Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 5, NO. 4 / AUGUST 1986


ST reviews

Prospero Software
190 Castlenau
London SW13 9DH

Reviewed by Mike Fleischman

Prospero Pro Fortran-77 is a full implementation of the ANSI standard version of Fortran-77. The program comes with a manual and a disk containing the two-pass Fortran compiler and the linker. It does not come with an editor, however, so you will need a text editor or word processor to use this package.

I found I could use the software on either the ST's double-sided disk drive or two single-sided drives. The compiler supports all GEM AES and VDI calls as well as the TOS environment commands. Writing a program with full GEM support should be relatively easy.

This is a very complete Fortran package. The language supports 1-, 2- and 4-byte integers and logicals, 4 and 8-byte floating point numbers and complex numbers. As in standard Fortran the lines are 72 columns long and character names can be only six characters. Implicit type checking is also implemented as well as the standard default Fortran work file. The most files you can have open at one time is 15. GEM support deviates from the Fortran standard, because the company followed all the C definitions for the VDI and AES interfaces.

The first thing you will discover about the Pro Fortran compiler is that the language requires a memory resident section to be installed before anything else will run. This brings up an interesting question: Does Prospero want royalties for use of their memory resident section? I found that their copyright agreement states that you are buying this package for your sole use only and that you will not disassemble or alter the software for your own use.

From this I would conclude that if you intend to use this software for anything other than your own use, you'd be wise to contact Prospero Software for any agreements necessary.

The compiler and linker prompt you for the necessary information. The compiler also has optional prompts for all compile parameters. There is also a configuration program to customize the default settings. The compile time is relatively fast and the resulting code is compact. The only real hitch to writing your own program is the lack of an editor.

I used a Sieve test to measure the speed of the compiler on my 520ST (with one megabyte of memory and two disk drives). I found that the program compiled and linked in two minutes and 46 seconds, producing a program 4,758 bytes long. My running time for this program was 11 minutes and eight seconds, compared to 13 minutes, 21 seconds for ST Basic, and 2.53 seconds for Digital Research C.

Fortran-77 follows all the standard Fortran syntax and you should have no trouble moving your source code to a mainframe computer once it is running. I was impressed with the quality of the package and the ease of its use, but the copyright agreement would make me want a second look. Also, I am concerned that the program runs so slowly.

But this is generally a very good implementation of Fortran-77. If you are a programming student or need to learn or use Fortran-77 in your college studies, this would be a worthwhile investment.

Hippopotamus Software
985 University Ave
Los Gatos, CA 95030
(408) 395-3190

Reviewed by Harvey Bernstein

One of the great disappointments for 8-bit Atari users is the lack of a good backgammon program. Fortunately, ST owners now have their needs met with HippoBackgammon. This new game from Hippopotamus Software simulates a backgammon board in living color and offers a choice of two computer "robot" opponents to play against.

Both robots play a good game, but the more challenging opponent seemed to be Robot B. Each can be set to play at either beginner, intermediate, or advanced mode, but the more experienced player will want to stay with the advanced.

By far, the most unique feature of HippoBackgammon is its ability to modify, or "reprogram," the robot opponents. The decision tree used by each robot is in two parts, the cortex and the neurons. From within the cortex, you can control the likelihood that a robot will offer or accept the doubling cube, how frequently blots will be left and where, how many pieces to keep on a particular point and strategy for bearing off. The neurons can be adjusted to determine the relative importance of any point.

Excellent use is made of the ST interface and play is completely intuitive. You use the mouse to roll your dice and move your pips. The drop-down windows allow you to choose which robot you wish to play against, change board colors, save a game or switch sides. You can even play from a pre-set position--an option usually found only in chess programs.

My only quibble with HippoBackgammon is a small design flaw. The game lets you pass the dice back to the robot without moving your pieces, allowing you to ignore a normally bad roll. However, since most ST owners and all ST Resource readers are completely honest, they should have no difficulty in overcoming this temptation. At any rate, this is a good, solid translation of the popular board game and should be welcomed by any backgammon player who owns an ST

Sierra On-Line
Coarsegold, CA 93614
(209) 683-6858
$24.95, age 7 and up

Reviewed by Rebecca Guber, Age 8
(Typing by Sol Guber)

Winnie the Pooh in the Hundred Acre Woods is a very good program. It is one of the best kids' adventure games that I have ever played. It has excellent graphics, but I wish that it had more screens.

The object of Winnie the Pooh is to return things to their owners before the blustery wind comes and blows them away. There are 10 things that you need to find and return. You have to go to the screen where the thing is. The objects are hoes, or scarves, or carrots. You must figure out not only whom they belong to, but also how to get from where you are to where the person is.

Before I forget, let me tell you some more about the screens. You start out in a room and there are some directions on the bottom of the screen. On the top of the screen there is usually a really nice picture about the words on the bottom. You have to know how to read to play this game, because it is a lot like the Winnie the Pooh books. But the reading isn't too hard. Maybe a second grader might have a few problems, but not too many. You can leave the room by moving North, East, or West. If you pick South, the computer tells you that you can't go in that direction. You are then in some woods and there is a little story under the new picture. Sometimes there is also a thing in the picture. You can pick it up or not. You can carry only one thing at a time.

Before I forget again, let me tell you more about choosing what you want to do. This program was wntten for the Atari 520 ST and it works with a mouse. When you come to a screen, there are sometimes choices about what you can do there. Each choice has a number before it. To do the choice, you can press the number and then press [RETURN]. To go North, all you have to do is press [N]. I will let you guess what letter you need to go South. There is an arrow that you move with the mouse. You can move the arrow to a choice and press the button and it is the same as if you typed it.

So what you do is Pick up something, go to the person that it belongs to and Drop the thing there. There are 10 things to pick up in any game and my dad (who knows how to cheat a lot) says that there are 40 different things in all the games. You have to figure out what goes to all of Winnie's friends like Christopher Robin, Owl, Kanga and Roo, Eeyore and Rabbit. My Dad says that I forgot Tigger, but I did that on purpose. I don't think that Tigger should be in this game because he makes me cuss whenever he comes onto a screen. What he does is pick you up and bounce you around and you drop everything.

One other thing is that there is a toy box where you can go and save the game so that you can come back later and continue. There are also music and sing alongs in this game, with the words at the bottom of the screen.

The box says that the program will teach reading skills, map skills and logical thinking. It does teach reading because you have to read the bottom of the screen exactly. There is a map included and you need it to learn to get around the Hundred Acre Woods.

I am not sure if it teaches logical thinking or not, since it is usually obvious who the things belong to. Otherwise I could always ask Owl for a hint.

Winnie the pooh in the Hundred Acre Woods

I really liked this game and will play it some more since it changes after you return everything and then there is a party for you.

Abacus Software
RO. Box 7211
Grand Rapids1 Mi 49510
(616) 241-5510
414 pages, 1986

Review by Russell Magnuson

For many of us who purchased 520STs early, the lack of documentation was a big disappointment. Fortunately this situation is beginning to ease with the introduction of Abacus Software's impressive line of ST guide books. The latest Abacus title is Atari ST GEM Programmer's Reference by Norbert Szczepanowski and Bertard Gunther.

The GEM Programmer's Reference advertised as "the complete guide to programming the ST using the Graphics Environment Manager." It contains a great deal of very useful information, but is probably not the only book you will ever need for programming your ST computer using the GEM interface.

The text is divided into four main sections--ST GEM Organization, Programming with GEM, VDI and AES. Also included are appendices with an overview of the VDI and AES functions, and a listing of the 68000 instruction set along with a complete index.

GEM program examples in C and assembly language along with function call descriptions are provided. However, programmers seriously interested in exploring the GEM environment should be prepared to dig in, make notes, and spend lots of time compiling and recompilng the example programs.

A section on the Atari ST Developer's Package lists the various programs and utilities provided in this professional kit and gives short explanations of how to use them. The authors describe which files have to be on your work disk when compiling or assembling a program. Also included are instructions for using the MINCE editor, creating batch files, and compiling and linking C source files.

A section on the 68000 assembler lists the assembler options and source code directives that can be used when assembling a 68000 assembly language source file. A few programming examples in both C and assembly language help the user get a feel for compiling and assembling their own programs.

The value of the ST GEM Programmer's Reference really becomes apparent in the chapter on the VDI (Virtual Device Interface). VDI is the method GEM provides for interfacing to graphic routines such as drawing lines, circles, or rectangles. Parameters for each GEM VDI function call are described fully enough to provide the programmer with sufficient information to make a function work properly

This is important because GEM is very particular about the input/output parameters you send it. You must know how to initialize them properly before trying to use a VDI/AES call in your program.

All of the available graphic functions on the ST are covered, along with their respective C function names. Complete and excellent program examples demonstrate how to draw a filled ellipse, rectangle and circle, and create graphic text output.

The chapter on AES (Applications Environment Services) describes the routines that GEM uses to provide services like drop-down menus, dialog boxes, or windows. There are sections on multi-tasking, window techniques and the graphics library. Each GEM AES function call is briefly described and its required parameters are listed. Program examples demonstrate how to open a window, display a warning box and create a menu bar.

Missing from the ST GEM Programmer's Reference is a comprehensive "nuts and bolts" discussion on how data is passed back and forth between GEM function calls and what form GEM expects this data to be in. This information is essential if a compiler other than Digital Research's CP/M 68K C compiler (part of the Atari Developer's Kit) is to be used for generating program code with the GEM interface.

For example: When using Haba Hippo-C to compile and run the example programs, I found that all the int variable declarations had to be changed to short in order for the GEM calls to do anything but crash. It turns out DRI's C compiler defaults int to 16-bit data while Hippo's int defaults to 32 bits.

All things considered, the ST GEM Programmer's Reference helps fill a large information gap about the Atari ST computers. It shows signs of being rushed to print, and because of the wide scope of information covered, some topics are treated far too briefly to be understood fully from this text. But after all, this is a reference book and not a tutorial.

The book's best features are its concise listing of the GEM function calls and parameters, plus the short program examples found at the end of each chapter. I compiled and ran several of these programs using Hippo-C with only minor changes. An optional disk containing the programs is also available for $14.95.

At $19.95, the softbound 414-page ST GEM Programmer's Reference should be considered an excellent value, providing the documentation necessary to begin exploring the GEM programming environment.

New Products

Antic Assistant Editor

With the OS-9 68000 operating system ($299 including BASIC, $249.95 without), up to five STs can be linked to function as a multi-user, multi-tasking system with the ability to send files from one ST tc another. Or five dumb terminals could access a single 1040ST with 10 megabyte hard disk drive. The optimum number of stations sharing an OS-9 system would actually depend on the total amount of memory available and the memory requirements of each application in use.

Full-function C and Pascal compilers ($395 each) are available. The UNIX-like operating system can run many C programs designed to run under UNIX. An ST using OS-9 can also run other OS-9 applications, such as Lifetree Software's ST version of the Volkswriter Deluxe 2.2. word processor ($295), an established IBM PC product compatible with the Hewlett Packard Laserjet printer.

Microtrends President Jim Solomon calls this a "minicomputer environment on a micro," and is marketing the operating system for schools, businesses, and in science and engineering as an intelligent workstation, especially on the 1040ST

The possibilities lhclude accessing a single KnowledgeSet CD-ROM Player from several ST terminals in a library or school. Or even using the Atari 800XL running VT-52 terminal emulation software as a dumb terminal attached by cable to the ST to run text-based OS-9 applications.

A totally character-based operating system, OS-9 doesn't use the ST's graphics, the mouse or GEM. "But there may be many graphic possibilities down the road." Solomon says.

MicroTrends, Inc., 650 Woodfield Drive, Suite 730, Schaumburg, IL 60195. (312) 310-8928. FINAL.

Lifetree Software, 411 Pacific Street, Monterey, CA 93940. (408) 373-4718. PRESS.

Atari ST and IBM PC computers can share information and software on Imaginet ($495), the first local area network for the ST Imaginet can support up to 63 computers and is fully compatible with BMB's The Manager ($195), a full-function database and report generator for the ST Identical to BMB's $695 IBM version of The Manager, the database can be shared between both machines even when used without the network.

BMB's File Server System ($895) for the ST is actually a dedicated IBM PC clone computer with a 20-megabyte hard disk. The file server can accommodate 63 STs linked to BMB's Imaginet.

BMB Compuscience, 500 Steeles Avenue, Milton, Ontario L9T 3P7. (416) 826.2516. FINAL.

Sig Hartmann, president of software for Atari Corp., calls ST One Write "the kind of software that will sell the ST computer." He's right. ST owners have been waiting for any accounting package-especially a small business accounting package.

Announced at the Spring COMDEX in Atlanta, ST OneWrite Cash Disbursments ($129.95) marks game company Sierra On-Line's first entry in the productivity software market. Based on the un-computerized "one-write" or "pegboard" accounting system used in millions of small businesses, it uses ST graphics to visually recreate familiar "one write" checks, balance sheets and forms. Sierra will follow with accounts receivable and general ledger programs in the Fall.

Kids age 8-12 learn about the American work ethic, how to handle money and make change as America's favorite duck works to earn money to build a playgound in Donald Duck's Playgound, ($24.95) Sierra's second ST educational game.

Sierra On-Line, Inc., Coarsegold, CA 93614. (209) 683-6858. FINAL.

Designed by Lee Isgur, top Wall Street financial analyst and VP of Paine Webber, New York, Isgur Portfolio System helps both casual investors and full time professionals compile and manage information to make investment decisions. It instantly updates your personal stock portfolio with data from online services such as Dow Jones and CompuServe by utilizing I * S Talk, a complete telecommunications program included with the package. The price, $199.95 is $50 lower than the IBM-PC version and it utilizes the GEM interface.

If you make a mistake, you'll hear Thunder! This $39.95 writer's assistant package makes a 50,000-word real time spelling checker, abbreviations expander and a statistics report generator available from the desktop within other programs such as word processors and databases. The abbreviations expander will automatically expand any two stroke abbreviation into full form-turning US into United States for example. A document analyzer counts word statistics including a readability score based on the Flesch index, a test indicating how many years of schooling an average reader needs to understand what you've written. Coming soon: Paperclip Elite, the ST version of the popular 8-bit word procesor.

Batteries Included, 30 Mural Street, Richmond Hill, Ontario, L4B 1B5, Canada. (416) 881-9816. FINAL.

Regent Base ($99.95) is a full-function GEM relational database. Commands are in simple English and the GEM interface is used extensively, with windows, drop-down menus and mouse. The 100% machine language program uses all available memory, has 15 printer drivers and is not copy protected. Regent Base indexes multiple fields within a table and can sort three fields simultaneously. It is compatible for mail-merge with Regent Word II ($99.95), the word processor newly reissued in a full GEM version with a 30,000-word spelling checker. Owners of Regent Word I can upgrade to the new version for $25.

Regent Software, 7131 Owensmouth, Suite 45A, Canoga Park, CA 91303. (818) 883.0951. FINAL.

Software Toolshop Ltd. has converted its entire range of CP/M-80 software to the Atari 3 '/2-inch disk format, including Prospero Pascal, Borland Turbo Pascal and Microsoft Macro 80. All require the Atari Corp. CP/M emulator. For a catalog write:

Software Toolshop, 180 High Street North, Dunstdble Beds LU6 lAT. Great Britain (0582) 699657. PRESS.

Action Pak (4in1) gives you four useful applications on a single $39.95 disk. Disk Labeler prints ST labels with as many as 38 alphabetized file titles. Banner prints giant placards in any of five fonts and is compatible with DEGAS. Synfile Converter will transfer SynFile + 8-bit database files into ST database files via a null modem. Typewrite is a line-at-a-time typewriter that installs as a desktop accessory and is always handy for addressing envelopes, filling out forms, or typing short memos.

Action Software, 69 Clementina Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. (415) 974-6638. FINAL.

The makers of the Pawn graphic adventure game announced Starglider ($44.95), a strategic simulation in three dimensions. This is the first of Firebird's Rainbird series of adventure games.

Firebird, 74 North Central Avenue, Ramsey, NJ 07746. (201) 934-7373. PRESS.

"It's definitely not a direct port of the 8-bit version of Silent Service," says John Fredrick at MicroProse. The $39.95 ST version of the best-selling submarine warfare simulation game utilizes ST sound, graphics and highly detailed maps that you can zoom in and out of.

MicroProse, 120 Lakefront Drive, Hunt Valley, MD 21030. (301) 667-1151. FINAL.

Dac-Easy, ($69.95) the IBM accounting package named InfoWorld's 1985 Product of the Year, has been ported directly to the ST It includes general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, purchase order, control billing, inventory and forecasting (but not payroll or taxes). It is the tool Dac Software Inc. uses to do its own multi-million-dollar-a-year accounting. FINAL.

Dac Software, Inc., 4801 Spring Valley Road, Building 110 B, Dallas, TX 75244. (214) 458-0038. FINAL.

Michtron has released several new products-for a total of 28 in their entire ST line. The Personal Money Manager ($49.95), a personal accounting package utilizes GEM; Cornerman, a Sidekick-style desktop utility includes clock, calculator, phone book and more; DFT ($49.95) transfers files between the ST and IBM PC; DOS Shell ($39.95) mimics the MS-DOS command structure with global commands; Kissed ($39.95) is an odd name for this a full screen editor and debugger; Destroy enemy spies in Major Motion ($39.95). Infiltrate enemy gold mines in Gold Runner ($3995), a 63-screen color game. Or play Time Bandits ($39.95). This arcade adventure from England took eight months and 300K of machine code to create and "uses the ST graphics to the max" says Michtron president Gordon Monnier.

Michtron, 576 Telegraph, Pontiac, MI 48053. (313) 334-5700. FINAL.

Protect your rolling rodents with the MousePad ($9.95). This 9 x 11 inch piece of nylon-covered neoprene rubber gives the mouse ball a safe, smooth, dust-free surface to roll on with more traction and control than your lumpy, bumpy desk.

Mousetrak, Inc. 3047 St. Helena Way, St. Helena, CA 94574. (707) 963.8179. FINAL.

The slightly smaller WestRidge Mouse Pad ($8) is not just another pretty piece of rubber. It reduces fatigue, reduces mouse ball wear and enhances cursor control.

West Ridge Designs, 305 N.W 12th, Portland OR 97209. (503) 248-0053. FINAL.

What a great idea. One printer, several "Plug n' Print" interfaces ($99 each) and the Okimate 20 Color Printer ($169) is compatible with many computers-including the ST. It prints more than 125 shades of color, creating high resolution pictures or overhead projection graphics on acetate. The Oki also has several built-in type fonts including fine print and superscripts, and prints 80 characters per second in draft mode, 40 cps in letter quality mode.

Okidata, 532 Fellowship Road, Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054. (609) 235-2600. FINAL.

Audio Light Slideshows in Christmas, General Interest and Halley's Comet themes ($15 each) are animated musical presentations created with the N-Vision program and Activision's Music Studio. (Antic uploaded the Christmas show, featuring traditional carols and scenery, onto Compuserve SIG * ATARI last December.) Halley's Comet uses an advanced version of N-Vision's A-Light Slideshow program (included with all three disks) to create a rudimentary but impressive form of animation by squeezing more picture files on the disk and speeding up the file display.

Audio Light, Inc., 146 Town Terrace, Suite 4, Los Gatos, CA 95030. (408) 395- 0838. FINAL.

Henry's Fundamental BASIC is an easy-to-use fundamental BASIC language interpreter aimed at the home user. This $49.95 subset of Philon Fast/Basic M ($129), Philon's more sophisticated compiler, offers full syntax compatibility.

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

STKey ($29.95) lets you program the ST function keys to accept customized commands for your application programs and access them from the desktop. Disk-menu, a $49.95 archive and backup utility, can also split large files between disks and recover lost disk space.

Solid Applications, Inc., 1333 Moon Drive, Yardley, PA 19067. (215) 736-2449. FINAL.

Atari ST Logo by Martin Sims ($16.95), a thick book packed with beginner-level Logo programming tutorials, is profusely illustrated with flow charts and photographs of programming examples as they appear on the screen. Includes information on how to create simple 3-D pictures in Logo, and tutorials describing how to program an electronic clock and an interactive logic game.

Hayden Book Company, 10 Mullholland Drive, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ 07604. (201) 393-6306. FINAL.

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,