely, but instead change the spelling or enter a
 different word in its place.
 Diction counts the number of words for each letter in the alphabet, and
 deleting a word will throw the count out.  At present, only 32,768 words
 can be saved per dictionary file.
 As your document is being spell checked the program will display the
 amount of words in your Diction file, the percentage of file checked and
 the number of words checked.
 In the three years that I have used the ST, I've found very few stand
 alone spell checkers.  I find Diction to be a very thorough and easy to
 use program with the user in control of what words should be in a spell
 checker, a great Idea.  Most available checkers have at least 70,000
 words and the user has to buy a word processor to get a decent one.
 The only things I find lacking in Diction is the ability to edit out a
 word in the dictiona.ry file and you must enter even the smallest words
 if you want a complete spell checker.  One way to get around this last
 problem is to skip the simple words and enter only those that you find
 you spell incorrectly.
 Over all this is an easy to use package and the programmer has done an
 excellent job in writing a utility that everyone could use at one time
 or another, so if you find it meets your needs and you use it please
 send a contribution to the programmer, and maybe he'll spend the time
 to fix or improve an exceptional program.

 Z*NET  Atari Online Magazine is a weekly publication covering the  Atari 
 and related computer community.   Material contained in this edition may 
 be  reprinted  without  permission  except  where  noted,  unedited  and 
 containing the issue number, name and author included at the top of each 
 article  reprinted.   Opinions  presented are those  of  the  individual 
 author  and  does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the  staff  of 
 Z*Net   Online.    This  publication  is  not  affiliated   with   Atari 
 Corporation.   Z*Net,  Z*Net  Atari  Online and Z*Net News  Service  are 
 copyright (c)1990,  Rovac Industries Incorporated,  Post Office Box  59, 
 Middlesex,  New Jersey 08846-0059.  Voice (908) 968-2024, BBS (908) 968-
 8148 at 1200/2400 Baud 24 hours a day.   We can be reached on Compuserve 
 at PPN 71777,2140 and on GEnie at address: Z-Net
                       Z*NET Atari Online Magazine
                Copyright (c)1990, Rovac Industries, Inc..

Kevin Steele (aj205.Cleveland.Freenet.Edu)

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