Z*Magazine: 2-Feb-87 #37

From: Atari SIG (xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 07/08/93-09:43:20 AM Z

From: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG)
Subject: Z*Magazine:  2-Feb-87 #37
Date: Thu Jul  8 09:43:20 1993

Zmagazine           February 2, 1987
Issue 37                   
Zmag Staff:
Publisher/Editor in Chief:Ron Kovacs
Editor/Coordinator:Alan Kloza

This Week in Zmag......




  <*> EXPRESS! 1030 VERSION 3.1



   All this and more in this weeks
   edition of Zmagazine.....

....User Group of the Month........

We're starting a new monthly feature
in Zmag and we're inviting all Atari
User Groups to participate.

The User Group of the Month will
spotlight any local user's group who
supplies us with material about 
their organization. 

It's a great opportunity for some
free publicity, so we hope that you
take advantage of it. 

We ask that you write a brief 
article about your group, giving us
all the pertinent facts and inform-
ation (Name, location, # of members,
how it originated, when you meet,
topics of interest discussed, etc)
and submit it to Zmag Headquarters
no later than the 15th of the month
for publication in the following
month's column.

So if you'd like to see your group
spotlighted in March's User Group of
the Month, submit your material by
February 15th.

We kick off this feature in next 
week's issue of Zmag as we report
on the C.H.A.O.S. User's Group of
Lansing, Michigan.

Be sure to watch for it!

....Atari Corp. In Scandanavia.....

It's common knowledge that Atari
Corp. has had a firm foothold in the
European computer marketplace for
a couple of years now. In fact, the
ST's were selling overseas long 
before they hit the U.S. market.

Lennart Olsson, SIX Sysop, picked 
up this tidbit for us recently on 
Atari Corp's expansion in the 
European market.

Here's Lennart's report, which has 
been condensed from several messages
he left to us on CIS.

"Heard a RUMOUR that Atari has 
formed a daughter company here in
Sweden to cover the Scandinavian
market. It was said to be so new that
they don't have any offices nor
phones yet...

Date:  27-Jan-87 10:16 EST
From:  Lennart Olsson [76254,467]
Subj:  It was TRUE!!!

Mats Toernblad, the product manager
for Atari Corp. Scandinavia AB just
phoned me. He informed me that
they had existed for two weeks.
I got so surprised that I nearly
didn't know what to say at all.

Mats was working with their network
of retailers. He had bought Atari
User (which had the article about
Zmag and SIX in it) and read the
article about us.  In a way,
Zmag can be credited for the

He wanted to know how many Atari
related BBSs I knew of. I mentioned
the ones that I had heard of and
suggested that they (Atari) support
the Atari user community through the
BBS's. He promised his support as 
soon as they hooked up their modems.

At the moment there are only three
employees, all who had previously
worked for the Swedish branch of

Wishing you a very good Atari New

Lennart Olsson

....Mega-ST--The Talk of The Trades

Talk to any Atari user and he'll
extol the virtues of his machine.

Read the Atari magazines and you're
sure to find high praise for the
computer that insures the magazine's

Listen to Commodore chat and check 
out their publications and you'd see
the same support expressed for their

Let's face it, computer users are 
a highly subjective lot and are not
known for their unbiased opinions.

That's why its nice, as an Atarian, 
to thumb through some of the 
electronic news trade magazines this
week and read all the nice things
they're saying about Atari and the
"show" they put on in Las Vegas at

The following excerpts are from the
January 26th edition of Electronic
Engineering Times. 

"Las Vegas, Nev.--Atari Corp. has
introduced several product
extensions to its 68000-based ST
series of computers.

The company also surprised attendees
of the recent Consumer Electronics
Show here with the debut of two
powerful low-end computers capable
of running IBM-PC software.

Atari's new Mega ST series includes
1-2-and 4 megabyte versions. Company
president Sam Tramiel said he 
expects at least one Mega ST system,
with a new Atari laser printer, to
be available for less than $3000
retail this spring.

The Mega ST makes several departures
from the original 520 and 1040 
keyboard-and-processor machines.
The keyboard is now lighter and
separate from the compact main
processor cabinet. The latter houses
the power supply, a 720-kbyte micro-
floppy disk drive and a 20-Mbyte
Winchester drive, as well as the

The processor boasts a realtime 
clock and a 10-Mbit/second DMA
channel, sufficiently fast to
enable the machine to drive a 
90,000-dot-per-inch Canon laser
engine directly.

Atari expects the I/O capabilities
of the Mega ST to steal sales from
rival Macintosh and Sun Microsystems
computers. For example, the Mega 
ST-4, which is priced below $2000,
features a 320-kbyte ROM operating.
That gives it full access to the 4-
Mbyte system RAM, and reduces disk
I/O by keeping the operating system
working at silicon speeds.

Next, Atari's new custom bit-blitter
propels the Mega systems to pixel
plotting speeds normally found only
on much costlier 68000-family 
workstations and computers. (After
initial Mega ST supply needs are
met, the company will introduce the
blitter graphics processor into the
520 and 1040 ST's, and offer kits
for existing owners at a low price.)

The two new low-priced IBM compat-
ibles that Atari showed--$599 and 
$699--feature a dual-speed 8088
processor, 512 kbytes of system 
RAM (expandable to 640 kbytes
internally), a 360-kbyte floppy
disk drive and a high-resolution
monochrome monitor.

One unusual attraction of the 
premium Atari PC is its internal
EGA graphics display drive 
capability. EGA graphics are 
normally a several-hundred-dollar
option on rival personal computers.

The monochrome monitor is capable
of showing 720 X 348-pixel and
64 X 350-pixel displays.  A full
256 kbytes of RAM is dedicated to
screen graphics, freeing up the
entire 512 kbytes of system RAM for
program operation, RAM disk config-
uration and the like.

In the EGA color mode, using an
optional color CRT, the machine
can display up to 16 colors at a
time, from a palette of 64. Rival
IBM-PC compatibles offer four 
colors from a 16-color palette.

Shipments start in April."

Enough said!

....News, Rumors, Items............

Compiled by John Nagy
Mid-Michigan Atari Users

EXPRESS! 1030 version 3.0 will not
be released. Before you panic, it's
only because author of the
incredibly popular public domain
terminal software, KEITH LEDBETTER,
plans to go directly to version 3.1.

The entire line of EXPRESS! programs
(for the 850 type HAYES, the
1030/XM301, and the MPP) were to be
configured the same for a new
version #3.0.  The one for the 850
was released in the early fall, to
be followed in short order by the
1030 and MPP versions.  However,
Keith decided to included improved
XMODEM and YMODEM routines and call
it 3.1, since the DOC for 3.0 was
already released.  There have been
some delays, but expect the new
versions at almost any time.

It seems the SUPRA hard drives for
the ST are out selling the ATARI
brand hard drives by quite a margin.
It may be more marketing and
cosmetics than price or performance.

The SUPRA is based on a 3 1/2"
drive, considerably smaller than the
ATARI 5 1/4" unit.  Another reason
may be that SUPRA has had much more

have seen full page ads for their ST
HARD DRIVE in MANY club newsletters
around the country.  MANY.  Yet when
we have called them about
advertising with MID-MICHIGAN ATARI
our reps that "Oh, we DON'T PAY for
those, the clubs just run them for
their information value."  Is this
an outright lie??  When pinned on
specifics, they back down a bit-
"CURRENT NOTES?  Oh yeah, we DID
advertise there... but that's the
only one..."   Let me name a dozen
others.  Or, better, let me name
someone who is sure NOT to believe
anything else we hear from SUPRA...

created equal.  There are at least
two distinctly different versions by
different manufacturers, and maybe
more.  And the picture quality is
not equal either.  It seems the
OLDER monitors are noticeably
sharper.  BE AWARE of what you get! 
Shop around.

THUNDER!, a terriffic word processor
accessory for spell checking and
more, will NOT WORK with 1ST WORD...
sorta.  Actually, it will not work
in the ACCESSORY mode with
the extra spaces the formatiing puts
in the file mess up THUNDER!'s
operation.  So, use it in GEM mode,
and it should perform fine.

reported on the internal drive in
the 1040 ST.  Although ATARI only
rates their drive for 80 sectors,
most drives are CAPABLE of accessing
more.  VIP and other programs force
the drive to go beyond the 80th
sector, and SOME machines just can't
do it.  ATARI says it's not their
problem, since they published the
specs.  VIP says get a different
drive.  Cute.

At the other end of the spectrum:
ATARI showed a new CASSETTE drive at
the CES...  YIKE.  Actually, tape is
POPULAR overseas, where the cost of
a disk system is much higher than
stateside.  One company offers an
upgrade called "RAMBIT" (sound
familiar?) that is actually for
increasing the tape data transfer
rate from the normal 600 baud up to
3600 baud.  IMAGINE!  Tape loads of
worthwile sized programs in well
under fifteen minutes!  It costs 18

....Part II CES Video Wrap-Up......

In the last issue of Zmag we spoke
of new products to look for in the
home video industry. Part I dealt
with VCR's and Camcorders.

We now offer you Part II of the 
report, which wraps up what's new
in home video for 1987.


Several major Hollywood studios feel
1987 could be the breakthrough year
for the fledgling laserdisc format,
which has had only mediocre sales
since its introduction in 1979. 
Current market estimates put the
size of the LV market at far less
than 500,000 owners, which is
miniscule compared to the size of
Beta and VHS owners, at 5,000,000
and 38,000,000, respectively.   

The most long-awaited announcement
was that for Pioneer's LD-S1 LV
Player, which is the first to offer
a built-in frame store for providing
special effects with all discs,
including CAV, CLV and CAA.  This
player features a "videophile-grade"
separate power supply, digital
filters for improved audio 
performance, and a wealth of
on-screen readouts and programming 
options, with a list price of $1600. 
Also displayed was a new 
mid-priced model, the LD-838D, which
plays digital-sound laserdiscs and
provides effects only with CAV
discs, for $550.


In the area of projection TV, the
new products were few and far
between.  The performance
breakthroughs expected this year 
still haven't come, and some dealers
expressed concern over marginal
sales and lack of consumer interest
in projectors in general.  

Infinity showed an improved version
of the RSTV prototype first seen at
last summer's Chicago CES, using a
curved screen for a somewhat
brighter overall image.  The quality
did in fact seem somewhat sharper,
with less light falloff on the
extreme corners, but the
presentation appeared to be limited
by the source material (an LV on a
Yamaha player).

Kloss Video, after insisting for
years that they'd never make a
rear-screen projector because of the
superiority of the front-projection
system, took the wraps off their
first rear-screen unit:  the Model
Ten.  One of the largest
self-contained systems on the
market, we judged this 5' model to
be good for what it was, but still
no match for Kloss' model 100.  This
comparison was difficult to judge
since the manufacturer took pains
not to demonstrate both in the same
room.  For those with tight space
considerations, it may be the best
possible compromise.  


Larger, flatter screens are the
ongoing development in the 
area of new video monitors and
receivers, with more and more 
manufacturers offering models with
screens larger than the usual 
26" and 27" of years past.  The only
major holdout is Sony, who 
has remained curiously silent about
their plans for large direct 
view tube sets.  

Proton showed a new 20" flatter-tube
model, the VT-210, which features an
MTS tuner and sells for $850, plus
matching model 314 stereo speakers

Panasonic jumped into the 31" area
with their CTJ-3170R Data 
Grade Monitor, which boasts a
whopping 480 lines and features on-
screen display, a 155-channel MTS
tuner and a flat 31" CRT.  

Quasar showed a similar model, the
TS-9980BK, and both will be 
available in August for around

Toshiba showed two breakthroughs in
TV sets:  first, a 30" model, the
CX-3077, which features a digital
flat square tube with a 141-channel
tuner, and claims an incredible 600
lines of horizontal resolution, for
a list price of $2500.  Moving from 
huge to eensy-teensy, they also
showed a 4" color LCD prototype 
which boasts 105,600 pixels, and has
a cabinet measuring 7" x 5" x 1" and
weighs about 1 1/2 pounds.  While we
weren't particularly impressed with
the quality of the LCD picture, this
is obviously an area which will see
considerable progress in the near
future...though just how long before
they'll be commercial realities is
another question.    


Always anxious to drum up more
business, several video head-
cleaning accessory firms held a
series of back-stabbing press 
conferences in which they denounced
the other's products.  Amaray 
held a "Video Head Cleaning Forum"
in which they attempted to 
prove that their new wet cleaning
system was superior to all 
other contenders, and invited all
the other manufacturers to 
attend.  (Not many took them up on
their invitation.)  Rival 
manufacturer Allsop denounced the
demonstration, and claimed 
their wet-system, one of the first
on the market, was superior.  

Meanwhile, 3M claimed that the
wet-systems use solvents that 
can damage the pinch rollers and
plastic components of VCR's, and 
insisted their "tape-based" cleaning
system was best.  When asked 
about possible excessive headwear
due to the abrasiveness of 
their system, 3M officials insisted
that their system was not a 
true "dry-type" head cleaner per se,
and that using their product 
for 30 seconds was equivalent to
about 10 minutes with a 
conventional tape.  

Planting their feet firmly in both
camps, audio accessory maker
Discwasher now has both wet- and
dry-type systems.  And Advanced
Video Dynamics showed several
different wet-cleaning systems which
electronically cue the user as to
when to apply the cleaning fluid. 

This firm also showed a prototype
warning device designed to tell the
user when to clean the VCR, after
every 40 or so hours of use.

We found all of this controversy
quite amusing, considering that most
VCR manufacturers advise cleaning
heads only "when necessary," or
after every 500 or so hours of use. 
We've already seen several instances
where novice videophiles have
damaged heads by overusing abrasive
dry head cleaners, and caution 
CEFORUM users to avoid making this
same mistake.  

....Reviews, Features, Commentary..

The Nintendo Entertainment System
  By Steve Godun

At last!  I've finally torn myself
away to write this review.  I know
that Zmag is mainly Atari news, but
I think you'll want to know about
this great new game system.

I guess I should start this review
by saying that I am a junkie.  A
video game junkie, that is.  I
average about $20 per month on
arcade games, plus I have an Atari
2600 and two Atari computers at my
house - all of which are well
stocked with video games.

Nintendo of America, famous for its
arcade games "Donkey Kong" and its
sequels, its light gun games "Duck
Hunt" and "Hogans Alley", and for
its "vs." sports series (Vs.
Baseball, Vs. Golf, etc), has now
put out a home system that produces
that same Nintendo greatness in the
comfort of your home.  To me, this
purchase (about $140) will save me
money in the long run.  Anyway,
back to the review.

The Nintendo Entertainment System
(henceforth referred to as "the
system" or "NES") is as close to
arcade quality as you're going to
get.  There is VERY little I can
find wrong with it.  Well, OK,
there are a FEW faults, but nobody
is perfect.

Please note that this
review is of the "deluxe" system,
which includes the main control
deck, the "Zapper" (a light gun),
"R.O.B." (a robot-like unit), and
two video game packs ("Gyromite"
and "Duck Hunt").  The system is
also sold in three components;
the control deck is one unit (sold
with "Super Mario Brothers"), the
Zapper is a second unit (sold with
"Duck Hunt"), and R.O.B. is the
third unit (strangely enough,
R.O.B. isn't sold with any game

At the heart of the system is the
8"x10"x3.5" (LxWxH) control deck.
The color of the components is very
close to the dove grey color of the
Atari XE/ST computers, only the NES
is two-tone grey - one is a shade
lighter and the other is a few
shades darker.  There aren't any
specs on the technical workings of
the control deck in the owners'
manual, so I don't know what CPU is
in it.

On the front of the deck
are two controller ports, two
buttons (one is for power and the
other is a reset switch), a
power-on light, and a small hinged
door that flips up to reveal the
cartridge port.  On the side of the
unit is an audio/video out jack,
which is used if you connect the
NES through a VCR.  On the rear of
the unit is the channel selector
(channel 3 or 4), a power jack, and
an RF port (for TV interface).  The
unit seems to be sturdy enough, but
it is made entirely of plastic and
is VERY lightweight.  One bump from
a misguided arm will most likely
cause your game to crash on you,
so it is a good idea to keep the
control deck on a sturdy table away
from the player when in use.

The next interesting thing in the
package is a two-tone grey light
sensing gun called "The Zapper".
The gun isn't as light as it looks,
especially after realizing the size
and weight of the control deck.
However, it IS possible to hold the
gun at the screen for extended per-
iods of time with minimal cramps.
This unit seems like the sturdiest
part of the whole setup.
Depending on the size of your
screen, The Zapper has a range of
about 6 feet.

I've been using the NES with a 9"
color TV (black hite, for some
reason, doesn't register well with
The Zapper or with R.O.B.), and
I've measured a range of about 7.5
feet...Not bad.

The Zapper comes packaged with the
arcade translation of "Duck Hunt",
a simple target game that challen-
ges you to blast the ducks out of
the sky.  (The Zapper comes with
"Duck Hunt" whether you buy it by
itself or as part of the deluxe
setup.)  A hybrid skeet-shooting
contest is also programmed in the
cartridge.  The Zapper interfaces
with the control deck via
controller port #2.

The final unit, R.O.B. ("Robotic
Operating Buddy" - You can live
with it if I can), is what sets the
NES apart from other systems.  When
purchased as part of the "deluxe"
setup, it comes with a hybrid game
called "Gyromite", which is a
simple but habit forming game.

When purhcased alone, R.O.B.
doesn't come with any game packs or
accessories.  This strikes me as an
oddity since R.O.B. cannot be used
by himself (he must be used with
the control deck).  R.O.B. needs a
special program pack to work, so
you can't use R.O.B. with games
such as "Excitebike" or "Super
Mario Brothers".  Oh well...You
can't win 'em all.

R.O.B. stands a little over 9"
tall and (by himself) doesn't take
up much room on your desk.  On his
"head" are two light-sensing
"eyes", which must be in sync with
the TV when playing a game that
uses R.O.B.'s functions.  When the
"Gyromite" package is played,
several attachments must be put on
R.O.B. including two hands (they
look more like claws to me), a gyro
holder, two gyros (gyroscopes), the
gyro spinner, and the control base.
By the way, R.O.B. requires four AA
batteries to work, and the "Gyro-
mite" gyro spinner needs one D
battery.  After linking this to
R.O.B. he takes up quite a bit of

Each game that uses R.O.B. has a
special TEST mode.  After making
the TEST choice from a menu, the
TV seems to flicker.  This is now
the time to sync R.O.B. to the
TV.  Normally, R.O.B. can be placed
about 4-6 feet away from the TV
screen (yes, R.O.B. must stand in
front of the TV with no obstacles
between him and the TV).  When
playing a R.O.B. game, signals from
the TV (in the form of light
pulses) are sent to R.O.B.  These
pulses are picked up by the two
"eyes" in R.O.B.'s head.  These
pulses are then translated and
processed into physical movement.

R.O.B. can perform three kinds
of movements; Grasp and release ob-
jects, raise and lower objects, and
rotate and carry objects to the
left and right.  By using these
motions, on-screen objects are
timed and moved by the actions of
R.O.B.'s off-screen movements.
Pretty neat, huh?  As of this wri-
ting, there are only two games that
use R.O.B.; "Gyromite" and "Stack
Up".  More games are expected 
in the near future.

I'll be reviewing "Gyromite",
"Duck Hunt", "Super Mario Broth-
ers", "Excitebike", and other
Nintendo games in future issues of

Of course, what good would a game
system be if there weren't any
controllers for it?  Well, the
NES control deck also comes with
two hand-held game controllers.
Each controller is EXTREMELY light
(weigh about 1/2 an ounce without
the cord), but they are one of the
most responsive controllers I've
ever used (and I've used a LOT).

The controller must be held with
two hands.  On the left side of the
controller is a large black plastic
"plus" sign.  This "plus" sign is
actually the "joystick" of the
game.  It is a sturdy, four-way
controller (up, down, left, and
right) comfortably playable under
your left thumb.  On the right
side of the controller are two
large red buttons marked "A" and
"B".  For some unknown reason,
Nintendo has placed the "B" button
before the "A" button, so the but-
tons read "B" and "A" from left to
right.  Strange...But you'll get
used to it.  In the center and the
bottom of the controller are two
small rubber buttons marked SELECT
and START.  These do what you'd
expect them to do.  On some games,
the START key pauses and unpauses
the game.  On the games that use
R.O.B., the START key toggles the
action between R.O.B. and the
screen, and SELECT pauses and
unpauses the game.  Both control-
lers are identical, but I feel that
southpaws will again feel cheated
because of the right-handed

Overall, the Nintendo Entertain-
ment System is well worth the price
IF you play a lot of Nintendo video
games.  These days, a video game
system doesn't sound too good
because you can get a computer for
the same money (or less).  Con-
sidering that I was going to buy
the Sega Master System (NOT
RECOMMENDED!) or the Atari 7800
(later...maybe), this system has
GOT to be good.

Compound this with the fact that
third-party companies are already
translating arcade hits for the
Nintendo System, and I can
almost guarantee that this system
will DEFINITELY have a long shelf

So if you really want arcade
quality at home without paying a
couple hundred for an arcade
machine, then the Nintendo System
is the machine you've been looking

....ANALOG MAGAZINE................

Finally, Happy Birthday to Analog
Magazine, which turned 6 years old
this February. 

Analog remains a loyal friend and 
companion to Atarians everywhere.
Ask for a copy at your local 
magazine store--they deserve your
continued support.

Zmagazine Issue 37  February 2, 1987
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