Classic Computer Magazine Archive START VOL. 5 NO. 4 / DECEMBER 1990

The Glendale Show:
Gem of the West

By John Nagy

Billed as "Perhaps the Largest Atari Show Ever in the USA," the Southern California Atari Computer Faire, version 4.0b, also known as the Glendale Show, delivered at least part of the promise. While less than 3,000 visitors filled the huge Glendale Civic Auditorium on Sept. 15 and 16, those who came saw more ST developers and dealers than had ever been assembled for previous domestic Atari shows. Over 40 exhibitors and groups filled 55 floor tables plus the entire stage in this fourth in the series of user-group Atari shows held in Glendale. As before, the host for the show was John King Tarpinian and the HACKS Atari Computer Club, although many other clubs were also represented.

Official paid attendance was 2,459, with as many as an additional 300 courtesy admittance and workers. Although a smaller turnout than was anticipated, the show was a roaring success when measured by sales, satisfaction and participation. Most vendors reported significantly higher sales at Glendale than at any recent Atari show of any size.

A major reason for the high spirits that prevailed throughout the show was the dynamic involvement of Atari Corp. Among the Atari employees tending their large and varied booth that took the entire stage of the auditorium were Bob Brodie, Don Thomas, Art Morgan, Ken Badertscher, Dan MacNamee and John Townsend. Top Atari executives Leonard Tramiel and Elie Kenan, the new Manager of Atari USA, spent all day Saturday at the show, talking to visitors, looking at displays, participating in seminars and interviewing developers. Atari also invested over $20,000 in advertising in both the major L.A. newspapers as well as on a popular radio station.

Show Highlights

Atari Corp. filled the stage with all the current hardware, and a special mini-studio setup featuring the Hotz MIDI Translator was manned by Jimmy Hotz throughout the show. A "Lynx Playground" ringed the stage with dozens of Lynx machines running new release game titles and several that are not yet available to the public.

Branch Always Software debuted Quick ST 2.2, the latest version of the popular software accelerator.

CodeHead Software introduced CodeKeys, a macro-creator for all ST/Megas. John Eidsvoog of Code-Head was on hand to conduct a seminar on the integrated Hotwire system.

D.A. Brumleve premiered her latest title, Telegram, a new educational program for children.

Gadgets by Small showed MegaTalk which makes the Mega compatible with such Macintosh network systems as AppleTalk and all Mac MIDI programs. It retails for $299. Dave and Sandy Small of Gadgets also gave show-goers a look at version 3.0 of the Spectre GCR software. Their 68030 board for the ST, though still in development, was not shown.

Goldleaf, makers of Wordflair, the first "true" document processor for the ST, released version 1.1 at the Glendale show. This new version is smaller, faster and includes utilities that make it easier to use.

Gribnif's NeoDesk 3.0, the popular alternative to the ST's Desktop
debuted at this year's Glendale show.

Perhaps the hottest product to premiere at Glendale was Gribnif Software's NeoDesk 3. This alternative to the ST/Mega Desktop presents advanced features such as the ability to keep folders directly on the Desktop itself and the ability to set up elaborate macros to automatically handle your more routine computer chores.

Atari Corp.'s Leonard Tramiel revealed that the TT (shown here
running DynaCADD) will have a clock speed of 32MHz.

Glendale saw the first public showing of lCD's Ad-Speed, a new 16 MHz hardware accelerator for the ST/ Mega. The $299 board is the fastest and most compatible accelerator yet and includes the ability to switch from 16 MHz to 8 MHz without rebooting.

MichTron offered their wares to the public and to other dealers. Rumor has it that MichTron will be bought by Talon Technologies.

Sliccware showed their alternative Desktop system. In its release form, SliccTop will be a multitasking environment.

ST In former, the popular monthly newspaper/magazine for the Atari community, was on hand to show Universal Item Selector III, which they developed. They also showed the Universal Network System that will allow any of a variety of network systems to be interconnected. Although not finished, it looked promising.

ST Journal, the newest ST magazine featuring comprehensive reviews and a no-playing-around attitude, offered prerelease copies of their third issue.

Talon Technologies showed off the latest version of SuperCharger, their IBM emulator for the ST. Among the enhancements, SuperCharger now lets you switch from PC to ST mode with a simple press of a key combination.

A newcomer to the Atari market, Xoterix, offered applications and hardware for the Portfolio, including a 20MB hard drive.

Zubair Interfaces, maker of affordable and versatile memory upgrades, demonstrated their Z-Keys, an IBM keyboard adapter; AT Once, the 80286 IBM board for the Atari; and a hand scanner, to be available soon.

New GEM, GDOS, 32 MHz
For Atari TT030

By John Nagy

At the Atari Faire held in Glendale in September, Leonard Tramiel, one of Atari's owners and head of their technical division, officially announced that the production TT030 computer would indeed have a 32 MHz 68030 CPU. The new design is expected to perform about 1.7 times faster overall than the "prototype" 16 MHz Us that have been sold to some developers.

Tramiel also announced that GEM has been totally rewritten for the TT. The resulting Desktop is much more versatile and pleasing to look at and work with. Developers who have the old TTs are being offered both the CPU and Desktop upgrades. The new GEM is remarkably like Gribnif's NeoDesk 2 in appearance and operation; Gribnif's Rick Flashman confirmed that they had no hand in the design of the TT Desktop.

The new TT GEM Desktop includes custom-editable icons for any program, programs on the Desktop, "live" icons that let you drag a data file to an application to simultaneously load the application and the data, configurable keystroke equivalents and macros, color and appearance options, printer icons and just about everything you've seen in NeoDesk and other advanced Desk-tops. As it takes up more ROM than the old GEM, it will not be adapted by Atari for their ST line. However, the new Control Panel is to become standard on the STE. The beefed-up Panel features clever images including a turning head that wears earphones to graphically show stereo balance.

Further, Tramiel and other Atari officials indicated that the Mega STE idea is still alive at Atari, and that if it is committed for production, the Mega STE will carry the new Desktop.

(At the Glendale show, industry observers noted that Atari could have saved time and money by having Gribnit design a TT version of NeoDesk. But as Tom Harker of ICD explained while pondering the fact that his own hard drive host adaptor would be unnecessary on the new TT - which will feature a true SCSI port -"It's the third-party developer's place to patch holes we find in existing hardware, not to dictate where we want the holes to be in future hardware.")

Tramiel also made mention of the new GDOS and that it will be released "soon." This version will feature scalable, rotatable outline fonts and should be compatible with existing GDOS-based programs such as Word Up and Wordflair.

Atari plans to release the TT in the United States after Comdex in early November. Pricing has not been announced, but Atari has leaked that "$3,000 will get you substantially more than a base model." Already selling in Germany and Switzerland, the TT ranges in currency exchange prices from about $3,500 for a 4MB RAM, 40MB hard drive unit up to nearly $4,000 for the 8MB unit.

What Is Z*Net?

Z*Net is the monthly Atari newsletter supplement for user-group newsletters, and Z*Net, Z*Net Online and ZMagazine are cooperative not-for-profit efforts of Ron Kovacs and John Nagy as Rovac Industries Inc. Z*Net is part of five continuous years of commitment in providing news and assistance to the Atari community.

ZMagazine is a bi-weekly online publication of Atari 8-bit news and reviews and Z*Net Online covers all of the Atari product lines each week. These publications are available on the pay telecommunication services such as CompuServe and GEnie and over 600 registered bulletin board systems around the world.

Z*Net (the monthly) currently serves nearly 4,000 subscribers by providing a news supplement to be included in the monthly newsletters of more than 35 clubs. We can be part of your user-group newsletter too, and provide you with eight to 10 pages of quality news and reviews each month.

This month marks the beginning of a new relationship of Z*Net and START. We hope to bring you the news of the Atari community in these pages each month from now on.

For more information, contact Z*Net at P0. Box 59, Middlesex, NJ 08846, or call (201) 968-2024. You can also call our 24-hour Z*Net BBS at (201) 968-8148, or send mail via CompuServe 71777,2140, or GEnie address Z-NET.

From The Z*Net News wire

* The hard drive operation problem in the Atari STE computers has been eradicated completely in the new production machines now leaving Sunnyvale. A formal announcement of this is not expected, as Atari never actually admitted that there was a systematic problem. STE owners are still encouraged to have their machines tested with a hard drive (after a backup), as Atari will fix or replace existing machines with no questions asked.

* Atari UK has reportedly decided to stop shipping machines with TOS versions below 1.4; even new 520STFM machines are to be fitted with TOS 1.4. The latest information from Atari U.S. is that all domestic STs and Megas are still shipping with TOS 1.2 with the exception of units sold as publishing systems with the Moniterm monitor.

* Word from Germany is that Unix for the TT030 is being delayed in order to release Unix version 4 rather than the present version 3. Version 4 is expected to ship with Open Look, a graphic user interface that is gaining many fans, but some potential TT buyers hope the delay waiting for version 4 does not grow to too long. Atari expects to release the first TT in the United States at Comdex this November, fully outfitted for a $3,000 target price. However, the table-top version is not scheduled to support expansion to a full Unix machine. The full-blown and expandable "TTX model" in a tower configuration has not been publicly discussed in some time.

* Former ST World magazine owner Richard Tsukiji has admitted that investigation of the "Bob Brodie Fax" incident determined that the fax was sent from the ST World offices, but from persons unknown. The fax in question purported to be from Atari Manager of User Group Services Bob Brodie, and urged a boycott of all World of Atari shows. The ST World offices were closed and Tsukiji was allegedly out of the state on July 2 when the fax was sent. Tsukiji reportedly suspects that disgruntled former ST World employees sent the damaging fax. In July, Tsukiji transferred ownership of the magazine to several employees for the sum of $1, bypassing other employees and editors who had expected to take over the publication. David Small of Spectre Macintosh emulation fame, took part in the investigation and announced that he will no longer write for ST World as a result of his findings.