Last month, we hinted at a significant pending announcement for Atari ST users. Here at COMPUTE!, one of the most exciting things we do is launch new publications. We are, without parallel, the most successful and balanced publishing house in the industry of consumer computing. A decision on our part to support a computer manufacturer and a computer system with a dedicated magazine is not made lightly. We are extremely pleased, therefore, to announce that ABC Publish- ing, our parent company, has committed full support to our launch of COMPUTE!'s Atari ST Disk & Magazine.
This will be our very first product that comes as a magazine/disk combination only. Whether you subscribe or purchase it from a newsstand, you'll get a magazine containing the articles and a disk containing the programs. It's a single, united product. And one we're quite proud of.
No publisher in this industry has been as successful as COMPUTE! Publications at marrying diverse publishing technologies. When we introduced COMPUTE!'s GAZETTE DISK, other disk products were selling a few hundred copies at $30 or more per issue. We launched the GAZETTE DISK at $12.95 and created, with your massive support, an overnight price move in the industry. The GAZETTE DISK is today the bestselling product of its kind in the world, circulating tens of thousands of copies per month.
We fully expect COMPUTE!'s Atari ST Disk & Magazine to accomplish the same feat. At launch, our newsstand distribution will rival that of a magazine-only publication. Logistically, there are numerous difficulties involved in binding tens of thousands of disks into magazines heading for newsstands. It's an exciting undertaking, and we'll be anxiously awaiting the results of the first newsstand sales. Watch for the premiere issue of COMPUTE's Atari ST Disk & Magazine in September at your local newsstand that handles COMPUTE! and COMPUTE!'s GAZETTE. We have every hope that it will become a collector's item.
You'll find complete details of our announcement on page 3 of this issue. On page 2 you'll also find a rather interesting contest announcement. We're offering $10,000 in prizes for the very best Atari ST programs and articles. Good luck!
Commodore 64 Forever
At this June's Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago, Commodore plans to unveil something that may seem ho-hum to many people. In an age of 16/32-bit Amigas and STs with megabytes of memory, Commodore is preparing to announce a revamped version of the Commodore 64---basically the same computer in shiny new wrappings. Dubbed the Commodore 64C, it will be a fully compatible 64 in a Commodore 128-style case. Enclosed in the package will be a floppy disk containing a terminal program for accessing the QuantumLink information service, and GEOS, the graphics-oriented operating system and user interface. Expected price: between $160 and $180.
This may not seem too exciting--- unless you're a Commodore enthusiast or someone searching for an inexpensive home computer system. From our viewpoint, it's the most exciting 64-related announcement in the past three years. Loud and clear, it broadcasts three important messages:
- Despite its commitment to establishing the Amiga as its flagship personal computer, Commodore is not abandoning the millions of 64 owners. The Commodore 64C shows that Commodore is determined to continue its support of what has become the world's most popular home computer.
- The Commodore 64 market will remain a significant source of revenue for software developers, and may even keep expanding.
- As the bundling of GEOS shows, the 64 is still evolving, growing more powerful and easy to use, and is an exceptional value for people who need a functional computer system for under $500.
Like Apple's slogan when it introduced the Apple IIc---"Apple II Forever"---Commodore is declaring, in effect, "Commodore 64 Forever."
Forever is a long time, and we don't really think the 64 will be around quite that long. Still, Commodore's renewed commitment to the 64 reassures those who have wondered if their computers would soon be "orphans." COMPUTE! has received many letters from readers who feared that the 64 market would dry up and vanish now that Commodore is preoccupied with the Amiga and 128. And actually, as we reported several issues ago, Commodore did attempt to shut down 64 production more than once last year. But each time, the unabated hunger for this four-year-old machine swamped Commodore with orders, and the company was forced to restart production and rethink its strategy. The 64 refuses to die.
So Commodore is taking advantage of the situation by bringing the computer up-to-date without sacrificing its compatibility with the thousands of programs and peripherals already on the market. Here is what Commodore plans to announce at CES:
- The 64C in a more professional-looking Commodore 128-style case (minus the 128's numeric keypad);
- A bundled disk containing GEOS (Graphics Environment Operating System) and QuantumLink software. GEOS is patterned after the desktops found on the Macintosh, Atari ST, and Amiga--- windows, icons, pull-down menus, bitmapped graphics, and multiple onscreen type fonts. GEOS includes several integrated application programs and desk accessories, including GEOpaint, GEOwrite, a calculator, notepad, and clock. In addition, GEOS significantly speeds up disk access without modifying the 1541 drive. (For more details on GEOS, see our Winter CES report in the April 1986 issue of COMPUTE!.)
- On the flip side of the disk, 64C buyers will get the special terminal software necessary to access QuantumLink, the online communications service specially tailored to Commodore users.
- The 1541 drive will also get a sleek new case to match the 64C.
- Memory expansion up to 128K and 512K RAM for the 64 and 128.
- A 3½-inch floppy disk drive for the 64 and 64C, priced around $225.
All in all, it's an interesting series of announcements, and an encouraging development for Commodore 64 enthusiasts everywhere.Robert C. Lock,
Tom R. Halfhill