Classic Computer Magazine Archive START SPECIAL ISSUE NUMBER 1


Spreadsheets, Databases and Personal Financial Management

By Matthew G. Loveless, START Consulting Editor

When the Atari ST first debuted, many of us wondered whether the business world would ever sing a tune other than "Old Big Blue"; whether Atari's game machine stigma would hinder their success in entering the high-rise offices and cottage industries of both the U.S and Europe. We wondered if we would be forever cursed to run crippled, first-generation spreadsheets and archaic checkbook managers on our stylish new machines.

Good news.

With the price of a fully configured 520 ST hovering around the $500 mark, and the release of the more powerful Mega STs, Atari is making inroads into some of the largest (and the smallest!) segments of corporate America. Just how far will it go? That depends a lot on the software. Judging from the sampling presented here, Atari is well on its way to becoming a realistic and low-cost alternative to Apple and IBM.


Database applications can turn your computer into an electronic filing cabinet, Rolodex, or card catalog. They allow you to store large amounts of information, such as a customer list, and access that information quickly and easily. Databases range in complexity: some are as simple as mailing lists, while others support basic mathematical functions, and still others implement full-blown procedural command languages. What unites them is their ability to manage and manipulate data.

The Manager ($149) is a text-based, menu-driven, non-relational database, The Manager offers a complex procedural language, Manager Math, which allows data manipulation, calculations, custom reports, and custom data entry screens, with up to 21 simultaneously open files. It also includes a thorough, well-written manual. BMB Compuscience Canada, Ltd., 500 Steeles Ave., Milton, Ontario L9T 3P7 Canada; (416) 826-2516

VIP Professional

Data Manager ST ($79.95) is a well-designed, carefully-polished, non-relational database, which includes a healthy assortment of fields (text, numeric, and calculated) and is suitable for keeping track of anything from a Christmas mailing list to a small company's invoices. Not a data-cruncher, but friendly and very-easy to use. Interfaces with WordWriter ST and SwiftCalc ST. TimeWorks, Inc. 444 Lake Cook Rd., Deerfield, IL 60015. (312) 948-9200

DataTrieve ($49.95). Flashy, powerful, and fully GEM-based, DataTrieve sports a comfortable price tag and an easy-to-learn interface. The icon interface offers a gearshift for changing modes, an eraser for deleting, and a plus and minus sign for roaming through your data. You can also access common functions through the keyboard. Math functions are expected in a future version. Interfaces with PowerLedger ST. Abacus Software, P.O. Box 7219, Grand Rapids, MI 49510. (616) 241-5510

dbMaster One ($49.95). This relatively simple, first-generation ST database, primarily designed for home and business mailing lists, is easy to use and still a favorite. Atari Corp., 1196 Borregas Ave., P.O. Box 3427, Sunnyvale, CA 94086. (408) 745-2000

Zoomracks II ($149.95). Designed by user-interface expert Paul Heckel, Zoomracks II uses a card-rack metaphor to insulate the user from the usual hassles of field types, field lengths, and file handling. It also allows records to be tied to DEGAS pictures. First-time database users are likely to find the rack metaphor intuitive. Also available: Zoomracks kits, which include templates, printer output forms, and macros. Quickview Systems, 146 Main Street, Suite 404, Los Altos, CA 94022. (415) 965-0327

Trimbase ($99.95). This semi-relational database allows the unitiated user access to some relational data retrieval without learning a procedural language. Not well-suited for turnkey systems, but can open the window to relational processing with only a small time investment. MichTron, 576 South Telegraph, Pontiac, MI 48053. (313) 334-5700

dBMan 3.01 ($189.95). dBASE III is the industry-standard development environment for fully-relational databases and turnkey systems. This is a large-scale tool for the experienced dBASE programmer, bringing the power of that system to the Atari ST. Not GEM-based. Versasoft, 4340 Almaden Expressway, Suite 250, San Jose, CA 95118. (408) 723-9044

Regent Base ($99.95). Regent Base offers a blend between an easy-to-use GEM-based database and a fully-relational dBASE-like environment. Regent Base is designed specifically for the Atari ST, and its procedural language allows the programmer to access the GEM interface. Like dBMan, Regent Base is suitable for custom database applications and turnkey systems. Regent Software, 7131 Owensworth, Suite 45A, Canoga Park, CA 91303. (818) 882-2800

Dollars & Sense

SuperBase Personal ($149.95). One of the newest databases on the market, SuperBase Personal is also one of the best. This relational, GEM-based database sports VCR (tape player) controls for skimming through your data, B+ tree indexing, import and export facilities, reports and queries across multiple files and multiple sort levels. It will even tie database records to graphic images: NEOchrome, DEGAS, and GEM . IMG files are all supported (in all resolutions, even). START's editorial staff uses this product in-house. Progressive Peripherals,Software, 464 Kalamath Street, Denver, CO 80204. (303) 825-4144

BASE TWO ($59.95) A solid, easy-to-use (and powerful) GEM-based successor to DB Master One. Authors Stanley Crane and Dan Matejka have built a quick-to-learn database ideal for home use. Totally RAM-based (limited by RAM, but searching, sorting, and retrieval are almost instantaneous). Bridges the gap between the too simple and the overly complex. The Catalog, Antic Software, 544 Second St., San Francisco, CA 94107. (800) 234-7001

K-DATA ($49.95) K-DATA is the latest addition to the Kuma lineup of GEM-based products (most notably A-Chart and A-Calc Prime). K-DATA is a full-featured non-relational database with mathematical and report-generating capabilities. The most notable features of K-DATA include its intuitive, fun to use, icon-based GEM interface, common in Kuma's products, and its compatibility with A-Calc Prime and A-Chart, which are available from The Catalog (Antic Software). Kuma Computers, Ltd., 12 Horseshoe Park, Pangbourne, Berkshire RG8 7JW, England. International number: 44-7357-4335


Whether you're a senior accountant or a numerical whiz-kid, spreadsheets--giant computerized sheets of accounting paper--can make your job easier and more fun. Spreadsheets are built up from cells, and each cell can hold either text, a number, or a formula. The formulas allow you to relate cells together, making the "profit" cell equal to the "sales" cell minus the "cost" cell.

VIP Professional, GEM version ($249.95) In the world of high-caliber spreadsheets, Lotus 1-2-3 is the name of the game. VIP professional is the only spreadsheet available for the Atari ST which is fully Lotus compatible. Professional GEM offers Lotus 1-2-3 power, flexibility, and file compatibility, as well as a fairly smooth GEM interface. Two-dimensional graphing capability built-in.

Masterplan ($129.95) This scaled-down version of VIP Professional, sacrifices full Lotus 1-2-3 compatibility and macros for a better user-interface and a smaller price-tag. Masterplan features the same math and graphics as VIP Professional. (Antic review 11/87.) ISD Marketing, 2651 John St., Unit 3, Marlaham Industrial Park, Markham, Ontario, Canada L3R 6G4. (416) 479-1880

PowerLedger ST ($79.95). Featuring a whopping spreadsheet maximum size of 65,536 x 65,536, PowerLedger offers up to three windows open simultaneously, seven types of graphs (including the ability to add to the graphs with freehand sketching and graphic primitives like circles, boxes, and ellipses). Interfaces with DataTrieve. Abacus Software, PO. Box 7219, Grand Rapids, MI 49510. (616) 241-5510


A-Calc Prime ($59.95). This long-awaited successor to Kuma's original A-Calc spreadsheet offers an entirely new icon and menu-based GEM interface. In addition to all the features in the original, A-Calc Prime supports macros, conditional expressions, color coding of cells, five simultaneous windows, and ten clipboards. Interfaces with A-Chart graphing software. The Catalog, Antic Software, 544 Second St., San Francisco, CA 94107. (800) 234-7001

LOGiSTiX, Senior version ($149.98). LOGiSTix is an innovative and powerful product, recently converted to the Atari ST. On the surface it is a spreadsheet, but go deeper and it becomes a combination database, spreadsheet, time-planner, and graphing program. In one part of the worksheet you can keep your database--customers, prices, employees; in another part of the worksheet you can develop a time-sheet, using the information stored in the database to allocate resource to jobs over periods of time; in other areas of your worksheet, you can perform complex spreadsheet-like calculations on your data; and, finally, you can add graph commands to your worksheet to visually display your data. Requires one megabyte or more of RAM; Junior version ($99. 98) without graphics is also available. Progressive Peripherals & Software, 464 Kalamath Street, Denver, CO 80204. (303) 825-4144

SwiftCalc ST ($79.95). SwiftCalc ST, TimeWorks' entry into the ST spreadsheet market, is a solid and reliable spreadsheet, earmarked for home use. It supports a full range of arithmetic and financial functions as well as a keyboard- and GEM-based interface. Includes Sideways, a graphics program for printing your spreadsheets vertically, and SuperGraphics, a sophisticated graphing program. Interfaces with WordWriter ST and Data Manager ST TimeWork's, Inc., 444 Lake Cook Rd., Deerfield, IL 60015. (312) 9489200


Dac-Easy Accounting ($69.95). In 1985, Dac-Easy Accounting won the InfoWorld "Best Software Value" of the year award for the IBM PC version of this program. Dac-Easy Accounting for the Atari ST is a full conversion of this popular accounting package, which includes facilities for general ledger, accounts payable/receivable, inventory management, purchase ordering, billing, and forecasting. This sophisticated package is suitable for maintaining the accounts of any small business. Not GEM-based.

Dac-Easy Payroll ($49.95). Designed as either a stand-alone program, or for integrating with its sister product, Dac-Easy Accounting, Dac-Easy Payroll provides complete payroll management for a small business. It supports an unlimited number of employees in up to 99 different departments, automatically handling deductions, raises, reviews, sick times, FICA, FUTA, SUTA, and State Disability Insurance Fund deductions. It will even manage tips, piece-rate, and after-the-fact payroll, as well as check printing, employee lists, and summary reporting. Not GEM-based. Dac Software, Inc., 4801 Spring Valley Rd., Bldg. 110-B, Dallas, TX 75244. (214) 458-0038

Inventory Manager ($79.95). A simple, yet powerful, inventory management program from the people who brought you Regent-Base and RegentWord. Inventory Manager will handle detailed part numbers and part descriptions, price fields, custom reports, as well as stock and obsolescence management. It will also automatically generate orders based on sales history and user-defined parameters. Not GEM-based. Regent Software, 7131 Owensworth, Suite 45A, Canoga Park, CA 91303. (818) 882-2800

Base Two

Synsoft General Ledger ($69.95). The first module in Synsoft's Integrated Accounting system, General Ledger features automatic double-entry accounting, automatic check-writing, and up to 500 active accounts. Ledgers are automatically posted using keyboard-entered data; continuous error-checking ensures database integrity. Not GEM-based. Synsoft, P.O. Box 561, Allen, TX 75002. (214) 727-2466

STAccounts ($249.95). From the makers of VIP GEM and MasterPlan, STAccounts is Ditek Internationals entry into accounting packages for small- to medium-sized businesses. STAccounts features a complete GEM-based interface and extensive help facilities. The program includes stock control, sales, batch invoicing, order entry, accounts receivable and payable, as well as customer lists and reports. The program does not yet support a hard disk and is only recommended for use with a monochrome monitor. ISD Marketing, 2651 John St., Unit 3, Markham Industrial Park, Markham, Ontario, L3R 6G4 Canada. (416) 479-1880

Financial Plus ($295) An accounting package that combines accounting power with convenience--you don't need to store entries on separate diskettes or run transfer programs. Equal Plus, 1406 Camp Craft Road, Suite 106, Austin, TX 78746. (512) 327-5484

Personal Finance for Atari ST ($29.95) An easy-to-use package for managing finances at home. Can keep track of eight checkbooks and credit cards, balance checkbooks and keep track of tax deductibles. Sparry Software Labs, P.O. Box 632, Milford, MA 01757. (617) 478-8752


dBMan, the dBASE III clone, is used to develop turnkey systems--custom database-oriented programs for business use. The following products were developed under dBMan and then compiled. You need not actually own dBMan to run them.

SBT Database Accounting Library

SBT Corporation has converted their more popular IBM PC DBASE III applications to the Atari ST. All the SBT programs can share data and are designed to work together. Available at this time are: dLedger ($295), general ledger/finance; dInvoice ($210), billing, inventory control, accounts receivable; dOrder ($145), sales order processing; dPurchases ($145), purchase order processing; and dPayables ($195), accounts payable/check writing. Source code is available for approximately 35 percent more. SBT (Small Business Technology) Corporation, One Harbor Drive, Sausalito, CA 94965. (415) 331-9900

Hi-Tech Advisors Small Business Library

Video pro--handles most aspects of video store management, including rentals, returns, sales, accounts receivable, inventory control and tracking, customer records, professional transaction receipts. $199

Mail-Pro--personal and business file manager and mail-merge which uses Atari's public domain ST-Writer. Allows customized form letters and mass mailings. $69

Sales-Pro--complete point-of-sale and inventory control program. Contains features necessary for wholesale, retail, or mail order. Perpetual inventory control, cash-drawer support, transaction records, password protection, variable discounts, etc. Coming modules for customer files and back-order capability as well as module #2 for accounts receivable $99, or $59 (mod 1), $59 (mod 2). Hard disk recommended. Hi-Tech Advisors, PO. Box 7524, Winter Haven, FL 33883-7524. (813) 294-1885


Now that you've finally talked your spouse into buying a computer, you have to prove how much money it will save you. Home finance packages do everything from writing checks to offering financial advice.

PHA$AR ($89.95) A recent conversion to the Atari ST environment, PHA$AR has been well-received by its IBM PC and Commodore Amiga users. It is a powerful and friendly, GEM-based, single-entry accounting system suited for home or small-business accounting. It supports 130 expense and income categories, 40 accounts (checking, VISA, etc.), easy setup and maintainence, integrated calendar and scheduler, and automatic reports, including tax calculations, account summaries, and net worth. Prints checks, also. User-interface is mouse- and keyboard-based. The Catalog, Antic Software, 544 Second St., San Francisco, CA 94107. (800) 234-7001

Dollars and $ense ($99.95). A GEM-based conversion from the IBM PC, Dollars and $ense bills itself as a complete home finance package. It handles all aspects of home finance, including check writing, forecasting, reports, even graphs. It will also keep track of your total assests and liabilities. (Antic review 9/87.) Monogram Software, 367 Van Ness Way, Torrance, CA 90501. (213) 533-5120

Personal Money Manager ($49.95.) Personal Money Manager is a well-designed application program for maintaining personal financial records and preparing summary reports. Completely GEM-based, Personal Money Manager allows you to maintain up to 999 accounts of standard double-entry transactions with up to a year's worth of data at a time. It does not print checks, nor does it handle automatic tax records or graphs. (Antic review 4/87). MichTron, Inc., 576 South Telegraph, Pontiac, MI 48053. (303) 334-5700

Isgur Portfolio ($199.95). Designed by financial expert Lee Isgur, Vice President of Finance at Payne-Webber, The Isgur Portfolio is designed to manage and automate an individual's portfolio. Handles different currencies, multiple portfolios, stocks, bonds, options, and commodities, profit and loss totals, net value after commissions, auto updating, reporting, and graphics and charting. GEM-based. Batteries Included, distributed by Electronic Arts, 2755 Campus Drive, San Mateo, CA 94403. (415) 571-7171

Financial Cookbook ($49.95). This program gives you an overall perspective and advice for managing your personal finances. It consists of 32 forms, which you fill in with your own information. Each form is designed to cover a different aspect of your finances. You can even do What-if? forecasting by changing certain parameters. GEM-based. Electronic Arts, 2755 Campus Drive, San Mateo, CA 94403. (415) 571-7171


By Frank Hayes

Now what can the Atari ST really do?

Of course it's one of the fastest, most powerful personal computers you can buy. With its 68000 processor and up to four megabytes of memory, it's the perfect machine for word processing, spreadsheets, high-powered graphics, and many other general business and scientific applications.

But the ST is also the place to turn for specific solutions to complicated business problems. Let's suppose a regular drawing program won't do for you--you need a full-scale computerized drafting program. Can the ST do the job?


Suppose you need a computerized cash register that will automatically keep track of inventory. That means you'll need a cash drawer attached to your computer. Can the ST handle that? No problem. The ST can also do estimates for construction and insurance, and almost anything a small or medium-sized business needs a computer for.

In fact, the ST can even handle real mainframe jobs like running a medical records system, complete with tape drives, marked cards, and real-time patient monitoring.

The ST is rapidly becoming a preferred machine for vertical applications. That means using the computer for specific business solutions--and with its high power and low price, the ST is perfect for many vertical markets. Here are just a few samples.

CAD (Computer-Assisted Drafting)

First CADD ($49.95) turns your ST into a computerized drafting board. It operates entirely in terms of drawing objects--straight lines, rectangles, circles, arcs, etc.--so it's easy for an architect to draw a basic floor plan, then add plumbing, electrical lines and heating ducts to the drawing. Individual drawing components such as windows, sinks or electrical outlets can be part of a component library that speeds drawing. With enough memory, a complete set of floor plans can be created, then printed out on a dot-matrix printer. First CADD is also useful to anyone who needs to draw up plans--cabinet makers, sheet metal shops, farmers, office managers, even programmers who want to create detailed flow charts. First CADD drawings can be converted to work with the IBM PC version of First CADD and Generic CADD. Generic Software, 8763 148th Avenue N.E., Redmond, WA 98052. (800) 228-3601

GFA Draft ($99.50) is another computer-assisted drafting program-it makes it easy to create circuits, scaled drawings and detailed plans. You can draw on 255 different levels and display up to ten levels at once; there are two styles of lettering, and you can print the result in different colors and densities on a plotter or dot-matrix printer. MichTron, 576 South Telegraph, Pontiac, MI 48053. (313) 334-5700

Drafix 1 ($149.50) is a full-featured CAD program that features automatic dimensioning, snap modes, layering, and transform/copy commands. Drafix also offers a "second-generation" user interface--all the menus are visible all the time. Foresight Resources Corp., 932 Massachusetts, Lawrence, KS 66044. (913) 841-1121

PCBoard Designer ($395) is specifically designed for creating printed circuit boards. A designer can put integrated circuits, resistors, capacitors, and other components on a PC board layout and specify connections. The program will automatically route the connections, calculating the best circuit traces to use for a single- or double-sided PC board. PCBoard Designer can also print out the layout that the program has created on an Epson-compatible printer, suitable for photo-etching. It can also print the component layout (for silkscreening), the component list and the list of connections. Abacus Software, P.O. Box 7219, Grand Rapids, MI 49510. (616) 241-5510

Point of Sale Systems

Sales-Pro Software System ($299.00 for basic system, $149.00 for each module, $499.00 as a complete package) is a point-of-sale and inventory control system--it turns an ST into an electronic cash register that remembers what merchandise is still in stock. The basic system allows up to two billion records and handles end-of-day summaries, deposits and password security. An additional module adds customer files and backup capabilities; another module includes accounts receivable and layaways. Hi-Tech Advisers, P.O. Box 7524, Winter Haven, FL 33883. (813) 294-1885

Beckemeyer Advanced Business System ($6,950 for basic system; $9,950 for expanded system) is a more elaborate point-of-sale system; it links up to three 1040 STs in a multi-user, multitasking system. The system works with or without a cash drawer, prints receipts, updates inventory, maintains a list of customers, handles accounts receivable, and analyzes product movement, salesman performance and when it's time to reorder. This isn't just a program to run on your ST- the basic system includes two 1040 STs, a 20 megabyte hard disk, a printer, cables, and the software. The expanded system includes three STs and a hardware multiplexer. Beckemeyer Development Tools, 478 Santa Clara Ave, Suite 300, Oakland, CA 94610. (415) 452-1129


Ashment's House Estimator ($49.95) automatically performs 70 different kinds of estimates for home construction. It features sequential or random estimating modes, spreadsheet-like costing, graphic status boards, two distinct cost code sets, full mouse and menu operation and complete on-screen help. Michael Ashment Building & Software, 5809 Bennion Drive, Salt Lake City, UT 84118. (801) 966-5187

Medical Data Management

MDA Medical Survey Data Management System allows a medical clinic or small hospital to collect and process research information on its patients, using marked forms and nine-track tape drives--the kind used on large mainframes. You can also connect analog-to-digital converters for medical monitoring. The system is designed especially for research and survey work, and is customized for each installation--it's expensive, but the cost is still well below that of a comparably equipped minicomputer or main frame. Medical Data Acquisition, Inc., 9300 East Artesia Blvd., Suite 323, Bellflower, CA 90706. (213) 803-5604

Who's the BOS?

One of the most potent lines of business software for the ST comes from England's BOS Software.

BOS is an acronym for Business Operating System. There are versions of BOS for many different computers besides the ST--including the IBM PC and compatibles, the PDP-11, and even minicomputers like the DEC VAX. What's unique about BOS is that every BOS program will run, without changes, on any BOS system.

That means your ST can run the same programs that run under BOS on multi-user minicomputers. If you're a business user, it means you can use high-powered accounting and business software that wouldn't otherwise be available for the ST.

There are some disadvantages, of course. Because BOS software must run on many kinds of computers without any changes, they're "plain vanilla" programs that don't take advantage of any of the ST's special features. None of the programs use a mouse graphics, or sound, for example.

But though the programs may not have flashy features, they let the ST do the kind of work that small and medium-sized businesses need on a day-to-day basis. Here are a few BOS programs for the ST; other systems include software for credit union membership accounting, construction accounting and management, country club management, doctor's office management, and school accounting, and many more.

BOS/5 Operating System ($112.50)

BOS/Finder ($112.50) Database/inquiry.

BOS/Planner ($112.50) Spreadsheet.

BOS/Writer ($112.50) Word processor.

BOS/AutoClerk ($112.50) Report generator

BOS/Accounts Receivable ($137.50)

BOS/Accoun Payable ($137.50)

BOS/General Ledger ($137.50)

BOS/lnventory Control ($137.50)

BOS/Invoicing ($75.00)

BOS/Sales Order Processing ($225.00)

BOS/MicroCOBOL ($112.50) Programming language

BOS/MicroCOBOL Advanced Programming Facilities ($112.50)

BOS National, Inc., 2607 Walnut Hill Lane, Dallas, TX 75229. (214) 956-7722.