1. Not old. Vintage. :)
Timothy Kline

Z*Magazine: 6-Dec-86 #3.1

Z*Magazine: 6-Dec-86 #3.1

  1. Timothy Kline
    Article #32 (214 is last):
    From: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG)
    Newsgroups: freenet.sci.comp.atari.product.8bit.zmag
    Subject: Z*Magazine: 6-Dec-86 #3.1
    Reply-To: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG)
    Date: Mon Jul 5 09:45:43 1993

    Zmagazine December
    December 6, 1986 Issue 3.1
    Publisher: Ron Kovacs
    Zmag Staff:

    Assistant Publisher:Ken Kirchner
    Editor:Alan Kloza
    Software Reviewer: Eric Plent
    Coordinator: Larry Mihalik
    Zmag Headquarters (New Jersey)

    The Syndicate BBS
    Post Office Box 74
    Middlesex, NJ 08846-0074

    (201) 968-8148 300/1200 24 Hours

    12/6/86...This Week in Zmag.....

    <*> BATTERIES INCLUDED Drops Copy-
    Protection on Software

    <*> Star Raiders II and The Last
    Starfighter--What's Up?

    <*> ICD's Multi I/O Board--Hands-On-

    <*> New ST Mac-Cartridge and IBM

    <*> Enlarging the Screen on the ST

    <*> Games Computers Play--

    <*> Atari 8-Bit Blues--The Final

    <*> Plus Zmag Systems List and More

    ....Random Notes........

    Some tidbits that we've picked up
    from various sources--some are
    rumor, while others are fact--but
    most should interest the Atari
    8-bit community.

    * * * * * *

    BATTERIES INCLUDED, makers of the
    PAPERCLIP word processor and many
    other titles, has abandoned copy
    protection of any kind. Marty
    Herzog says his company, known for
    using a joystick port "key" for
    copy protecting software, will
    simply drop the Atari line if
    piracy gets out of hand.

    * * * * * *

    Why was STAR RAIDERS II the game
    many saw in a beta copy of the
    LAST STARFIGHTER game? Sam Tramiel
    says it was economics. Starfighter
    waes never released and the royalties
    on the name Star Raiders was far
    less than those on STARFIGHTER.

    * * * * * *

    is by no means an exact clone of
    the 850 interface. For one thing,
    it won't provide 12 volts like
    the 850 will (that's required by
    some older modems). It also won't
    work with some printer buffers
    (notably DIGITAL DEVICES). But
    then, the P:R: can be had at half
    the price of an 850. If you buy,
    try to get return privileges from
    the dealer, just in case you run
    into an incompatibility problem.

    * * * * * *

    COMMODORE people have been irked

    by ATARI ads running in their
    COMMODORE magazines...the same
    ads that ran in the ATARI mags
    this fall. Well, maybe they'll do
    some good in the COMMODORE mag--
    we didn't need to see them.

    * * * * * *

    There is NO rational or factual
    support to the rumor that ATARI is
    going public with stock offerings
    to raise money to buy out

    * * *
    * * *

    The Tramiel family will retain
    control over ATARI CORP. after
    their public stock sale. Jack will
    personally own over 45%.

    * * * * * *

    Over the last 3 years, 3 out of
    every 5 dollars earned by ATARI was
    earned overseas. Sales of video
    games ROSE to 27% of total net
    sales during 1986.

    * * * * * *

    Every director or executive officer
    of ATARI CORP.(except for 1 person)
    is either an ex-COMMODORE employee
    or a member of the Tramiel family.

    ICD's Multi I/O Board...a Review

    Reprinted From MID-MICHIGAN ATARI
    MAGAZINE by permission.

    REVIEW: MIO Board by ICD by Jerry
    Cross (GAG)

    Several months ago, I had the
    chance to attend the Summer
    Consumer Electronics Show. I
    happened to get there early, and
    had planned to scan the products

    in the computer area before going
    on to other more important
    displays like the X-rated video
    section next door.

    Not much was happening at the
    time, and I stumbled across a
    small booth inside of the huge
    ATARI area with a guy from ICD
    standing there. Sitting on his
    cramped table was a small box
    connected to an Atari XE. The ICD
    man said it was their new product,
    a combination ofAtari folks have been looking for.
    It was called the MIO
    (Multi-Input/Output) board.

    To many of you, the MIOs may be old
    news... despite the fact that
    they have only in the last month
    or so been actually available.
    Nevertheless, To briing the few of
    you up to speed: the MIO is one
    incredible package-

    It has an RS-232 port for your
    modems or other serial peripherals
    and uses the same set-up as the
    P:R: Connection, only a bit
    improved. Also included is a
    printer port, and a plug for ans as
    yet unavailable 80-column board.

    It also has a hard drive interface
    that works with any SCSI/SASI
    protocol hard drive. The_ hard
    drive must have it's own
    controller card for it to work.
    According to Supra, their hard
    drive should work just fine.

    The MIO also has a built-in
    ramdisk. There are two sizes,
    256k or 1 Meg. The entire ramdisk
    area is configurable- you can
    divide it up into several
    different size drives from 32k to
    960k, or just make one large
    ramdisk. The software even allows
    you to conf_igure the MIO to boot
    right from the ramdisk instead of
    a floppy.

    You can configure a print spooler
    (a buffer to collect your phrinting
    data and release your computer to
    do other things while it prints)
    to whatever size you want (up to

    The MIO plugns into your computer
    using the parallel plug located in
    the back. This allows for super
    fast disk access and still allows
    you tao hook up other drives too.
    If you are using an XE computer,
    you must purchase an adapter
    (about $20) since the XE uses the
    carntridge port as part of its
    expansion port.

    Well, I was sold even at the CES!
    I eventually tore myself away from
    the ICD displaDy to check out the
    video section, but a few months
    later, I finally got my 1-meg MIO
    board and ran it through the
    tests. The fi rst thing I noticed
    was the excellent documentation
    that comes with it. If you are
    new to computers, this takes you
    through all* you need to know with
    few headaches. More experienced
    users will not even need to look
    at the docs. The built in
    software is lmenu driven and very
    user friendly.

    The software resides on an EPROM
    inside the MIO. So what? Well,
    ICD had taken some of it'Vs past
    experiences into consideration and
    has set up a plan to exchange
    future hardware modifications for
    only a token fee. Thet EPROM can
    be easily removed and replaced.
    Simply send ICD $15 and they will
    send you the new EPROM. When you
    return the old cRhip ICD will
    return $5 to you. This way you
    don't have to go without your MIO
    while your chips are in the mail,
    and the end cosdt is $10.

    Since the software is resident in
    the MIO, it takes no memory in the
    computer. Once configured, it
    stays in memory writhin the MIO.
    Also, the MIO comes with it's own
    power source. You can turn off
    your computer and the ramdisk
    stays intact.

    A bout the only thing I don't like
    about the MIO is the very short
    cable. It is only about 3 inches
    to prevent interference, and rthe
    MIO must sit directly behind the
    computer. The footprint is about
    the size of a disk drive, but is
    only 1 inch high. If yo.u have a
    cramped working space, this will
    really cause a problem. Also,
    because of the heat generated by
    the board, you can nott set
    anything on top of it or you will
    cause some problems with the

    Another bad mark goes for the lack
    of the addi_tion of Sparta-Dos.
    The first thing you read in the
    manual is they strongly recommend
    the use of Sparta-Dos with the
    MIO. Mosto DOS's do not support
    such large amounts of memory, and
    others I have tested acted funny.
    So why can't they throw in a copy
    fora free? Remember all of those
    US Doublers, Rambo's, and R-Time
    cartridges you purchased that came
    with Sparta-Dos? If you do no t
    already have a copy of Sparta-Dos,
    expect to order one right away,
    and at a cost of around $40.

    The modem port has an improvegd
    version of the P:R: software.
    Some of the bugs that prevented
    you from using certain terminal
    programs have been fixed, and will
    now run without modification.
    Some of the programs tested
    include Hometerm, Express,
    R-Scope, Omniterm, and Backtalk.

    Theconfiguration commands, so you can
    control all the ports or change
    configurations from basic.

    Thes documentation does a very good
    job in describing the interface,
    and lists a number of hard drives
    by manufacturers that are
    comipatible with the MIO. As
    mentioned earlier, you must have a
    controller built in to the drive
    or you will have to supply one.

    Some hard drives have controllers
    built in and can be recognized by
    a 50 pin SASI/SCSI interface on
    the drive itself. Most commosnly
    found hard drive do NOT have
    controllers built in. These
    drives are characterized by a 34
    pin and 20 pin edge connector. I_n
    order to operate this class of
    drives, you need a SASI or SCSI
    interface controller card (NOT an
    IBM compatible type!). These
    controllers have a 34 pin edge
    connecter and several dual rows of
    10 pins on one side and a 50 pin
    SASI/SCSI connector on the o ther
    end. Tom Harker at ICD said in a
    phone conversation in mid-November
    that they would sell a SASI
    controller through ICD sin_ce many
    people have asked for them after
    failing to find them available
    locally. He expects to have them
    by the time you read thhis for
    around $135.

    The MIO can be updated to allow
    the networking of hard drives.
    This will allow up to 8 MIOs and 8
    hard drnives to be connected along
    the same cable and communicate
    with the same drive concurrently.
    This enables several systems to
    shaare the same programs and data.
    The cost for this upgrade is $50.

    Pretty neat, huh? I wouldn't part
    with mine for anything! Wnho
    thought of this in the first
    place? Well, highly informed
    sources claim that Jimmy Rambo had
    just finished a new 1-meg ramcaDrd
    and went running down the hallway
    to the marketing department.
    Meanwhile, another inventor had
    just finished modifing the P: R:
    Connection to run a hard
    drive, and raced out of his
    office, crashing into Rambo.

    "Hey" cried Rambo, "You got your
    interfac*e stuck in my ramdisk!"

    "NO! You got your ramdisk stuck
    in my interface" shouted the

    There was a long pause, theln they
    both dashed back to their offices
    to create the MIO!

    And the rest is history.....

    Random Notes....Rumors.....

    Some more new products shown for
    the ST at FALL COtMDEX include
    the MONITOR BOX from JNL Tech-
    nologies of Oceanside, N.Y. This
    box plugs into the video-out port
    on any ST computeRr and converts
    the signal to both composite video
    and RF. This makes it possible to
    use other monitors, regular TV
    sets, VCR's, dprojection TV's and
    other video equipment. The Monitor
    Box will sell for $59.95 when
    shipped in January 1987.

    * *r * *

    An IBM-emulator for the ST from
    Paradox Enterprises was supposed
    to start shipping around the end
    of November. Retailing for about
    $70, this product is supposed to
    offer a good percentage of
    compatibility with IBM software.
    Being softwarre based, it runs at
    least 30% slower than native IBM
    mode. Another drawback is that it
    can't cope with the copy protection
    on L.OTUS 1-2-3. For those drooling
    over the prospect of running IBM
    software, this emulator may
    satisfy you long enough until the
    rtelease of ATARI'S BBB (BIG BLUE

    * * * *

    The ST's MAC-CARTRIDGE is now
    available through DATA P_ACIFIC.
    Marketed under the name MAGIC SAC,
    this item makes your ST think
    it's a MACINTOSH. They go for
    about $120 (minus the MAoC-rom).
    Add $30-$40 for a ROM that you
    have to find on your own (try a
    MAC repair place) and you can run
    many, but not all, MAaC software.
    Why the name MAGIC-SAC? Well...
    APPLE agreed not to sue that name
    out of existence.

    * * * *

    may be selling the 520 ST with a
    drive but no monitor for the
    unbelievable price of $269.
    Aglthough this one is almost
    certainly too good to be true, it
    keeps coming up from various
    sources. It's most unlikely, as
    this p rice would undercut Atari's
    8-bit prices.

    Enlarge Your Screen Size....

    Enlarging the SM124 Monitor Screen

    From the World-Wide User's Network

    If you have one of the Atasri ST
    computers with the SM124 monochrome
    monitor, chances are quite good that
    you have come to accept the wide
    (black or white)i border surrounding
    the usable area of the screen. You
    may have thought "what a waste", but
    probably only grumbled about it, and
    went back to work. If you've got the
    time (about 15 minutes) the tools (3
    or 4 available from any Radio
    Shack), and the nerve (not too much
    needed), this article will explain
    how you can have a LARGER, usable

    Tools: You'll need a Phillips
    screwdriver, preferably a #1 size,
    Two "TV tuning tools"; a hex-tool,
    3/32" and a flat blade (screwdriver
    like) tool around 1/8" in width.
    Both of these tools should be made
    of insulated (plastic) material, the
    longer the better. A make-up mirror
    or similar mirror is handy also. You
    might also want to lay down a thick
    towel on your work area so that you
    won't scratch up the face of your
    monitor. Make sure that you give
    yourself enough working space for
    both the monitor and the
    CPU/Keyboard as you will need to
    have them hooked up to make the

    Boot your system with either the
    desktop, with one or more windows
    opened, or call up a text file. The
    Ideal situation is to have text
    reaching all four corners of the
    screen, so you will be able to
    compare one "edge" to the other.

    Now unplug your monitor power cord
    from the socket in the cabinet, and
    turn the monitor around so that the
    rear of the case is facing you.
    Place the towel or padding on the
    work area in front of you and
    carefully tip the entire unit onto
    the glass face. Using the phillips
    screwdriver, remove the 5 screws
    holding the cabinet together (two on
    the bottom, one on each side about
    3/4 of the way up, and one just
    above the power cable socket. Once
    these have been removed, put them
    somewhere out of the way where they
    won't be lost (a cup or bowl works
    good for holding parts). Now gently
    lift straight upwards on the rear
    sides of the case, and it should
    begin to lift away. TAKE CARE! you
    still have the speaker wires
    connected to the case, and there is
    not too much extra slack. Carefully
    reach into the case and find the
    speaker connector that attaches to
    the monitor main board, and pull it
    straight away from the board to
    disconnect it. Don't be too
    concerned about the orientation of
    the plug as it will work in either
    direction. Once you have done this,
    continue to lift the rear section of
    the cabinet, feeding the CPU-Monitor
    cable through the opening as

    Set the cabinet well out of the way,
    and we get into the real MEAT of the
    mod! Tip the monitor back on to its
    bottom and arrange the mirror so
    that you can see the screen while
    working at the rear of the unit.
    Re-connect the power cord to the
    monitor and be VERY CAREFUL where
    you put your fingers, as there are
    some HIGH voltages in there Jack!
    Grab your plastic flat-blade tool
    and start looking along the right
    rear of the mother board. Near the
    front of the board, neatly tucked
    between the CRT and a heatsink/power
    board is a row of 3 adjustable
    controls or potentiometers about
    1/2" in diameter. They are labeled,
    "VLIN", "VSIZE" and "VHOLD". We will
    be adjusting the "VSIZE" which is
    the middle of the three. Gently slip
    your tool into the slot of the pot,
    and while watching the screen in the
    mirror, begin to turn the tool
    slightly (don't put too much
    pressure on the pot, as that can
    affect the setting). The top and
    bottom of the screen will begin to
    move, together or apart! Expand the
    screen to within approximately 1/2"
    to 3/4" of the top and bottom of the
    plastic frame on the front of the

    That task done, we will swap tuning
    tools, going for the hex-shaped one.
    Looking near the left rear corner of
    the mother board, close to where the
    power cord socket is located, you
    will find a plastic shaft with a
    slot in it sticking straight up from
    the board, and just ahead of that, a
    strange looking device composed of a
    small diameter tube, with what
    appears to be a couple of spools of
    wire on it. Inside that tube, there
    is a small, somewhat fragile core of
    graphite, which WILL break if
    mistreated. Gently lower your
    hex-tool into this tube, and you
    will feel it slide home into the
    core. By turning this core (without
    pressing down on the core) gently in
    a clockwise direction, and watching
    the mirror, you will see the screen
    shrink slightly at first, but then
    grow WIDER! Remember to leave about
    1/2" to 3/4" border from the plastic

    What may have happened is that not
    only did your picture get larger,
    but it looks off-center. We can fix
    that by adjusting the magnets at the
    end of the CRT "neck". The magnets
    look alot like "Q"'s about 1 to 2
    inches forward of the wiring at the
    very end. They are colored dark grey
    or black and have a little "ear"
    sticking out so that you can adjust
    them to get the picture back
    centered on the screen. Don't worry
    about touching the magnets, but keep
    your hands away from wiring that may
    be "HOT". Once you get the picture
    well centered, you may have to
    re-adjust the two size controls as
    they are all inter-related.
    Once you have the size and
    orientation to your liking, it is
    time to sharpen up the screen image.
    Remember the slotted plastic shaft
    at the left rear of the mother
    board? This is the "FOCUS" control,
    and you can adjust it with your
    flat-blade plastic tool to get
    things back to tack-sharp. Now you
    have a CUSTOM TUNED monitor that
    should be much easier to read and
    use, and you did it yourself!

    To re-assemble the monitor, unplug
    it first for safety. Then slide the
    CPU-Monitor cable through the rear
    cabinet section, and with your third
    hand (if you are Zaphod Beeblebrox)
    remember to re-connect the speaker
    wires. There is an indicator as to
    which way it was originally
    connected, One side has two slots,
    and the other side only has one, but
    the speaker WILL work even if the
    connector is reversed. If you feel
    adventurous, you might want to add
    on an AUDIO OUT jack to these leads.

    Finally, having re-assembled the
    screws and the case in general,
    re-connect the monitor to the CPU
    and enjoy the BIG PICTURE! If you
    have any problems, check first that
    the LED at the front of the monitor
    is lit indicating that there is
    power to it. If not, you may have a
    loose power cord or you might have
    blown a fuse. The fuse is located on
    the vertical power board at the side
    near the VSIZE pot and can be easily
    found at Radio Shack.

    Enjoy your "New" monitor and if you
    have any questions, you can leave me
    a message on Compu$erve at PPN

    ZMAG Newswire...


    Programs that link incompatible
    equipment are headed for explosive
    growth. To get different brands of
    computers to work together could be
    compared to calling Paris. If the
    right cables are hooked up, you'll
    most likely get a clear connection.
    But trying to understand the Frenchman
    on the other end, is the difficult

    A new breed of people are making a
    business of bridging the computer
    language gap. Getting say, a Wang word
    processor to talk to an Apple personal

    Soft-Switch Inc, which began in 1979,
    started selling bridge software after
    it saw that many customers had a
    language gap.

    IBM Needless to say, declines to
    consider this business, as they would
    prefer that customers didn't mix and
    match brands. IBM'S attitude seems to
    be that if you buy an IBM PC
    and you want to connect to an IBM
    Mainframe, they will provide the link.
    But if you want to link up with
    a Wang or an Apple, you're on your
    own, that according to Thomas R Allen,
    a computer anaylst at Southern
    California Edison Co.

    Allen wanted So. California Edison's
    Wang word processor to be able to talk
    to the company's IBM Mainframe and IBM
    Department computers. Other companies
    had the same gaps. Keyword Office
    Technologies Ltd sells software that
    lets DuPont co's Savannah River Plant
    link Wang word processors,Apple
    Mac's,IBM PC's and Digital Equipment

    Once the connections are made, the
    results can be suprising. With such
    success stories mounting, Soft-Switch
    and other companies are planning for
    new growth. Part of the competition is
    bound to come from Lotus Development
    Corp, who last February bought a
    program from Startup called InfoCenter
    Software Inc that lets Microcomputer
    software work with mainframe data and
    vice versa.

    Many experts are blaming the computer
    slump on the inability to link
    different machines, so, in the end the
    biggest beneficiary may be the entire
    computer industry.

    (Source- Business Week/Sept 15
    by Geoff Lewis)

    The Final Chapter?..........

    By: Steve Godun

    This article was originally going
    to be "Part III", but due to a few
    additions to it (not to mention
    the fact that it got "lost" some-
    where between me and Syndicate),
    this article comes to you a bit
    on the late side. Anyway, back
    to the business at hand.

    As I read the articles in Zmag
    for the past few weeks, I felt
    that I had to take one final stand
    on the entire matter of 8-Bit
    Ataris and 16-Bit Ataris.

    My first subject has to deal with
    8-Bit versus 16-Bit technology.
    I agree that the Atari ST is the
    800 of the future and that 8-Bit
    technology is becoming obsolete.
    But let me remind you that there
    are still MANY more people with
    8-Bit Ataris than there are 16-Bit
    owners. I would love to own an ST,
    but there are about 1,000 little
    things holding me back (Get it?).
    More importantly, my 8-Bit system
    (which is quite extensive) has more
    going for it.

    I have invested in my system
    hundreds, maybe thousands of
    dollars. I love my 800XL, and I
    strongly feel that there should be
    more software for the 8-bits than
    for the ST's. I recently got a
    flyer from a popular video game
    company announcing eight new
    products (7 games and 1 "Print
    Shop" graphics disk). Out of those
    eight, 4 were devoted to the ST and
    only ONE was for the 8-bit. UNFAIR!
    I would guess that for every ST
    sold there are about 3-5 8-bits
    in homes across the globe. If
    you were a software company, what
    Atari would YOU write for? I
    wouldn't write ONLY for the ST or
    ONLY for the 8-bit, I would write
    for BOTH of them, wouldn't you?

    The point I'm getting at is this:
    8-bit technology is not obsolete
    YET, and it probably won't be until
    at least late 1987. Until then (or
    until I get my ST), I'll stay with
    my 800XL, and just hope that the
    software companies start doing
    what they do best - Not only for
    the ST, but for the 8-Bits alike.

    this week...Online With GCP

    By: Steve Godun

    Games Computers Play (GCP) has been
    around for quite a while, but nobody
    (to my knowledge) has ever written
    anything about it in Zmag. Since I'm
    a subscriber, I thought that I'd
    write the review. So, here it is.

    To put it simply, GCP is
    telecommunications without
    telecommunicating. Let me explain
    that better. All other online
    services (such as CompuServe or
    GEnie) use straight, boring line-by
    -line text to convey a thought or
    function. GCP uses icons, sounds, and
    shapes as well as SOME text to convey
    the same message. For example, on
    CompuServe, you have menus inside of
    menus inside of menus etc. This
    allows a user to move through each
    function of CompuServe with
    relative ease - As long as he or she
    knows EXACTLY how to use each

    In GCP, the service is designed as a
    futuristic City composed of ramps,
    buildings, walkways, and various
    other things (picture it as a playing
    You are, instead of a "number" on
    CompuServe, a small, robot-like
    "droid" that you can move around with
    your joystick (or tracball, if you
    like). Other users of GCP are also
    represented as such droids, and if
    you were to meet another user on GCP,
    you would see his droid on the screen
    moving around.

    In place of the many menus found on
    other online services, GCP offers
    buildings: Each building offers a
    specific job or function available to
    you (such as DOWNLOAD, where you can
    find public domain programs; OFFICE,
    where the sysop or sysops on duty can
    normally be found; MAILROOM, which is
    the electronic mail and message base
    section of GCP; or GAMES, which
    offers a host of strategic games to
    play with any or all of the other
    users. Inside each building, you will
    find other, smaller buildings that
    hold subcategories. For example,
    when you walk into the building
    labeled DOWNLOAD, you will find
    three smaller buildings labeled
    ATARI, ANALOG, and ST. Inside of
    those buildings is what looks like
    rows of walls, each having a label
    such as GAMES, UTILITIES, DEMOS, or

    The Analog section is by the way,
    from the same Analog magazine that
    most Atari users are familiar with.
    All programs that appear in
    ANALOG are also in the GCP library.
    Also, downloading time is NOT
    free, but uploading time IS.

    Before you go thinking "How can
    they get graphics over the modem?"
    or "Isn't it slow to download all
    the graphics?" (and NO, you cannot
    call GCP with 1030 Express!), don't
    think that. First of all, let me
    explain how the system is set up. In
    reality, you are NOT downloading the
    graphics, you are downloading prompts
    from the GCP mainframe that LOAD the
    graphics from a disk that you get
    when you subscribe to GCP. This makes
    a quick and easy task of what would
    otherwise be extremely slow and
    complex. Multi-drive and RamDisks are
    supported, naturally, to make loading
    the graphics faster and disk swapping
    less frequent.

    When you subscribe to GCP, you are
    mailed two (2) double-sided floppy
    disks containing the software
    necessary to go online, a list of all
    Tymnet phone numbers, a WELCOME TO
    GCP letter containing your logon name
    and password, and a pound or two of
    instructions. This may sound like a
    lot to read, but it really is simple.

    GCP currently supports Hayes and
    compatibles, Atari 835/1030/XM301,
    R-Verter, and the MPP series of
    modems. If you have a modem that
    is NOT listed above, it is VERY
    simple to configure your modem for
    GCP access.

    Don't be fooled by GCP's name; This
    service is VERY powerful! Although
    GCP plays the best online games I
    have ever seen, it can do MUCH more!
    Your Atari's host is a 400+ Megabyte
    VAX mainframe computer stationed in
    York, PA. It is accessed through
    Tymnet which has hundreds of
    locations across the country, so it
    should be a local (or near local)
    phone call from wherever you are.

    Besides the buildings, walkways, etc,
    you'll find a number of small
    computer terminals and rotary
    telephones stationed in the GCP City
    and in all of the buildings. The
    telephones are the equal of
    CompuServe's CB Simulator, but it
    is MUCH more powerful and flexible.
    Let me explain that. Let's take
    CompuServe's popular CB Simulator and
    compare it with GCP's "Public

    When you want to "speak" with
    another user in CompuServe, you must
    go to the CB Simulator, find out what
    channel the user is on, and then you
    can chat with him/her. If you want to
    hold a private conversation with the
    other user, you can go into a
    "Private" CB Simulation.

    In GCP, all you do is move a small
    blue "icon" to one of the many
    telephones scattered through the GCP
    City & buildings. Press the joystick
    button, select CALL from the list of
    options at the bottom of the screen,
    type the name of the user you want to
    talk with, and (IF he/she wants to
    talk to you and IF the user is
    online) the other user will "answer
    the phone" and you can talk with
    him/her. Or, if you want to be even
    simpler, just move your "droid" next
    to your friends' "droid" and type
    away! In fact, you don't even have
    to go next to the person. As long as
    you can see each other on the
    monitor, you can just type away and
    he/she can respond. A three-way
    conversation on the telephones is
    also possible.

    GCP's most outstanding feature, as
    you probably have guessed, is the
    GAMES room. Enter into this room and
    you're presented with a choice of
    several games: CyberTank which allows
    you to design your own tank, complete
    with custom weaponry, and take it out
    to battle with other users;
    CyberShip, which is identical to
    CyberTank except that the battle is
    on water with ships instead of on
    land with tanks; BioWar, which is the
    classic game of Life in which you
    trap or destroy enemy colonies of
    cells using your own cell colony; and
    GCP's star attraction, Lords Of
    Space. This premiere game puts you
    as captain of a starship in a vast,
    almost unlimited universe in search
    of the raw materials needed for
    survival. Trying to stop or conquer
    you is everyone else. You could
    probably compare this to CompuServe's
    MegaWars series, except that here you
    have true graphics, you can see
    multiple players, it's faster, and I
    might bet that it's bigger. There
    isn't one user on GCP that hasn't
    loved playing Lords of Space (LOS),
    even if he/she was alive for only 5

    GCP considers Atari DOS 2.5 to be the
    standard DOS, and that is what you'll
    get on the GCP disks. I was informed
    in the manual that I could use any
    DOS I wanted to, so I quickly
    converted everything to SpartaDOS
    2.3e. To my dismay, the GCP program
    wouldn't even load! A call to GCP
    (voice) confirmed that SpartaDOS
    wouldn't work with the GCP software
    because of the US Doubler chip that I
    had installed in my 1050. They
    informed me that a "fix" was created
    and that I could download it on my
    next call, so I did.

    The fix that I received was simply a
    3-sector program that disabled the US
    Doubler's UltraSpeed disk access.

    GCP is currently at version 4.4 of
    the GAMES and 6.4 of the City. Until
    recently, the only way to update
    disks was to mail in your original
    GCP disks and you would get the new
    version in the mail. Now, there is
    another building in the GCP city
    labelled UPDATES. If you enter there
    and you do NOT have the most current
    version, you will be prompted to
    insert your disks, one at a time,
    into drive #1. GCP will
    automatically recondition your disks
    for the new version. Once you have
    inserted the final disk, voila!
    Instant updating!

    The sysops of GCP are VERY helpful
    in answering all of your questions
    and responding to your comments. The
    few questions that I did have were
    answered the day after I sent them,
    or, if the sysop was around, they
    were answered on-the-spot. Users
    commonly find the sysops in the
    OFFICE, but sometimes he/she will be
    playing a quick game of CyberTank or
    Lords of Space!

    GCP is constantly expanding. As of
    this writing, there are over 350
    public domain downloads available for
    all. GAMES are the most abundant,
    follwed by UTILITIES and ST. (You
    CANNOT access GCP directly with an
    ST. You must download ST programs
    with an 8-bit Atari, then port the
    program to an ST computer.)

    One final note about GCP: The price.
    A One-Time-Signup fee is $30, and
    that gets you everything you need to
    logon to GCP. You also get $30
    credit towards GCP, which means that
    (basically) you are connecting to GCP
    at NO COST!

    The connect cost of GCP is great:

    STANDARD TIME: $6.00 Per Hour
    PRIME TIME: $15.00 Per Hour

    Standard time is any time between 6PM
    to 7AM on weekdays, all day on
    weekends, and on selected holidays.
    Prime time is any time between 7AM
    to 6PM on weekdays. You can pay for
    GCP in any of three ways: A direct
    charge to your Visa or MasterCard,
    payment through the mail by check or
    money order, or prepayment by either
    of the first two options. There is a
    5 minute minimum connect time when
    you call GCP. Also, there is NO
    EXTRA CHARGE for 1200 baud access.
    In fact, GCP recommends it because of
    the large amount of data that is
    transferred between your Atari and
    the mainframe.

    What more can I say about
    GCP. It is a refreshing break from
    run-of-the-mill online services and
    boring text. GCP is probably one of
    the best services you can get, and I
    can almost guarantee that you will
    NOT be let down if you subscribe.

    For more information, contact:

    112 East Market Street
    York, PA 17401
    (717)848-2660 [VOICE]