Article #36 (214 is last):
From: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG)
Subject: Z*Magazine: 12-Jan-87 #34
Reply-To: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG)
Date: Thu Jul 8 09:37:02 1993
Zmagazine January 12, 1987
Publisher/Editor in Chief:Ron Kovacs
Software Reviewer: Eric Plent
This Week in Zmag......
<*> SPECIAL REPORTS ON THE
<*> ATARI MEGA-ST'S TO DEBUT
<*> NEW ATARI IBM CLONES
<*> ATARI TO MARKET LASER
<*> OTHER CES HIGHLIGHTS
LASER DISCS AND VIDEO
<*> ELECTRONICS INDUSTRY OUTLOOK
All this and more in this weeks
edition of Zmagazine.....
Xx PUBLISHER'S DESK
...Zmag CES Coverage...............
CES '87 Reports
At the time of this writing, the
1987 CES Show is just beginning. In
this issue of Zmag we hope to carry
all the news we can possibly fit.
Since we are in a better position
this year, with our new publication
date, we can now carry a show's
events in one issue.
We hope you find all the articles
of interest. We have a few sources
that are supplying information.
Antic Online, CompuServe's Online
Today and also from Lennart Ollsson
New products that look exciting are
Atari's new under $1000 laser
printer, and their super-inexpensive
IBM clones. More on those later.
Canon is showing a personal FAX
machine that doubles as a copier,
but it's priced at $2000 or so.
Pioneer's is showing its new
LaserDisc Players, there's RDAT
Digital Tape Decks, phone equipment,
and more. All in all, another
impressive show for consumer
First up is Lennart Ollsson and the
message we received from him in
regards to the new products that
Atari Corp. is set to unleash on
the international computer scene.
Xx NEWS FROM EUROPE
...Getting a Scoop On Atari's
Date: 08-Jan-87 15:23 EST
From: Lennart Olsson [76254,467]
Subj: New Atari Machines!
BIX is fantastic when it comes to
forward the latest news.
I just captured today's press
releases from Atari Corp...
Now I know why the PC emulator
took so long...they made an Atari
PC compatible with IBM PC/XT.
The EST (enhanced) was announced
earlier this week. Today the Mega
ST was uncovered. It will have a
detached keyboard, 1-4 megabytes of
RAM expandable to 16 MB, built-in
3 1/2" 800kB disk drive, an
expansion slot in-side, bus
extension outside, sturdy case so a
monitor can stand on it, etc etc.
For you and me this may be the
electronic publishing machine we
are waiting for...? (Must compare
it to Apple Paris though...)
A laserprinter for approx. $1500
will also be available later. It
will not be as smart as other but
this may be good. After all it's
easier to control things if
everything is managed inside the
workstation.(?) It requires a
Mega ST though. A 1 meg 1040ST is
not enough. Maybe a 4 meg 1040ST
At this writing nothing of the
above could be found here on CIS.
Now I will call (try!) your BBS
to tell you that this msg is
waiting for you.
Happy Atari new year ,
Xx CES SHOW HIGHLIGHTS
...Atari Corp. Comes On Strong.....
ANTIC PUBLISHING INC., COPYRIGHT
1987. REPRINTED BY PERMISSION.
Atari at CES -- Winter 1987
A sneak preview of what's new.
(Las Vegas -- January 7) --
The motto of Tramiel's Atari
Corporation has just been updated.
Instead of "Power Without The
Price," Atari's battle cry is
"Where the Action Is."
The action started with three major
hardware announcements from Atari.
First is Atari's introduction of
the new "Mega" ST series.
Atari has altered their 16-bit
product line in both features and
styling. The new STs are component
systems, similar in appearance to
an IBM PC, but less "clunky" --
they bear a sleek micro-stereo
component look. A detachable
keyboard connects via cable to a
separate box housing the CPU, an
included double-density 3 1/2 inch
drive and a battery-sustained real-
time calendar clock. Cosmetically,
the Mega STs are the same dove-gray
ST color, the separated keyboard
resembling a 1040 ST with the
diagonal vent area sliced off. The
keyboard, by the way, has a much
crisper feel to it than current ST
keyboards, although key layout and
the keytops themselves remain
The new STs are designed as "open
architecture" machines. Expansion
devices such as add-on cards might
be plugged into a peripheral box,
which would then connect to the ST
through the DMA port or bus expansion
connector. In the future, such a
box could feature dedicated chips,
such as the new Motorola 68020 and
the 68881 math co-processor, giving
blinding speed to graphics
processing, real-time animation
and other memory intensive, number-
crunching functions. The Mega STs
will be available in 1, 2 and 4
megabyte configurations, with
prices reportedly starting at around
$995. And yes, the Mega STs come
with the blitter chip built in.
The second major announcement was
the Atari ST Desktop Publishing
System. An Atari ST "host" computer
will serve as the front end for a
laser printer "engine." As of this
writing (Wednesday night, before
CES officially opens) the
manufacturer of Atari's laser
printer has not been identified.
(Perhaps Atari will name names at
their press conference at 9:00
Thursday morning.) However, John
Skruch at Atari told Antic
Publishing the manufacturer was
"one of the three biggest names in
the laser printer business." The
Atari laser printer promises
virtually typeset quality
electophotographic print technology
with a 300 dot-per-inch resolution.
Third, and probably most unusual of
Atari's new hardware announcements,
was the Atari IBM PC compatible.
That's right -- Atari has jumped
into Compaq, Leading Edge and
Hyundai territory by announcing
their own IBM PC "clone" -- to
retail for an amazing $495. The
new Atari PC features an 8088
microprocessor with a switchable
clock speed of 4.77 MHz or 8MHz.
The PC will come with 512K standard,
expandable to 640K of RAM, plus
256K of screen RAM. As Atari's
press information states, the PC
"supports these graphics modes:
enhanced color adaptor (EGA), color
graphics adaptor, monochrome display
adaptor and Hercules graphics cards."
The resolution is 640 X 350, either
monochrome or color. The PC is
equipped with standard ports:
parallel printer ports, RS232C
serial port, plus built-in mouse
support. Not surprisingly, it comes
with a detachable keyboard (IBM
PC/XT layout), and will accept a
8087 numeric coprocessor. The CPU
box has a 360K 5 1/4-inch disk drive
built in, and can accept two
additional external drives. The
PC's styling is similar to Atari's
new STs -- either one would look
sexy sitting on an executive (or
home) desk. Atari hopes to use its
PC as a front-end vehicle for their
laser printer, and claims the PC
will run "thousands of pieces of IBM
Those were the major Atari stories
breaking before CES had actually
Read on for reports on what's new
in both 16- and 8-bit software and
third-party peripherals for your
Xx ATARI DEBUTS NEW PRODUCTS
...Reports From CES................
REPRINTED BY PERMISSION.
A Phoenix From The Ashes
Atari and The Winter 1987 CES
By Jon Bell and Matt Loveless
Editor, Consulting Editor, START
(Las Vegas -- January 8) -- "Now,
in 1987, we are declaring war on the
computer business in the United
These were the words of Sam
Tramiel, as Atari kicked off the
first day of CES with a 9:00 a.m.
press conference at the Dunes Hotel.
"We are the number one computer in
West Germany, in the home computer
business and the personal computer
business," he said, before adding
that those interested could check
with the German press and confirm
Atari's stance at the press
conference wasn't merely confident,
it was ruthlessly aggressive. The
Tramiels made two points loud and
clear: Atari Corporation has
conquered overseas markets with its
products, most notably the ST, and
has established a firm foothold as a
major player in the personal
computer industry. The second
point: Atari has now fulfilled its
financial obligations to its patient
former parent, Warner Communications,
and is now no longer shackled to
Atari's stock offering gave it an
infusion of cash which enabled it to
pay off its loan from Warner.
According to an article in the
December 15, 1986 issue of Business
Week, Jack Tramiel flew to New York
City and presented Warner
Communications officials with a
check for $36 million, thus
effectively closing down Atari's
(Late-breaking financial note:
Atari's stock rose 2 1/2 points
today, 17 1/2, up from 15. The
stock has risen 6 points overall
since it was first offered in
November.) Now completely free of
the Warner mantle, Jack Tramiel has
stopped looking over his shoulder at
Atari's troubled past and is instead
staring intently into his company's
future. At the press conference, he
reiterated his "Business is War"
philosophy in no uncertain terms:
"The customer who supports my
products knows what he wants. If you
don't give him the right products at
the right prices, he stops buying --
which is exactly what happened in
1985. Even giants, companies like
IBM, have started to realize this
and follow my footsteps, and keep
reducing prices. That's the only way
they can sell. And I'm not sure
that they'll be able to catch up."
"IBM gave their business to
the Far East on a silver platter
because their prices were so high.
And they just allowed all those
people to compete with them. We at
Atari have no intention of following
their footsteps. We will try to
always have the most innovative
products -- constantly coming
up with new products at the right
prices. The philosophy continues,
the philosophy is successful."
"THE FUN IS BACK"
Atari formally introduced its new
product line, from revamped
videogames to its IBM PC compatible,
with a short videotape presentation.
Videogames, which sent Atari Inc.
profitability and then sent it
spiraling almost into oblivion, have
re-emerged at Tramiel's Atari Corp.
The venerable Atari warhorse, the
2600, has been given a facelift and
is now selling at a retail price of
under $50. The new 7800 game
system, which James Morgan
introduced in those last terrible
months before the Tramiel takeover,
is heralded as the next generation
of videogame. It includes a copy of
Pole Position, and will retail for
under $90. The 7800 features better
than XE-quality graphics and sound,
and will accept the new "Supergame"
cartridges from such companies as
Broderbund, Epyx and Electronic
Arts. The first titles to be
released include Karateka,
Choplifter, Summer Games, One On One
Basketball and Skyfox.
Sam Tramiel then mentioned a third
new videogame system from Atari --
the XE System. It was displayed
(not running) in a glass case at the
Atari booth. The XE System is a
small, squarish box which doesn't
resemble a standard videogame. Its
sharp angles and round, pastel
buttons give it an unusual, almost
art-deco appearance. According to
Tramiel, it is fully expandable with
a plug-in keyboard and disk drive,
turning it into an introductory
computer. It will be available 2nd
quarter of 1987.
THE MEGA ST SYSTEMS
"I introduced the first personal
computer 10 years ago," said Jack
Tramiel. "It was called the PET. It
was a 4K machine. Today we
announced a 4-megabyte machine."
From 4K to 4000K in 10 years is an
incredible feat of technological
evolution, and the new Mega STs
represent another link in that
evolutionary computer chain.
As we mentioned in our first
report, the Mega STs will be sold in
1, 2 and 4 megabyte configurations.
They feature detachable keyboards
(with improved, crisper keyboard
"feel"), a separate CPU box housing
a double density 3 1/2 inch drive,
built-in blitter chip, expansion bus
and power supply, and use the new
one-megabyte DRAMs. A mouse port
and joystick port are in the back of
the ST keyboard unit, near the
center. The keyboard itself is
attached with a length of coiled
cable, using standard phone jacks.
The usual ST ports (DMA, MIDI,
etc.) are arranged in the back of the
CPU box. The box also serves as a
monitor platform. Atari's new
20-megabyte hard disk fits in the
same "footprint" as the CPU and can
be placed between CPU and monitor,
adding only another inch.
UNDER $1500 LASER PRINTER
Conventional laser printers offered
by other companies require hundreds
of dollars worth of microprocessor
and support electronics. But the
Atari ST's high-speed DMA port,
coupled with the raw horsepower of
the 68000 microprocessor, allows the
ST to drive their new laser printer
directly, thereby lowering the
price. At the show, Atari announced
a desktop publishing system, which
will include a two megabyte Mega ST
and an Atari Laser Printer, for less
than $3000. The 300 dot-per-inch
laser printer will also be sold
separately for under $1500. A
spring delivery date was announced.
In the Atari booth, a Mega ST2
(2-meg) was actually printing
high-resolution, excellent quality
press releases (about one per
second), giving true meaning to the
phrase, "hot off the press."
Although Atari was reluctant to
identify the manufacturer of the
printer engine, experts recognized
the show model as a Canon. The
Canon engine is known for its low
price. However, it supposedly has a
limited print life. Also, it is good
for small-quantity printing, but the
per-copy price is relatively high.
Antic Publishing was unable to
determine if Canon will be the
actual supplier for the final
When asked at the press conference,
Sam Tramiel identified the supplier
as "Japan, Inc." (Editor's note:
since Canon is not known for
extremely low volume prices to OEM
vendors (such as Atari Corp.), our
assumption is that the final Atari
laser printer will not use a
Within 90 days we may even see a
laser printer development kit,
allowing software to interface with
virtually any laser printer engine.
This will open the market for third
party manufacturers, both high- and
low-end, and make the Atari one of
the most versatile (and inexpensive)
desktop publishing systems around.
For less than the price of a
Macintosh, you can get a Mega ST2,
an Atari Laser Printer, and the
software to drive it.
THE ATARI IBM PC COMPATIBLE
As mentioned in the first CES
report, Atari has announced the
first in a proposed series of
There will be two configurations of
the Atari PC: a $499 version, with
a IBM PC/XT-styled keyboard and CPU
only; and the $699 version, which
will include a "tri-sync EGA
(The actual PC hardware is
identical; only the packages offered
are different.) The monitor has a
720 X 348 high-resolution display.
Both computers come with mouse ports
and mouse, built-in parallel, serial
and SCSI ports, one 5 1/4 inch 360K
disk drive (built into the CPU box),
and 512K RAM expandable to 640K RAM.
They also include 256K of dedicated
screen RAM, which makes the entire
512K of system RAM available to
developers. Atari will also market
an expansion box which will
accomodate up to five AT-sized
The Atari PC comes with
(unheard-of) graphics support built
EGA (enhanced graphics adaptor), CGA
(color graphics adaptor), Hercules
and IBM monochrome. With an EGA
monitor, the PC will support 640 X
350 pixels resolution. Most EGA
monitors retail for over a thousand
dollars, however sources at Atari
indicate they are working on an
extremely low-priced EGA color
You can also hook up a standard ST 3 1/2 inch disk drive and read and
write IBM laptop disks, making the
transferral of text files in that
format an easy task. (Note: this
does NOT mean you can run ST
software on the Atari PC.)
The Atari PC will be bundled with
the GEM Desktop from Digital
Research along with other
applications. The "juicy gossip"
mentioned in the first report: it
is rumored that Microsoft Windows
will be available for the PC.
(Also, Windows MIGHT be available
for the new Mega STs.)
Who makes the Atari PC? Unlike
many of the compatibles on the
market, Atari manufactures the PC
in their 200,000 square-foot Taiwan
plant, where they make all their
equipment. Atari officials quickly
dismissed concern that their PC
indicated any abandonment of their
ST line. John Skruch of Atari
likened the situation to a software
house manufacturing products for
differing computers: Atari is an
electronics company specializing in
computers, and their PC is simply an
entrance into another market. (You
should also consider that Commodore
is showing both their standard Amiga
and an IBM PC clone at CES.
Commodore has sold their clone in
Europe for the last year or so, and
are just now attempting to market it
in the U.S.) "The importance of this
machine," says Sam Tramiel, "is that
someone can take it home, open the
box, and be ready to run. You don't
have to plug in cards or extra
things; you have everything you
need, right off the bat."
THE FUTURE ATARI
Looking forward, Jack Tramiel
proffered the following to the press:
"We almost started believing the
press -- about how bad it [Atari's
viability] really was. Well, the
press is wrong. It seems that the
customers want to buy the right
product at the right price. 1986.
was a fantastic year, and 1987 will
be much, much, much better."
Xx MORE HIGHLIGHTS FROM CES
....High-Tech Heaven In Vegas......
Atari Corp. wasn't the only computer
manufacturer at CES but because of
Zmag space limitations, its the
only one that we're reporting on in
this issue of Zmagazine. Look for
other CES computer news in the next
few issues of Zmag as it becomes
available to us.
Besides computers and computer soft-
ware, Las Vegas Convention Centers
were overflowing with the latest in
audio and video technology. Online
Reporter Dawn Gordon describes what
she saw as some of the highlights of
the high-tech extravaganza.
Cloud Nine, the company that Steve
Wozniak founded released its long
awaited super remote control.
Called CORE, it has 16K or RAM, a
supercharged infrared emitter, a
clock/timer and it does everything
but wash the dog.
Some of its functions include:
allowing the user to program events-
days, weeks, or months in advance
and provide a time control for home
electronic products that don't have
CORE can turn any inexpensive wire-
less VCR into a multi-event, multi-
day deck. The unit works in very
much the same way as GE's Control
Central, but is much more powerful.
Panasonic was showing there new 31
inch monitor-receiver. The unit
boasts excellent display and will be
available in July at a cost rumored
to be in the $2000 range. Panasonic
was also showing a new high speed
VHS-C camcorder (PV-100) that is
switchable between the normal 1/60
of a second and 1/1000 of a second.
The new high speed reduces blurring.
Pioneer was out in full force with
its new LD-838D LaserDisc player.
The first one from them that has
digital audio without CD capability.
Pioneer also showed its SD-1 digital
special effects LaserDisc player.
Some video tidbits: a product called
VCR Dirt Alert was shown by a
company called Video Dynamics. The
unit plugs into the AC line and
the VCR plugs into it, and it will
beep when the VCR has accrued 40
hours of recording/playback. This
way you'll know when its time to
clean the heads. For the couch
potato who has everything, I
From the hard to believe department-
it seems that we may be in for yet
another video format. VHS Super is
in the works and it's claimed to
have 460 lines of resolution and
uses metal tape. According to the
rumor, this system is incompatible
with the current VHS (although it
will use the same cassette shell)
but is supposed to play back
regular VHS tapes.
On the telephone front Code-A-Phone
was showing one of the lowest priced
answering machines around. At only
$79.95 the Model 900 features a
variable length announcement, VOX
operation, auto-on, memo recording,
an LED call counter, and power
failure backup protection.
Northwestern Bell showed 2 FAX
machines. The Faxline is a
combination fax/telephone that
doubles as a personal copier and
features G2 and G3 compatibility,
15 second transmission speed and
60 number auto-dialing for $2,299.
The Travelfax is a portable unit
that will operate from anywhere,
including a mobile telephone. It
If you've ever had the nightmare of
waking up to a dead car battery,
worry no more. Chronar has
introduced the Auto Charger. This
solar-powered unit will keep your
car battery at peak efficiency by
producing a trickle-charge to the
battery when your car is not in
use. It won't work in an indoor
garage but for $29.95, it may be
a good idea for tractors, RV's and
Xx THE BACK PAGE
...State of the Industry..........
Although Atari and many other
companies present at the Winter 1987
CES were optimistically forecasting
good times ahead, other analysts
have a decidedly different outlook
for the upcoming year in the
CONSUMER ELECTRONICS INDUSTRY
WORRIED OVER '87 PREDICTIONS
Although 1986 was the best sales
year ever for the consumer
electronics industry, manufacturers
and dealers are not happy.
According to The Washington Post, an
atmosphere of apprehension triggered
by a stronger Japanese yen, tougher
competition for the consumer dollar
and sliding profit margins is
pervading the Winter Consumer
Electronics Show now taking place
in Las Vegas. Factory sales
increased 14 percent last year, but
predictions call for just half that
in 1987. More importantly, the
industry is continuing its
traditional pattern of revenue
growth without similar increases in
profits, according to Frank Myers,
industry vice president of the
Electronic Industries Association.
"We must find ways to make profits
keep pace with increases in sales
volume," he said. Complicating all
this, is the dramatic rise over the
past year of the yen against the
dollar, notes The Post.
Because so many of the leading
consumer electronic manufacturers
are Japanese, they are now agonizing
over whether to raise their prices
or accept significantly lower profit
margins from their US sales. One analyst said, "The day of
continually cheaper Japanese
consumer electronics goods may be
"We're bleeding just like anyone
else. The yen eats up any
efficiencies we get from volume
production," said John Witt, a vice
president of Citizen Watch, a
Japanese manufacturer of pocket
Because of this, the Japanese are
reportedly investigating setting up
manufacturing arrangements offshore
in an effort to skirt the strong
yen. Despite these attempts, The
Post predicts consumer electronics
form South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia
and Singapore will erode Japan's
share of the market in the United
Zmagazine Issue 34 January 12, 1987