Classic Computer Magazine Archive START SPECIAL ISSUE NUMBER 1


Telecommunications services, hardware and software

By Charles Jackson

Take part in a conference with a dozen of the industry's sharpest minds.

Examine the hottest, most exclusive business newsletters. Read the news hours before it appears on the newsstand. Glean a tip from top Wall Street brokers, research the most profitable companies, monitor their performance and buy a few thousand shares. Count your profits and run a demographics survey on the most promising neighborhood for your new house. Go shopping and furnish that house. Need a rest? Find the best deals on airline fares, make reservations and buy your ticket. And when you're done, pack your brain in mothballs and play a few computer games.

All these and more are yours with your ST computer--and a modem. Your online adventure is only a phone call or a keypress away.


(408) 745-5308 (modem)
(408) 745-5970 (modem)
(408) 745-2642 (modem)
(408) 745-4758 (modem)
(408) 745-5664 (modem)

Atari Base consists of five totally independent BBS's (passwords and user numbers are not shared.) You can log-in to any of these BBS's using any of the above numbers. When you log-in, your call will be switched to the first available BBS system. If you're lucky, you'll get through to the BBS you need. Otherwise, hang up and try, try again.

There are nine SIGs (or Special Interest Groups) scattered among the five BBS's. These include an 8-bit section, two ST sections, a private software developers section, a private section for user group officers, one for computer faire listings, and a private SysOp section. BBS Line 5, for example, is home to the user group and the developers SIGs. Since both SIGs are private, you won't be able to do too much here. Atari Corporation, 1196 Borregas Ave., P.O. Box 3427, Sunnyvale, CA 94088. (408) 745-2000

BIX (BYTE information eXchange) (Available on Tymnet. $9/hi off-peak, $12/hr. prime (off-peak is 6 p.m.-7 a.m. weekdays). Does not include communications surcharges).

BIX has been described as a "living database" of microcomputer knowledge. Most of BIX's 17,000+ subscribers are high-level programmers and engineers who work on the leading edge of the microcomputer industry. BIX went online in 1985, and offers conferencing areas (sometimes called "Message Bases") for more than 150 types of computers, operating systems and languages. To subscribe, log-in to BIX and make sure you have your credit card information handy. Byte Information Exchange, 1 Phoenix Mill Lane, Peterborough, NH 03458. (800) 227-BYTE (United States except NH); (603) 924-7681 (NH and Canada)

CitiNet (Free) CitiNet has been called "The Videotex Marketing Future " CitiNet is a metropolitan online service that serves Boston. It went online in 1984, and has more than 40,000 members.

CitiNet contains movie and restaurant listings, current events calendars, special interest groups (including an Atari group) and three online stores. The service is subsidized through online advertisements. All of the information is a free and available to all users. (The electronic mail system, however, carries a one-time $50 registration fee) Similar CitiNet services are being designed for Houston and Atlanta.

To subscribe, log-in to CitiNet at (617) 439-5699 and enter "NEW" at the "username" prompt. Applied Videotex Systems, The World Trade Center, Suite 717, Boston, MA 02210. (617) 439-5678 (voice)

CompuServe, Inc. (Available through Tymnet, Telenet, Datapac and CompuServe networks. 300 Baud $6 per hour; 1200, 2400 Baud $12.50 per hour. (No surcharge for prime time access. Does not include communications surcharges.)

CompuServe is one of the oldest and most popular online services. It is intended for the casual-to-advanced computer user, however there is treasure trove of Atari information to be found here. There are three Atari SIGs (Special Interest Groups), each one having several searchable databases and several large software libraries. Antic Online, the electronic edition of Antic Magazine, is also available through CompuServe (type GO ANTIC at any prompt).

CIS offers many business, educational and shopping services, including The Electronic Mall, SUPERSITE demographics reports, electronic airline guides, private electronic mail, two online encyclopedias, company histories and current stock quotes. To subscribe, get a CompuServe "IntroPak" from your computer dealer, or call CompuServe CompuServe, Inc., 5000 Arlington Centre Blvd., P.O. Box 20212, Columbus, OH 43220. (614) 457-0802; (800) 848-8190

Delphi (Available through Tymnet and Telenet. $7.20 per hour off-peak, $17.40 per hour prime time, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Does not include communications surcharges.)

Delphi will appeal to your checkbook. It offers many of the same features as the higher-priced services, but at a substantially reduced price. A Delphi subscription gives you online banking and securities transactions, AP Videotex, Special Interest Groups (SlGs), Public Domain software libraries, and an electronic mail system. This system lets Delphi users send electronic mail to users of CompuServe and The Source. This is a one-way system, however, Delphi users are unable to receive electronic mail from The Source or CompuServe subscribers. Delphi also hosts an active Atari section.

File transfers (uploading and down-loading) are a bit sluggish on Delphi, but this seems to be a tiny annoyance to the many Delphi subscribers who measure their online activity in dollars and cents.

To subscribe, log-in to Tymnet or Telenet. Type JOINDELPHI at the "username" prompt, and SIGNUP at the "Password" prompt. Be sure to have your credit card information handy. Delphi, General Videotex Corp., 3 Blackstone Street, Cambridge, MA 02139. (800) 544-4005; (617) 491-3393

DIALOG Information Services, Inc. (Available on Tymnet, Telenet, Dialnet [DlALOG-owned] networks. Each DIALOG database has its own access charge. These fees range from $15 per hour to $300 per hour. Does not include communications surcharges.)

DIALOG, formerly the information retrieval system for Lockheed Missile Space Corporation, has more than 500,000 subscribers.

The service can best be used by businessmen, particularly those involved in advertising and market research. DIALOG databases contain disclosure statements, Dun & Bradstreet market identifiers, INVESTEX economic forecasts, a career placement registry, the Official Airline Guide, and much more. To subscribe, call DIALOG and request an InfoPack. DIALOG Information Services, Inc., 3460 Hillview Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94304. (800) 3-DIALOG (voice)

Dow Jones News/Retrieval (Available through Tymnet, Telenet, Datapac. $12 annual service fee after the first year, plus:

Baud Prime Off-Peak
300 Baud $36-$72/hr $12-$48/hr
1200, 2400 $79.20- $26.40
Baud $158.40/hr $105.60 /hr

Connect charges vary according to the services used.)

Dow Jones is available 22 hours a day. Prime time: 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Eastern time Off-Peak: 6 p.m.-4 a.m. Eastern time. Does not include communications surcharges.

This $100,000 division of Dow Jones & Co., Inc. has more than 200,000 subscribers. It is famous for its up-to-the-minute and consistently error-free stock quotes. It also offers disclosure reports, a comprehensive news-clipping service, economic forecasts, an electronic encyclopedia, access to CompuStore, MCI-Mail electronic mail, and the complete text of every Wall Street Journal published since January, 1984.

To subscribe, call Dow Jones and order a Startup Kit ($29.95). Dow Jones News/Retrieval, P.O. Box 300, Princeton, NJ 08543. (609) 452-1511

GEnie ($5 per hour off-peak; $35 per hour prime-time [8 a.m.-6 p.m., weekdays.] $10 surcharge for 2400 baud. Does not include communications surcharges.)

GEnie is another online information network for home computer users on a budget. It offers "Roundtable" special interest groups, including two Atari groups, public domain software libraries, an online encyclopedia and several news services. This 65,000 subscriber system also supports private electronic mail and multi-player games.

To subscribe, login to GEnie at 1800-638-8369. When connected, type HHH [RETURN]. At the U# prompt, type XJM11999, GEnie [Return]. Be sure you have your Visa or Mastercard number handy. GEnie, General Electric Network for Information Exchange, General Electric Information Services Co., 401 N. Washington Street, Rockville: , MD 20850. (800) 638-9636

NewsNet Inc. ($15 per month maintenance charge, plus:
Baud Prime Off-Peak
300 $24/hr $18/hr
1200 $48/hr $36/hr
2400 $72/hr $54/hr

(Prime time: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Eastern time. Does not include communications surcharges.)

NewsNet is for the "power user." Although it offers all the features found in other services, NewsNet's forte is its in depth news databases. More than 30 industries and professions are covered. You'll find more than 300 of the best newsletters and wire services contained and indexed here, including the "Defense Industry Report," "Japan Computer Industry Scan," TRW Credit Reports, the AP DataStream, Reuters and UPI. As a rule, these databases are updated before the newsletters are mailed to subscribers. One drawback--each database has its own validation procedure. For example, if you do not subscribe to the print version of a particular newsletter, the publishers of this newsletter may not let you access the electronic version. Contact a NewsNet representative for complete details.

To subscribe, call NewsNet and order a subscription. You'll be issued a password over the phone. NewsNet Inc., 945 Haverford Road, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010. (215) 527-8030; (800) 345-1301

PC Pursuit (Available on Telenet. $25 per month) plus:

Prime time Off Peak
$10.50-$14/hrNo extra Charge

(Prime time: 7 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays

PC Pursuit is a low-cost long distance telephone network for your modem. By routing your calls through the Telenet Public Data Network (instead of AT&T or other carriers). PC Pursuit can cut your long distance phone bills by as much as 75%.

You can access PC Pursuit through any one of the 18,000 Telenet nodes throughout the US, and use it to access online services located in 25 major cities. These cities include: Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Glendale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Newark, New York, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Tampa, and Washington, D.C.

If your favorite online service is not in one of these areas, however, you won't be able to use PC Pursuit to access it.

For more information on TELENET, call 1-800-TELENET (voice). To learn more about PC Pursuit, or to request a subscription, log-in to the PC Pursuit BBS at (800) 835-3001.

The Source (Available through Tymnet and SourceNet.)

The Source, founded in 1979, caters to an upscale, well-to-do, white collar audience. The Source provides easy access to the Washington Post, AP Videotex, UPI, the Official Airline Guide, current stock quotes, and online trading. Business databases include economic forecasts from INVESTEX and the CareerNet, which is a searchable job opening and resume database. The Source also offers several online games, and many SIGs.

Baud Prime (in SIGs) Off-Peak (in SIGs)
300 $21.60/hr $10.80/hr $8.40/hr $6.00/hr
1200 $25.80 $13.80 $10.80 $7.80
2400 $27.60 $15.00 $12.00 $9.00
(Prime time: 7 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays. $10 minimum monthly charge. Does not include communications surcharges.)
Rates for The Source

Happily, your connect charges drop whenever you are in a SIG (see chart above). Unfortunately, there are no Atari-specific SIGs on The Source.

To subscribe, call The Source and request a membership kit and password. Your password will be issued to you immediately. The Source, Source Telecomputing Corp., 1616 Anderson Rd., McLean, VA 22102. (703) 821-6666; (800) 336-3366.

The WELL (Also available through Tymnet. Monthly membership fee: $8, usage rate: $3 per hour. Does not include communications surcharges.) The WELL, an acronym for Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link, is an online service for people who enjoy interesting conversation. Its teleconferencing areas are a favorite among its members. The Well offers conferences (or SIGs) for everything from programming and Unix to parenting and The Grateful Dead. Surprisingly, The Grateful Dead is The Well's most popular conference.

The conferencing programs run in the UNIX environment on a VAX 750 computer. The Well also offers its members access to UNIX. Established in 1985, The Well currently has 2,000 members.

To subscribe log-in to The Well and type "newuser" at the "login:" prompt. Complete the questionnaire and be sure you have your Visa or Mastercard handy. The WELL, 27 Gate Five Road, Sausalito, CA 94965, 415-332-4335 (voice); 415-332-6106 (modem)


Nearly all commercial online services can be charged to your Visa or Mastercard accounts. Many commercial services are also offering "Check Free" payment plans. "Check Free" payment means that once a month an online service will dip into your checking account and withdraw the amount you owe them. This amount will appear on your monthly bank statement. Generally, "Automatic Sign-up" and "sameday" passwords are not issued when you use this plan. If you're planning to purchase an online subscription through a "Check Free" plan, you should expect to wait at least one to two weeks for your password.


Online services are created, modified and upgraded so often that this year's "must read" book will be next year's fishwrap. With a few exceptions, you shouldn't waste money on books which are more than two years old. Exceptions include your modem's Owners Manual (most are packed with information which is rarely read. Manuals for Hayes modems are particularly instructive.)

Manuals which describe general search strategies are also valuable. Once mastered, these techniques can help you find what you need quickly, and they can be applied to any system.

How To Look It Up Online by Alfred Glossbrenner ($14.95, St. Martin's Press, New York, NY, 1987). This 486-page manual is the "must read" book for 1987-88. If you're trying to decide which online service is best for you, How To Look It Up will save you a good deal of money, time and aggravation. The book describes hundreds of online services, and includes a wealth of money-saving online hints, such as how to keep your DIALOG costs to a minimum and how to "sample" an online service before you subscribe. If you're buying a modem or an online subscription, pick up this book, too. It will pay for itself within several weeks.

Online Access Guide ($24.95 per year) is a bi-monthly guide to online services. A cross between a computer magazine and a TV-Guide-For-Modems, the Online Access Guide will introduce you to some of the newest and most powerful information systems. Whether you're writing a term paper or an important business report, this magazine will help you find the facts you need.

You won't find too many product reviews here, though. When you find one, you should read it with a healthy dose of cynicism; most of the magazine's advertisers are online services, and most magazines are not often willing to criticize the hand that feeds them.

You can access the Guide's BBS, The Electronic Pub, at (312) 922-9231 (300 or 1200 baud). Online Access Publishing Group, Inc., 53 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60604.

Modems and Telecommunications Software

By Frank Hayes

How do you get on-line with your ST? With a modem and telecommunications software, that's how.


A modem converts your ST's electronic pulses into sounds that can travel over regular telephone lines. That way you can call another computer and chat over the phone.

Modems generally come in three speeds: 300 baud, 1200 baud, or 2400 baud (about 30 characters, 120 characters, or 240 characters per second, respectively). It should be no surprise that a faster 2400 baud modem is more expensive than a 300 or 1200 baud modem.

Something else to consider is whether a modem is Hayes compatible. That means it uses the same control codes as Hayes modems--the most popular command set in modems, and one that many telecom programs depend on.

Other features to look for are the ability to automatically dial or answer your phone, volume control on the speaker, indicator lights on the front of the modem, and an extra phone jack on the modem to connect your phone.

Almost any standard external modem that connects to an IBM PC will also work with an ST. Here are a few of the best:

Hayes 1200 Smartmodem (1200 baud, $399.00) and 2400 Smartmodem (2400 baud, $59900) Hayes modems are the standard--solidly built and, naturally enough, Hayes compatible. They have indicator lights, speaker volume controls, autodial and auto answer, but no extra phone jack. Hayes Microcomputer Products, 5835 Peachtree Corners East, Norcross, GA 30097. (404) 449-8791

Anchor Volksmodem VM520 ($199.00) The Volksmodem is a compact 1200-baud modem that's specifically designed for the ST. It supports most of the Hayes commend set and has an extra phone jack, but no indicator lights or volume controls. Anchor Automation, 20675 Bahama Street, Chatsworth, CA 91311. (818) 998-6100

Avatex 1200 ($159.00) and 1200HC ($199.00) are similar, but the 1200HC is completely Hayes compatible. Both have indicator lights and switches on the front of the modem, including the power switch, but no speaker or extra phone jack (each comes with its own phone cord). E+ E DataComm, 1230 Oakmead Parkway, Suite 310, Sunnyvale, CA 94086. (408) 732-1181


A telecommunications program is the software that connects your keyboard to the modem. A very simple telecom program comes with your ST--the VT-52 terminal emulation program that's a desk accessory on the ST system disk. But a full-fledged telecom program will let you transfer files, log on to online services automatically, and put the full power of your ST behind your modem.

Flash ($39.95) is the most popular ST telecom program. It emulates the VT-52 and VT-100 terminals and handles CompuServe Vidtex graphics, and offers automatic logons with 70 commands and a built-in word processor. The Catalog, Antic Software, 544 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94107. (800) 234-7001

PC/Intercomm ($124.00) offers VT-52 and VT-100 emulation, up to 19,200 baud, Xmodem and Kermit file transfers, an autodial phone directory and a margin bell. It's compatible with the IBM PC version of the program. Mark of the Unicorn, 1222 Third Street, Cambridge, MA 02142. (617) 576-2760


If you'd like to start your own online service, you just need a few things besides your ST: A modem that can answer and hang up the phone and a BBS program. The ST's large memory and fast processor makes it a perfect machine for running a computerized bulletin-board, and here's software that will let you do it.

ST-CBBS ($129.95) offers VT-52 color sequences for users with color monitors, three baud rates (300, 1200 and 2400) and Xmodem CRC file transfers. Orpheus Systems, P.O. Box 10095, Stockton, CA 95210. BBS (209) 951-9000; voice (209) 952-4518