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From: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG) Subject: News - Jan.90 - Mar.90 Date: Sun Feb 27 14:59:22 1994 Time Capsule - News - Jan.90 - Mar.90 ------------------------------------- News Subject Title Date Posted ------------------ ----------- MichTron / Fast FAX Jan.31,1990 Double Click Software / DC - Desktop Jan.31,1990 new ST mag Feb.01,1990 Pointer Sisters and the ST Feb.01,1990 PC Ditto II Feb.01,1990 1990 Winter NAMM / 0290AR Feb.19,1990 Atari Lays off 15% work force, no new products Mar.20,1990 RONSAT Technologies : RONSAT's Stonehenge / 0390AR Mar.26,1990 A Peek at the new STe _ by Derek Mihocka / 0390AR Mar.26,1990 Atari Explorer? Mar.31,1990 -------------------------------------- Article #198 (376 is last): >Newsgroups: freenet.sci.comp.atari.news From: aa400 (Phillip M. Chow) Subject: MichTron / Fast FAX Date: Wed Jan 31 03:13:10 1990 Fast FAX system from MichTron : Turns you ST into a FAX MichTron, Inc. has announced a late January release of Fast FAX, a full featured hardware and software package which offers Group III FAX machine capabilities right from any Atari ST computer. MichTron states that Fast FAX's command functions permit letterheads, signatures, cover pages, or any other saved graphics, to be inserted into FAX documents. A view option allows an incoming FAX to be displayed on screen (within a scrollable window) or to generate a printout. Fast FAX's software includes a phone book that can store over 1000 company names, contact names and their FAX phone numbers. A scheduling feature provides the ability to send multiple FAXes to multiple locations, and Fast FAX can be told when to send them. FAXes can be set up to be sent any time of the day, any day of the moth, and any month of the year. The Fast FAX modem uses its own 8 MHz 68000 microprocessor, has 32K of RAM, and 64K of ROM. Data rates supported include: V.29 (9600bps, 7200bps), V.27 (4800bps, 2400bps) and V.21 (channel 2 at 300bps) with automatic fallback. Fast FAX has a suggested list price of $699.95 and is available for Amiga, Atari ST and IBM PC computers. For additional information, contact MichTRON, Inc., 576 S. Telegraph, Pontiac MI 48053; (313) 334-5700. -- Taken from ST Informer : Issue #30 : January 1990 Used here with permission. Article #199 (376 is last): >Newsgroups: freenet.sci.comp.atari.news From: aa400 (Phillip M. Chow) Subject: Double Click Software / DC - Desktop Date: Wed Jan 31 03:13:55 1990 DC-Desktop on the way : Double Click offers desktop alternative Double Click Software has announced a new product by the name of DC-Desktop. This product is designed to enhance your desktop, not replace it, thus DC-Desktop is said to be 100% compatible with all existing software. DC-Desktop offers many of the same features that NewDesk does and even has some that NeoDesk doesn't. DC-Desktop supports icons on the desktop for floppies, hard drives, printers and files, and is even compatible with NeoDesk icon files. However, Double Click takes this concept a little further and offers what they call a "Cabinet" icon. Clicking on a Cabinet icon brings up a window of icons contained in that Cabinet. These icons represent programs and files that are commonly used, but reside in different directories on different drives. The Cabinet keeps track of where these files are located so that they can be quickly executed if accessed without the user shuffling through multiple drives and folder directories to find them. Some other features that DC-Desktop offers are the ability to undelete files from the trach can (much like a Mac!), complete compatibility with the desktop, a print spooler, and the ability to run in low rez! To top it off, Double Click is offering a bounty of sorts. Registered owners of NeoDesk can get DC-Desktop by sending their original disk and $20.00. DC-Desktop should begin shipping in January with a suggested retail price of $39.95. Watch for a full review of DC-Desktop in a future issue of ST Informer. For additional information, contact Double Click Software, PO Box 741206, Houston, TX 77274; (713) 645-3759. -- Taken from ST Informer : Issue #30 : January 1990 Used here with permission. -- Article #200 (376 is last): >Newsgroups: freenet.sci.comp.atari.news From: ab577 (Thomas Hartwick) Subject: new ST mag Date: Thu Feb 1 10:22:56 1990 ST JOURNAL TO DEBUT: Amid the closings of many formerly popular ST magazines (ANALOG, ST-LOG, ST-EXPRESS, etc.), a new magazine will begin publication this spring. ST JOURNAL will be a serious-minded monthly patterned more like PC magazines and less like gamer tabloids. To be available in late March with an April cover date, the first issue will go to 10,000 or more ST users. Editor Tim Lewis and production/art director Steve Lesh have experience in other Atari magazines, and expect to set a new standard of excellence and service in a "real user" publication. Headlining columnists and contributing editors include Andrew Reese, John Nagy, Jim Allen, John King Tarpinian, Norman Weinress, and more. Contact QUILL Publishing, 818-332-0372 for more information. -- Article #201 (376 is last): >Newsgroups: freenet.sci.comp.atari.news From: ab577 (Thomas Hartwick) Subject: Pointer Sisters and the ST Date: Thu Feb 1 10:24:52 1990 POINTER SISTERS CHANGE SIDES AGAIN: Last year at NAMM and other shows, the Pointer Sisters band appeared to promote ATARI. Much of their album and show performances relied on MIDI equipment controlled by Atari. So when the Pointer Sisters appeared at the now-infamous floating house of Amiga on the TV ads, we wondered why. More recently, the Band is back in the Atari camp, appearing again at NAMM. Members report that they did indeed get AMIGA equipment, and actually used it. It took experience to lead them to finally sort out the Atari disks from the Amiga ones, and retire the Amigas to the closet. From now on, it is ATARI all the way for the Pointer Sisters. -- Article #202 (376 is last): >Newsgroups: freenet.sci.comp.atari.news From: ab577 (Thomas Hartwick) Subject: PC Ditto II Date: Thu Feb 1 10:27:16 1990 PC-DITTO II SORTA SHIPPING: Avant-Garde of Florida has indeed begun shipping their new hardware IBM Emulator. Although no dealers have the units yet, some early orderers have at last received their PC-DITTO II. The good news ends there, though. Almost all of the owners reporting to date have had problems. The new emulator is very large, and does not fit in some 1040/520 computers... at least not with the keyboard installed! If that weren't bad enough, many simply do not work, and many more were shipped without documentation or without the software required to activate the emulator. AG is still refusing to do phone support (or even take machine messages or talk to anyone at all) while they scamper to try to patch one crisis after another. The long view still seems to favor AG and most users expect the problems to eventually be resolved. But in the meantime, PC- SPEED, being imported from Germany by MICHTRON, is getting a lot of sales and supporters. -- Article #208 (376 is last): >Newsgroups: freenet.sci.comp.atari.news From: aa400 (Phillip M. Chow) Subject: 1990 Winter NAMM / 0290AR Date: Mon Feb 19 15:35:48 1990 Winter NAMM 1990 in Anaheim by John Davis, MIDI Resource Editor ------------------------------------------------------------------ Taken from ST Informer 02/90 Used here with permission ------------------------------------------------------------------ -- Winter NAMM brings new respect to Atari -- ANAHEIM, CA - The National Association of Music Merchants, better known as NAMM, has given us another outstanding look into the business of music. Twice yearly, NAMM sponsors expositions for members of the music community. The winter show, held in Anaheim California, is the larger of the two and it has been estimated that this years show drew approximately 50,000 exhibitors, buyers, and members of the press. Atari was the first computer manufacturer to have an exhibit at a NAMM show, and they carried on the tradition in a big way again this year. Atari had a two-room suite upstairs, overlooking the entire first exhibit hall, with a large banner underneath the window proclaiming "Beyond MIDI. The Next Generation From Atari". The first room was more like an office, with couches and chairs for weary legs, and Portfolios and Lynx's for idle hands. The other room was soundproofed, and contained a sophisti- cated arsenal of music making electronics, including the eagerly anticipated Atari/Hotz MIDI Translator. A device that may very well change the face of the music industry. ------------------------------------------------------------------ Dr. Scholl's Foot Powder stock is probably soaring this week. Some of the staff from ST Informer/MIDI Resource, along with about 50,000 other people, have just returned from a three day walking marathon - a valiant attempt to see every product displayed at the 1990 Winter NAMM Show. The winter show is held in Anaheim California at the Anaheim convention center, just a stone's throw from Disneyland. Manufacturers from all over the world combine to form one of the largest industry expositions in America, and it makes you realize just how big the music business is. What follows is our account of the most interesting products and displays we found for the MIDI musician. -- Atari -- Atari's space consisted of a two room affair upstairs, over- looking the first exhibit hall. Representatives from Atari were on hand in the first room, along with several Portfolios, Lynxes, a STacy (running the Spectre GCR), and a Mega ST/Laser setup running desktop publishing software. The second room was used as the sound room. One half of it was occupied by a number by a number of Mega systems running various MIDI software packages, while the other half was filled with gear used by Jimmy Hotz and the long promised Hotz Box (now officially named the 'Atari Hotz MIDI Translator'). The Atari Hotz MIDI Translator and STacy computer are now shipping in a bundled package with a suggested retial price of $9899.95. We got to watch Jimmy Hotz demostrate some new features of the translator to Mick Fleetwood (drummer for Fleetwood Mac), and within ten minutes, Mick was performing some very credible guitar licks to the accompaniment of 'Stairway To Heaven'. I sure hope Atari can come up with a less expensive translator 'for the rest of us' - I want one! The STacy Laptop was in abundance at NAMM, and was present in the booths of almost all major MIDI software developers. Presently, only 2 meg and 4 meg models (both with a built-in 40 meg hard disk) are available. The STacy 2 carries a suggested retail of $2499, while the STacy 4 will go for $2899. Atari also officially introduced the 'Atari MIDI-Tasking System', a psuedo multi-tasking system for MIDI applications. The MIDI-Tasking system was developed by Intelligent Music, and will be marketed directly from Atari, with a retail price of only $12.95. The MIDI-Tasking system will allow the ST to run up to six GEM applica- tions simultaneously. With its standardized data-sharing capabilities, information can be exchanged between applications in realtime through a system scrapbook. The MIDI-Tasking system also offers a unique set of features specifically for MIDI users, including the ability to transfer information from any MIDI application to any other MIDI application. Although the system can work with non-MIDI applications, Atari does not plan to promote the MIDI-Tasking System outside the music market. On Friday night, Atari co-hosted a concert featuring the Jack Bruce band. Contrary to what has been reported elsewhere, Atari never promoted the concert as a reunion of the legendary 60's band, Cream. Instead, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, both members of the original band, along with Bernie Worrel and Blues Sarceno, joined together to play new tunes, along with some old classic Cream material. The other member of the original band, Eric Clapton, was not in attendance. Sigh... Another group of musical luminaries also joined together to perform some futuristic jazz music. Michael Shrieve (Santana) was joined by Andy Summers (The Police), Dave Torn, Mark Isham, David Beal and Doug Lund for an hour of, uh, unusual music. The general feeling in the Atari area was very upbeat. It appears that most major developers will support the MIDI-Tasking software, and there was a great deal of excitement over the prominence of STacys throughout the show. Let's just hope that Atari's performance in the MIDI market can help overcome the set- backs they've experienced in other markets. -- Hardware -- There hasn't been a lot of ground-breaking development in sound synthesis since the last NAMM show. Yamaha introduced a new technology, but most other manufacturers offered a repackaged products of exisiting technology. Roland Corporation was showing one of the more exciting oackages - a MIDI Starter System consisting of a CM-32L Sound Module (or an LAPC-1 Sound Card for IBMs), a PC-100 MIDI Data Keyboard, and sequencing software for either the Atari, the Macintosh, the IBM or the Amiga. The CM-32L (and LAPC-1) are actually repackaged versions of Roland's very popular MT-32. The PC-100 is simply a keyboard with 49 full-sized keys and a MIDI-OUT port. It can be used as a basic controller for any synthesizer or computer. When combined with a personal computer, this package gives you everything necessary to create an enormous amount of music. The MIDI Starter System is priced at $995. A new addition to the CM (Computer Music) Series is the CS-10 (no price announced), a stereo monitor amplifier for all computers. This device, which is shielded so that it can double as a monitor stand, contains a six-watt stereo amplifier, a pair of side mounted mid-range speakers, a center-mounted bass speaker, and volume/tone controls. For the professional musician, ROland has introduced the D-70 LA Synthesizer, the next generation of the very successful D-50. The D-70 features a new high-performance filter, new PCM samples, the ability to use U-series sample cards and six-part multi-timbral capabilities - for a list price of $2895. The musician who wants to get everything in a single package with a 61-note keyboard. Included is an LA synthesizer, an Auto Arranger, a drum machine, a simple sequencer, reverb and a built-in stereo with speakers. The E-10 ($1495) differs from the E-20 ($2095) in that it does not accept additional sound cards, and it has less sequence memory, fewer reverbs and no LCD display. Both synthesizers have MIDI ports for connection to computers and other synthesizers. As mentioned, the only new sound synthesis technology came from Yamaha, with the introduction of the SY77. Yamaha has dubbed their new process 'Realtime Convolution and Modulation Synthesis', and the results are breathtaking. RC&M synthesis combines 16-bit samples with advanced FM synthesis, and samples can be used to modulate the FM operators. All of this can be used to modulate the FM operators. All of this can be processed with up to eight filters, each controlled by a dedicated envelope generator. If you've never worked with FM synthesis, all of this will sound like gobbledegook to you. Take my word for it, this synth sounds great! Throw in a built-in sequencer, disk drive and digital effect pro- cessing, and you have an outstanding new synthesizer. If the price of this greatness ($2995) is a little too much, you might be interested in the SY55 ($1595). The SY55 also uses 16-bit samples, but has fewer filters and less memory for voices and sequences than its big brother. The SY55 is also available as a tone generator module only in a rackmount package called the TG55 ($995), and is basically an SY55 without a keyboard. Yamaha also has several new additions to its very popular line of portable keyboards, the PSS series. There's a keyboard available for almost any taste or budget, ranging from the tiny PSS-20 ($24.95), with 32 mini keys and 6 voices (but no MIDI), to the PSS-790 ($339.95), containing 61 full size keys, MIDI, a drum machine, drum pads, and a built-in sequencer. -- Software -- There wasn't really a whole lot in new software, either. After all, how many different sequencers and patch editors can the industry come up with? Most manufacturers were offering enhancements to existing products, as well as entry level versions of their more popular sequencers. Dr. T's was showing Tiger Cub, an entry level product for the new MIDI musician. It's based on three of Dr. T's most popular products [ the KCS sequencer, the T.I.G.E.R. editor, and the Copyist notation program. They are stripped down versions of the original programs, but at $99, Tiger Cub still offers a lot of bang. Intelligent Music was showing version 1.2 of RealTime, a rhythm sequencer for the ST. The new version features an unlimited number of tracks, the ability to sort tracks in any order, improved timing, faster screen response, and it has even been significantly reduced in size, allowing it to run on any Atari, even the 520ST. As mentioned, Intelligent Music has also developed the MIDI- Tasking System, now licensed to Atari as the standard for all multi- tasking MIDI software. This system, formerly known as ST Ram, allows up to 6 GEM applications to be loaded at the same time. Each application maintains a window on the GEM desktop, and the application is accessed by clicking within its window. The system appeared to operate quite smoothly, allowing MIDI data to be traded easily between the various applications. Hybrid Arts is finally shipping GenEdit, a program which functions as a librarian and an editor for almost any synthesizer. Configura- tions are provided to support the most popular synthesizers, and the program allows the knowledgable user to create a configuration for any others. The editor's configuration for any others. The editor's configurations have a very professional appearance, with onscreen knobs, sliders, and graphic envelopes. Hybrid Arts has a product which promises to be extremely popular. Imagine a multi-timbral stereo FM synthesizer with 78 different instruments, a drum machine with 16 accompaniment styles, and sequencing software that works in any resolution - with online help and graphic note editing using a staff and notes. Now imagine paying less than $150 for the whole package. I think this one product is going to introduce a lot of people to the wonders of MIDI and electronic music. Look for FM Melody Maker to be released by Hybrid Arts shortly. Passport has supported almost all computers with various versions of their popular sequencer, Master Tracks. They were showing the newest version, Pro 4, currently available only on the Macintosh. More significant, however, is the fact that as of December 12, 1989, Passport Designs has dropped the use of copy protection on several of their key titles. The programs immediatly affected include Pro 4 and Encore for the Macintosh, Master Tracks Pro for the Amiga, IBM, and Apple IIgs, and Score and Escort for the IBM. The representative I spoke with, said that sales do not seem to have been affected by this move, and if the trend continues, the protection will be removed from other products in the future. I applaud Passport Designs for their new policy, and truly hope that it works for them. At last summer's NAMM show, Scorpion Systems Group introduced sYbil, a realtime performance too for the Macintosh. sYbil allows the performer to extend and redefine the capability of MIDI control- lers: events generated by the controller can be scaled, inverted, set to trigger other events, remapped, and just about anything else you want. The end result is that a single person can make a single MIDI controller sound like a full band. In the ongoing demonstration, a representative from Scorpion was processing the output of sYbil with a MIDI guitar. Some notes of the guitar had been remapped to various percussion instruments, some had been mapped to a bass synthesizer, and others had been mapped to a bass synthesizer, and others had been mapped to horns and strings. With a single guitar, he was able to perform composi- tions using bass, horns, and strings simultaneously, with full rhythm accompaniment! The best news is that sYbil is now available for the Macintosh, Atari ST, IBM compatibles and the Yamaha C1, for a list price of $299. Digidesign has brought their popular Sound Tools Digital Recording, Editing, & Playback system to te Atari Mega line of computers. This system has been available for the Macintosh for some time, and it brings CD quality recording and playback with powerful editing features to the ST. It also allows DAT editing, and at $2995, it is one of the most affordable direct-to-hard disk recording systems currently available for the Atari. Sound Tools is scheduled for a March release. -- Other Significant Products -- There were a number of other new and interesting products being shown at NAMM. MusicNet Holding Company is a new company offering something which could be a real boon for the sheet music industry - the MusicSource Sheet Music System. MusicSource brings to the consumer a new method of shopping for and purchasing printed sheet music, through the use of a unit no larger than an arcade game. The unit houses a computer and CD-ROM containing the data for literally hundreds of thousands of songs. A touch-sensitive screen allows the user to scan the built-in database to scan for titles, and actually have the music displayed on the monitor screen as it will appear when printed. The prospective customer can use a built- in piano keyboard to sight read the music, or the MusicScoure unit can play the song using a built-in synthesizer. If a particular song can't be found in the current database, the unit will automatically use a satellite link to connect to the master database and search for the song. If the user decides to purchase the music, it is automatically printed on a laser printer located behind the counter. It will be interesting to see how well this new system works - the implications are enormous. Another trend noticed at NAMM was the sale of music disks - not cassette tapes or compact disks, but computer disks with MIDI data to allow anyone with a sequencer and synthesizer to recreate a wide variety of music. Music Data is a new line offered by Passport, and they have hundreds of songs, arranged as hits form various time periods, country and western, big band and classical selections. All sequences have been voiced for the Roland MT-32, and are availa- ble for any computer that supports Standard MIDI Files. Trycho Tunes offer a similar selection of sequencing in an even larger number of data formats. One format even supports the MIDIMan, a device which allows a standard cassette recorder to play MIDI sequences which have been stored on a cassette tape. In this format, there are even accompaniment vocal tracks recorded on the extra cassette track which will play in sync with the sequencer! The downside to sequencer data like this may be the price - sequences typically cost about $15 per song. -- Fini -- Well, that's the highlights of the 1990 Winter NAMM. We haven't even touched on all the things to be seen at NAMM, but let;s get real - and pass the foot powder please! Manufacturers Mentioned: Atari Corporation Digidesign 1196 Borregas Ave. 1360 Willow Road Sunnyvale, CA 94088 Menlo Park, CA 94025 (408) 745-2000 (415) 327-8811 DR. T's Music Software Hybrid Arts 220 Boylston St. 11920 W. Olympic Blvd. Chesnut Hill, MA 02167 Los Angeles, CA 90064 (617) 244-6954 (213) 826-3777 Intelligent Music MusicNet Holding Company PO Box 8748 3006 South Highland Drive Albany, NY 12208 Salt Lake City, Utah 84106 (518) 434-4110 (801) 486-5555 Passport Designs, Inc. Roland Corp. of America 625 Miramontes ST. 7200 Dominion Cir. Half Moon Bay, CA 94019 Los Angeles, CA 90040 (415) 726-0280 (213) 685-5141 Scorpion System Group Trycho Music International 175 Fifth Avenue Suite 2624 2166 W Broadway Suit 330 New York, NY 10010 Anaheim, CA 92804 (415) 864-2956 (714) 826-2271 Yamaha Corporation of America P.O. Box 6600 Bueana Park, CA 90622 (714) 522-9011 -- Article #209 (376 is last): >Newsgroups: freenet.sci.comp.atari.news From: aa399@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Len Stys) Subject: Atari Lays off 15% work force, no new products Date: Tue Mar 20 20:14:37 1990 This is a special Z*BREAK news flash from ////// // // ////// ////// // / /// // // // // /// // // // ////// // // / // /// // // O N L I N E ////// // // /////// // The Weekly ATARI NEWS FIRST Online Magazine! ================================================================ March 16, 1990: ATARI CORPORTATION LAID OFF 15% of ALL U.S. EMPLOYEES, EFFECTIVE AT 5PM PACIFIC TIME TODAY. This cutback and layoff is NOT a temporary measure for those who received their termination notice at the close of business today in the Sunnyvale, California offices of Atari. No expectation of callbacks in the foreseeable future was extended to the employees. The layoffs occurred at the service level of all departments, but particularly hard hit were Accounts Payable and Credit, losing 50% or more of their staff. Of the "Name" people that most of the public has any contact with, there were no terminations. Popular figures such as Bob Brodie, Charles Cherry, and others were not directly affected. Additionally, no changes at the executive level were made public. Conjecture by those near ATARI is that the cutbacks are due to the fact that Atari simply has no product ready for immediate sale, and that the bulk of those laid off had little to do that is essential to the current level of U.S. Operations. The fact that the upper level employees were spared gives some reason to expect that this is not a long-term reduction in overall operation, but more an immediate action for an immediate situation. CEO of Atari, Sam Trameil, was unavailable for comment or for employee negotiation today, having left the USA for computer shows in Europe earlier in the week. Z*NET will have more on this story as it develops this week... look for details in the next Z*NET ONLINE MAGAZINE, issue #513, available starting Friday, March 23, 1990. And, as usual, Z*NET will bring you ATARI NEWS FIRST. ================================================================ Copyright 1990 by ROVAC INDUSTRIES of Middlesex, New Jersey. Reprint permission granted as long as the entire text is quoted and Z*NET is credited. -- Article #212 (376 is last): >Newsgroups: freenet.sci.comp.atari.news From: aa400@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Phillip M. Chow) Subject: RONSAT Technologies : RONSAT's Stonehenge / 0390AR Date: Mon Mar 26 03:30:48 1990 RONSAT's Stonehenge An external RAMdisk for ST's Buffalo Grove, IL - RONSAT Technologies, Inc. announced the release of Stonehenge II, a RAM-drive for Atari ST computers. STonehenge II will provide ST users with high performance disk access and superior data integrity. Because STonehenge II is a hardware RAM-drive it offers several benefits over traditional, software-based RAM- disks including data integrity, more available system memory, and much greater RAM-storage. Stonehenge II comes configured with either 256k or 2MB of dynamic RAM on a custom printed circuit board. It provides its own ASIC controller (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) and the 256k unit is user-expandable, in 256k increments, up to 2MB. The unit plugs into the computer's DMA port and with the provided DMA throughput function the user is able to daisy-chain (i.e. link together off the same DMA port) a mechanical hard-drive or multiple Stonehenge II units. Traditional RAM-disks are implemented in software. The user must allocate a portion of system memory to function as the RAM-disk, thereby decreasing the amount of available memory. Because system memory is functioning as the RAM- disk it is vulnerable to the tendency of crashing applica- tions to corrupt system memory. Software RAM-disks also depend upon the computer's own power supply for data retention. Stonehenge II's data integrity is maintained separately from the ST's. This means that all data will survive a system crash or complete power-down/power-up cycle of the computer. Stonehenge II is now available direct from RONSAT Technologies, Inc. at 368 Lexington Drive, Buffalo Groove, IL 60089. RONSAT may be contacted at (708) 520-8003, or throught CompuServe at 76515.3152. On-line direct ordering info is available via modem at (708) 520-7812 - login as Info. -- Taken from ST Informer : Issue #33 : March 1990 Used here with permission. -- Article #213 (376 is last): >Newsgroups: freenet.sci.comp.atari.news From: aa400@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Phillip M. Chow) Subject: A Peek at the new STe _ by Derek Mihocka / 0390AR Date: Mon Mar 26 03:31:25 1990 A peek at the new STe What to expect from the latest Atari by Derek Mihocka What can I say? I like it, I like it! This is the first significant upgrade to the Atari ST line since the inroduc- tion of of Mega ST more than two years ago, and it has several new bells and whistles. The only drawbacks about the machine right now is that there is no software yet available to make use of the new features, and when such software does appear it will be incompatible with other models of the ST. At a street price of $899 in Canadian dollars, or less than $800 in U.S. dollars, the STe is almost as cheap as a regular ST. The price around Christmas time was even lower! However, there are a few bugs with the computer that still have to be dealt with, and at the time this article is being written (mid-February) the STe is still not available to the general public in the U.S. The machine I bought is the 1040STe. It is almost identical in appearance to a 1040STfm, except for three changes. There are two extra joystick ports on te left of the keyboard which also support paddles and light pens, two RCA audio jacks in the rear of te machine and a tiny letter E on the logo in place of the letters FM. Unfortunately, the original joystick/mouse ports are still buried underneath the keyboard and are hard to reach. Some of the new features include a 4096 color display, hard- ware supported fine scrolling, stereo digitized sound, a built- in blitter chip, plug-in memory modules, 6 joystick ports, an RF-modulator, and a new version of TOS. Screen resolution, disk capacity, and CPU speed remain unchanged. The computer is com- patible with most, but not all, software currently available for the Atari ST and Mega ST computers. The Hardware So far, I have had the chance to rip apart two STes. Both were identical in every way, including some small patches to the circuit board. When I flipped my machine over, I was sur- prised to find that there were no approval stickers on the back. My 520STfm for example, has an FCC ID number along with the usual "Certified to comply with..." text, and also a UL logo. My 1040ST, which doesn't seem to have FCC approval, has a CSA (Canada Standards Association) label. The 1040STe, which is la- beled on the back as "1040STE US" has neither. This could explain why the machine is not yet available in the US, but it does not explain how it is available in Canada without CSA approval. Internally, the changes are numerous. There is now a blitter chip, a new version of TOS (1.6), SIMMs (Single Inline Memory Modules) instead of standard memory chips, 1 Megabit EPROMs instead of 256kbit ROM chips, a lack of sockets and some new chip packages including a 68000 which now comes in a square 68 pin package. More on that later. Most users who wish to upgrade their memory will appreciate the use of SIMMs, a small plug-in memory module that replaces the previously used soldered memory chips. This makes it extremely easy to add or remove memory from a machine. When the top cover and keyboard are removed from the computer, it revelas a slightly modified shield. There is a panel between the power supply and the disk drive, which when removed, exposes the SIMMs. No desoldering or removal of the metal shield is required. My one megabyte machine came with 4 256K SIMMs. To upgrade to 4 megabytes, all I have to do is unplug the 4 SIMMs and plug in 4 1-Megabyte SIMMs. One dealer quoted me a price of $150 per SIMM, so a 4 Meg upgrade only costs about $600 Canadian. And since the SIMMs are plug-in, any user can easily upgrade their ram in about 5 minutes. When the metal shield is removed, the entire motherboard is exposed. The first thing I noticed is that there's no longer a small metal cage around the shifter chip. The next thing I noticed is the extremely small size of the RF modulator. It is barely an inch square and has only 3 terminals on it. I would suspect that this means it's not possible to perform a Hyperscreen upgrade on the STe (Hyper- screen is a hardware modification from Germany that increases the resolution of the ST). At this time, there are no joysticks available to plug into the new joystick ports. The reason is that the ports use DB-15 connectors instead of the usual DB-9 connectors found on all previous STs, 8-bit ataris, and Atari video game units. The extra pins support paddles and light pens, as well as two joy- sticks per port. That means in total, an STe can have 6 joy- sticks connected to it. The documentation that came with the machine does give a pinout of the joystick ports, but that will be of little comfort to most STe users. I assume that Atari will make new joysticks available soon, maybe even before new STe games are out. The RCA jacks on the back are a welcomed feature. Just like the old Atari 800, it is now possible to connect the STe directly to an amplifier. Unlike the Atari 800, the STe has true stereo sound output, thanks to the addition of stereo digitized chips. The original 3 sound channels are in mono, appearing on both the left and right outputs. The stereo sound adds two new sound channels, left and right. I'm not quite sure how many chips are involved with the stereo sound, but I did find two D/A chips and the LMC1992 volume/tone control chip. The DMA chip feeds the D/A converters with digitized sound samples from memory, and the resulting analog signals are fed through the 1992 chip. Each channel has individual bass, treble, and volume controls. Since the stereo sound sampling is done using DMA, it takes no time away from the 68000. This means that it is possible to have digitized sound playing in the background while a program is running, without the usual compromise between sound quality and program speed. TOS 1.6 is on two 1 megabit EPROM chips. This is a blessing, since it will be easy for dealers to burn an updated version of TOS 1.6, hopefully with the bugs fixed. (Editor's note: Atari US has indicated that US TOS 1.6 chipsets will incorporate fixes for some bugs noticed in the Canadian and European versions of TOS 1.6.) Most of the standard ICs, such as the old sound chip, the floppy controller, the DMA controller, and the ACIAs, are soldered directly to the circuit board. On earlier models, some of these chips were socketed. Although this does help to slightly reduce the cost of manufacturing the computer, it will make it more difficult for people to replace bad chips. As mentioned earlier, the 68000 microprocessor now comes in a square 68 pin package. Because this configuration is completely different from the 68000 used in 520s, 1040s and Megas, current PC emulators and accelerator boards that plug in or clip on the 68000 will not work. However, Atari has left the square 68000 socketed and as a result, MichTron has announced the release of PC Speed STe and Jim Allen has stated that he will have an STe version of Turbo 16 available shortly. The Software The first question that will probably come to most people's minds is "What doesn't run on the STe?" That is a valid question, considering the compatibility problems some software had with TOS 1.2 and TOS 1.4. Well, TOS 1.6 has its share of problems. Some are simply bugs which will hopefully get fixed, while other pro- blems are due to programs which 'break the rules.' Atari's policy is that programs that are written properly to follow the rules will work on the STe, and those that don't follow the rules, well, tough. TOS 1.6 has a number of significant changes, so programs that made it pass the TOS 1.4 hurdle may trip on TOS 1.6. The first and most important change is that TOS 1.6 is at a dif- ferent memory location than earlier versions of TOS. It now occu- pies the 256K of space starting at $E00000, and the old memory space starting at $FC0000 is now empty. There are quite a few programs, mainly utilities such as UIS II, Hotwire, DC ShowIt, and Neodesk, that make certain assumptions, and either crash or don't work on the STe. I'm told that UIS III fixes this problem, and I have found a one byte patch that makes Neodesk work just fine. Codehead and Double Click have also made the appropriate changes in their products. Oddly enough, one of the first pro- grams out for the ST, ST Writer, does not run on the STe. No word on what the problem is with it. A larger program lies with video games. Many video games are heavily copy protected, so it is almost impossible to patch them. Unless the software companies are still in business, we may never see fixed up version of some games. One dealer that I spoke to acutally gives a copy of the original TOS 1.0 on disk to customers who have problems running video games on the STe. It is not an ideal solution, but may be the only one. The second change in TOS is that it is now 256K in size, in- stead of 192K. This means that some of the space saving measures of earlier versions of TOS (such as Line F calls) have been removed, and replaced with slightly larger and faster code. According to Quick Index tests I performed, TOS 1.6 runs at the same speed as TOS 1.4, except for a minor speed increase in GEM. Of course, if you turn the blitter on, it gives another small speed increase. TOS 1.6 doesn't completely fill up the 256K. Only about 200K is used, and the remainder is empty for now. Since TOS 1.6 is on EPROM, this opens up a whole new set of possibilities, such as customized versions of TOS with an additional 50K worth of built in utilities. Unfortunately, with all the added space, GDOS is still not built in. It was my understanding that the reason that GDOS is still not built in. It was my understanding that the reason that GDOS was on disk in the first place was because it didn't fit into the early 192K versions of TOS. Now with a 256K TOS, that should be possible - hopefully in future versions of TOS. The third major change in TOS 1.6 is that it supports the 68020/68030 chips. I don't know if this means that a 68030 can just be dropped in. Probably not, but I have already talked to one German developer who has installed a 68020 in his STe. There are several bugs in the new TOS. The first one is that when using a color monitor, the computer will always boot up in low resolution, even if the desktop was saved from medium resolu- tion. Atari released a fix for this problem in January, and it consists of a small program which is placed in the AUTO folder. (Editor's Note: To be fixed in the US chipset.) Another bug, which is also present in TOS 1.4, is that once in a while when a program is double clicked on the desktop, the Show Print Cancel box comes up. I find that this happens with some programs more than others, and may be related to the size of the file name - it happens more with files that have an odd number of characters, such as "MAC.PRG" or "FLASH.PRG". Unfortunately, there is no bug fix for this yet. A less bothersome bug concerns the file-counter indicating one less than the acutal number - when copying two files, the dialog indicates one, both are copied though. That's about it for my tour of the STe. The STe is a machine with a lot of untapped potential, much like the 520ST of 1985. Let's hope it stays around as long. Next month I will cover some programming information on the STe. -- Taken from ST Informer : Issue #33 : March 1990 Used here with permission. -- Article #214 (376 is last): >Newsgroups: freenet.sci.comp.atari.news From: aj205@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Kevin Steele) Subject: Atari Explorer? Date: Sat Mar 31 23:07:23 1990 PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ************************************************************ March 28, 1990 For Additional Information, Contact: Jim Fisher Atari Corporation 1196 Borregas Avenue Sunnyvale, CA 94086 (408) 745-2010 ************************************************************ ATARI EXPLORER MAGAZINE TO EXPAND COVERAGE SUNNYVALE, CA- Atari Corporation announced today plans to enhance the ATARI EXPLORER magazine. This announcement is made formal following necessary actions taken to relocate the operation closer to headquarters in Sunnyvale, California. "We want to make notable changes in the production of Atari Explorer magazine to include expanded editorial coverage of additional products and enhance the environment for potential advertisers", stated Mr. James Fisher, V. P. Marketing and advertising. "The effort to present this news effectively and more timely requires the magazine staff to have 'instant access' to the technology and information available here." Atari plans to complete the current issue which is still in the hands of the printer and rush them to subscribers as soon as possible. At the time of this release, no changes to publication frequencies and subscriber fulfillment were considered and Mr. Fisher stated that subscribers and advertisers will always be the biggest priority. If necessary, extensions will be made to accomodate subscription commitments. END -- posted by: aj205.cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Kevin Steele) --
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