CORRESPONdENTS' CORNER: 8-BiTS AROUNd THE WORld
NOVEMbER FAiRS iN GERMANY ANd ENGlANd
NOVEMbER FAiRS iN GERMANY ANd ENGlANd
Report On the Stuttgart Fair
by Marek Tomczyk
AC Staff Correspondent, Germany
Every year around the first week of November, everyone with an interest in computers or electronics in the southwestern part of Germany heads for Stuttgart's "Hobby Elektronik-Modellbau Sued" fair. This fair is a meeting place for people dedicated to various electronic interests. Some are interested in scaled models like RC cars, boats, or planes (the "Modellbau" part of the fair). Another group is mainly looking for electronic components, computers, software, telecommunications and contacts to usergroups. Of course there are people interested in both fairs; their problem is, they have to spend at least two days to see everything!
This year, on November 8, 1992, I attended the Stuttgart fair hoping to make new contacts with usergroups affiliated with the 8-bit Atari. In the last few years this fair hadn't disappointed me. You could always find some goodies that made your classic Atari heart beat a little faster, and there were at least a few suppliers who hadn't abandoned the 8-bit community. "CompyShop" always used to be a good supplier of the hottest US products. They also sold their own sophisticated hardware accessories: programmable disk drive speeders, memory upgrades, and printer interfaces. I remember also the ABBUC usergroup taking part in this fair.
However, over the last few years the variety of 8-bit offerings has dwindled. This year was the worst. You couldn't find anything. Let's say: hardly anything. All I found were two 800XL's waiting for the lucky purchaser willing to pay 170 DeutschMarks apiece. Another very suspicious character was offering an 800XE (not a typo, the 800XE was never released in the US) for 80DM. I'm almost sure this one didn't work. There were also a few 2600 game consoles for around 80-90DM.
That's all. No other hardware, no other software, no usergroups interested in the Classic Atari. Not a single one. All the usergroups present represented the Amiga, Macintosh, and IBM-PCs, with a few Atari STs around.
This is my best description of the Stuttgart fair. The situation I encountered at this fair mirrors the reality a dedicated user has to face in southwestern Germany. The only way to get new products is through those few mail order companies who haven't already quit. It was a disappointment, but we have to face it and take the future of the little Atari in our own hands. Best regards from a sad Atari Classic user.
Editor's comment, this sounds remarkably similar to what happened at the 1991 WAACE fest in the US; it would seem the German market is exhibiting a similar pattern. In followup communications, Marek estimates the German 8-bit market peaked around the time of German reunification; 8-bits were especially popular in the former East Germany. With a resurgence of the unified German economy people are beginning to experience increasing levels of prosperity and are discarding 8-bits in favor of the more advanced machines. Marek believes the German 8-bit market hasn't completely collapsed but is no longer capable of supporting large, visible vendor operations. Instead it appears to be moving into a smaller arena made up of mailorder vendors and entrepreneurial hackers who lack marketing skills. Marek also cautions that his observations only apply to his locale in south west Germany and don't necessarily represent the state of the entire German market.
AMS6 Show Report
by Dean Garraghty
AC Staff Correspondent, United Kingdom
Off To Stafford!
It's Saturday 14th November, 1992 at 5AM in the suburbs of Doncaster, England. Most people are tucked up fast asleep, but not us! We're up and rearing to go! To Stafford, that is-for the 6th All Micro Show, held once a year in November. It's a general electronics show, part of which is given over to electronics and radio and the other to computers. It's held in Bingley Hall, just outside Stafford: a large warehouse looking place which doubles as a farm equipment store. It was also freezing cold!
AMS has established itself as THE place to be if you're an Atari 8-bit user, assuming prominence when the Atari User shows in London stopped about three years ago. The Atari 8-bit has always been a dominant feature of AMS. As one of the exhibitors (Dean Garraghty 8-Bit Support), I had a unique perspective on AMS6.
Our main effort was to release the new complete version of Digi-Studio, including the new LIDS language for creating music to play back digitized sounds. We also offered our PD library (155 disks) and ran a special offer on our News-Disk (on-disk newsletter). [See Ed Hall's column, "The Garret". elsewhere in this issue for more info on disk-based magazines. -Ed.] These proved enormously popular; we sold enough packs to pay for our stand! We also sold off a few odds and ends of software and hardware, and promoted the Premier Issue of AC.
Another AMS veteran is Micro Discount. In addition to huge quantities of brand new cheap software straight from Atari's warehouses, they also publish software and sell some unique hardware. Among their products are Print-LAB (a generic printer utility), Tricky Print (for printing PrintShop graphics on a 1029 printer), and Turbo Charger which allows very fast tape loads for modified tapes. Derek at Micro Discount told me they were working on a new hardware modification for the 1050 that lets you copy disks in 8 seconds! They also sell the 1050 write protect switch (for writing to the back of disks without notching) and an easy to install stereo sound upgrade.
Next were BaPAUG and Gralin International who were selling their usual product line of mainly imported software and hardware, but also have some unique items of their own. They ran an impressive demo of their MIDIMaster hardware/software package. They also produce the Replay Sound Digitizer I use for all my digitizing. They had a pile of broken computers for a few pounds each. "Where did these come from?" I enquired. "My garage!" replied Colin Hunt. No trade secrets there!
Hidden away in a corner was Page 6 magazine. Page 6 is THE magazine in the UK for Atari 8-bit owners. They've been with us for 10 years and still manage to produce a good bimonthly glossy. Along with the magazine, Page 6 offered their PD library and a variety of software and books all at low prices.
LACE (London Atari Computer Enthusiasts) were at the show again. They publish a very good newsletter called BOOT! and have a PD library of custom software. BOOT! costs 7pounds a year in the UK, but this is really for a membership to LACE.
There's always a great atmosphere at AMS. Everything is very relaxed (if a little cold!), everybody knows everybody, total strangers have conversations in the middle of the hall, people laugh and joke and generally enjoy themselves. Lots of people just turned up with piles of hardware to sell- and great bargains to be had! We did see a drop in visitors compared to previous years, but we're in a bad recession here in the UK so many people probably couldn't afford to come. We still met plenty of new people on the day. The enthusiasm at the show suggests the Atari 8-bit scene in the UK is alive and well. New products were easy to find, with promises of more to come.
Editor's comment: The contrast between these two shows is striking. In the sluggish British economy the 8bitters are still having a jolly old time, while in a rebounding Germany people are leaving the 8-bit. Those of us in the States would give our eye teeth to attend a show like AMS6, but regrettably the Stuttgart scene more closely approximates the American market.