The Editor's Notes
Robert Lock Editor/Publisher
The Next Few Months
Atari's aggressive pricing moves, in the wake of Commodore's announcement of the VIC-20 last spring, seem to be bringing rewards. We hear that monthly sales now approach last year's annual sales figures. And the numbers are still growing.
IBM's initial entry into the personal computer market is impressive. We watched several fully configured units at work recently at the Midwest Computer Show. The reactions of viewers were as significant as the units. One gentleman, after observing the machine briefly, remarked, "Well they finally got into the market, huh — I'll buy one." And that's just one of the beauties of name recognition. We'll have a full overview of these new IBM systems soon.
We expect to see Apple, Inc. moving quickly to defend their place in the market. The IBM entries will hit their niche the hardest in terms of pricing, features and positioning. We might expect some re-positioning on Apple's part, with one new entry making a push into the $1,000 system area.
Atari Moves Into Minnesota
Our contacts indicate that the state of Minnesota school computer contract, held for the past three years by Apple, Inc., has been awarded to Atari. In their move to capture a significant piece of the educational market, Atari offered quantity prices of $579 for the following package:
Atari 400, BASIC cartridge, 810 disk drive, joystick, and 13" black and white TV.
A competitive package, to say the least! Several thousand systems to start with, our sources say, and similar arrangements are being set up around the country. One of the dealer-level beefs we heard when Apple, Inc. was moving directly into the high volume sales markets was that dealers were being left out.
Atari, to their lasting benefit we're sure, will be selling through individual dealers in each town. The dealers will then carry through providing service, ongoing support and additional software, and peripherals as required on a local basis. We applaud this significant support of the dealer network.
10,000,000 Personal Computers By The End of '86?
A conservative estimate if you believe some marketing plans. The systems selling for less than $400.00 may hit that point even sooner. We expect 1982 alone to see delivery of well over 1,000,000 core units: Atari 400's, VIC-20's, and Radio Shack Color Computers.
Clarifying The Rights Of Authors
When you sell a manuscript to COMPUTE!, or one of our other publications, we purchase all rights to your manuscript, including accompanying software. The software rights are non-exclusive however, in that we freely give permission on request to original authors, authorizing the sale or distribution of their software. It is understood that such sale or distribution is non-exclusive, and subject to agreement by the author. We also retain the right to sell and distribute the software on a non-exclusive basis, subject to royalty and contractual agreement by the author.
In Their Continuing Quest
To Respond To The US Market,
Commodore Brings In Their Best
Commodore has been voicing a commitment to strengthening their US marketing operations for some time now. We're hopeful that a recent personnel move will translate that theory into practice. Kit Spencer, the former marketing head for Commodore UK, has come over to head up US marketing operations. While in England, Kit built an organization which, at one point, held 70% of the market share. Should be interesting to see how he does here if the powers that still be let him have his go at it. You'll find a candid, exciting interview with Kit in our November issue.
Coming In November:
The Single Board Computer Gazette — A Decision And Announcement
The December issue of COMPUTE! will be the last with an SBC Gazette. The gradual reorientation of COMPUTE!, and the changing needs of our readers, contributed to this decision. While the Gazette will go away, interest won't — we'll still have occasional and timely articles relevant to all readers. And we'll still have the continuing contributions of Marvin Dejong, Gene Zumchak's column Nuts And Volts, and more.
Creative Computing Acquires Computers And Programming Magazine
In the push for biggest, Creative Computing has made a dynamic move to leap past McGraw Hill's BYTE magazine as the largest circulation magazine in the industry. Creative bought Computers and Programming magazine (remember Elementary Electronics magazine? — that's it with a name change and an audience repositioning). Creative's blending the C&P audience into their own subscriber base, ending up with a projected circulation in excess of BYTE's 200,000 +.
It's an interesting marriage of reader populations and we're curious to see how it all sorts out.
Telecommunications And COMPUTE!
One of my pet frustrations has been the amount of editorial paper shuffling we end up doing around here. All of our typesetting is now done inhouse on Mergenthaler equipment. By early spring we expect to be set up editorially to serve as "store and forward" hosts to our columnists. They'll be able to call our machines (PET, Atari, Apple, etc.) and transmit columns to us directly. We'll be able to edit on-line, and then load editorial material directly into our typesetting unit, thereby saving millions of keystrokes, and two entire copy proofing steps.
It's nice to think we'll actually get to the point where we can save ourselves tremendous amounts of time using the technology we're all surrounded by!
Happy Birthday — COMPUTE! Grows On
With this issue our press run has increased to 40,000. Two years ago, we were in the midst of anxiously trying to gather our first 400 subscribers. Our first issue went out to fewer than 40 dealers, world-wide. Now, two years later, this issue goes to readers in more than 50 countries, and a dealer/ newsstand network just short of a thousand.
Our growth has been marked by constant compounding due, in large part, to you, our readers. Our recently completed reader survey included a question designed to help us identify where we find you. Or, better stated, where you find us. While the answers showed us our advertising works, and our new subscribers from retail outlets are important, the second largest source of new subscribers was you — the existing readers. Well over 30% of our new subscribers find COMPUTE! via a friend's recommendation. Facing page 40, you'll find our direct mail cards. Give one to a friend and sign them up. Thanks.
California Here We Come (And Michigan, New York, Boise...)
In our efforts to bring production and delivery to earlier dates, we're gradually making changes that should bring subscriber delivery to a par with store delivery. One big change we expect to implement by the December issue will involve all of you West Coast readers. Currently the mail is taking three weeks or more in some cases to get to you. As far as we can tell, there's absolutely nothing we can do with the US Postal Service to improve that delivery time. You're "Zone 8" from us, and that's that. Beginning with the December issue, we'll truck your magazines across country and mail them in California.
You should see substantially improved delivery time and be able to enjoy your COMPUTE! that much sooner.
COMPUTE! Books Update
Our first two books, the Atari and the PET/CBM book, were delayed during our production revamping. They are now scheduled for completion and shipping in October. Those of you who've ordered the book, and waited patiently (or not so patiently) should be assured your orders will be shipped first. In this case, we'll send them out first class mail. Sorry for the delay.