Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 5, NO. 3 / JULY 1986


ST reviews

Unison World, Inc.
2150 Shattuck Avenue, Suite 902
Berkeley, CA 94704
(415) 848-6666

Reviewed by Gil Merciez

PrintMaster is a graphics printing package that allows even the least artistic ST user to design and print superb greeting cards, signs, letterheads, calendars, and banners. If you think this sounds remarkably like Broderbund Software's Print Shop ($49.95) for the 8-bit Ataris, you're right.

The Screen Magic option that generates kaleidoscopic half-page patterns is the only Print Shop feature missing in PrintMaster. Most other features are enhanced from the original Print Shop. And PrintMaster offers the same foolproof user interface that made Print Shop one of the most successful home applications ever.

Just about everyone could find a good use for PrintMaster, whether you'd like to design a flyer for a small business or just design a cute greeting card for a friend. Using the mouse or cursor keys, PrintMaster guides the user through a series of easily understandable menus. Operating the program is a joy for both the novice and the seasoned veteran.

The clear documentation includes tips for designing more ambitious signs, as well as pictures of all the graphic icons included in the disk. The first release of PrintMaster includes the IBM PC user's guide, with a note that an ST guide can be requested when returning the registration card. There are a few enhancements to the ST program not covered in the IBM documentation.

The PrintMaster disk contains 11 borders, 8 fonts, 111 graphic icons, and 11 graphic patterns to use in your creation. An optional Library Gallery disk adds 140 additional graphic icons. Menu options are provided for adding additional fonts and borders, but no utilities allowing you to create them are present on the protected master disk.

A graphics editor option allows you to design or modify your own picture. The 88 x 52 grid in which you design your picture is the same resolution as that of Print Shop. I would have preferred a higher resolution for ST graphics. When the icons are printed in a medium or large size they often look too chunky. Today's dot-matrix printers can handle a much higher resolution.

PrintMaster is compatible with just about every popular graphics-capable dot-matrix printer on the market. The specific printers are named on the rear of the package. Installation of your printer driver is done with a main menu option and becomes the default for future sessions.

PrintMaster contains a calendar option that allows you to design either a monthly or weekly calendar with personalized headings, typestyles and graphics. Small reminders can be added to specified dates.

A much appreciated improvement over Print Shop is the ability to add a second graphic to any design option. This improves versatility, particularly if you want to add a picture over one of the pattern icons.

When adding text, you can mix fonts from line to line, as well as change the individual font style and size. Two additional font styles are available, a checkerboard and a rain effect, in addition to the standard, outline and 3-D styles. Upper and lower case letters are supported. I found the text editor to be extremely slow, with disk access that came at odd times and caused me to lose letters.

Banner creation produces solid, good-looking text although the text is a bit smaller than in Print Shop. Completed signs, cards, etc. can be saved to disk.

The standard borders include with PrintMaster seem to be of higher resolution and more detailed than those in Print Shop. More than twice as many graphics are contained on PrintMaster disk.

A preview mode gives you a chance to look at your masterpiece before it begins to print, which can save both time and paper.

PrintMaster's graphic editor represents a significant improvement over Print Shop. Cursor keys or the mouse can be used to draw either freehand or pixel-by-pixel. I found the freehand format somewhat clunky to use. You must press a key to stop drawing and move the cursor to a different location, even when using the mouse.

You can choose a gray drawing mode and a fill command. You can flip the shape either horizontally or vertically. An invert option flips the colors. An interesting feature is the "window" that does cut-and-paste operations on the graphic.

PrintMaster performs smoothly and is a solid design based on Broderbund's previous winner. Still I do have a few criticisms. It was released just as the TOS ROM chips were becoming available. There is a lot of time-consuming disk access as you cycle through the menus. PrintMaster could have eliminated this if Unison took advantage of the extra 200K memory the ROM chips provide. Also Print-Master doesn't take advantage of GEM features such as menu bars, windows, etc. This program could have been an outstanding GEM application, providing an even higher degree of user ease.

Apex Resources
17 St. Mary's Court
Brookline, MA 12146
(617) 232-9686

Reviewed by Arick Anders

Rhythm is a drop-down calculator with a twist. The first ST desk accessory created by England's SofTechnics, it combines the features of a programmable calculator with the basic attributes of a 10-cell spreadsheet.

Each cell takes up one row across and has a name column, an expression column and a result column. A row can include the results of any other row by referring to that row by name. By default, the rows are named "A" through "J," but you can give them any name that you want. This means that you can subtract a row named Costs from a row named Income and rename the results Profit.

Rhythm comes with the standard scientific functions you would expect, such as absolute value, natural logs, integer function and trigonometric functions. It also has functions to calculate your compound interest and annuity, and will either round to two decimal places or to the nearest integer.

Numbers can be displayed in either hexadecimal or decimal notation. Since you can input numbers in either format, this means you can use Rhythm. I also discovered a neat undocumented feature. If you don't tell Rhythm to calculate by pressing [RETURN], you can also use the software like a memo pad to type little messages to yourself (such as "mortgage payments due") within the columns of the spreadsheet as long as they're not on the same line as the formula.

The program doesn't include statistical functions, but you can type them in on a row and the program will retain them. In fact, Rhythm saves the entire window whenever you exit the program. This can be a real time saver if you use the same calculations over and over again. But if you don't want to save them, it can be a real nuisance. Everytime you want to exit Rhythm, you must place a non write-protected disk in the active drive so that the program can save the current equations. It would be nice to be able to tell the program to abort the current session without saving to disk.

Another feature Rhythm lacks is the ability to load different windows, depending on the functions that you need. Since there are only ten cells, these windows would greatly expand the program's practicality From the documentation it appears that Rhythm was originally intended to have a cut-and-paste feature that was never implemented. The program doesn't suffer excessively for not having these features; it just seems strange that they weren't included.

Another minor problem is in the expression handling. Rhythm evaluates all the operators in an expression from left to right. However, exponentials are supposed to be evaluated from right to left. The manual very clearly documents this "feature" and shows examples on how to rewrite your equation so that it will be evaluated properly.

With these exceptions, I am very pleased with the package. Using it has been so natural that the only reason I needed the 10-page manual was to learn the functions. Although the manual is brief, it is very well written, easily understood and quite sufficient. The only missing information is the maximum size of a single data element (16,777,215 without exponents) and the amount of memory that it uses (37K).

It is not surprising that one of the first commercial desk accessories on the market is a calculator. What is surprising is that SofTechnics didn't settle for just a calculator. Instead they created an innovative and useful package that is powerful yet easy to use. If you ever need a calculator at your fingertips, this package may be the one you want to own.

P.O. Box 7286
Mountain View, CA 94039
(415) 960-0410

Reviewed by David Plotkin

Hacker is one of the most original and addicting games I have experienced in quite a while. It combines elements of role-playing and problem-solving with thoroughly enjoyable results.

As in the 8-bit version, reviewed in the February, 1986 Antic, Hacker simulates breaking into someone's mainframe computer. Once there, you find some rather dangerous corporate maneuvering. You are assigned a mission, and from there you must figure out how to best accomplish it. It's important not to tell you too much, as most of the fun in this game comes from determining what responses are necessary and how various mechanisms work in order to fulfill your mission. All answers to puzzles are logical, so the solutions are mainly a matter of perseverance.

Hacker for the ST is entirely mouse-driven. The graphics don't tax the ST to its limits, but they're quite good and easy to look at for long periods of time. This is important. If you get hooked, count on some marathon sessions. The strongest point of Hacker is the problem-solving aspect, the game is really a gigantic puzzle with only one right answer. The puzzle itself is quite original, I have never run across one like it before.

On the ST, Hacker plays very similarly to the 8-bit version. A word of warning, however. Those tricksters at Activision changed the puzzle for the ST conversion! You may notice that my review of the ST Hacker is considerably more enthusiastic than Antic's earlier 8-bit review. This is not too surprising, since people tend to either love or hate "puzzle" games with very little middle ground. If you like real mindbenders and fantasy role-playing, then I recommend Hacker for your ST entertainment.

Hippopotamus Software
985 University Avenue, Suite 12
Los Gatos, CA 95030
(408) 395-3190

Reviewed by Sol Guber

The HippoSpell spelling checker is so easy to use that all you need to know is how to move the mouse to the drop-down menus. A few minutes of reading the 12-page manual clearly explains all about the software.

A good spelling checker is unobtrusive, (this word is in the dictionary), fast, and simple to use. Hippo-Spell meets all of these criteria (also in the dictionary). The program works with ST software that generates standard ASCII text files. This means it's compatible with the STwriter and Express word processors, but not 1st-Word.

Click "Check the File" on the HippoSpell main menu, and you'll see a disk directory of your word processing files. Make your selection and quickly (about 2K per second) the words that you wrote are analyzed. Any length file can be used since only about 20K is brought into memory at one time.

When a word is not in the 30,000-word dictionary, a box comes on the screen asking if it is correct. Press [RETURN] to signal correct, or click the NO box to signal incorrect. The program then tries to find 10 words that might be correct. Each function key can select one of the possible correct choices, or you can type in the word yourself. Very quick and very easy! The software is almost clever, too. It can recognize "thqt" as "that" and present it as the only choice.

With HippoSpell, you can read your file after the changes have been made. You can save as many as 10,000 new words to a dictionary to be automatically checked next time.

HippoSpell will also tell you how many times you used each word in your file, analyze the length of your words, and even show you how many words you used.

I have only one quibble (yes, it's in the dictionary) with the program. It does not show misspelled words in context. However, giving you a list of choices to correct your misspelled words seems to more than make up for this. HippoSpell is solid, workable, does what it is designed to do, and does it very fast.

by GIGI BISSON, Antic Assistant Editor

New Products

Real IBM PC compatibility will finally become a reality for the Atari ST. At computer shows in Paris, London and West Germany, Atari Corp. unveiled a product prototype code-named the "MS-DOS Box."

Designed by Atari engineer Jim Tittsler, the MS-DOS emulator is essentially an 8088 microprocessor board encased in metal like a hard-disk drive and plugged into the DMA (Direct Memory Access) port. It comes with 512K memory, an 8088 microprocessor and a socket for the 8087 math co-processor. Atari hopes to keep the price under $300.

Atari claims the MS-DOS emulator will enable the ST to be compatible with 90% of IBM PC software at speeds greater than the IBM PC. However, Tittsler says the box won't be able to run graphic-based software such as Lotus 1-2-3 until the final BIOS routines are written.

CP/M, one of the earliest microcomputer operating systems, is used by the Osbome, Kaypro and other computers. Availability of CP/M for the ST will open up enormous libraries of existing software. At this writing, Atari Corp.'s $49.95 CP/M Operating System emulator is already in use in West Germany. Licensing agreements are different in Germany, where computer magazines are advertising Micro Pro Wordstar 3.0 "fur den Atari ST" in 3.5-inch ST disk format. The German magazine ST Computer featured a review of Borland International's Turbo Pascal running on the ST with CP/M emulation. According to John Scruch at Atari, the emulator should be shipped in the U.S. by the time you read this.

Atari Corp., 1196 Borregas Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94086. (408) 745-2367. BETA.

No hype. It's the largest computer and electronics trade show in the world. CeBIT, known to the industry as the Hanover Faire, is even grander than the mighty COMDEX. The annual show in Hanover, West Germany boasted 2,100 exhibitors spread throughout 205,000 meters of display area in 13 buildings. Atari Germany spared no expense at the lavish booth tempting dealers and retailers with rich food, German beer and fine chocolates. Once again, the booth was open to nearly 50 third-party software developers.

At the Atari Computer Show sponsored by AtariUser magazine in London, Jeff Minter, the long-haired 23-year-old president of Llamasoft, created stroboscopic fireworks and pulsating colors on his new ST Colourspace light synthesizer. Not suprisingly, in the Colourspace manual Minter cites as his influences, "Rock groups Rush, Genesis and Pink Floyd." The $29.95 program is now being distributed to U.S. dealers.

Apex Resources, 17 St. Mary's Court, Brookline, Mass. (617) 232-9686. FINAL.

   European universities are adopting the ST as the machine of choice. Fortran 77, long a standard in universities, is finished from two companies-Philon in New York and Prospero in the U.K. With GEM bindings included, Prospero Pro Fortran retails for $149.95. Philon's Fast/Fortran is $299. Fortran in one standard or another has been around since the late '5 Os, so the ST can take advantage of existing quantities of Fortran-compatible public domain engineering and educational software.

Prospero Software, 190 Castelnau, London SW13 9DH, England. 01-741-8531. FINAL.

Philon, Inc., 641 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10011. (212) 807-0303. FINAL.

After Europe, the West Coast Computer Faire in San Francisco looked like a swap meet in comparison. Crowds were ample, new product displays were slim.

The most controversial product at the Faire was Data Pacific's Mac Cartridge. Invented by Antic Contributing Editor David Small, Mac Cartridge allows a one-megabyte ST to run software written for Apple Computer's Macintosh.

It's an eerie sight watching MacPaint appear on the larger 1040ST screen as Small zips through window after window, at speeds 20% faster than the Mac. He has the cartridge up and running-with one minor hitch. It requires the Apple Macintosh ROM chip.

Though Data Pacific president Joel Rosenblum says he purchased the chips off the shelf from an Apple dealer, his small company is destined to have trouble getting permission from Apple to license the ROM chips. Apple has already turned down ROM chip requests from corporate giants General Electric and AT&T. Data-Pacific could conceivably have users install the ROMS in cartridge themselves. As Mac users upgrade to 512K and 1Mb ROMs, the old chips could be put to use in the ST Mac Cartridges.

Data Pacific, Inc., P.O. Box 10805, Marina del Rey, CA 90295. DEMO.

   Andromeda Software, a development company with offices in London and the U.S., demonstrated a prototype of Animate!, a graphic animation system developed by a team of Hungarian programmers. Even more impressive was ST/ART, a picture processor for the ST that bends computer graphic images into spheres, crushes them into cubes, and twists them into shapes resembling funhouse mirrors while every pixel remains in scale. Then, utilizing the Animate! program, it sends the shapes ricocheting across the screen like Amiga bouncing balls. Andromeda has also developed an ST home version of the classic Atari arcade game Millipede and a full-color Battle Zone for the ST.

Andromeda Software, 4966 El Camino Real, Suite 201, Los Altos, CA 94022. DEMO.

   The show also marked the first appearance of Micro RTX ($69.95), an Atari ST multitasking operating system. The developer claims Micro RTX can run standard ST programs out of the box, be used as a printer spooler, or allow a user to run a bulletin board and use the computer for a separate task at the same time. Inventor David Beckemeyer is hoping for a summer release date.

Beckemeyer Development Tools, 592 Jean Street #304, Oakland CA 94610. DEMO,

   The first ST release from Electronic Arts is in our hands. It's Financial Cookbook, an ST conversion of the 8-bit home financial management software program that offers financial decision-malding advice on such topics as mortgages, interest rates and buying a car.

Electronic Arts, 1820 Gateway Drive, San Mateo, CA 94404. (415) 571-7171. FINAL.

Interlink ($39.95), a terminal communications package, uses the GEM interface while allowing online communications to appear on a full 25 line by 80 column screen. Features autodial, XMODEM and programmable function keys. The Orchestrator ($49.95) is a music composition and entertainment system that utilizes GEM and the ST's internal sound chip.

Intersed Software Corp., P.O. Box 49346, Sarasota, FL 33578. (813) 953-8865. BETA.

   Here's the latest from HippoNews, the new newsletter from those prolific folks at Hippopotamus Software. HippoWord ($89.95), is the first ST word processor compatible with laser printers. It features true multi-column editing, fonts, word statistics, and 80-column editing and can combine picture files from NEOChrome or Degas with text. HippoLaser ($69.95) contains the laser driver and fonts. BETA.

Hippo has two other ST releases already on the market. HippoPixel ($39.95) allows you to create and edit your own custom fonts or sprites. HippoConcept ($89.95) is an idea processor like Lotus Think-Tank. Hippo X-10 Powerhouse ($139.95), a home controller that dims lights and appliances, and the Hippo WAO Educational Robot ($149.95) are in BETA stage at this writing and are slated for a summer release.

Hippopotamus Software, Inc., 985 University Avenue, Suite 12, Los Gatos, CA 95030.

   68000,6810,6820 Primer ($21.95), a 368-page manual by Stan Kelly-Bootle and Bob Fowler, introduces novices and experienced programmers to the 68000 microprocessor instruction set and addressing modes, chip architecture, and how to program in Assembly language.

Howard Sams & Co., 4300 W 62 Street, Indianapolis, IN 46268. (317) 298-5400. PRESS.

New ST product notices are compiled from information provided by the products' manufacturers. Antic assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of these notices or the performance of the product. Each mention is followed by a code word indicating that, at press time, Antic had seen a FINAL marketable version, near-final BETA, earlier ALPHA, incomplete DEMO, or PRESS release.