Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 7, NO. 1 / MAY 1988

The Ever-Changing Atari Marketplace

Six Antic Years

By NAT FRIEDLAND, Antic Editor


Atari Corp. sold 100,000 XE Game Systems in the U.S. last Christmas--every unit that they manufactured last year. And of course the XE Game System is just a cosmetically redesigned 800XL/65XE 8-bit computer.

True, the XE Game System is being marketed as a device for playing entertainment software cartridges without needing a disk drive. But it seems very likely that after a few months with challenging "games" like the Flight Simulator II cartridge included with the XE Game System, many new owners will become full-fledged Atari users by adding the advanced new Atari XF551 drive ($199.95) which is now available.

Thousands of XE Game System owners probably will soon want to explore more of the outstanding capabilities of the 8-bit Atari. They might first try large-scale graphic adventure game disks that need saving between play sessions. From there, it's an easy step to using paint programs, word processors, databases, speech products-- and the many fine programs available from users groups, online and on Antic Disks.

Meanwhile, the first big batch of Atari entertainment cartridges for the XE Game System is being shipped (and will be reviewed in the next issue of Antic). These cartridges can be used on any Atari 8-bit computer. The 12 impressive titles feature classic software that has either never been available for the 8-bit Atari or has long been unavailable-- Battle Zone, Blue Max, David's Midnight Magic, One-on-One Basketball, etc. Naturally, Antic will review all new Atari cartridges as soon as they become available.


Considering that Atari personal computers have always been a comparatively specialized segment of the overall computer market, Antic has certainly seen many dramatic Atari changes during our first six years of publication. When publisher James Capparell put out our first issue in April 1982, an Atari 800 with 16K memory and a bulky 810 disk drive cost $1,679.95.

Then as now, Antic had no doubts that the Atari was technologically the best 8-bit computer ever made. But it took an adventurous and individualistic computer user to recognize this. The old Atari, Inc. owned by Warner Communications never marketed their great computers effectively. At first the company was too busy making unprecedented amounts of money on video cartridge systems--peaking at $2 billion sales in 1982, the year of Pac Man. Then when the bottom dropped out of the video game market in 1985, shell-shocked executives were too busy trying to halt a $450 million loss!

A totally unexpected bombshell hit the Atari world in July 1984 as Warner sold the company for $240 million to Jack Tramiel, the man who built Commodore Computers (especially the Commodore 64) into Atari's victorious arch-rival in the marketplace. The feisty, aggressive Tramiel swiftly finished restructuring the company into a lean-and-mean competitor, changing its name to the Atari Corp.

In an astonishing six months, the new Atari Corp. premiered the groundbreaking 520ST computer at the January 1985 Consumer Electronics Show, and then brought it to market by June. Without question, this was a unique, even heroic, feat that won Atari renewed worldwide credibility. In November 1986, Atari Corp. went public with a sold-out $50.6 million stock issue. And the price of Atari shares more than doubled before falling back as a result of the October 1987 stock market slump.


Antic Magazine is proud to have completed six years of service to the worldwide Atari community. The unique loyalty of Atari-using Antic readers enabled Antic Publishing Inc. to grow from classic "kitchen table" beginnings to a 54-employee company occupying an entire three-floor San Francisco building. The success of Antic Magazine is what made it possible for us to bring Atarians these other important services:

  • ANTIC ONLINE, our pioneering three-year-old electronic publication on Compuserve that provides the fastest Atari news, software and graphics files for downloading, and a vast archive of reviews and articles.
  • ANTIC SOFTWARE, probably the leading supplier of high-quality programming for all models of Atari computers, featuring 8-bit software like RAMbrandt and ST products like CAD-3D and the Cyber series.
  • START, the first all-ST magazine--which jumps from four to eight yearly issues in 1988.


In 1988 as always, Antic isn't content just to point out whatever problems are facing the Atari community. We're here to work with Atarians and do what we can to make things better for everybody.

First of all, since Antic is presently the only Atari magazine that can be counted on to come out every month with product news for all models, we are committing to an all-out effort to publish every product review in the first available issue--without any holdover reviews if at all possible. In fact, we already started doing this in the January 1988 issue, shortening reviews when necessary in order to cover every 8-bit and ST product without delay.

Also, next month we will start a major new 8-bit programming contest that goes beyond the highly successful Practical Applications Contest (November 1987). Complete rules and prizes will be explained in the June 1988 Antic. But don't worry you already made a sale to Antic this year, all programs accepted for publication during 1988 will automatically be considered for the contest.

The editors of Antic believe most Atari users would agree that the biggest problem facing Atarians today is the difficulty of finding software and other products for our computers. Product unavailability is especially severe for the 8-bit Atari, but the ST situation could use considerable improvement too.

Unfortunately, this problem is too big for Antic to fix by itself. But if enough users are willing to become just a bit more involved, we think that genuine progress could be made! After all, a pre-release copy of Springboard's new 8-bit Atari version of Newsroom just arrived at Antic--a product that would never have been created if it wasn't for the hundreds of readers who responded to Antic's 1987 write-in campaign.

If you'd like to find more Atari products at convenient dealer, here are few simple things you can do: TELL your nearby software dealer that you want to buy products for your Atari there. JOIN your local users group. SUPPORT Atari software publishers by buying the programs you want--DON'T trade illegal copies with your friends!

And if you want Antic to continue coming out every month with the best coverage supporting your Atari computer--please give this magazine the support it needs from you! SUBSCRIBE--that's the most important thing you can do to keep Antic at its best for you! Also, submit good articles, programs, reviews and tips. Don't be shy about it. Remember, Antic has always been written primarily by its readers. Right now, we can use more reviewers with all kinds of special backgrounds--from ST sysops to 8-bit hardware upgraders. So write to Antic and tell us about your areas of expertise.


Now let's get together for a special project that could make more Atarian products available in your area soon! Antic is asking you to write a letter this month to Jack Tramiel, Chairman of Atari Corp. Tell him these two things:

1. Give Jack the addresses and phone numbers of the computer stores in your area that you would like to see carrying Atari products.

2 . Tell Jack what it would take for Atari to get you to buy more of their products.

Please be courteous and realistic in your letters. "Cut 1040ST prices to $99, you *+&@#%" is not the kind of communication that will convince people about the correctness of your viewpoint. Whenever possible, send your letter as a printout--to demonstrate that you are a serious user who has invested in a computer, a printer and word processing software. You should write to Mr. Jack Tramiel at: Atari Corp., 1196 Borregas Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94086.

And, as in our previous successful write-in campaigns, please be sure to send a copy of your letter to Antic Write-In, 544 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94107. That way we can learn from your suggestions too, and perhaps pass around the store list to other third-party Atari developers.