Christmas wish lists. (computer-related gifts)
by Erin Richter
Dear old St. Nick, I've been dreaming all year of a chance to get away from it all, and you're the only one who can make that happen. I'd like my own personal version of Sega's holographic videogame machine with all the bells and whistles that make it come alive--the 12-inch laser disc player and the 20-inch monitor with digital stero sound and full digital graphics. I don't want a 3D effect--I want 3-D for real.
Oh, and I'd like my own adventures for that holographic virtual world. Hologram Time Traveler's a little on the violent side for me, although I wouln't mind catching a ripple or two. Just be sure to fill my holographic video machine with fantasy, thrills, and even a little mischief. Having my own game will allow me to jump in and play any old time without fighting all the teens at the local video arcade down at the mall. I know if you and your elves put your heads together, you'll find a way to leave that Sega machine under my Christmas tree. It's pricey; that's true. But please, Santa, it's the only thing I want.
Pay attention, Santa. My old 8088 has served me well, but under my Christmas tree, I'd like to see a brandnew computer system with more speed, storage, and power--the ZEOS 336-33C, a 33-MHz vertical system with a 128K processor cache.
You've seen my crowded desktop, so you know how I need the vertical cabinet. I won't be greedy and ask for the 200MB drive; the 130MB drive will suffice (for the present), fast and spacious enough to handle any review software I might bring home. I'd like 8MB of memory rather than the standard 4MB, since this will have to last me for quite a while, and I'll be running some memory-intensive programs. The 1.2MB floppy drive and 1.44MB floppy drive should enable me to handle my extensive collection of old 360K floppies as well as any new software that comes along. With a 300-watt power supply and a total of eight expansion slots and eight bays, I'll have plenty of room for my modem, my fax board, my Sound Blaster, and any hardware goodies that may come my way for review. And Santa, give my eyes a break, please, with a color VGA monitor, so that I can enjoy all those great games I'll be getting for Christmas to the maximum.
I'd also like The Oxford English Dictionary (better known as the OED) to use as a reference tool. I joined a book club for the sole purpose of getting the microprint OED, but I can throw away my magnifying glass because now it's out of CD-ROM. This dictionary makes for fascinating reading.
If money were no object--though it almost always is--I would have to select one of the new color LCD portable computers. The Toshiba T3200SXC features a 20-MHz 386SX processor, a sharp-as-a-tack VGA color LCD screen, a 120MB hard drive, and two slots for IBM-compatible expansion cards. It's only $7,249.
If altruism truly has no bounds, I would like Dolch's lightning-fast color portable--the PAC 486-33E. It has a 33-MHz 486 processor, a Super VGA color LCD screen, a 420MB hard drive, and four EISA expansion slots. In the neighborhood of $14,000. Nice neighborhood.
Most of my friends are mere mortals who have to watch every dollar, so I'll just ask for Central Point Software's PC Tools 7.1 or Microsoft's MS-DOS 5.0. Every computer should have both, and if you know someone who has an earlier version of either, now would be a great time to buy the upgrade.
Who am I kidding? None of my cheapskate friends will spend that kind of money on me. I'll gladly settle for Red Baron from Dynamix. It lets you fly the unfriendly skies over Europe during World War I, dodging bullets and engaging famous foes in dog fights.
COMPUTE Books Editor in Chief
A notebook. A place to jot down my most profound thoughts, keep track of important appointments, catch up on the writing and editing I didn't get done during the day, and yes, of course, play my most current game infatuation. One like the 20-MHz Tandon NB/386SX.
The Tandon NB/386SX weighs in at just 6.5 pounds and measures the same as the notebooks you'll find in any stationery store, a mere 8.5 x 11 x 2.1 inches. But I'll need more than just the standard one parallel and two serial ports. Better include the optional 2400-baud modem so I can communicate with . . . well, I do enjoy playing games online.
The NB/386SX comes with a standard 40MB hard drive and 2MB of RAM, but Santa, you know I'll be running Windowns and games that just love memory, so you'd better equip my notebook with the optional 60MB hard drive. And even though the Tandon can handle a full 16MB of RAM, I'll settle for just 4MB. Next year I'll be able to write my list at 30,000 feet.
I want just one thing for Christmas--Stacker. Stacker is a hardware and software combo from Stac Electronics that uses state-of-the-art compression technology to double the size of almost any hard disk. Amazingly, this magnetic magic doesn't cost you a bit in performance. A software-only version of Stacker is also available that operates only slightly slower. Stacker is a cinch to install. All you do is plug the coprocessor card into any free slot, run the installation program, and breathe an expansive sigh of relief. Your hard disk will be roughly twice its pre-Stacker size.
This may sound too good to be true, but it isn't. I know all about Stacker because I've installed a Stacker board in my PC at work, where it turned my 65MB hard disk into a 120MB jumbo. Now I'm dying to get Stacker for my PC at home so I can transform my bulding, stuffed-to-the-gills 120MB hard disk into a whopping 240. Plus, there are new 16-bit versions available for MCA- and EISA-bus computers that promise to be even faster. So please, Santa, give me Stacker, and I'll never ask for anything else again. Promise.
Amiga Resource Editor
If money were no object, my first request to my cybernetic Santa Claus would be a custom-made RISC processor-based computer with a multi-tasking operating system that would run Amiga, Macintosh, and MS-DOS programs. Finally I wouldn't have to wait (or beg) for ports of my favorite games from machine to machine. In a more realistic vein, though, I'd settle for the new Amiga 3000T computer, with a 68040 processor board, an A2410 Lowell graphics board, a nice 19-inch multisync monitor, and a color PostScript printer. This would be a fantastic productivity system. Perhaps a stocking stuffer to go with the Amiga would be a VGA 386, to play games not available on the Amiga, such as Chuck Yeager's Air Combat, Falcon 3.0, and Strike Commander.
It would be nice to have a collection of computers, each to run the one or two best games and applications for that particular machine. Maybe even some orphan machines to run the games that never made it to our 16- and 32-bit world of the future. However, my biggest Christmas wish would be to end the rash of sloppy, careless ports of MS-DOS games to the Amiga platform. When companies release fantastic games like Railroad Tycoon, F-15 Strike Eagle II, and Chuck Yeager's Advanced Flight Trainer 2.0 with operating system incompatibilities or prevent them from being installed on the hard disk, you wonder why they even bothered to port them. They would never release a PC game in such shoddy condition. Santa, please make these companies take the extra time to do their Amiga software products right, and make sure it pays off for them with better Christmas sales next year.
COMPUTE Books Editor
Santa, times are tough, I know. But I've been dreaming of having my own laptop computer this Christmas. I would like a Toshiba T5200 laptop with its 100MB hard drive and plenty of memory. It has a 20-MHz 386 processor, VGA gas plasma screen, and a 3 1/2-inch floppy drive, too. It would be just what I need.
As for a printer, I'd like a portable ink jet--perhaps a Canon BJ- 10ex portable. Oh, yeah--could you throw in a mouse with all of this? I think I'd like the Microsoft BallPoint that I can clamp to the edge of my keyboard.
And to accompany my portable set, could you throw in a few roundtrip tickets to some exotic places like Casablanca, Hong Kong, and New Delhi? I'd love to get started on that novel about my adventures in faraway destinations. And make those tickets on the Concorde, please.
My system wouldn't be complete without a modem to communicate with the rest of the world. While you're at Toshiba, Santa, I'd like you to pick up the optional 2400-baud Hayes-compatible internal modem for that Toshiba laptop. My editor will be waiting anxiously to receive all the latest chapters detailing my travels. Thanks, Santa.
And then there's software to run on my new machine. Well, supply me with Microsoft Windows and Venture Publisher, Windows Edition, and Microsoft Word for Windows. I think I can take care of the rest. Santa, you're a busy man, and I know you've received a lot of computer wish lists this Christmas. Do what you can. I'll be nice all year long.
The Commodore 64 tree is a little bare this year, but that didn't stop me from bending Santa's ear with a few modest gift proposals.
Since my 64 and 1541 are starting to show a little wear and tear around their chips and sockets, I might as well put the bite on Santa for new ones. I hope he picks the Test Pilot combo, which includes the Commodore 64, 1541, joystick, and some games for about $300. That shiny new system just screams for a speedy hard drive from Creative Micro Design. Since the guy in the red suit is footing the bill, I'll opt for the HD-200 with its 200MB capacity. More modest models include the HD-20.
While the old boy is at CMD, he might as well pick up a RAMDrive or two for stocking stuffers. These battery-backed RAM disk cartridges come in 512K, 1MB, and 2MB models. Some of us 64 users were disappointed that RAMLink was a little slow out of the shipping dock, but Santa assures me that his elves at CMD are cranking out plenty of these REUs for Christmas orders.