Edited by Frank Hayes
START Senior Editor
The Atari Line
These are busy days at Atari. The Atari SLM804 laser Printer has finally begun to arrive at authorized Atari dealers; at $1,999, it can print at 300 dots per inch or emulate a Diablo 630 printer, and comes with two full disks of fonts. Microsoft Write is now available, too-it's $129.95, and though it will work with almost any printer you can connect to an ST, it's specially tuned to work with the SLM804.
Even more exciting is what's coming next. The very long-awaited Atari CD-ROM drive made an appearance at the Microsoft CD-ROM conference this spring-it can store up to 540 megabytes, play standard music CDs (it's got a built-in headphone jack and remote control), and will work with available CD information disks such as the Grolier Encyclopedia, Microsoft's Bookshelf, or any CD-ROM in High Sierra format. There's an interface card to use it with IBM PC-compatible computers, and of course it works with any ST or Mega -you can even play music CDs using an ST desk accessory! The player should be in the stores by summer at a suggested retail price of $599. That's about half the $1,200 price of Apple's newly announced CD-ROM drive, which isn't MS-DOS or High Sierra compatible.
And a new version of the transputer-based Abaq workstation should be showing up at the Hannover Fair in West Germany. The current rumors say it uses a 20 MHz 68030, a chip so new it wasn't even available last November, when the Abaq made its debut. But it still has a maximum resolution of 1,280 by 960 pixels-and a "low res" mode that offers 512 by 480 resolution with 16 million different colors!
The computing world is becoming ST-compatible.
item: At this spring's MacWorld Expo in San Francisco, several companies displayed Macs that had been "remanufactured" into laptops and the like. But only one company-Computer Spectrum of Burlingame, CA-was displaying a real Mac clone: an Atari ST running Magic Sac. The Macintosh crowd knew a good thing when they saw it: Computer Spectrum went through their entire supply of flyers on the first day.
item: IBM recently announced that more than one million PS/2 computers have been shipped. The PS/2s are the IBM computers that use ST-compatible 31/2-inch disks. It was just last year that IBM finally shifted to the disk format the ST has used since 1985.
item: With the addition of a 5 1/4-inch drive like Supra's FD-10 (see above) or the Microbyte B drive from Paradox, the ST can use all varieties of IBM floppies, including high-density disks. And with the Translator from Data Pacific the ST can also read and write Macintosh disks.
item: There may soon be a translator for the Mac, too. Code-named "Lumpy," it was designed by The Engineering Department Inc. to let Macs read IBM disks-and ST disks as well. However, it's still in the prototype stage. And though Apple refuses to comment, every Mac SE and Mac II will soon come with the ability to read ST disks built in, in the form of a new disk controller chip called SWIM (for "Sander Woz Integrated Machine").
10 Megs on a Floppy?
Supras family of 20-, 30- and 60-megabyte hard drives for the ST now has a new member-a 10-megabyte floppy drive, the SupraDrive FD-10 -for only $895.
According to Mark White, the head of technical support for Supra, there are several advantages to the FD-10. "One way of using it is as a fast backup device for a hard disk. Of course, you can also take one disk out and put another disk in, so you can also use it as a stand-alone device. It reads and writes at about the same speed as a 10 MB hard drive-about 3 to 4 times as fast as an ordinary floppy drive. The other thing about this drive is that it can also read 1.2 meg and 360K floppies for the IBM PC."
How can Supra fit 10 megabytes on a floppy disk? The FD-l0 uses specially formatted quad-density disks that cost $39.95 each. That sounds expensive, but each disk holds the equivalent of about 14 double-sided or 28 single-sided ST disks.
But how safe is your data on a very-high-density floppy disk? "So far, all of our testing indicates that the reliability is very good," says White. "We've been testing for many hours on end for the last six months. We've also been carrying the drives around to computer shows, and they've taken quite a bit of abuse- they really get knocked around-but we've had no problems."
The SupraDrive FD-10 is $895 from Supra Corporation, 1133 Commercial Way, Albany, OR 97321; phone (503) 967-9075.
Business by Radio
If you live in one of 11 select cities, you can now get news and business information beamed directly to your computer by radio. About 1,000 items per day are available on a new service called Executive One, which includes Standard and Poor's Market and Financial Reports, Associated Press Online, Business Week, PR Newswire, and Stock Market Quotes.
It's not an inexpensive investment, though. You need a special FM receiver ($500) and you may need a satellite dish as well ($150/month), plus software ($150) and cables ($19.50), the basic monthly service fee ($49.95/month) and installation (up to $300). And all this is designed for an IBM PC, so you'll also need pc-ditto (S89.95). Total: about $1,000 down and $200 each month. (There are also premium services that can cost up to 5100 more each month.) That sounds like a lot, but with no hourly fees or phone bills it's less than some heavy CompuServe and Dow Jones users spend each month.
For more information, contact McGraw-Hill Information Management Co., 1221 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020; phone (212) 512-4551.
Dot Dot Dot...
Titus Software is a new name in the ST world; the company will be importing best-selling ST games from Europe, beginning with Crazy Cars, a road-racing game, for $39.95. . . . ICD will now be publishing and distributing all OSS products. That includes Personal Pascal, the most popular version of Pascal for the ST. . . . Computer:applications' new II in an ST will let you run Apple II software on your ST at better than 50 percent of normal Apple II speed. That's fast enough that most Apple games and educational software will work fine. . . . If you're looking for MIDI for the ST, this is the place: Music Expo '88 is billed as "the world's largest showcase for music and music-related products." It's at the Long Beach Convention Center, near Los Angeles, from April 29 to May 1, 1988. . . . Prospero Fortran for GEM is Prosperds new Fortran compiler for the ST, replacing Pro Fortran-77. The new version is completely GEM-based. . . . Did you know that WordStar 3.0 and dBase II are now available for the ST? The catch is, these popular programs from the IBM world are only available in Germany. . . . The new version of ST BASIC is available almost everywhere- it's included with every ST-but it's not compatible with the original version. . . . If you've got a hot tip or an interesting product for the ST, we'd like to hear from you. Let us know at News, Notes & Quotes, START, 544 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94107.