By Gregg Pearlman, Antic Junior Editor
D.C.'s 1,500 Atarians
WAACE, the Washinyton Area Atari Computer Enthusiasts, is a pioneering regional federation of nine Atari users groups, serving some 1,500 members in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.
WAACE has no directors or officers and it doesn't hold meetings of its own. It exists as a vehicle for officers of the independent clubs to coordinate efforts for several major regional activities.
WAACE publishes Current Notes, an impressive users group magazine that had 68 pages and a slick paper cover for its most recent issue. The print run of each issue is some 3,000 copies. Nearly half of the printing is sold to the general public at local stores, or subscribed to by non-members. Current Notes has been a model for other regional Atari users group publications such as The Atari Journal in South Florida, spearheaded by DAUG.
WAACE also pioneered regional Atari Fairs (Antic, January 1987). Their independent November 1985 Atarifest at Fairfax (Virginia) High School drew 2,000 and was repeated in 1986.
The WAACE groups are spread through a large area. NCAUG, the National Capitol Atari Users Group, meets in downtown Washington D.C. The Northern Virginia group, NOVATARI, meets in Springfield, 10 miles south. NOVATARI is the largest WAACE club, with 550 members. Six local NOVATARI chapters-Burke, Greenbriar, Mt. Vernon/Hybla Valley, Reston, Sterling and Vienna--hold their own monthly meetings too.
WACUG, the Woodbridge, Virginia group, meets 25 miles south of downtown D.C. The Frederick, Virginia group, FACE, is 30 miles away in another direction. The Maryland groups are north of Washington D.C. CPM (Capital Pro Micro-Users) and AURA (Atari Users Regional Association) are both about 10 miles from the Capitol. Southern Maryland's SMAUG is 30 miles northward.
Some WAACE clubs are so far away that they must phone long distance to log onto NOVATARI's subscription-only regional bulletin board, ARMUDIC.
WAACE claims to be the home of the first separate ST-only clubs. Now at 275 members, VAST began in 1985 and is still officially NOVATARI'S ST SIG. EAST covers Southern Maryland.
Current Notes began in September, 1981 as the combined newsletter of NCAUG and NOVATARI. WAACE was actually organized in 1985, when the publication had become so successful that it needed to set up its own bank account.
Current Notes has its own ST computers, a KISS laser printer and a Canon copier. Joe Waters, editor for the past three years, uses the ST Writer word processor because it has double-column printing. "It takes a lot of work to put Current Notes together," says Waters, a former NOVATARI president, "but it's a lot easier when you have a finished page roll off the laser printer in 10 or 15 seconds."
WAACE originated the term Atarifest because their users fair almost coincided with the popular local Oktoberfests. Fairfax High School let WAACE use 24 rooms of the building--with the proviso that no admission be charged. Thus the whole affair was free to the public, but WAACE made money on vendor booths and disk library sales.
The name of NOVATARI's subscription bulletin board, ARMUDIC, was taken from the letters of its original phone number (The current phone number is (703) 568-8305.) NOVATARI makes the BBS available to everybody--for a small fee. Sysop Ted Bell has made ARMUDIC into one of the better and more popular bulletin boards in the area. There are plenty of subscribers and you can't log an otherwise. No pirated software is allowed on the BBS.
Antic has prepared a survey which will be completed by each Users Group of the Month, in order to make this new feature even more useful. The following information was provided by NOVATARI president Ed Seward.
In a poll of NOVATARI members, 58% primarily use 800, 800XL or 130XE computers, 30% use 520STs (Seward reports a trend toward 1Mb upgrades) and 10% use 1040STs. Only 1% have hard disks, but everyone who uses an 8-bit computer has a disk drive. The most popular 8-bit drives are the Atari 1050, Indus GT and Atari 810. Of ST users, 65% have single-sided drives, 35% have double-sided drives. Panasonic 1091 printers are used by 30% of the members.
Seward said that the most popular modems, used almost equally, are the Atari 1030/XM301, Hayes 1200-Smartmodem and Avatex 1200. More than 99% of ST owners with modems use a 1200-baud modem.
Among programmers, the top three 8-bit languages are ACTION!, BASIC XL and assembler. ST users favor Pascal--almost exclusively Personal Pascal--C and assembly language. Of those who build hardware projects, 5% modify their systems themselves.
The kinds of software most widely used by members are ranked here in order of importance:
1. Word pracessing
NOVATARI (Northern Virginia Atari Users Group) 550
AURA (Atari Users Regional Association) 250
NCAUG (National Capital Atari Users Group) 110
WACUG (Woodbridge Atari Computer Users Group) 110
FACE (Frederick Atari Computer Enthusiasts) 55
SMAUG (Southern Maryland Atari Users Group) 34
CPM (Capital Pro Micro-Users) 33
Non-member subscribers to "Current Notes" 400
122 N. Johnson Road
Sterling, VA 22170
10 issues yearly $15 per year ($23 foreign)