HyperCard, Apple's hypertext program for the Macintosh, has been getting enough press and attention to make even presidential candidates jealous. Hypertext is the computer buzzword of the year.
And all this hasn't made Apple II computer owners happy. They want a hypertext application, too, so they can create the same kind of software that's being generated by the megabytes for the Macintosh. Unfortunately, Apple has been playing dumb when it comes to hypertext on the II. If anything appears, it would undoubtedly find a home only on the Apple IIGS, the company's darling of the line.
Though a IIGS version of HyperCard may one day surface, Apple II owners don't really have to wait. There's already a hypertext program for all 128K Apple computers that serves up many of HyperCard's vaunted features.
Tutor-Tech is its name. Developed and published by Techware, a small company in Florida, Tutor-Tech is an authoring system designed primarily for teachers. The program's Teacher/Student package, with one disk for the teacher, another for students (the latter can be copied up to 50 times), costs $195.
Tutor-Tech users can create sequences of screens, which are then linked through buttons. Paint program-like tools make it easy to draw simple shapes and lines, fill with one of 16 patterns, 16 colors, and place four kinds of buttons. Graphics can be imported from MousePaint or Print Shop, a boon to art phobics.
You may be tempted to match Tutor-Tech against HyperCard, but the comparison doesn't always work. TutorTech, for instance, does not offer a programming language (like HyperCard's HyperTalk), a failing that's apparent when you find out that clicking on buttons can only change pages (as the screens are called).
But Tutor-Tech can link one card to any other card or to other lessons (a term used for collections of pages) on the disk. Both qualities are shared with HyperCard. In fact, many of the things HyperCard can do, Tutor-Tech can duplicate on an Apple IIe, IIe, or IIGS.
For more information about Tutor-Tech, contact TechWare at P.O. Box 1085, Altamone Springs, Florida 32715, 305-834-3431 (after April 16: 407-695-9000).
What's GEOS?Berkeley Softworks, best known for its prominent position in the Commodore 64 community and now looking for new worlds to conquer, is bringing its GEOS operating system and applications to the Apple II.
A disk operating system for the 64 officially sanctioned by Commodore, GEOS presents a Macintosh-like graphics interface, complete with icons, pull-down menus, windows, and mouse control. Berkeley's GEOS applications include a word processor, a paint program, a desktop publishing package, and various utilities, all of which helped extend the Commodore 64's life long past anyone's expectations.
All this is scheduled to come to the Apple II. GEOS, geoWrite, geoPaint, geoSpell, utilities, and desk accessories are included in the first package, which retails for $129. With a mouse, Apple GEOS users can point and click their way through computer applications just like Macintosh owners.
Other desktop-style interfaces have been tried on the Apple II, notably Catalyst and MouseDesk, though none have caught on, Apple GEOS, however, will have an almost instant library of applications available, since translating the Commodore versions takes only weeks, not months.
Berkeley plans on marketing GEOS to the established base of more than 4 million Apple IIe and IIc owners. Apple IIGS users have the iconbased Finder, a color version of the Macintosh graphic interface, and so would find little use for GEOS. According to Brian Dougherty, president of Berkeley, GEOS will find its first market in education, where Apples dominate. Berkeley's geoNet, a network linking Commodore 64s and Apples to an IBM PC acting as a file server, should be a strong argument for bringing GEOS and its applications into the classroom. Educators may see the advantage in having every student-no matter what computer they're working withusing similar-looking word processors, for instance.
The Bottom LineApple Computer's bottom line keeps getting blacker and blacker.
In late January, Apple reported its first-ever billion dollar quarter. Net sales for the first quarter of the 1988 fiscal year (October 1 to December 31, 1987) were $1.042 billion. That's 57 percent more than the numbers for the same quarter the previous year.
The company's net income (from all sources, not just sales) was even better, a record $121 billion, up 108 percent over last year's first quarter. According to a statement from John Sculley, Apple's chairman and chief executive officer, the company's new products were primarily responsible for these sales gains. The Apple IIGS was singled out as the best contributor from the Apple II line, while the Macintosh SE was that computer's best sales performer.
MIDI, FinallyCreating music is one of the most publicized uses of personal computers, and one of the best ways to sell machines. The Apple IIGS has a sophisticated Ensoniq sound chip, capable of producing up to 15 separate voices simultaneously, and holds the musical high ground in the Apple II line. Yet amateur and professional musicians have spurned the Apple IIGS because it doesn't offer built-in MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) capabilities, prefering computers like the Atari ST instead.
That's likely to change with Apple's introduction of a MIDI interface for the IIGS. For $99, you get a three-inch by two-inch box which offers one MIDI in-plug and one MIDI out-plug. MIDI is the music industry's standard for communicating musical information digitally and electronically. That means when you connect the IIGS and a MIDI-equipped instrument, such as a synthesizer or digital guitar, to Apple's MIDI interface, the computer can capture each and every note. With the right MIDI-compatible software-such as the soon-to-be-released Music Studio 2.0 from Activsion-musicians can edit and manipulate the music using the IIGS.
Apple is aiming the Macintosh at the professional music market (the MIDI interface works with the Mac as well) and the IIGS at the home and classroom arena. Since the IIGS offers color, however, it wouldn't be surprising if musicians turn to that computer instead of the Macintosh, especially as IIGS music software becomes more sophisticated and such extras as laser printing of scores come to the machine.
Hot LeadDesktop publishing may be the biggest thing to hit the Apple II market this year. Five packages have been announced by various software publishers, and two have already made it to market.
First to arrive was Softsync's Personal Newsletter, a well-rounded desktop publish ing program that works on Apple IIe, IIc, and IIGS machines (128K required). The basic features are there, as well as the ability to import art from such popular software as Newsroom, Print Shop, and Dazzle Draw.
Timeworks made it in at second with its Publish It!, a larger program with more fea tures. It includes a built-in word processor, a graphics toolbox, and a Macintosh-style interface. Macros and optional laser printing (not immediately available, however) are among the package's highlights.
Three other programs haven't made it out yet. They include Springboard Soft ware's Springboard Publisher, Millikin's Melody, and Berkeley Softworks' geoPublish.
Springboard Publisher is still the most anticipated (and the longest delayed) desktop publishing program for the Apple II. Long promised and full of features, much of its reputation rests on Springboard's solid performer, The Newsroom.
Melody is distinctive simply because it's the only one of the five which requires an Apple IIGS. It's also the most expensive, scheduled to retail at $195, significantly above the $59-$139 prices of the others. Melody will include a spelling checker and a thesaurus, as well as built-in laser printing support.
The last to announce was Berkeley (see "What's GEOS?"), which has said its geoPublish, already out for the Commodore 64, would be the first application to be translated to the Apple II. It's expected to offer such features as master page styles, multiplepage designs, multiple columns, automatic text flow, graphic scaling, page preview, and PostScript printing to the Apple LaserWriter.
- Gregg Keizer