What's Happening in the Atari World
By Stephen Mortimer and the START Staff
Atari at SIGGRAPH
Atari Corp. made a showing at the annual SIGGRAPH computer graphics convention this year in Boston, Massachusetts, held from July 31 to August 4. The conference drew over 30,000 people to view exhibits, attend conferences forums and courses and see the latest computer animations and artwork.
The Atari booth showed off two of the new Atari Transupter Workstations, which were running X-Windows under the Helios operating system. Frank Foster, Atari's director of Specialty Markets, explained that Atari hopes to do for parallel processing graphics workstations what the ST does for personal computers, that is, bring higher power for a lower price. The focus of the Atari SIGGRAPH appearance was to attract developers to the ATW, and Foster said the response had been good. Atari has already shipped about 300 units to developers, mostly in Europe. - Heidi Brumbaugh
What's Atari up To?
Atari has made several major changes over the past summer, after a period of major product announcements and high expectations in the spring. As reported here last month, Atari hired the advertising agency of Chiat/Day/Mojo to help promote such new products as the STACY, Portfolio and the TT. Their subsidiary, Anderson and Lembke, will handle Atari Computer's products. Chiat/Day/Mojo formerly was employed by Apple Computer and produced some of the advertisements that introduced the Macintosh.
Atari recently began to sell the 520STFM through the discount Price Club chain as a short-term marketing test. Dubbed the 520 Game System, it includes a double-sided drive and a disk of public-domain games and will sell for $350. Atari's move to sell 520STs may be an indication that the four-year-old computer may be phased out to make room for new products such as the upcoming ST-based game machine and a low-end version of the enhanced STE that features an increased color palette and better sound. (See the feature story this month for more information.)
"Lynx" is the name for Atari's portable game system that was introduced at the June CES in Chicago, and it has created quite a stir in the industry. Some insiders think Lynx, originally dubbed the Portable Computer Entertainment System or PCES, is the product Atari needs to reclaim the video-game industry dominance it lost to Nintendo. Lynx has the advantage of having a color LCD screen instead of the Nintendo Game Boy's black-and-white screen.
Mike Dendo (Vice President Sales), Joe Mendolia (Vice President Marketing), and Chris Roberts (User-Group Coordinator) are no longer with Atari. Jim Fisher, a former employee of Federated, has assumed Mendolia's duties, while Fisher and Sig Hartmann have assumed some of Dendo's former responsibilities for the time being. No replacement has been found as of press time for Chris Roberts.
Recent activity in Atari's stock placed it near $10 per share in mid-August. The excitement on the American Stock Exchange surrounding Atari has been attributed to the imminent disposal of Atari's Federated division as well as takeover or merger talk on the street. Atari's Chief Financial Officer Greg Pratt absolutely denied that Atari was a takeover target, citing that the Tramiels own over 50 percent of Atari thereby effectively preventing a hostile takeover. However, Pratt allows that a merger is not quite as impossible as a takeover. Warner Communications, now part of Time-Warner, reportedly owns 25 percent of Atari stock and rumor has it that that block of stock may be sold in order to fund debt incurred by the recent merger of Time and Warner.
Upgrade for WordPerfect 4.1
As previously promised, WordPerfect Corporation is now shipping their long-awaited maintenance update of WordPerfect 4.1. This upgrade supports the ST's file-selector system, thus letting you use your own favorite file-selector, such as the START Selector or Universal Item Selector II, to access a file or macro. This update also offers the option to preview a document (with headers, endnotes, etc.) before printing it out. Registered owners can receive their maintenance upgrade by sending $17.50 to WordPerfect Atari Update, 1555 N. Technology Way, Orem, UT 84057, (800) 321-3271.
K-Spread 3 Version 3.5
Kuma Computers announces their updated version of K-Spread 3 (version 3.5). The major improvement to this popular spreadsheet program is the addition of an extensive range of macros, similar to the kind used in Excel. This upgrade is free to owners of the original version of K-Spread and can be obtained by returning the master disk to Kuma Computers. For more information, contact Kuma Computers, 12 Horseshoe Park, Pangbourne, Berkshire, RG8 7JW, England.
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