Edited by Frank Hayes START Senior Editor
New From Atari
At the annual Fall Comdex trade show in Las Vegas, the Atari booth was one of the hottest places to be. Atari's goal was to demonstrate that the ST is a serious business computer that can compete with the IBM PC and Apple's Macintosh.
The most exciting thing at Atari's booth was undoubtedly the Abaq, Atari's first high-performance personal workstation. It's a spectacularly powerful graphics computer that offers up to 1280-by-960 pixels in 16 colors-or a phenomenal 1024-by-786 in 256 colors! The Abaq is based on the Inmos Transputer parallel processor that can run at ten times the speed of an IBM PC/AT (Tom Hudson described the Transputer for START readers in the Fall 1987 issue). The prototype that Atari showed was built around the new Mega 4, using the Mega's expansion connector to tap the Transputer's tremendous power.
Atari also introduced the long-awaited Atari CD-ROM disk drive. (How long awaited? Atari demonstrated a CD-ROM drive connected to a 520 ST way back in 1985!) The new Atari CD-ROM player can store more than 500 megabytes of files- that's the equivalent of more than 1,000 single-sided floppy disks-like the CD-ROM drives for the IBM PC. But the Atari player also plays music on compact disks through your stereo system. It should be available in February for $599.
Atari's SLM804 Laser Printer was at Comdex, too-and it was joined by Deskset and Microsoft Write. Deskset is a desktop publishing and typesetting program from GO. Graphics, and Microsoft Write is the popular word processor that was previously available only for the Macintosh.
But for business users, the biggest news of all may be Idris from White-smiths, Ltd., a multi-user, multi-tasking operating system that's now available for STs and Megas. No, it's not GEM compatible - it's Unix-like, opening a wide range of business and scientific software to ST users.
And Atari announced that STs and Megas are now compatible with PromiseLAN, a local-area network that can also connect IBMs and Apples, letting them communicate at up to 1 million bits per second.
Atari also announced new computers that are compatible with IBM's XT and AT at Comdex. But it was clear at the show that the IBM world took a back seat to the ST.
The first release of WordPerfect for the ST arrived in time for Comdex, too. Unfortunately, it's not quite perfect yet. START's technical staff ran WordPerfect through its paces, but had a hard time keeping the program running for more than a few minutes without crashing.
Fortunately, help is on the way. According to Jeffrey R. Wilson, WordPerfect's manager for Atari development, his team has been hard at work tracking down bugs and making fixes to the program. Just four weeks after the program was originally released, there was a new version-and by the time you read this, there will be yet another version.
The most common problems, Wilson explains, show up when different parts of the WordPerfect program have difficulty communicating with each other or with the ST's operating system. There was also a fairly spectacular problem with early versions of WordPerfect running with GDOS: "When you leave WordPerfect, you return to the desktop, but nothing works-you have to reset the machine," says Wilson. He says they've solved that problem in the new version of the program.
START will be reviewing that new version of WordPerfect soon. In the meantime, if your copy of WordPerfect is giving you problems, call WordPerfect Corp.'s toll-free support number: (800) 321-5906. They'll replace a version that doesn't work with one that does. They also want to hear about any bugs you discover WordPerfect is $395 from WordPerfect Corporation, 288 West Center St., Orem, UT 84057; phone (801) 225-5000.
Desktop Publisbing Update
Atari's introduction of Deskset from GO. Graphics (see above) wasn't the only exciting Atari desktop publishing news at Comdex. Three other companies also announced new ways of turning your ST into a publishing house.
Publishing Partner, the original ST desktop publishing program, now has a new big brother: Publishing Partner Professional. New features include automatic text flow around graphics, auto-hyphenation and kerning, and the ability to import formatted 1st Word, Word Writer and WordPerfect files. Professional is $149.95-and the original Publishing Partner is now only $89.95. They're both from Soft Logik Corp., 11137 South Towne Square, Ste. C, Saint Louis, MO 63123; phone (314) 894-8608.
Timeworks is jumping into the fray with Desktop Publisher ST, which offers word-processing features, a graphics toolbox, automatic text flow plenty of line and fill patterns, and kerning and adjustable leading. It can also import text from word processors and pictures from drawing programs. The program is $99.95 from Timeworks, Inc., 444 Lake Cook Rd.. Deerfield, IL 60015; phone (800) 535-9497.
And on the high end there's now Calamus for the Mega- it offers an integrated word processor and paint program, 16 simultaneous typefaces in 249 sizes, macro commands, and a sophisticated font editor. There's also a special zoom feature that lets you see every dot that will appear on a laser-printed page. Calamus is $349.95 and requires a Mega-it's from ISD Marketing, 2651 John St.. Unit #3. Markham, Ontario L3R 2W5 Canada; phone (416) 479-1880.
That's Show Biz
Desktop video on the ST is being seen in all the right places these days! For example, Tom Hudson's Ray-Tracing Construction Set from the Spring 1987 issue of START has been put to good use by KTEH-TV, the public television station in San Jose, California - the heart of Silicon Valley. Dann Parks, art director for Channel 54, has used it to create an animated logo for the station's public-service announcements. Dann's also using Animator ST and DEGAS Elite to create opening credits for several other locally produced shows.
Animator ST is S79.95 from Aegis Development, 2115 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405; phone (213) 392-9972. DEGAS Elite is $59.95 from Batteries Included, whose products are distributed by Electronic Arts, 1820 Gateway Dr., San Mateo, CA 94404: phone (415) 571-7171. You'll also find more animation and desktop video products in this special issue of START.
If you'd like to see more articles like this, circle 235 on the Reader Service Card.