ST GOSSIP FROM Hollywood USA
TG can often be found skulking the turf around Hollywood and Vine. However, he won't be going to Paris again anytime in the near future, mostly due to the fact that the Parisian police have made it very clear that they don't want him back—something to do with the police chiefs daughter. Heard any good Atari rumors'? Write it down and stick it with used gum on the underside of the pay phone at the address above. (Don't live in La-la land? Then send TG's mail to: ST-Log, 9171 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 300, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.)
I don't ever want to hear any of you question whether ST-Log is willing to spend big money to get a story. As a partial Christmas present to the rest of the office staff (I tend to hang around the office a lot during the holidays looking for invites to parties) and partially as an effort to pursue "the story," ST-Log recently sent me on a fact-finding mission to Paris. Now after seven days of grueling research at the corner tables of every bistro on the West Bank, I can report on some of the latest in ST hardware. Please note: The fact this stuff exists in Europe indicates that it may well be available in the U.S. at some time in the very near future.
Now after seven days of grueling research at the corner tables of every bistro on the West Bank, I can report on some of the latest in ST hardware.
The big picture
Tired of looking at the world through a 12-inch picture tube? Well, big screen monitors are now on sale in Paris. I finally got to try one this week. It was set up in the window of a little computer shop just across the street from my hotel. When I asked the manager how it was selling, he shrugged (all Frenchmen shrug) and told me all the "Atari stuff" sold well. Most of the buyers were using the monitor for CAD work although some of his customers were graphic artists. I was given about a half hour with the unit during a quiet time in the early morning.
The 19-inch screen, with an awesome resolution of 1024 × 1024 pixels, was up and running on a Mega 4. This adaption to the ST consists of a connector from the Mega's internal expansion port which runs to the monitor. That means it will not work with Atari's new arithmetic coprocessor but... .
The driver for this screen is loaded as a desk accessory and was written by a local (French) company called Megavision. One of the authors is Dominique Laurent, the guy who wrote TurboDOS. The driver still has a few rough edges—but very few. For all you Techie types here are a few specs.
Screen type: 19-inch, paper white phosphor
Resolution: Up to 1024 × 1024 pixels
Scanning: Horizontal 48@ kHz
Vertical 60 Hz Non-interlaced
Input: Video: TTL Positif
DB-9 pin (DIN)
Other Information: Software delivered as a Desk-Accessory; can be used as a "Switcher"; choice between pull-down or drop-down menus; menus can be called from anywhere on the screen; laser compatible for screen dumps.
This beauty will work with all GEM programs if they are written following the DRI rules. I can tell you from personal experience that it works with Timeworks Desktop Publisher ST and Superbase Professional, and I am told that the monitor is being used regularly with some of the better CAD packages in Europe now. There are a few programs that it does seem to have problems with, however. The only one you might have heard of in the U.S. is 1ST Word Plus. It seems like the graphics mode of this popular word processor gets the screen a little messed up—usable, but messed up.
This monitor offers more than just large, sharp pictures. After installing the monitor software, you can use the large screen for your main work area and use the smaller Atari SM124 monochrome monitor to display a "Zoom Mode" of small sections of the large monitor's screen. This unit is clearly designed as a professional tool and is priced as such: $2,600, U.S. That's a week's stay at the deluxe hotel I've been hanging out in here in Paris! The value of the U.S. dollar is really working against the import of some of the more exciting products I've seen. Among the other things you may see in the coming months is...
You've seen one form of these advertised in some of the business magazines. It's a small device that looks a bit like an old style electric razor and functions as a personal copier. You simply run it across a page and a photocopy (on a thin strip of paper) of whatever the four-inch head passed over is produced.
Now, adapted to the ST and connected via the cartridge port, you can pass the head of the unit across an image, and the image is stored in your ST's memory. You can then save the picture in any of several formats for later use in desktop publishing or any other graphics application that will benefit from scanned input. The image quality is better than that which you get from Image Scan, and you don't need to run your original through a printer with a scanner head attached to achieve that quality. Once again the cost is high for the home user and quite reasonable for the office environment: $400 U.S.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
Back on the home front, word is that Atari is making good progress on its own full-page monitor, and it should see the dealer's shelves within the next 30 to 60 days. This unit is an Atari product and will, of course, sell for much less than the big-screen job we talked about above.
In addition, in an effort to build its DTP market position, Atari has been guiding the rewrite of GDOS into a potential powerhouse. The specs for the new GDOS
Unix, MS-DOS emulation, GEM and a 68030 all in one box—tune in next month for details.... (under development for over six months now) call for it to be able to: 1) load fonts dynamically; 2) use outline-defined fonts rather than bit-mapped fonts; 3) require only one size (definition of font) to be loaded for each style to be used, with the ST doing all the rescaling internally at the time of display or printing; and 4) provide 100% compatibility with all programs using GDOS.
If these four objectives are met, GDOS will move from a memory-hungry patch to a lean, mean DTP tool. To take advantage of the new GDOS, Atari has licensed over 40 new fonts, to be released with the new version of GDOS. When? Well, this is the big question at Sunnyvale. Lately, Atari has shown a willingness to take the time necessary to develop a bug-free version of a product before shipping, rather than rushing something to market and letting the public do its debugging. It's a more professional attitude, but it does mean that all we can tell you is that you'll see it when it's ready and not before.
Wine, women, song
After spending seven days in Paris, I can honestly say the wine in California is a better buy and in many cases just plain better. Speaking of Hollywood, unless memory fails me, Warner Bros, still has a financial interest in the success of Atari Corp. Has anyone from Atari's ad agency suggested to the Warners people that it would not hurt to show STs in a film now and then? We all see movies and TV shows with computers in the background every day. How about using some Ataris for props? The people who own one will be the only ones who recognize it, but the unit is unique looking, and the image will impress itself on the mind of the potential computer buyers who might just get a positive feeling from the ST the next time they visit a computer store displaying the unit.