An Interview With Dr. Chip
Robert Lock, Editor/Publisher
For those readers new to COMPUTE!, Dr. Chip is Professor of 6502 Science at Figment U. He's also head of the Figment U. 6502 User's Group, a collection of 6502 users located at various Figment U. branches around the world. From time to time he consents to these interviews.
RCL: Dr. Chip, it's good to see you again. I understand you've been quite busy.
Chip: I've been trying to piece together some late happenings in this industry, that is, when I can get any work done. That character who's trying to adopt me, the Silver Streak, has taken to calling me up on the phone in the middle of the night trying to sell me stock in his new T-shirt factory.
RCL: I'll have to admit, Chip, that The Silver Streak got some appreciative mail the first time he wrote you.
Chip: Harumph! Can you imagine me on a T-shirt...? Never mind. Back to business. First things first. Commodore has taken their dealer relations problem squarely on the chin. A recent business/financial article raked them over the coals. I'll tell you this; if they don't resolve some of their communications and customer relations problems, they'll be in a 6502 pickle. Finke (the new President of Commodore) has apparently taken direct responsibility for getting the Northeast distribution region ship-shape. That's one of Commodore's seven US regions, and I think he'll set up a model for the rest of the country.
RCL: I've received a good bit of mail lately from readers complaining about never receiving their Commodore US PET Users Group Newsletter. Commodore US told me last fall it was all being taken care of.
Chip: I suspect they'll get it together. Just as an example of how other Commodore operations treat their customers, I'll point out that Commodore Canada has been making refunds direct to their Canadian customers who sent orders to the US and never received anything. They seem to have a good handle on customer relations up there.
RCL: I can tell. We have extensive Canadian circulation, and I never get customer relations letters from Canada like those I get from the US readers.
Chip: Well, my money's on Finke.
RCL: I feel as though I've said this before, but we'll have to wait and see. By the way, have you found out what's happening to the KIM? (The KIM, for you uninitiated readers, is the "single-board" 6502 computer from Commodore that started the 6502 family several years ago).
Chip: It looks as though they have stopped producing it. We can't find out what's going on.
RCL: I tried to check on it and they said there were plenty in supply. Turns out, at least from the information that I get, that the plenty in supply aren't necessarily new units. Dealers we've heard from are completely out and can't get any. One industrial client called (he has an installed base of 175 KIMs running in an industrial environment), and all of a sudden he can't get any more. No warning, no comment, no answers. I'd like to hear from anybody caught up in the midst of this.
Chip: Sometimes I can't figure those guys out.
RCL: Any other news Chip?
Chip: Bits and pieces. There's a lot going on in the language area. Atari's new PILOT, (previewed by David Thornburg in last issue's "Computers and Society" Column), looks quite exciting, especially for beginners at any level. There's a new language coming along from Commodore called COMAL, "Commodore Algorithmic Language". Reports have it that it's a combination of the structured preciseness of PASCAL and the simplicity of Basic. It was developed by a Danish educator and is being used extensively in the Danish educational system. We hear it may be given away as public domain material.
University of Waterloo also has some interesting projects underway at the moment, but I can't provide details until later.
RCL: That sounds interesting. Waterloo is where they've done extensive research and development on the advanced languages for the larger machines, isn't it?
Chip: That's the place. I'll fill you in on their latest projects next time.
RCL: What's happening with VIC, Chip?
Chip: Commodore's new color computer seems to have been pushed back in US introduction time to a May-June time frame. We do know they're in the process of final redesign to meet the new FCC regulations. There are mixed reports on the Apple II and compliance with the new regs as well, but we can't yet tell what Apple's doing about them. The Atari units appear to already meet the new specs from the FCC, a point consistent with their methodical approach to this marketplace from the beginning.