NEWS ROUNdUP: HAPPENiNGS IN ThE 8-BiT WORld
COMpilEd by BEN POEhlANd, MANAGiNG EdiTOR
PSIRD GOES PD
Nate Hartwell of Portal Systems Innovations announced on August 28, 1993 that PSI's v2.03 RAMdisk utility (distributed as Shareware on ACs June 1993 Software Disk), has now been released to the Public Domain. The message was posted to the Info-Atari8 Digest on the Internet, and Nate also posted the source code for the program. (We had one report that the MAC/65 portion of the source code was corrupted and couldn't be UUdecoded, unconfirmed.) IT IS NO LONGER NECESSARY FOR AC READERS TO SEND SHAREWARE DONATIONS TO PSI LABS FOR THIS RAMDISK PROGRAM!
GEnie DOES IT AGAIN
From ACs Telecommunications Editor Lawrence Estep comes word of yet another rate change at GEnie. GEnie recently announced a completely restructured fee schedule that took effect July 1, 1993. Their former Basic Services Plan ($4.95/month) has been eliminated. Users now receive 4 free hours of standard connect time for a monthly subscription fee of $8.95/month (Canada $10.95) with additional hours billed at $3.00/hour during non Prime Time hours. Internet service is now included in the new fee schedule (under the old plan there were extra charges for messages and hookup). This latest change brings GEnie's charges roughly on par with CompuServe's $8.95/month Standard Pricing Plan that provides unlimited access to Basic Services such as news/weather, e-mail and games, and Extended Services access of $8.00/hour. It's now pretty tough to tell them apart without your accountant handy.
Our conclusion is that GEnie users who only used the free services (such as e-mail) under the old plan will find the new fees a tad steep. But users who frequented the Roundtables or did a lot of file downloads will probably come out ahead. Try calling Genie Client Services toll-free at 1-800-638-9636 for more information.
ICD OFFERS 8-BIT RIGHTS
ACs Managing Editor was startled by a recent phone call out of the blue from Tom Harker, president of ICD, Inc., who is seriously interested in locating one or more "sugar-daddies" to buy out ICD's former 8-bit product line.
ICD officially dropped production and support of its 8-bit products (including the OSS product line originated by Bill Wilkinson) in January 1992 (although unofficially we understand they've continued to sell bits and pieces here and there). ICD apparently still has a considerable inventory of parts and manuals on hand that would go to winning bids for related product rights.
If you think you have the business and technical savvy (and the money) to negotiate a deal with ICD and restore one or more of their legendary products to our market, give Torn a call at 815-968-2228, ext. 320.
DISKMAG BITES THE DUST
From Allan Palmer, Mailbag Editor at Page6 Publishing's New Atari User in Stafford, England, comes word that Robert Stuart's fine disk magazine EXCEL (described by Ed Hall in the February '93 AC) has been discontinued. Back issues are still available through TWAUG (Tyne & Wear Atari User Group), P.O. Box 8 Wallsend, Tyne & Wear NE28 6DQ, ENGLAND.
IBM UPGRADES TO ATARI 8-BIT
If you're an 8-bitter who also happens to own an ST, you'll recall Darek Mihocka's "ST XFormer", an interesting shareware contrivance that emulated an Atari 8-bit with DOS 2.5 on an Atari ST. For those of you who own 386 or 486 IBM-compatibles, Darek is now offering "Gemulator 3.0", which emulates an Atari ST running on the IBM.
So, why is a new program for the IBM being announced in an Atari 8-bit magazine? OK, let's see if we can get this right: first, you run Gemulator on your IBM, which turns your IBM into an ST. Then, you can run ST Xformer 2.31, 2.55 or the new 3.0 version that accompanies Gemulator. This in turn converts the emulated ST into an emulated Atari 8-bit on the IBM! Nested levels of emulation- the concept might twist your brain into a pretzel, but apparently it works. List price $229 with TOS 2.06 ROMs.
For more info write to: Branch Always Software, 14150 N.E. 20th Street Suite 302, Bellevue WA 98007 USA or send e-mail inquiries to: CIS73657,2714; GEnie- BRASOFT; Delphi- DAREKM.
ATARI CORPORATION WOOS IBM
The following paragraph was taken from the October 1993 issue of Electronics Now (p.6): "IBM In Video Games. A new home video-game system, designed to compete with Nintendo and Sega, as well as the sophisticated new 3DO standard, has been announced by game veteran Atari, which has signed a contract with IBM to manufacture it on a custom basis. The Atari Jaguar system-proudly announced as all American-made-uses a 64-bit RISC processor with 24-bit true-color graphics 'manipulated in a real-time world,' according to Atari. A 32-bit expansion port is to be designed for future connection to cable and telephone networks. It will also play audio CD's, CD Plus Graphics, and Photo CD disks. The game's audio will use 16-bit stereo to permit realistic sound effects as well as human voices. All this is promised for sale starting this fall or winter at a suggested list price of $200, as opposed to the $700 price tag on the first 3DO game consoles, made by Panasonic."
Although this announcement earlier this summer brought a brief flurry of excitement and ran Atari's usually-depressed stock up a few points, the overall mood has now settled back to "wait and see". Those of us who've been with Atari since the good ole' 8-bit days have vivid recollections of things like the 1090 and the 1450XLD which were also much bally-hooed, then flopped dead at the market's front door. The Jaguar being "American-made" isn't much of a surprise: IBM long ago sent most of their production jobs to the Far East, and maintenance costs on their idle U.S. facilities is clobbering their bottom line. Anyone who has followed the fortunes of Big Blue knows they've been on the ropes the past several years. Atari Corp. as a force in the mainstream computer world is something of a joke, not even warranting a footnote on the playing field of Apple vs IBM. So, can two faltering computer companies pull each other out of the muck with a vaporware videogame? We think so. Real soon now.
1993 VAPORWARE AWARD
In the December '92 AC, Brad Koda of Best Electronics announced plans to introduce a replacement for the now rare and much-sought ICD R-Time8 cartridge. Recent untoward events in the U.K., where Brad's development work has been slowly grinding down over the past year, suggest it will be quite a long time before this project will once more pick up the critical momentum it needs to hurdle the obstacles to market. In the meantime there have been vague rumors that Computer Software Services may have a similar product on the drawing board, but CSS declined to give specifics. In any event we here at AC have pretty much given up seeing an RT8 replacement this year; we added it back to our "Dream Street" list. Of course, if any of our developers should surprise us, and pull out an RT8 in time for, say, Christmas, AC will be more than glad to eat crow. Barring that event, ACs 1993 Vaporware Award goes to the phantom R-Time8 Replacement.