1. Not old. Vintage. :)
Timothy Kline

Z*Magazine: 2-Feb-87 #37

Z*Magazine: 2-Feb-87 #37

  1. Timothy Kline
    Article #39 (214 is last):
    From: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG)
    Newsgroups: freenet.sci.comp.atari.product.8bit.zmag
    Subject: Z*Magazine: 2-Feb-87 #37
    Reply-To: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG)
    Date: Thu Jul 8 09:43:20 1993

    Zmagazine February 2, 1987
    Issue 37
    Zmag Staff:
    Publisher/Editor in Chief:Ron Kovacs
    Editor/Coordinator:Alan Kloza

    This Week in Zmag......




    <*> EXPRESS! 1030 VERSION 3.1



    All this and more in this weeks
    edition of Zmagazine.....

    ....User Group of the Month........

    We're starting a new monthly feature
    in Zmag and we're inviting all Atari
    User Groups to participate.

    The User Group of the Month will
    spotlight any local user's group who
    supplies us with material about
    their organization.

    It's a great opportunity for some
    free publicity, so we hope that you
    take advantage of it.

    We ask that you write a brief
    article about your group, giving us
    all the pertinent facts and inform-
    ation (Name, location, # of members,
    how it originated, when you meet,
    topics of interest discussed, etc)
    and submit it to Zmag Headquarters
    no later than the 15th of the month
    for publication in the following
    month's column.

    So if you'd like to see your group
    spotlighted in March's User Group of
    the Month, submit your material by
    February 15th.

    We kick off this feature in next
    week's issue of Zmag as we report
    on the C.H.A.O.S. User's Group of
    Lansing, Michigan.

    Be sure to watch for it!

    ....Atari Corp. In Scandanavia.....

    It's common knowledge that Atari
    Corp. has had a firm foothold in the
    European computer marketplace for
    a couple of years now. In fact, the
    ST's were selling overseas long
    before they hit the U.S. market.

    Lennart Olsson, SIX Sysop, picked
    up this tidbit for us recently on
    Atari Corp's expansion in the
    European market.

    Here's Lennart's report, which has
    been condensed from several messages
    he left to us on CIS.

    "Heard a RUMOUR that Atari has
    formed a daughter company here in
    Sweden to cover the Scandinavian
    market. It was said to be so new that
    they don't have any offices nor
    phones yet...

    Date: 27-Jan-87 10:16 EST
    From: Lennart Olsson [76254,467]
    Subj: It was TRUE!!!

    Mats Toernblad, the product manager
    for Atari Corp. Scandinavia AB just
    phoned me. He informed me that
    they had existed for two weeks.
    I got so surprised that I nearly
    didn't know what to say at all.

    Mats was working with their network
    of retailers. He had bought Atari
    User (which had the article about
    Zmag and SIX in it) and read the
    article about us. In a way,
    Zmag can be credited for the

    He wanted to know how many Atari
    related BBSs I knew of. I mentioned
    the ones that I had heard of and
    suggested that they (Atari) support
    the Atari user community through the
    BBS's. He promised his support as
    soon as they hooked up their modems.

    At the moment there are only three
    employees, all who had previously
    worked for the Swedish branch of

    Wishing you a very good Atari New

    Lennart Olsson

    ....Mega-ST--The Talk of The Trades

    Talk to any Atari user and he'll
    extol the virtues of his machine.

    Read the Atari magazines and you're
    sure to find high praise for the
    computer that insures the magazine's

    Listen to Commodore chat and check
    out their publications and you'd see
    the same support expressed for their

    Let's face it, computer users are
    a highly subjective lot and are not
    known for their unbiased opinions.

    That's why its nice, as an Atarian,
    to thumb through some of the
    electronic news trade magazines this
    week and read all the nice things
    they're saying about Atari and the
    "show" they put on in Las Vegas at

    The following excerpts are from the
    January 26th edition of Electronic
    Engineering Times.

    "Las Vegas, Nev.--Atari Corp. has
    introduced several product
    extensions to its 68000-based ST
    series of computers.

    The company also surprised attendees
    of the recent Consumer Electronics
    Show here with the debut of two
    powerful low-end computers capable
    of running IBM-PC software.

    Atari's new Mega ST series includes
    1-2-and 4 megabyte versions. Company
    president Sam Tramiel said he
    expects at least one Mega ST system,
    with a new Atari laser printer, to
    be available for less than $3000
    retail this spring.

    The Mega ST makes several departures
    from the original 520 and 1040
    keyboard-and-processor machines.
    The keyboard is now lighter and
    separate from the compact main
    processor cabinet. The latter houses
    the power supply, a 720-kbyte micro-
    floppy disk drive and a 20-Mbyte
    Winchester drive, as well as the

    The processor boasts a realtime
    clock and a 10-Mbit/second DMA
    channel, sufficiently fast to
    enable the machine to drive a
    90,000-dot-per-inch Canon laser
    engine directly.

    Atari expects the I/O capabilities
    of the Mega ST to steal sales from
    rival Macintosh and Sun Microsystems
    computers. For example, the Mega
    ST-4, which is priced below $2000,
    features a 320-kbyte ROM operating.
    That gives it full access to the 4-
    Mbyte system RAM, and reduces disk
    I/O by keeping the operating system
    working at silicon speeds.

    Next, Atari's new custom bit-blitter
    propels the Mega systems to pixel
    plotting speeds normally found only
    on much costlier 68000-family
    workstations and computers. (After
    initial Mega ST supply needs are
    met, the company will introduce the
    blitter graphics processor into the
    520 and 1040 ST's, and offer kits
    for existing owners at a low price.)

    The two new low-priced IBM compat-
    ibles that Atari showed--$599 and
    $699--feature a dual-speed 8088
    processor, 512 kbytes of system
    RAM (expandable to 640 kbytes
    internally), a 360-kbyte floppy
    disk drive and a high-resolution
    monochrome monitor.

    One unusual attraction of the
    premium Atari PC is its internal
    EGA graphics display drive
    capability. EGA graphics are
    normally a several-hundred-dollar
    option on rival personal computers.

    The monochrome monitor is capable
    of showing 720 X 348-pixel and
    64 X 350-pixel displays. A full
    256 kbytes of RAM is dedicated to
    screen graphics, freeing up the
    entire 512 kbytes of system RAM for
    program operation, RAM disk config-
    uration and the like.

    In the EGA color mode, using an
    optional color CRT, the machine
    can display up to 16 colors at a
    time, from a palette of 64. Rival
    IBM-PC compatibles offer four
    colors from a 16-color palette.

    Shipments start in April."

    Enough said!

    ....News, Rumors, Items............

    Compiled by John Nagy
    Mid-Michigan Atari Users

    EXPRESS! 1030 version 3.0 will not
    be released. Before you panic, it's
    only because author of the
    incredibly popular public domain
    terminal software, KEITH LEDBETTER,
    plans to go directly to version 3.1.

    The entire line of EXPRESS! programs
    (for the 850 type HAYES, the
    1030/XM301, and the MPP) were to be
    configured the same for a new
    version #3.0. The one for the 850
    was released in the early fall, to
    be followed in short order by the
    1030 and MPP versions. However,
    Keith decided to included improved
    XMODEM and YMODEM routines and call
    it 3.1, since the DOC for 3.0 was
    already released. There have been
    some delays, but expect the new
    versions at almost any time.

    It seems the SUPRA hard drives for
    the ST are out selling the ATARI
    brand hard drives by quite a margin.
    It may be more marketing and
    cosmetics than price or performance.

    The SUPRA is based on a 3 1/2"
    drive, considerably smaller than the
    ATARI 5 1/4" unit. Another reason
    may be that SUPRA has had much more

    Speaking of SUPRA ADVERTISING, we
    have seen full page ads for their ST
    HARD DRIVE in MANY club newsletters
    around the country. MANY. Yet when
    we have called them about
    advertising with MID-MICHIGAN ATARI
    MAGAZINE, they have REPEATEDLY told
    our reps that "Oh, we DON'T PAY for
    those, the clubs just run them for
    their information value." Is this
    an outright lie?? When pinned on
    specifics, they back down a bit-
    "CURRENT NOTES? Oh yeah, we DID
    advertise there... but that's the
    only one..." Let me name a dozen
    others. Or, better, let me name
    someone who is sure NOT to believe
    anything else we hear from SUPRA...

    created equal. There are at least
    two distinctly different versions by
    different manufacturers, and maybe
    more. And the picture quality is
    not equal either. It seems the
    OLDER monitors are noticeably
    sharper. BE AWARE of what you get!
    Shop around.

    THUNDER!, a terriffic word processor
    accessory for spell checking and
    more, will NOT WORK with 1ST WORD...
    sorta. Actually, it will not work
    in the ACCESSORY mode with
    REFORMATTED 1ST WORD files, since
    the extra spaces the formatiing puts
    in the file mess up THUNDER!'s
    operation. So, use it in GEM mode,
    and it should perform fine.

    reported on the internal drive in
    the 1040 ST. Although ATARI only
    rates their drive for 80 sectors,
    most drives are CAPABLE of accessing
    more. VIP and other programs force
    the drive to go beyond the 80th
    sector, and SOME machines just can't
    do it. ATARI says it's not their
    problem, since they published the
    specs. VIP says get a different
    drive. Cute.

    At the other end of the spectrum:
    ATARI showed a new CASSETTE drive at
    the CES... YIKE. Actually, tape is
    POPULAR overseas, where the cost of
    a disk system is much higher than
    stateside. One company offers an
    upgrade called "RAMBIT" (sound
    familiar?) that is actually for
    increasing the tape data transfer
    rate from the normal 600 baud up to
    3600 baud. IMAGINE! Tape loads of
    worthwile sized programs in well
    under fifteen minutes! It costs 18

    ....Part II CES Video Wrap-Up......

    In the last issue of Zmag we spoke
    of new products to look for in the
    home video industry. Part I dealt
    with VCR's and Camcorders.

    We now offer you Part II of the
    report, which wraps up what's new
    in home video for 1987.


    Several major Hollywood studios feel
    1987 could be the breakthrough year
    for the fledgling laserdisc format,
    which has had only mediocre sales
    since its introduction in 1979.
    Current market estimates put the
    size of the LV market at far less
    than 500,000 owners, which is
    miniscule compared to the size of
    Beta and VHS owners, at 5,000,000
    and 38,000,000, respectively.

    The most long-awaited announcement
    was that for Pioneer's LD-S1 LV
    Player, which is the first to offer
    a built-in frame store for providing
    special effects with all discs,
    including CAV, CLV and CAA. This
    player features a "videophile-grade"
    separate power supply, digital
    filters for improved audio
    performance, and a wealth of
    on-screen readouts and programming
    options, with a list price of $1600.
    Also displayed was a new
    mid-priced model, the LD-838D, which
    plays digital-sound laserdiscs and
    provides effects only with CAV
    discs, for $550.


    In the area of projection TV, the
    new products were few and far
    between. The performance
    breakthroughs expected this year
    still haven't come, and some dealers
    expressed concern over marginal
    sales and lack of consumer interest
    in projectors in general.

    Infinity showed an improved version
    of the RSTV prototype first seen at
    last summer's Chicago CES, using a
    curved screen for a somewhat
    brighter overall image. The quality
    did in fact seem somewhat sharper,
    with less light falloff on the
    extreme corners, but the
    presentation appeared to be limited
    by the source material (an LV on a
    Yamaha player).

    Kloss Video, after insisting for
    years that they'd never make a
    rear-screen projector because of the
    superiority of the front-projection
    system, took the wraps off their
    first rear-screen unit: the Model
    Ten. One of the largest
    self-contained systems on the
    market, we judged this 5' model to
    be good for what it was, but still
    no match for Kloss' model 100. This
    comparison was difficult to judge
    since the manufacturer took pains
    not to demonstrate both in the same
    room. For those with tight space
    considerations, it may be the best
    possible compromise.


    Larger, flatter screens are the
    ongoing development in the
    area of new video monitors and
    receivers, with more and more
    manufacturers offering models with
    screens larger than the usual
    26" and 27" of years past. The only
    major holdout is Sony, who
    has remained curiously silent about
    their plans for large direct
    view tube sets.

    Proton showed a new 20" flatter-tube
    model, the VT-210, which features an
    MTS tuner and sells for $850, plus
    matching model 314 stereo speakers

    Panasonic jumped into the 31" area
    with their CTJ-3170R Data
    Grade Monitor, which boasts a
    whopping 480 lines and features on-
    screen display, a 155-channel MTS
    tuner and a flat 31" CRT.

    Quasar showed a similar model, the
    TS-9980BK, and both will be
    available in August for around

    Toshiba showed two breakthroughs in
    TV sets: first, a 30" model, the
    CX-3077, which features a digital
    flat square tube with a 141-channel
    tuner, and claims an incredible 600
    lines of horizontal resolution, for
    a list price of $2500. Moving from
    huge to eensy-teensy, they also
    showed a 4" color LCD prototype
    which boasts 105,600 pixels, and has
    a cabinet measuring 7" x 5" x 1" and
    weighs about 1 1/2 pounds. While we
    weren't particularly impressed with
    the quality of the LCD picture, this
    is obviously an area which will see
    considerable progress in the near
    future...though just how long before
    they'll be commercial realities is
    another question.


    Always anxious to drum up more
    business, several video head-
    cleaning accessory firms held a
    series of back-stabbing press
    conferences in which they denounced
    the other's products. Amaray
    held a "Video Head Cleaning Forum"
    in which they attempted to
    prove that their new wet cleaning
    system was superior to all
    other contenders, and invited all
    the other manufacturers to
    attend. (Not many took them up on
    their invitation.) Rival
    manufacturer Allsop denounced the
    demonstration, and claimed
    their wet-system, one of the first
    on the market, was superior.

    Meanwhile, 3M claimed that the
    wet-systems use solvents that
    can damage the pinch rollers and
    plastic components of VCR's, and
    insisted their "tape-based" cleaning
    system was best. When asked
    about possible excessive headwear
    due to the abrasiveness of
    their system, 3M officials insisted
    that their system was not a
    true "dry-type" head cleaner per se,
    and that using their product
    for 30 seconds was equivalent to
    about 10 minutes with a
    conventional tape.

    Planting their feet firmly in both
    camps, audio accessory maker
    Discwasher now has both wet- and
    dry-type systems. And Advanced
    Video Dynamics showed several
    different wet-cleaning systems which
    electronically cue the user as to
    when to apply the cleaning fluid.

    This firm also showed a prototype
    warning device designed to tell the
    user when to clean the VCR, after
    every 40 or so hours of use.

    We found all of this controversy
    quite amusing, considering that most
    VCR manufacturers advise cleaning
    heads only "when necessary," or
    after every 500 or so hours of use.
    We've already seen several instances
    where novice videophiles have
    damaged heads by overusing abrasive
    dry head cleaners, and caution
    CEFORUM users to avoid making this
    same mistake.

    ....Reviews, Features, Commentary..


    The Nintendo Entertainment System
    By Steve Godun

    At last! I've finally torn myself
    away to write this review. I know
    that Zmag is mainly Atari news, but
    I think you'll want to know about
    this great new game system.

    I guess I should start this review
    by saying that I am a junkie. A
    video game junkie, that is. I
    average about $20 per month on
    arcade games, plus I have an Atari
    2600 and two Atari computers at my
    house - all of which are well
    stocked with video games.

    Nintendo of America, famous for its
    arcade games "Donkey Kong" and its
    sequels, its light gun games "Duck
    Hunt" and "Hogans Alley", and for
    its "vs." sports series (Vs.
    Baseball, Vs. Golf, etc), has now
    put out a home system that produces
    that same Nintendo greatness in the
    comfort of your home. To me, this
    purchase (about $140) will save me
    money in the long run. Anyway,
    back to the review.

    The Nintendo Entertainment System
    (henceforth referred to as "the
    system" or "NES") is as close to
    arcade quality as you're going to
    get. There is VERY little I can
    find wrong with it. Well, OK,
    there are a FEW faults, but nobody
    is perfect.

    Please note that this
    review is of the "deluxe" system,
    which includes the main control
    deck, the "Zapper" (a light gun),
    "R.O.B." (a robot-like unit), and
    two video game packs ("Gyromite"
    and "Duck Hunt"). The system is
    also sold in three components;
    the control deck is one unit (sold
    with "Super Mario Brothers"), the
    Zapper is a second unit (sold with
    "Duck Hunt"), and R.O.B. is the
    third unit (strangely enough,
    R.O.B. isn't sold with any game

    At the heart of the system is the
    8"x10"x3.5" (LxWxH) control deck.
    The color of the components is very
    close to the dove grey color of the
    Atari XE/ST computers, only the NES
    is two-tone grey - one is a shade
    lighter and the other is a few
    shades darker. There aren't any
    specs on the technical workings of
    the control deck in the owners'
    manual, so I don't know what CPU is
    in it.

    On the front of the deck
    are two controller ports, two
    buttons (one is for power and the
    other is a reset switch), a
    power-on light, and a small hinged
    door that flips up to reveal the
    cartridge port. On the side of the
    unit is an audio/video out jack,
    which is used if you connect the
    NES through a VCR. On the rear of
    the unit is the channel selector
    (channel 3 or 4), a power jack, and
    an RF port (for TV interface). The
    unit seems to be sturdy enough, but
    it is made entirely of plastic and
    is VERY lightweight. One bump from
    a misguided arm will most likely
    cause your game to crash on you,
    so it is a good idea to keep the
    control deck on a sturdy table away
    from the player when in use.

    The next interesting thing in the
    package is a two-tone grey light
    sensing gun called "The Zapper".
    The gun isn't as light as it looks,
    especially after realizing the size
    and weight of the control deck.
    However, it IS possible to hold the
    gun at the screen for extended per-
    iods of time with minimal cramps.
    This unit seems like the sturdiest
    part of the whole setup.
    Depending on the size of your
    screen, The Zapper has a range of
    about 6 feet.

    I've been using the NES with a 9"
    color TV (black hite, for some
    reason, doesn't register well with
    The Zapper or with R.O.B.), and
    I've measured a range of about 7.5
    feet...Not bad.

    The Zapper comes packaged with the
    arcade translation of "Duck Hunt",
    a simple target game that challen-
    ges you to blast the ducks out of
    the sky. (The Zapper comes with
    "Duck Hunt" whether you buy it by
    itself or as part of the deluxe
    setup.) A hybrid skeet-shooting
    contest is also programmed in the
    cartridge. The Zapper interfaces
    with the control deck via
    controller port #2.

    The final unit, R.O.B. ("Robotic
    Operating Buddy" - You can live
    with it if I can), is what sets the
    NES apart from other systems. When
    purchased as part of the "deluxe"
    setup, it comes with a hybrid game
    called "Gyromite", which is a
    simple but habit forming game.

    When purhcased alone, R.O.B.
    doesn't come with any game packs or
    accessories. This strikes me as an
    oddity since R.O.B. cannot be used
    by himself (he must be used with
    the control deck). R.O.B. needs a
    special program pack to work, so
    you can't use R.O.B. with games
    such as "Excitebike" or "Super
    Mario Brothers". Oh well...You
    can't win 'em all.

    R.O.B. stands a little over 9"
    tall and (by himself) doesn't take
    up much room on your desk. On his
    "head" are two light-sensing
    "eyes", which must be in sync with
    the TV when playing a game that
    uses R.O.B.'s functions. When the
    "Gyromite" package is played,
    several attachments must be put on
    R.O.B. including two hands (they
    look more like claws to me), a gyro
    holder, two gyros (gyroscopes), the
    gyro spinner, and the control base.
    By the way, R.O.B. requires four AA
    batteries to work, and the "Gyro-
    mite" gyro spinner needs one D
    battery. After linking this to
    R.O.B. he takes up quite a bit of

    Each game that uses R.O.B. has a
    special TEST mode. After making
    the TEST choice from a menu, the
    TV seems to flicker. This is now
    the time to sync R.O.B. to the
    TV. Normally, R.O.B. can be placed
    about 4-6 feet away from the TV
    screen (yes, R.O.B. must stand in
    front of the TV with no obstacles
    between him and the TV). When
    playing a R.O.B. game, signals from
    the TV (in the form of light
    pulses) are sent to R.O.B. These
    pulses are picked up by the two
    "eyes" in R.O.B.'s head. These
    pulses are then translated and
    processed into physical movement.

    R.O.B. can perform three kinds
    of movements; Grasp and release ob-
    jects, raise and lower objects, and
    rotate and carry objects to the
    left and right. By using these
    motions, on-screen objects are
    timed and moved by the actions of
    R.O.B.'s off-screen movements.
    Pretty neat, huh? As of this wri-
    ting, there are only two games that
    use R.O.B.; "Gyromite" and "Stack
    Up". More games are expected
    in the near future.

    I'll be reviewing "Gyromite",
    "Duck Hunt", "Super Mario Broth-
    ers", "Excitebike", and other
    Nintendo games in future issues of

    Of course, what good would a game
    system be if there weren't any
    controllers for it? Well, the
    NES control deck also comes with
    two hand-held game controllers.
    Each controller is EXTREMELY light
    (weigh about 1/2 an ounce without
    the cord), but they are one of the
    most responsive controllers I've
    ever used (and I've used a LOT).

    The controller must be held with
    two hands. On the left side of the
    controller is a large black plastic
    "plus" sign. This "plus" sign is
    actually the "joystick" of the
    game. It is a sturdy, four-way
    controller (up, down, left, and
    right) comfortably playable under
    your left thumb. On the right
    side of the controller are two
    large red buttons marked "A" and
    "B". For some unknown reason,
    Nintendo has placed the "B" button
    before the "A" button, so the but-
    tons read "B" and "A" from left to
    right. Strange...But you'll get
    used to it. In the center and the
    bottom of the controller are two
    small rubber buttons marked SELECT
    and START. These do what you'd
    expect them to do. On some games,
    the START key pauses and unpauses
    the game. On the games that use
    R.O.B., the START key toggles the
    action between R.O.B. and the
    screen, and SELECT pauses and
    unpauses the game. Both control-
    lers are identical, but I feel that
    southpaws will again feel cheated
    because of the right-handed

    Overall, the Nintendo Entertain-
    ment System is well worth the price
    IF you play a lot of Nintendo video
    games. These days, a video game
    system doesn't sound too good
    because you can get a computer for
    the same money (or less). Con-
    sidering that I was going to buy
    the Sega Master System (NOT
    RECOMMENDED!) or the Atari 7800
    (later...maybe), this system has
    GOT to be good.

    Compound this with the fact that
    third-party companies are already
    translating arcade hits for the
    Nintendo System, and I can
    almost guarantee that this system
    will DEFINITELY have a long shelf

    So if you really want arcade
    quality at home without paying a
    couple hundred for an arcade
    machine, then the Nintendo System
    is the machine you've been looking

    ....ANALOG MAGAZINE................

    Finally, Happy Birthday to Analog
    Magazine, which turned 6 years old
    this February.

    Analog remains a loyal friend and
    companion to Atarians everywhere.
    Ask for a copy at your local
    magazine store--they deserve your
    continued support.

    Zmagazine Issue 37 February 2, 1987
    Please Contribute!!!