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Full text of "Atari User Group Newsletter June to December 1987 Part 7"

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Allentown Bethlehem Easton's Atari Computer Enthusiasts' 

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November 1987 


I've noticed a very subtle change 
in ATARI Corporation recently At 
the last e-board meeting, a comment 
was made about the decided lack of 
activity in the ATARI community 
lately — how, after nearly eight 
weeks, there was really nothing new 
to report. Why, just a few short 
months ago ATARI was announcing 
this or that just about every week 
And now, nothing! What's up 1 ? 

I know that many ATARI users 
are going into withdrawal waiting 
for some earth-shattering new 
product. But that's what we' re used 
to. So, should we be worried, 
fearful, or what? I think it may be a 
good sign. Just think of all those 
announcements which turned out to 
be "vaporware." I need only 
mention the ATARI Laser Printer to 
raise the blood pressure of many 
ATARI enthusiasts. It seemed like 
ATARI would go right from the 
boardroom to the pressroom with 
new product ideas, never bothering 
to stop off in engineering to see if it 
could be done on time, if at all- The 
ideas were flowing faster than the 
flowcharts in the software 
development department 

But now ... nothing new to 
announce. Could it be that upper 
management at ATARI has learned 
their lesson? Might they be 
actually developing products 
BEFORE announcing them? Maybe 

they're trying to actually complete 
a project and get it ready for 
production before committing 
themselves in the media. I know. 
I’m a dreamer -- unrealistic. But 
maybe, just maybe, ATARI found out 
that they're the ones being 
unrealistic in their goal setting and 

Let's hope the next 
announcement we hear from ATARI 
is that this fantastic new product 
(whatever it may be) is already 
in the distributors' warehouses 
reedy for purchase. They have greet 
products, lets see their marketing 
skills grow to be as good as their 
com puters. 

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Page 2 


an ST program by Chris Scullion 

I don't have a battery-backed 
clock calendar on my ATARI ST- Oh, 
sure, I know they're available, but I 
just haven’t gotten one yet. Now, 
what would happen if I decided I 
really needed to keep track of the 
dates of my files'? I’d better be sure 
to set that clock from the control 
panel accessory. But let me ask you 
this: what if I had an IBM PC or 
compatible'? Well, then if you don't 
have a battery clock, DOS just asks 
you for the time and date whenever 
you turn on your machine. That's 
pretty good, no need to remember 
because the computer reminds you to 
set it. After all, that's what 
computers are for, right? 

But I don't have a PC, I have my 
ST. TOS doesn't handle this as nicely 
as MSDOS does. Dosn't handle it at all, 
in fact- As I thought about it, I felt an 
educational experience comming on. 

I know there must be a dozen utilities 
that can sit in your AUTO folder and 
do just what I want but ... I thought 
I'd try to write the program myself, 
and learn a little bit about BIOS and 
Personal PASCAL along theway. 

So here it is, my clock utility. 
The program is very easy to follow, 
so no real explanation should be 
needed. There are a few tricks which 
don’t appear in the listing which you 
should be aware of. Personal 
PASCAL allows you to compile for 
GEM or TOS. If you use any GEM 
routines or capabilities, you must 
compile with the GEM option. But, 
when a program is executed from an 
AUTO folder, GEM isn’t awake yet, so 
you can't use any GEM stuff. No 
sweat — as you can see in the listing, 

no GEM, Just a few WRITES and 
READS. Now the catch? The system 
will run any program in the AUTO 
folder that ends in "-PRG", usually, 
that means a GEM program?? Now 
what -- can't use GEM because it's not 
there yet, but it's got to be a GEM 
program. First, I compiled with the 
TOS option and renamed the “ .TOS" 
program file to ".GEM". No go — 
crash city. The answer finally 
dawned on me: compile with the GEM 
option — who cares if you don't call 
any GEM stuff, you can still have a 
GEM program that does'nt actually 
USE GEM. So, we just compile this 
suspiciously TOS-looking program as 
a GEM program and, viola?, she 
works perfectly every time. 

If you don't care about any of 
this programming garbage, but just 
want the utility, you can fjnd it on 
Help Key II under the name 
" DATESET.PRG ." E n jo y , and watch 
out for 'dem bugs. 














WRITEC'ENTER DAY (1-31) :’); 


WRITEC'ENTER YEAR (0-99) : '}; 



WRITECeNTeR HOUR (00*24) :'); 





DDA r\! M fepr-n N ni- 

DATE-TEMP := INT((YEAR-eO)*512 + MONTH*32 
+ DAY); 

TIME- TEMP : = IN T(HOUR*2048 + MINUTE* 32 




Page 3 


i by J .D. C raig 



Lee Actor's ADVANCED 
M USICS YSTEM (AMS), (01982, was one 
of the first, and most used pieces of 
disk based software bought by the 
Craig family for our 4-8K Atari 400- 
Quite a bit of music was created on the 
system, and it's proved itself an 
interesting and reliable tool- One of 
the first software pirates I met had 
contacted me to trade song files for 
the system, and I was delighted to 
learn how much public domain 
software had been written and 
distributed for the AMS. 

Since then, another AMS has been 
released, but I stuck with my old one. 
(If it works, why fix it? Besides, I‘m 
seldom "the first on my block" to get 
the " new and improved" versions of 
anything. Just cheap, I guess.) And 
rumor has it that there have been 
other AMS devlopments, including 
routines to allow the use of AMS song 
files in MIDI protocol. 

But the good news to any ABEs 
ACE who owns a modem, or has 
friends who do, is that on the HELP 
KEY II there is a public domain 
program that will play any AMS 1 or II 
files It's called JUKEBOX.BIN. and 
when binary loaded (from DOS 2 
without BASIC) presents an operating 
screen with options for Directory, 
Select individual song, or A u to -PI ay - 
which will play through all AMS files 
in directory order. While playing the 
music, the standard AMS " keyboard" is 
displayed, with colors showing which 
notes are sound ing. SYSTEM RESET 
returns to the operating menu. The 
simplicity and reliability of 
JUKEBOX.BIN make it one of my 
favorite pieces of software. Don't 

have any AMS song files? HELP KEY II 
does, and none of them is over 200 SD 
sectors long. Twenty-one files carry 
the AMS extender, and are ready to 
load and play. They are: 
VIRGIN. AMS- But there may be other 
AMS files without the -AMS extender: 
JOHNNY, for example, is an excellent 
one, a fresh and inventive 
arrangement of “When Johnny Comes 
Marching Home", uploaded by fellow 
musician John Kacmarcik. To find 
JOHNNY or the .AMS files, use the 
BBS’s Catalog option with appropriate 
wildcards (*). But to hunt down other 
stuff, use the Listing option, which 
includes descriptions. And be careful. 
For instance, there are 3 Star Trek files 
- STAR TREK, ST A R TR EK -DO C , and 
STAR TREK .AMS - only the last is 
music for AMS. 

AMS uses four "voices" created by 
the POKEY chip, and the musically 
sensitive might notice that it's slightly 
out of tune - some notes more so then 
others. But it's tolerable, especially 
when the arrangement (like JOHNN Y) 
takes advantage of the MusicSystem's 
strong points - like controllable 
dynamics and nicely rounded 
"envelopes" on the notes produced. 
But some tunes have serious flaws, for 
example, BEATIT.AMS (Michaei 
Jackson's BEAT IT), which is seriously 
messed up- Either the programmer 
goofed, or line transmission has 
garbled it. We hope you'll get and try 
out these pieces of free software. If 
anyone has any further information 
on things mentioned here, please 
direct your comments to me c/o 
HARDCOPY. Next issue - 8 bit MIDI. 

Page 4 

LDW BASIC Compiler 

Version 2.0 

a 16 bit review by 

The April 1987 edition of the 
ABE'S ACES newsletter ( & Delphi) 
ran my prior review of version 1.0 & 
1.1 of LDW Basic Compiler, therefore I 
will provide Just enough information 
about these older versions to permit 
comparisons with the new version 2.0 
and with Atari STBasic. 

Basically "ouch.. .just cant seem 
to leave that pun alone" the LDW 
Basic Compilers are intended to 
allow basic language programmers to 
produce " " prg type programs that 
run off the Desktop or from a DOS 
shell. There is no need for a run-time 
module as some pseudo-compilers 
require, nor are " ".rsc files needed . 
The programs you write are fast, 
compact & totally independant 
(complete) programs that you may 
legally give away as you wish. You 
can include as much , or as little, 
GEM-ness as you desire up to and 
including a full desktop application 
with menu bars & the works 

Its hard to pick which version 2.0 
improvement is the most impressive 
so I'll merely list them for you: l. 
high level (simple commands) access 
to most of GEM including menus, 
dialog boxes, buttons, file selectors, 
user-defined windows, edit fields, 
text & graphics, mouse control, 
custom icons etc. 2- block 
IF_THEN_ELSE structures (similar to 
CASE in other languages) 3. user 
defined procedures which use local 
or global variables, & parameters or 
parameter arrays. 4~. INCLUDE 
compiler metacommand ... for 

including your own source code 
routines shared among many 
programs. 5. event 
trapping. . possibly the most powerful 
enhancement to this package, by 
trapping DIALOG, MENU & MOUSE 
EVENTS your programs can be 
designed to operate very similarly to 
professional GEM-Desktop based 
programs, simulates the event-multi 
call. ..but much easier to do. 6. the 
"shell" programming environment 7. 
improved & included GEM low level 
bindings ... for picky people these 
allow complete access to all of GEM 
and now utilize syntax similar to C 
... you could use almost any book or 
magazine for guidance. 8. 
compatibility with either the original 
STBasic or the new STBasic 
interpreter Numbers 2, 3, & 4- allow 
you to write modular, structured 
programs very similar to the 
languages we’ve heard so much 
about; Pascal, C, Modula. 

The system is provided on two 
unprotected single sided disks. A 
fantastic GEM-based "shell 1 * is 
provided as well as a separate 
command-line/batch version for 
those who prefer DOS over GEM. 
Other provided programs which you 
will need include: the fast LDW 
linker and its associated utilities 
(remove & wait) standard library 
math library or the precise math 
library (slower but more precise) 
Optional provided programs include: 
several sample batch files GEM 
bindings on disk (usually not 
needed. ..but its included now., it was 
an $18 extra before) 8 good sample 
programs illustrating useful 
techniques a batch language 
processor (if you donl have a DOS) 
Id wbatch .tip a crummy (early) 
version of microEMACS text editor 
(get version 3-9 from the ST librarian 
... its MUCH better) 

Page 5 

The compiler still allows line 
numbers as an option ; to preserve 
compatibility with the STBasic 
interpreters. You can compile 
straight to binary and link up an 
executable " " prg Style program or 
you can have the compiler produce 
assembly language source code. 
NOTE: the package no longer includes 
the assembler, but it is compatible 
with the standard as68 as in the A tari 
Developers Kit. 

1 ordered the update for $25 and 
got about 180 pages of additional 
manual which fit right into my 
3-ring binder from version 1.1 . 
Presumably a new purchaser would 
get the whole thing... I didn't check. I 
now have about 11/4- inches of useful, 
indexed manual. 

System equipment 
recommendations: ( my list, in order 
of preference 3 1. any ST with a 

hard disk 2. a 1040ST with a good 
public domain ramdisk " 500k 3 

any ST with at least one double-sided 
drive 4-. any ST with two 

single-sided d rives 5. (masochists 

special) ... a 520 ST with one 

single-sided drive. Option 5 is 
possible but requires disk swapping. 
The minimum configuration requires 
236k of disk space for the batch/DOS 
style compiler plus 191k for the 
linker, libraries, and required 
utilities. Throw in some room for 
your source code, intermediate 
working file generation and your 
favorite editor (microEMACS 3.9, 
STedt, ST Writer, or STBasic 
Interpreter) and you can quickl y see 
it will not all fit on one single sided 
disk. Two single sided disks, one 
double, or one disk plus a good-sized 
ramdisk works nicely. Actually a 
500k ramdisk for all "active" files 
with only the libraries on a floppy 
seems to provide the speediest 

overall program creation. The GEM 
shell programming environment 
(which adds about 37k) allows very 
easy customization and designation 
of the disk/path locations of all the 
needed pieces including the name & 
location of your text editor. 

This compiled Basic is for 
anyone, who like me, has grown 
comfortable with basic over a span of 
many years and who wants to make 
nice, fast, desktop runnable " " prg 
type programs w/o the need to learn 
C .Pascal, or Modula. The addition of 
easy to use GEM features as well as 
power programming features 
(procedures and block 
IF-THEN-ELSE) place this compiler 
on an even plane with any other 
language available for the ST. 

For some reason the magazine 
reviewers have given earlier 
versions of this compiler some bad 
raps; I hope to see updated reviews 
for the new version. It seems many 
of these writers object to the "speed” 
of this basic. What they really mean 
is that the compiling time is longer 
than some of the C compilers. A 
database program I've been writing 
had (about 3 months ago) 19010 bytes 
of source code.-.this program took 2 
minutes and 8 seconds to compile into 
a finished program of 54-449 bytes. I 
dont think that's too shabby. ..perhaps 
these writers could tell me how long 
it will take to learn C 4? I can make a 
boatload of 2 minute programs in the 
time it takes to learn a new language. 
Dont get me wrong, I am not against 
C or learning new things .1 just dont 
like these professional programmers 
telling me I just have to switch to C 
to save myself some time. 

revised article by Cary A - Hilbert 
3/23/87, revised asain by Gar y A . 
Hilbert 10/10/87 

Page 6 


Everywhere ... 

an Editorial comment by 
Robert MacGregor 


After going through a major 
move all I need was to put my 130ex 
back up on line and find out it did not 
work. Well, half of the keys worked 
and the other half did not. I then 
decided to take the ST plunge. I 
started to travel to the local 
computer stores and quickly 
discovered that those who used to 
sell the ST’s did not anymore or else 
the one's that did would not push 
selling them. 

At the Montgomery Mall 
Electronics Boutique I approached 
the purchase of a new computer as if 
1 was a new buyer interested in only 
the MIDI aspect of computing. The 
salesman initiall y acted as if the ST 
did not even exist. His entire talk 
was about Commodore and the 
Amiga. When I asked him about the 
520ST he said he would not 
recommend it because Atari has 
already stopped supporting it. It 
made me wonder why such a good 
machine was being badmouthed by 
this salesman. 

I then travelled upstate to a 
computer store which sells the ST 
being that they have a good deal on 
one. It was near closing time and 
since I was the only customer I had a 
chance to talk with the dealer. I 
asked him why is it that very few 
stores will carry the Atari line. 
From him I received some very 
disturbing news. He began listing 
several reason why the Atari 

computer is hard to find in the 
marketplace. IjAlari's warranty 
policy: If you were an Atari dealer 
and you receive an defective 
computer or a computer would come 
back to you under warranty you 
would have to repair it at your on 
cost. Thus a dealer could stand to 
lose money under such conditions 
instead of making money. A 
businessman can stand to lose only 
so much before dropping a computer 
line like a hot potato- My question 
to Atari would be: why do you expect 
your dealers to fix your mistakes'? 
They did not make them defective, 
did they? 2)Atari’s Marketing 
Policy: Because Atari releases their 
computer to national distributors 
with larger discount to them, the 
local dealer has a hard time trying to 
beat or even come close to the mail 
order prices. Therefore, he becomes 
discouraged from marketing them 
or, if he carries them, from selling 
them. Why push an ST and make a 
smell profit when you can push 
Apples or Amigas and make a large 
profit? Remember, in todays 
marketplace the aim ighty dol lar 
rules! 3)Atari's Competition Policy: 

Atari obviously feels its ok to go 
into competition with your own 
dealers. They bought out an 
electronics chains out in the western 
United States. So the first thing their 
dealers started doing is to go out to 
find other computers to market. 

Atari has been able in the past to 
put together a very good computer 
but their track record in marketing 
them probably can be studied by 
business schools on how not to 
market your product. They better 
wise up before the costumer will 
need to travel to Sunnyvale 
California to by an Atari computer. 

Page 7 



Arkanoid is basically a really 
spruced-up version of the classic 
arcade game Breakout These games 
are similar in a lot of ways, but 
Arkanoid really offers a lot of new 
ideas to the old game concept. 
Instead of merely batting a ball back 
and forth, hoping it does not slip by 
your trusty paddle, IMAGINE 
software has come to the rescue. 

The object of A rkanoid is almost 
just like Breakout. You have to 
prevent Cor try and prevent) the ball 
from whizzing by your paddle, while 
also trying to break all of the blocks 
and go on to the next screen for some 
more punishment. One word of 
warning though: This game is 

How many different levels are 
there you might ask*? Well, I am told 
there are 33 in all. (Believe me, I am 
not speaking from experience... ) On 
the last level you come face to face 
with the master. If you manage to 
def eat him you will finish the game, 
but be prepared for a tough battle. 

Some levels are harder than 
others and you may find some higher 
levels that are easier than some 
lower levels. Most of the A rkanoid 
fans I know usually find level 3 to be 
a "toughie.'' 

Now, if you really want to earn 
some high scores and finally get to 
level 33, catching the colored 
capsules that fall down is a MUST? 
Each one you catch gives you 1,000 

points. The grey capsule gives you a 
free man end the pink capsule 
awards you 10,000 points and allows 
you to warp to the next level pronto. 
If you happen to get the red capsule, 
your paddle turns into a gun which is 
useful for shooting out the rest of 
the bricks remaining on the screen. 
Green capsules allow you to carry 
the ball on your paddle so you can 
"aim" and release it. Others like light 
blue splits your ball into 3 balls. As 
long as you keep your eye on one of 
the three, which is not exactly easy, 
you'll be alright. Also there is a 
"bad" yellow capsule which takes 
away your present power capsule 

Occasionally the ball will fall 
into a pattern, not hitting anything. 
It will just bounce off a few walls 
and back again. To get the ball out of 
this pattern, you will have to hit the 
ball on the very edge of the paddle, 
which is no easy task by any means. 

If you really want to see what 
the higher levels look like and you' re 
going "BONKERS" trying to get there, 
a couple of " useful" utilities are in 
circulation which "bend the odds in 
your favor" while playing Arkanoid. 
There is the Arkanoid cheater which 
gives you the choice of the number of 
lives you get and the beginning level- 
Also, there is a "slow-mo" (slow 
motion) which slows the speed of the 

All of you Arkanoid fans will be 
pleased to know that a brand new 
version A rkanoid is on the way. It's 
called Arkanoid II, what else! From 
what I was told, it offers 33 different 
screens, with the same game play as 
the original. The levels are supposed 
to be more interesting, easier and 
more colorful than the original. Also 
be sure to check out another 

Page 8 

Arkanoid game called Championship 
A rkanoid- 

In conclusion I would like to 
wish good luck to all of the other 
entries submitted for the club contest 
and who knows... If you are lucky 
enough, you too can play Arkanoid 
on your new Atari 520 ST 
monochrome system courtesy of 

JTblack noon systems 

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fEHIHB GAP, PA 18091 

MoonSof t for the Atari XL/XE 

LabelMaster VI . 6 Only $7. 

Design your labels onscreen 
Edit them and Save to Disk 
Compatible with any Dos 
Group Print, Group Disk Save 
Many more options & features 

the Small Business System 
Invoicing and Purchasing, 

Reports and more $25. 

Includes LabelMaster VI. 6 

All programs are on disk 
Send a SASE for info, send a 
money order to order postpaid 
## *************************** 


ST or not ST, 

that Is the question! | 

To buy an ST or not, that is! 
Much has been said lately about the 
Atari ST series of computers. Many 
good things, to be sure. A nd many 
Atari users with the 8 bit computers 
are being told they are living in the 
Dark Ages for not immediately going 
out and purchasing a shiny new ST. 
A re they? Should they? 

Many Atari 8 bit users are also 
putting down the ST. Why? One 
reason given is that it is not 
compatible with their old software 
Not a very good reason. If you want 
to use your 8 bit software just use it 
on your current computer. There is 
really no good reason to look down 
on the ST- It is a marvelous 
technological achievement. 

There is also no reason for the ST 
owners to downgrade the 8 bit line 
which now Includes the 4-00, 800, 
1200XL , 600XL, 800XL, the 65XE and 
the 130XE. Quite a long line, each 
relatively compatible until now. 
Each to his own computer for 
whatever reason, be it financial, 
sentimental or any other. 

I am an Atari 8 bit user. I have 
owned the 400, 800, 800XL and now a 
130XE- I like my trusty XE and I like 
to use it. I use it for word processing - 
This newsletter article was written 
using Paperclip (from Batteries 
Included), one of the finest WP 
programs available for ANY 
computer. I access remote Bulletin 
Board Systems (BBS), to upload and 
download public domain programs 

Page 9 

and use their message bases. I use it 
for my mail lists and as a database 
(LabelMaster VI. 6). I run my entire 
business on it. Invoicing, Purchasing, 
General Ledger, everything (the 
Small Business System V1.2). 1 like to 
program. I wrote the two previously 
mentioned programs and market 
them nationally. I create awards, 
ads, newsletters and more with 
graphics programs. My children use 
educational programs to make 
learning fun. A nd the whole family 
like to play games? As far as 
hardware goes I use a 130XE 
(upgraded to 320K!), 2 1050 disk 
drives (both mod ified for true double 
density!, a 1200 baud modem, a color 
composite monitor and an Epson NLQ 
printer. To interface my Atari to the 
printer and modem I use the ICD 
Multi I/O. This unit also allows me to 
interface to a Hard Disk. Imagine 20 
Megabytes (or more!) of d isk storage 
instead of 70 to 140K. The equivalent 
of over 200 singlesided 5 1/ +■" disks 
available without swapping disks. 

Now the ST comes along. A true 
16 bit processor, better graphics, 
more speed, more memory and more 
money. Hundreds of dollars more to 
buy a complete system. Should 1? 
Could I? No, not now! I have all the 
computing power I need or want. 
That is not to say the ST isn't a good 
computer It is. I'm sure every ST 
owner can give me lots of reasons 
why it is a better computer. But will 
it be better for me 1 ? I like my 8 bit 
Atari and I really don't think an ST 
will be right for me just now. 

Every Atari user will have to 
decide for themselves what is best. 
The temptation to buy a new 
computer is hard to resist but think 
before you act. Consider what you 
want a computer for. What you 
would like to do with it. Then ask 

yourself if your present computer 
fulfills your needs. Maybe a new 
computer is in your future. 

We are all Atari owners and 
users, be it an XE or an ST, and 
brothers as such. There is no reason 
to be prejudiced or biased against 
any computer or it’s owner. Instead 
let us band together as Atarians! 


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Page 10 

Tenth Frame Bowling 


I like bowling and I like my ST. 
Finally the combination has come 
together and I REALLY like IT* It is 
Tenth Frame Bowling from Access 
Software. Here is my review of what 

I think to be a very good game. See 
what you think of it. 

Game Flay 

The game starts off by asking 
you if you want to Open bowl or 
League bowl. In open bowling, you 
can have up to eight people bowling 
right in a row. In league bowling, 
there are two teams with up to four 
players on each. You then can set up 
each bowler as a Kid, Amateur, or Pro 
bowler. The kid level being the 
easiest. Then you are off to the lanes. 


The screen on which you bowl 
has 7 lanes on it, with your lane lit 
up. On the lane, as in real bowling, 
there are seven spotter arrows. The 
programmers also went to the detail 
of putting a picture of the pin rack 
above the pins to show what pins are 
left up. At the top of the screen is the 
person bowling's section of the score 
sheet. After every bowler has 
completed his frame, the whole score 
sheet pops up until the left mouse 
button is hit, upon which you bowl 
another frame. 

The Roll 

To roll the ball down the lane, a 
few things must be done: 

II Set bowler on approach (Done by 
dragging with right mouse button); 2) 
Drag pointer on lane to desired spot 

(Done, again, by dragging with right 
mouse button); 3) Hit left button to 
start bowler down lane; 4-) On the 
right of the bowler is a chart with 
two bar graphs on it to set the speed 
and hook of the ball. The bars start 
to fill until you press the button 
again, in this way, you can set the 
speed and hook of the ball. 

So Good you Can hear a Pin Drop 

One of the best features of the 
game isthesound- Allthesoundin 
the game sounds just like real 
bowling. For instance, when the ball 
rolls, you hear the ball roll as if you 
were at the lanes! When you hit the 
pins, you hear them fall. When you 
get a strike or spare, people clap in 
the background , also. There is even 
the Marshall Holman 'yah*' type yell 
on the strike. And again, all the 
sounds sound real and very clear. 


Well, the best games have 
SOMETHING wrong with them, and 
there is just ONE complaint 1 have. 1 
am a lefty and well. ..actually what I 
am getting at is that the settings for 
each bowler is not varied enough. 
For instance, there are no settings 
for bail weight, handedness, or 
slickness of the lanes. 

In Closing. .. 

All in all, it is a very good game, 
and I recommend it highly as a fun 
and entertaining game. If you want a 
"Pro Bowling Simulator" for the ST, 
this is the one. (It's also the ONLY 

Page 11 

Personal Pascal 

Version t 

an ST review by Chris Scullion 

I have a confession to make. 
Yes, 1 am forced to admit it — I hate 
C. The language of choice for most 
ST users, the one used by ATARI 
itself, the Great Language of UNIX -- 
I don't like it. I will often go out of 
my way to avoid using it. Now, 
understand that just a couple of 
years ago I had the exact opposite 
opinion — I loved the language and 
all its promises of portability and 
ease of use. But now, after having 
programmed with it for a couple of 
years, after having written several 
very large applications with it. I've 
come to the conclusion that it can't 
live up to all those promises. 

But all of this is Just by way of 
introduction -- my hate of C could 
fill volumes Now, I know what 
you're thinking; "If he hates C, what 
DOES he use*?" Well, as you can tell 
from the title, I like PASCAL. I've 
also used PASCAL for lots of big 
programming projects and it has yet 
to cause me any difficulty. In fact, 
it has does nothing but helped the 
style, readability, and 
“ debu ggabilit y " of ever y th i ng I 
write And so the question is, 
"What's good in PASCAL for the 
ATARI ST?" I've seen and used 
Personal PASCAL from Optimized 
Systems Software (OSS), and it's just 

Let's start with the important 
stuff for you ST and C lovers. It 
completely supports the GEM 
operating system and the 
programming environment is 

GEM-based- That is, the compiler 
and linker make full use of the 
familiar GEM goodies such as menus, 
alert boxes, d ialog boxes, etc. The 
language itself is a very standard 
PASCAL — nothing is missing, no 
surprises. It fully supports all of 
the data types you expect; char, 
integer, real, enumerated types, 
sets, long integers, records, arrays, 
pointers, etc. Even variant records 
are there, something often omitted 
from small PASCAL compilers. OSS 
has added the type "string" (along 
with the appropriate string 
handling procedures) to make text 
processing easier. On top of all of 
this, it sells for less than $60.00? 

Personal PASCAL also, as stated, 
completely supports GEM . There are 
all kinds of predefined procedures 
and functions that make the use of 
GEM'S tricks trivially easy. Alert 
boxes are performed with a simple 
call as follows; 

result := do_alert(’[3][Press ok to 
conti nuel ok I cancel J, 2); 

In the above example, the [3] means 
that a GEM "stop sign" should appear 
in the alert box. The next [] is the 
text for the box, and the last group 
are the buttons which will appear at 
the bottom of the box. The last 
number indicates which of the two 
buttons is the default (that is, which 
one will be selected if you hit return). 
Dialog boxes are also easy to do 
with the built in procedure and 
functions, as are menu bars and 

I must also mention that not 
EVERY possible GEM function is 
predefined for you. However, 
ninety percent of them are, and there 
is a standard routine set up for you 
to add the rest if you need them. You 

Page 12 

can call any VD1, AES, BIOS, XBIOS, 
or GEMDOS function with a few 
simple lines of code. It's a VERY 
programmer-friendly system. 

The manual provided with the 
disk is well organized and helps the 
GEM novice step through creating 
GEM-oriented programs. There are 
also examples of how to write a desk 
accessory, access the system clock, 
and handle all GEM events. The 
manual is very thorough and 
accurate. There are a few 
corrections listed on the disk, and 
only one information error that I 
have d iscovered. For those of you 
using Personal PASCAL, or 
thinking of getting it, please be 
aware that the do_dialog and 
redo-dialog functions return 
manual states. Using the wrong 
type will not give a compilation 
error, but if you double-click in 
certain boxes within the dialog, the 
system will crash- OSS seems to 
have fallen victim to their own error 
since doubleclicking on a box in 
any of their dialog boxes will also 
cause a system crash — so be aware 
of this minor documentation 
problem . 

The compiler supports several 
nice options, including run-time 
stack checking, array bounds 
checking, and pointer bounds 
checking, all of which can be 
disabled with the click of a mouse. 
Probably the most powerful 
extension added by OSS is modular 
compilation. This is essentially 
equivalent to C in that the program 
can be broken down into multiple 
files for separate compilation. This 
greatly enhances the modularity of 
any program and is a necessity for 
large programming projects. The 
only thing I've found lacking in the 

compiler is the ability to "batch" 
compilations so that you don’t have 
to manually recompile all the 
separate modules. 

The linker is fairly nondescript. 
It does its job flawlessly and they 
claim it is compatible with the 
linker supplied by ATARI. The 
only enhancement I'd like to see is 
more space to list object files to be 
linked together. This is necessary 
for anyone who makes extensive use 
of the modular compilation option 
of the compiler. 

The editor is the only part of 
the system which may prove 
controversial- I like it, but it's not 
what you'd expect from a GEM based 
product. Others may complain about 
the lack of GEM features such as 
menus and dialogs, but I’ve found it 
to be very intuitive, easy to use, 
and quite functional- It is entirely 
keyboard-bound (the mouse is not 
used), which is just as well for 
writing a program. It uses a 
workable copy buffer system to 
allow cutting and pasting within and 
between files, although I've found 
block copying to be a bit cumbersome 
for large numbers of lines. It is a 
good enough editor that I have not 
even been tempted to haul out a 
word processor as a substitute. But 
then, word processors can often 
prove awkward for program 

When you think about what 
you really want in a GEM 
programming environment. 
Personal PASCAL is a programmer’s 
dream come true Even a novice 
GEM programmer will have dialogs, 
windows, menus and the like up and 
about the screen in no time. So kick 
the C habit -- start programming 
without fear and with a powerful 

Page 13 

and easy lo use sel of tools by your 
side. OSS's Personal PASCAL is a real 

(A note of explanation is in order 
now. After writing this review, I 
pieced a call to OSS and found that 
Version 2 is now available. Over the 
phone, I described the problem 
regarding double-clicking in an exit 
box. Version 2 DOES NOT have this 
bug- The documentation on this point 
has apparently been corrected, as 
well as the boxes in the compiler and 
linker options menus. Version 2 is on 
its way to me now, and 1 will follow 
up with a review of its enhancements 
as soon as possible.) 


The Club’s contest is almost over, 
and so far competition is not very 
stiff. With the number of entries 
we currently have, the odds of 
winning look pretty good* Don't 
forget what's at stake here: 

First Prize: a 520 ST monochrome 

system ! 

Second Prize: an Avatex 1200 baud 

Third Prize: a Gemini gift certificate 

All you need to do is attend the 
meetings and write an article for 
the newsletter- S imple* (A ttend 
three out of four general 
meetings between September 198? 
and December 1987, inclusive, and 
submit an original 500 to 1000 
word article.) j 




Here's the latest status report on 
club activity Cor, in some cases, lack 
of same). 

Leon Bonam managed to get 
Micro League to our October 10th 
meeting. They showed us the ST 
wrestling program and the baseball 
program which is available for both 
Atari systems. I found the talk a 
little depressing. It seems sales of 
Micro League's Atari software are 
not what had been hoped for. In fact, 
ST sales in the U S. are not what 
Micro League had thought they 
would be. For that reason, no 
additional 8-bit software is planned 
and the new football game may or 
may not be released for the ST. To be 
honest, I don't find either of the 
programs M icro League has released 
to date worth buying. With all of the 
other "extras" disks that are needed 
to complete the programs, the stuff 
seems way over priced. My first 
thought was that might be why sales 
aren't so hot. We were told , however, 
that sales for other computer brands 
has been much better. 

In any case, becauseof Micro 
League's visit, the presentation on 
Geneology has been moved back to 
our November 14-th meeting. 
December's meeting will be our 
annual holiday get together. 

On October 15th our BBS went 
24-00 baud. It now supports 
300/1200/2400 baud operation. 

Last but not least: 8-bit/16-bit. 

Page 14- 


No sugar coating this time. From all 
indications, 8-bit support is dead in 
ABE’S ACEsf We've got lots of 8-bit 
users, but I can only think of two or 
three that actually support other 
8-bit users. What do I mean and how 
did it come about? 

When this year's E-Board was 
elected, two of the seven members 
were 8-bit users. When two board 
members had to resign a couple 
months ago, we lost one of the 
8-bitters. Since that time, the last 
8-bit owner on the board has sold his 
system and purchased an ST. All 
seven board members now own ST 

Over the years, an important 
area of support for our club members 
has been our public domain disk 
library, jim Mueller, Clay Wagner, 
John Slaby and Robert Macgregor 
have all served as 8-bit librarians 
over the past five and a half years. 
When Chris Andrews, an ST owner, 
was elected head librarian in June, 
Robert MacGregor offered to help out 
by putting together 8-bit disks for 
the club. A few weeks ago, Robert’s 
8-bit system died and he replaced it 
with an ST. He can no longer 
assemble 8-bit program disk masters 
for John Douglas to duplicate. 

What can the club offer to ANY 
Atari owner? Demos from members 
and outside guests, public domain 
software, a newsletter with reviews 
and articles of interest, Special 
Interest Groups on topics that are of 
use to you, a BBS with programs and 
information to help you and an 
opportunity for you to meet and talk 
with other Atari owners and to share 
in their collective pool of knowledge. 

I think ABE'S ACEs does each and 
every one of the above IF you're an 

ST owner. If you own an 8-bit A tari, 
the club now falls very very short. 
The only way this is going to change, 
is if a number of 8-bit users take the 
plunge and support the club- There 
will be no 8-bit reviews or articles in 
HARDCOPY unless you write them. 
There will be no 8-bit demos at 
meetings unless you do them. There 
will be no 8-bit activity on HELP KEY 
II unless you create it. There will be 
no new 8-bit library disks unless an 
8-bit owner takes the position and 
there will be no 8-bit representation 
on the E-Board unless an 8-bit user 
runs for office in June. 

N ewsletter 

Advertising Rates 

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Page 15 


Allentown Bethlehem Easton’s 
Atari Computer Enthusiasts is an 
independent user group organized and 
run by owners of Aari Computers. Atari 
Is a trademark or Atari Corp.; all 
references should he so noted. 

If you would like more 
information shout ABE'S ACEs, write us 
at the club's address or call the club 
Hotline at the number listed below. 

N © w§Q ©(Uen 0 

This newsletter Is published by 
ABE'S ACEs on a bi-monthly basts (six 
issues per year). Opinions expressed in 
this newsletter are those of the author 
and not ABE'S ACEs. All unsigned 
articles should be attributed to the 
Editor. This newsletter is provided free 
to our membership and on an exchange 
basis to other user groups. Original 
articles from our newsletter may be 
reprinted In other newsletters provided 
credit is given to both author and source. 

Submissions to the newsletter may 
be made via the Help Key II, at the 
general meetings, or by mail to the club's 
P.O. Box (both magnetic and paper copies, 
please). For more information, leave 
messages on the Help Key II or call the 
club Hotline. 

Executive (Corn milt tee 

President Dennis John 

(215) 759-8151 

Vice-President Leon Bonam 

(215) 266-1521 
Secretary Brian Oplinger 

Treasurer John Slaby 

(215) 252-1991 

Membership Jace Gill 

(215) 395-1676 

Librarian Chris C. Andrews 

(215) 866-2*59 

Newsletter Editor Chris Scullion 

mtorary Staff 

8-Bit Disks John Douglas 

16-Bit Disks Chris C. Andrews 

Paper Library Opei. 

O ub b PJnorne Miuimlbers 

Help Key II BBS (215) 759-2683 

non-local (215) 821-9222 

Club Hotline (Voice) (215) 759-3336 

Allentown Bethlehem Easton's FIRST CLASS MAIL 

Atari Computer Enthusiasts 
P.O. Box 2830 
Lehigh Valley, PA 18001 

San Leandro Computer Club 
Newsletter Exchange 
P.O.Box 1506 
San Leandro, CA 94577