I’m continuing on with my walk of Analog Computing Magazine with issue #3 for May/June 1981. Our cover story is programming languages, and we have an ad at the beginning of this issue for Mosaic Electronics spring catalog, and their 32K RAM expansion board. Cygnus Micro systems is also advertising their new disk loader, word processor, and electronic Ledger. Also, COMPUTE! Magazine has a couple new books coming out.
First up, we learn that our editors are full-time college students, and because of their course schedule, they’re going to have to ease back on their publication schedule, as not only are they the editors of the magazine, but they’re also the entirety of the writing staff. I’d cut them some slack, except they have to be all snide and snarky and talk about how other editors don’t know all the work it takes to make a magazine, something which, bare minimum Steve Harris and Dan Hsu would take issue two.
They also have a call to fight against computer piracy, as it discourages publishers from supporting the Atari 8-bit platforms over the inferior (their words) Apple and Texas Instruments systems. We also get a call for more article submissions – pity your poor, poor writer-editors.
We get a massive letter complementing them on their Composer articles, as well as a request for more advanced programming articles. There’s also a request for contact and ordering information for a few hardware manufacturers. Another reader wants to know about this “Compuserve” thingie. There’s a request for a review of a recently released Apple emulator, and information on wargames for Atari Computers. Well, if you’re a little patient on that last front, SSI will have some stuff that should scratch that itch. Finally, the director of Kurta Corporation has a correction for their review of their tablet from last issue. Apparently the $100 does more then buy you some demo software… it will also buy you the power cables for the tablet, as well as interface cables to hook it up to your computer… so you can actually use the tablet. Congratulations, you just unsold me.
Dow Jones has some investment management software. Microsoft has announced their upcoming release of Atari BASIC at Summer CES. Plus there’s a new assembler app coming out. Floppy drive production by Atari has also been stopped briefly to incorporate some new changes to cover reading information off of disks that were written to by drives of different speeds. It probably seems odd to you that something like this would require a significant change to drive designs, but remember that around this time consumer floppy drives were fairly new.
Temple of Apshai, the latest game in the DunjonQuest series is getting a port to Atari 8-bit systems. The game’s publisher, Automated Simulations, is also putting out the Kaiju game “Crush, Crumble and Chomp” where you have to destroy as much of the city as possible before being stopped by the military. Optimized Systems Software in Cupertino also has a new variant to Basic, called Basic A+.
Listing – Sys/Start
A program listing for an application to provide information on attached devices and whether the system recognizes something being there. Useful for troubleshooting.
Listing – Basenotes
This listing basically expands the range of sounds your computer can handle so it can do sounds in the base range. I don’t know how good bass sounds sound on Atari 8-bit systems though, especially since the sound range isn’t normally accessible.
Assembler/Editor Non-Tutorial Pt. II
This installment in the series covers the Assembler, and some of the option commands.
Review – Quality Software Assembler
This is an assembler program, if you couldn’t tell from the title. They like the program, though they don’t like that you’re required to use the bundled text editor for your coding.
Review – Letter Perfect
No relation to Word Perfect. I’ll give them props for disclosing that this is a program that’s advertised in the magazine. Unfortunately, they review commits the cardinal sin of being apologetic. The opening of the review describes it as being one of the best word processors they’d ever used, but then proceeds, in the course of using the review as a tutorial for the application, they enumerate a litany of problems with the application, to the point that they had to send the program back to the manufacturer and get a patched version back. This would be bad on its own, but the fact that the program costs $150 in 1981 dollars just makes it worse.
Listing – Towers of Hanoi
If you’ve played a Bioware game, you know this.
Atari 2600 Update
Atari has released Othello, Video Pinball, and Missile Command, and Activision has released Freeway and Kaboom. In terms of upcoming titles, we have Ice Hockey and Stampede announced by Activision, and Warlords, Asteroids, Super Breakout and Haunted House from Atari. Also, we get a heads up that 2600 carts don’t work on an Atari 8-bit system, in case you didn’t already know.
Review – File-It
Basically, this is a suite of file-management applications. They like it, and it’s actually less expensive then Letter Perfect at $40.
Review – Atari Touch Typing
If you couldn’t tell from the title, this is a typing tutor program, to help you speed through those program listings in the magazine. They like the program, though it has its problems. However, considering there’s not a lot of competition for the time, you’ll probably have to take what you can get.
We also get a little ad here for surge protectors, which is a little notable considering that now they’re practically ubiquitous.
Review – Basic A+
They like this (unsurprising), though they don’t like how it handles strings.
Review – Missile Command
This is a review of the Atari 8-bit version of the game. This version does have 2 less cities (and thus less missiles) than the arcade version, and you’re using a joystick instead of a trackball, so take that as you will.
Listing – Target Shoot
Basically, this is a shooting gallery game that you control with a joystick.
Listing – Sketch Pad
This is a basic drawing application which lets you draw lines and fill closed areas with solid colors. Nowadays this isn’t much, but for a two page listing, that’s rather impressive.
Reviews – Target Blockade & Battle Warp
Target Blockade is a multiplayer snake/Light Cycle clone, and Battle Warp is a Space War clone. These reviews also have numerical scores, though we don’t get any information on the scale.
This is a column about online services, wit ha par for the course hating on Apple users and their computers. This issue covers uploading a program listing instead of manually typing in while connected with your 2800 baud modem. This includes a couple listings to help with the uploading process, as FTP clients haven’t been invented yet.
Want to pimp your comp? Well, check out these boards that will give you a whopping 32K of memory. The boards even have gold plated connectors so they won’t oxidize causing your computer to crash and you to lose your data.
Bugs and Bytes
We have some corrections for earlier listings
Program in Style
More advice on writing better code for Basic on Atari 8-bit systems.