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Wellington Atari Computer Enthusiasts 

MAY, 1935.' 

Dear members. 

Herewith the WAGE newsletter -For May, Now that winter has set in 
hard, no doubt all our members, and their -families, are working their 
computers -flat out. I-f they are not, they should be! But first, our 
commiserations to Eddie Nickless, whose factory was damaged during the 
storm early this month. 


Our next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 12 June, Once again, 
the meeting will be held at the "Leaves and Fishes" behind the 
Anglican Cathedral in Molesworth St., in the center of Wellington, At 
the moment the schedule is a little hazy: however, a new tape <#?) and 
disk (#5) will be available. The tape, being a 030, will have S or 9 
programmes. A range of commercial software will be demonstrated. But.-, 
above all, we will continue the highly successful BUGBUSTING. With the 
doors opening at 7.15 pm, and Computers/TVs being set up quickly, 
Bugbusting should be underway by 7.30 pm. There are two points to 

(a) specialist "buobusters" will be (or should be) wearing la: 
or hats, to identify them* 

(b) "bugbusting will continue after the meeting- 
(b> FT ease bring the gear needed for "bugbusting", particular 




The auction will be held at cur July meeting, Eddie Nickless <wi- 

on one y7U02o:; wilt be or 

1 tl i; sr. 5"* > -_J W X j- — -.*4 '*•** • ' ~~ \~i {Tv Ti x H, S {T*; — ■. 

Memory Upgr adss — ens wsy cr anothEr , ms hops h== *a h , 
orders for the upgrading of 400/ SOOs to 4Sk at the n ext'meet Inc.* ~ 

We have acquired il back issues of Antic disks. These 
somewhat erratically, last year and the very early months'"of < 

Verar. This is great news tor ail those with back copies r- A--t- 

ihs new s et i6 
the New Zealand marl- 

a t a r- r _ _ _ _ : _ _ 

ri i hir, 1 uOiTi^ac ers IS 
!< at. The y 1 o c k t o b e v s : 

Neil Up bon <ph 35 

IS. K S m 

Brictons Ltd. in Paten 

Trey are made not 
e has these disks- < 

short!y to e introduced 
■ v g o c d it a c h i n e s „ 

:he time of writing, hi 

very gcod prites. 


COMMERuIriL bGFT^Aftfc L.BRAR'- , As was merit icned last v 
to set up a library ot commercial software. It will cons; 
cartridges, mainly because they are both more indestructi 
easily copied than tapes or disks. So, i-f anyone has <=ome 
thrashed cartridges, your club should be most grateful to 
donation or « permanent lean. Please see the undersigned. 

car. we 
St largei 
bis and 

h either 

y of 
1 ess 

iwo months ago, I promised a full list 
those interested, here it is: 

President Michael Munro <ph73c716>; 

Vice President Chris Caudwel1 <ph 793220); 
Treasurer Karl Betteiheim (ph759711); 

Rogan Maxwell (ph660S67); 

John Blaikie (699S67) ; 

Neil Upton (ph356S05>; 

Ross Palmer (ph670923) ; 

Dennis Dawson <ph731176>; 

Ron Pyne (ph331465) ; 

Felix Betteiheim <ph699367): 

Eddie Nickiess (S31433) ; 

Bruce Tinsley (phS96965?; __ 

and, your Secretary, 

of committee 

members. For 

Des Rowe (ph736716)r 

Advert isement 

The foi/owing items of Hardware and Software are currently available for MACE members from Einstein Scientific and 
Computer Experience. 








Atari 400 


Atari 600XL 


Atari 800XL 


Family Pack 


Touch Tablet 


Plotter Printer 


Program Recorder 
Cardco Interface 

$ 89.00 


Disk Drive ' 


R item an Printer 







Ghostbusters <P) 


The Mask of the Sun (D) $89.95 

Crusade in Europe (D) 


Mr Do (D) 


Alley Cat (D) 


Conan (D) 


Choplifter (D) 


Summer Games (D) 


Pitfall CO 


River Raid (T) 


FI5 Strike Eagle CO 


Oropzone (T) 


Quasimodo (T) 


Shadow World CO 


To make use of these specials, contact one of the following: 

JOHN at Computer Experience Hot/ine: 730—348 or 

MYRA at Einstein Scientific Hot/inp:8S'\ —055. 




Late last year I ordered 5 Logo packs from the Computer Palace, 
for club members who didn't want to wait longer. They arrived at the 
end of January, for a total cost of *225 each + *4 for my expenses: 
no profit for Classroom Computers! 

At the beginning of May, two Logo packs arrived from the NZ 
distributors. They proved to be the budget pack, with a cartridge 
and quick reference guide only, intended for schools who have a 
number of computers and don't require extra manuals. Not much use to 
a beginner, and at *199 no bargain, though a keen type could do a lot 
with the reference guide and Harold Abelson's Apple Logo , now about 
*50 NZ. 

I don't know what experiences customers might have with 
retailers who are unfamiliar with Logo. Manuals will arrive later in 
the year, but they could add up to *100 to the total cost. My advice 
to anyone would be to get theirs from Computer Palace for *79.10 US 
(though it is listed elsewhere in their catalogue at *87). They 
accept Mastercard, Visa and American Express, and will charge about 
*12 US for airmail postage and insurance. 

Their present price for AtariWriter is *39.95 US, their 
Microbits MPP1150 interface (which some of us are using) is *99 
(Microbits Microprint interface, with no extra I/O port is $79.95) - 
and I wish, in the continued absence of the Atari dot matrix printer, 
that we could get their Seikosha AXIOM printer (*299) which will plug 
straight into an Atari system and comes complete with screen dump. 

My own Logo dump, from the Atari Teachers' Network , is at last 
working well, though very slowly, and this is a milestone for any 
Logo enthusiast. 

Jenny Chisholm 


Follawinq the success of club disks # 1-4, club disk #b will be 

distributed at the next meeting. The features of this disk are: 
a new. more elaborate version or DCS 2; 

Antic magazines’ TYPO 11 - this utility checks the accuracy of your 
work as you type in Antic’s programmes? 

Forklift - a game c-f elementary logic and spelling: 

ADVENT X5 - a text adventure; 

KOALA PAD - a use-full addition -for those who have the pad; 

RAMCHECK - lets you know if your computer is showing signs of old 

RAMOS - tor XL machines only, this programme moves, the OS ROM to RAM 
from to $7FFF, diables the RON, then moves the OS back to its 

proper address in what is now RAN. Id can also move an alternative Ub 
into place after it is created a.t $4000 to sTFFr. Clearly, one tor the 
technical freaks; 

SIFFDF.OF - one of Antic magazine’s recent 1 uames ot the month •. 

MAX ICOPY - a machine language utility that allows you to copy mere 
than one file from disk to disk; 

TREASURES - a two player game, written Action language* 

NAZE - again in Action language, this utility generates mazes cn 
request and dumps them to printer or disk should you wish to kse< 
FMCUFSGR - changes your cursor as you wish. 

This disk, and its predecessors will be availble a.t the 
meeting., or f r sen the undersigned a.t 95 Cecil RD. , Wei 11 ngten. i r 
i c % 2. o 00 j0f q i s i ; . p i li s * wl*i is )■"* 0 c* p p r c pr i r*.ti ® ? p o stsQSn 

D A? *■£ F. 0 W £•• 


Thanks very much to those who volunteered(in one way or another) to 
type in programs -for the club library at the last meeting.As a result then 
are a number of excellent programs coming forward: we all stand to benefit 
from them, to keep you in touch with current work we are publishing our 
transcription list.It records the names and file numbers of the 
people who are typing them in,and where the programs are in the 
transcription process.This process moves through the following stages: 

a) program identified as worth transcription 

b) President calls for volunteer to type it up 

c> if successful response,volunteer given program and types it in 

d) volunteer passes program transcribed onto cassette/disk over 
to President 

f) President passes program to another volunteer for any debugging 

etc. required 

g) program sent to our Program Library 

The following table shows who is typing in what and what stage in the 
transcription process we are at. Inci dental 1y, the next time we print this 
l’ S t we hope that we will be able to add the sources of the programs. 







Tom Larkin 

Being Typed 




Tom Larkin 

Being Typed 




Tom Larkin 

Being Typed 






Chris Richardson 

Being Typed 


Chris Caudwel1 

Being Typed 



Chris Caudwel 1 

Being Typed 



Sandra Minshull 

Being Typed 



Mike Munro 

Being Typed 



Chris Richardson 

Being Typed 




Chris Macer 

Being Typed 




Chris Richardson 

Being Typed 





Des Rowe 

Being Typed 



Chris Macer 

Being Typed 




Sandra Minshull? 

Being Typed 




Des Rowe 

Being Typed 


Sandra Minshull 

Being Typed 





Sandra Minshull 

Being Typed 



Jason Coombe 

Being Typed 



Andrew Ward 

Being Typed 



Ray Lovell 

Being Typed 



Don Campbel1 

Being Typed 



Bernard Kerr 

Being Typed 



Bernard Kerr 

Being Typed 



Jean Dodd 

Being Typed 



Anne Minshull 

Being Typed 



Bernard Kerr 

Being Typed 



Anne Minshull 

Being Typed 




01wynne Thomas 

Being Typed 



Ray Lovel1 

Being Typed 



Sylvia Maunder 

Being Typed 



Ray Lovell 

Being Typed 



01wynne Thomas 

Being Typed 



Richard Houston 

Being Typed 


Alec Kerr 

Being Typed 






Anne Minshull 








Des Rowe 




Eddie Warren 




Eddie Warren 



Eddie Warren 




Eddie Warren 



Eddie Warren 




Chris Macer 

Processing ? 



Anne Minshull 




Anne Minshull 




Anne Minshull 




Anne Minshull 




Anne Minshull 


For those who 
meeting, we’11 have 
come .first served! 

didn’t get 
some more 


a chance to get 
for distribution 

a program or two at the last 
at our next gathering.First 
























Offers??. „ 




Offers?? ’ 



















An y 




Hfi y 








nn y 












An v' 















* * * * * 

jpcoKanv uwi i u i>»«» 

C^uihilm. ha? me. *>< meivtvirC JRs*' ^ b*4 

15 4vJtoM^ 4 tfluJsJbSU, far tejfkcu^ fc5>c k&U*\, #k ^Ro ^SLi» OtogJ 

•itA^erx* Jlvt, n falLu^ tfoCUsdc, fnti ^2. *66 e^cA. 

^ Jj^\. rtei 0"X' ^Vu*vc I'eir' *72^ - (^K) < #*> o^c. Ixej f^oc 

el tfe. n%4 **4te*\ 


fliW ^ if* .... 


a ■forest at the top of the 


This same is for two Players, each represent ins a Wi zard. They besin In . 

screen* and must pass thrown the forest, penetrate the three enchanted salts and capture either o 

Stones. Nhich are behind the final waji. 

Eachease turn is aide up of two Phases: a spell castins Phase and a movement Phase. A Wizard Mill cast 
spells to penetrate the nails, and to defend himself fro* the spells cast by his opponent or the 
Towers. Cast ins a spell requires enersy- the enersy retain ins to a Wizard is shown at the bottos of the screen 

next to a Picture of hi«, one red. one blue. To assist the Wizards in seiectins a spell, the six available 

soel is are shown across the bottcd of the screen fol lowed by the a*ount of enersy reoui red to cast thee. 

In Phase two. the Wizards move. In turn, each Player will Press a cursor arrow bey. but without usins the 
control Key. to indicate the direction he wishes to uove. A Wizard will wove one Place in the direction 
Chosen, provided the way is clear (or if there is a Stones sywbol oi the screen). 

By pressins ’X* a Wizard is siven 50 extra enersy points, which is tanen fro* his reserve (shown next to 
his enersy).Should a Wizard’s reserves run out he is iwoortant to Keep a hish reserves fisure in the 

early stases. for at the end of each turn, the Wizards receive extra enersy Points eoual to IB* of their 


When ‘Cast your Spell* is displayed the Wizard whose face is Jit Presses a Key between 1 and 6. This 
indicates which soeii is beins cast. Then Key in a srid reference to show the tarset point of the spell. Thus. 
Kevins 54.16 weans cast a Vortex at Point 4.16: levins 112.9 casts a Dewoo at Point 12.9. Grid references are 
siven across then down. 


If a Wizard is within two Places of a Demon when it reaches its tarset. he is attacked by it. A Demon 
wilt destroy any eiewentais in its path.It is removed frow the screen at its tarset. If two Demons collide 
then they destroy each other. (30) 

When a Swam reaches its tarset. it spreads into ail ewpty adjacent Places, and remains on the screen. If 
a Wizard is in this zone, he is attacked. A Swam destroys any Dewons in its path, or that subsequently try to 
pass throush it. (15) 

A Shield destroys Fireballs, and spreads into a Protective cup shape on reachiM its tarset.It rewains 
on screen. It is also the only spell that has any effect on a Drason will be destroyed or Pick a new tarset 
The Vortex is the only spell to affect a wall. Three hits in the sawe Place are needed to forw a breach. 
It destroy any Shields that it touches. The Vortex is rewoved at its tarset. or if it hits a wall or another 
Vortex (20) 

The Elemental is useful to hinder your opponent, as it rewains co screen at its tarset. and destroys 
Vertices that collide with it.(10) 

The Drason destroys all spells except the Elemental. Also, when it reaches its tarset. there is a chance 
that it will merely Pick a new tarset. and wake its way to that one. A Drason can remain on screen a ions time 
in this way. (50) 

A Fireball is the only spell to destroy trees thereby clear ins a path for a Wizard. A Fireball also 
destroys any Swarms. At its tarset it expands like a Swarm affect ins anythins adjacent (20). 

Spells are woved in the followins sequence: Spells cast br the Towers! Spells cast by the Wizard in 
Power. Spells cast br the other Wizard. A Wizard can have up to six spells active at the same time. Finally, 
note that the Towers are unaffected by any speiis; and that their smells pass over the walls freely. The 
number in brackets is the number in brackets is the number of rese rve points a Wizard Joses if attacked. 

When you talk about an ATARI LOGO computer system, 
you're talking about time. And money. ' 

With an ATARI LOGO cartridge slotted into an ATARI 600XL or 
ATARI 800XL, students take less time setting up problems to solve. 

They're quicker at experimenting with different solutions and 
making appropriate choices. 

All the time, ATARI LOGO speeds up your ability to help them 
expand ideas and develop a deeper understanding of the learning 
process, using turtle graphics and full list processing. 

In terms of economics, an ATARI LOGO computer system is 
the top of its class. It’s cheaper than all comparable systems. This is 
because it is a complete computer system, with no hidden extras. 

For the price, you get a powerful and trustworthy ATARI 
Personal Computer, a disk drive or program recorder, a tough program 
cartridge that's child’s play to use. Mark out of ten the following 
features ATARI LOGO offers: 

Each of the 4 colourful dyna turtles (they actually look like real 
turtles) is an independent sprite that can change shape, colour, 

speed and direction. HK~- 1 •* —s 

Each can be set in motion with a speed and heading which is 
maintained as you program other turtles on the screen. 

The colour of each turtle, pen and the background can be 
selected from a palette of 128 colours.- '' 

JTST Three screen modes. Switch to the full graphics screen - or 
mixed text and graphics - while the entire text screen remains 

Highly competitive number of available nodes (free memory). 

ATARI 8Q0XL _ - over 4,600 nodes free 

8Q0XL » Disk Drive - over 3,500 nodes free 
ATARI 600XL - over 1,350 nodes free 

* ATARI logo has the capability for list processing and contains 
' the full range of standard LCSI primitives: 

Built-in interface for Joysticks and paddles allowing you to 
control the turtles or the sound. 

• ATARI600XL LOGO system -only £135.00+VAT, includes: 
ATARI 600XL computer (16K) 

62-key, full-stroke keyboard wtth function keys, cartridge 
slot, joystick ports, monitor socket, expandable to 64K. 

ATAR11010 Program Recorder. 

• ATARI 80GXL LOGO system - £299.99 + VAT, includes: 
ATARI 800XL computer (64K) 

62-key, full-stroke keyboard with function keys, cartridge 
slot, joystick ports, monitor socket. 

ATARI 1050 disk dri»e 

Dual-density, single-sided 5.25 inch diskettes. 

Includes Disk Operating System. 

Both systems come complete with: ATARI LOGO cartridge, 
Introduction to programming through Turtle Graphics'' 
instruction manual, ATARI LOGO reference manual with a full index, 
power adaptors and ail necessary leads. _. 

PKjIQ'V- : a -> j 

\/ it 

1 V 

Event or collision detection (When Demons). Whenever a pre¬ 
set event occurs these demons are activated and may call a 
new procedure or Instruction list. 

Simple to use shape editor, allowing you to define 15 different 
shapes or stages of animation and then assign these shapes to 
any of the four turtles. 

The two sound voices can be shaped using an “envelope" command. 


For further details, contact ATARI'S exclusive Educational Distributor:' 

Jessop Mlc'celectronics, Unit 5,7 Long Street, London E2 8HN. 
Tel: 01-729 1851. 





r 4 

S~ ■ 


SpacM » Tt» Nor Vert Tima 

ATLANTA. May 8-lhe Atari Cor- 
poration made an unexpected appear¬ 
ance at the Comdex personal com¬ 
puter trade show here to convince a 
Sceptical industry that the company 
was viable and that its new products 
would soon come to market. 

But after two days of statements 
that seemed contradictory, vague 
promises about the future of a new 
computer and sketchy descriptions of 
future models, there seemed to be 
more doubters than ever. 

“We’ve seen marketing strategies 
changed before our eyes,” said Bar¬ 
bara Isgur, an analyst and consultant 
who follows the consumer electronics 
industry, as she emerged from an 
Atari meeting. 

Others expressed amazement that 
Jack Tramiel, Atari’s tough-talking 
and unpredictable owner, was still 
the center of industry attention, even 
while his products and his company 
faced an uncertain fate. 

Ousted From Commodore 

Mr. Tramiel bought the company 
from Warner Communications Inc. 
last year, after he was ousted as chief 
. executive of Commodore Interna¬ 
tional Ltd., Atari's archrival. The 
deal involved no cash, and gave 
Warner a 32 percent stake in the com¬ 
pany. The company bears little 
resemblance to its old self. Mr. 
Tramiel has replaced all of the execu¬ 
tives and is rapidly replacing the 
product line. 

Everywhere that Mr. Tramiel went 
in the sprawling Georgia World Con¬ 
gress Center, where the Comdex 
show was held, he seemed to leave a 
trail of confusion. Most of it con¬ 
cerned an innovative, $800 home com¬ 
puter, called the Atari 520ST. Like 
Commodore’s forthcoming Amiga 
computer—which was shown only to 
. a select few in a hotel room near the 

conference — the Atari machine 
sports the fancy graphics and easy-to- 
use features of Apple Computer Inc.’s 
Macintosh. Both will sell for about a 
third of the Macintosh’s price. 

The Atari computer’s graphics are 1 
stunning, and unlike the Macintosh, it 
works in color. Many in the deci¬ 
mated home computer and software 
industry are rooting for Atari, hoping 
it will make consumers excited about 
computers once again. 

But Atari's first promise is already 
going sour. Early in the year, Mr. 
Tramiel said shipment of the 520SL 
would begin by April — a statement 
Atari now denies was made — but at 
Comdex the shipping date became 
July. With July two months away, it 

: was still not clear where those ship- 
1 ments would be headed. 

I In January, when he first showed 
i the computer, Mr. Tramiel said the 
520SL would be sold in the same man¬ 
ner as previous Atari and Commo¬ 
dore home machines: through mass 
I marketers such as K Mart and Toys 
i | "R" Us. 

| But by last Monday, the plan had 
I suddenly chan ged Mr. Tramiel said 
} the machine was too complex for un- 
trained salesmen and competed with 
1 far mm rnnHsIt so it 

11m No Yak Tiaa/Dm* Don* 

Jack Tramiel, owner of the Atari Corporation. His seemingly contradictory 
statements are making the computer industry uneasy* 

cialty stores, alongside I.B.M. PC’s 
and Apples. 

At a news conference on Tuesday, 
he changed the plan again. The so¬ 
phisticated version would be sold in 
specialty stores, and a stripped-down, 
less-powerful model, the 520ST — 
never before publicly mentioned — 
would be mi mass-marketers’ shelves 
by August. “The press seems to have 
trouble getting this right,” Mr. 
Tramiel said. 

When Atari officials were asked at 
the news conference to list the com¬ 
puter dealers that would be handling 
the 520ST when volume shipments be¬ 
gin in July, they could not name one. 

As a result, few in the industry be¬ 
lieve they will ever see production 
models of the 520ST. And those who 
do, doubt that it will happen any time 

Computer specialty stores have 
been shy of Mr. Tramiel since his 
Commodore days, when he first sold 
his inexpensive computers through 
them, then abruptly provided the 
products to discounters. That left the 
specialty stores with large invento¬ 
ries of overpriced machines, and few 
warm feelings for Mr. Tramiel. In the 
absence of many other computers to 
offer home users, however, espe¬ 
cially after the demise of I.B.M.'s 
PCjr, retailers may have no choice 
but to deal with Mr. Tramiel. 

“I.B.M. and Apple are really not 
treating the low end of the market 
right,’’ said William E. Ladin Jr., 
chairman of Computercraft, a chain 
of 61 computer stores in the South¬ 
west. “Jack Tramiel has the right 
idea. I’d like to see it all work out.” 

Even Mr. Ladin, however, worries 
whether it is worth the effort to sell an 
$800 machine. “It took far more hand¬ 
holding and explaining to sell a PCjr 
to a first-time customer for $800 than 
to sell a $5000 PC-AT to a veteran,” 
Mr. Ladin said, recalling I.B.M.’s 
Christmas promotion of the PCjr. 

unr. — i_i_ «_^ . 

Software is another problem for 
Atari. While the new Atari machine is 
similar to the Macintosh, it uses an 
entirely different operating system, 
called Gem, that was designed by 
Digital Research Inc. 

Atari officials assert that more 
than 100 software titles will be avail¬ 
able for the machine, most written by 
small software houses that desper¬ 
ately need work. At the show on Mon¬ 
day, Sigmund Hartmann, a fonner 
Commodore executive brought in by 
Mr. Tramiel to bead the software ef¬ 
fort, also hinted that the prestigious 
Microsoft International Inc. might be 
preparing a program or two for the 
Atari machine. “We’re shipping them 
a machine and they’re real interest¬ 
ed,” he said. 

But on Tuesday, Microsoft’s chair¬ 
man, William Gates, said, “At this 
point we have no plans for the A tan 
machine, nothing under develop¬ 

Atari's future may be ultimately 
determined by its finances, not its 
new products. The company’s finan¬ 
cial situation is poor, in part because 
sales of Atari’s old line are “very, 
very slow,” Mr. Tramiel said, and in 
part because of continuing legal 
wrangles with Warner and Commo¬ 
dore. A lack of funds could slow the 
development of two other long-prom¬ 
ised Atari products: a 32-bit com¬ 
puter for business use, which die 
company has yet to show, and a $500 
compact disk reader — similar to 
those used for high-quality music 
, recordings — that can store vast 
, amounts of information. t> 

“We’ll have them by fall, Mr. 
Tramiel said, adding that the com¬ 
pact disk drive would make it possi¬ 
ble to put encyclopedias, legal case¬ 
books and patents in electronic form, 
all available to consumers for a rela¬ 
tively low price. “My slogan is the 
best value and the highest technolo¬ 
gy and that is what I will deliver. 

u* TnmM is a touah competitor. 

r- ■ ------»■ ■ ■■ ■»■■ — 

(Something Not everyone is willing to 
write him off. 

“Obviously, they are having 
pains,** said Dick Bratt, vice presi¬ 
dent of engineering and development 
for Spinnaker Software, a Cam¬ 
bridge, Mass., concern writing pro¬ 
grams for the company. “There’s a 
temptation to Jump on the coffin and 
start spitting nails in. But Jack 
Tramiel is a winner. I wouldn’t bet 
against him.” 

ATARI 800XL ^ 

Nowtordnpnccof • memory boad. you can own, computer 
And the S00XL may b* *1 the computer you will ever need 
Although it Is no longer being manufactured et thtt uyfe. the 
S00XL ml be com pat ible with new XE line of Aten computer, 
which mean, you wdl be able to run al of the spending line of 
over 3000 wfiware program, available. The XL will connect to 
your TV or to a monitor through it, butk-mjironttor tack. 

A PLAN to put a levy on Diana auuio ana video 
. tape is under fire from many of the people 
i who first proposed it 

A recent consultative paper from the govern¬ 
ment proposed a levy of 10 per cent on audio 
tape and 5 percent on video tape. The National 
Consumer Council, in its response: to Jhe paper, 
5 says the plan is “costly nonsense . The Royal 
! National Institute for the Blind argues tha t the 
provisions to exempt from the Levy audio tape 
for the 130000 blind people m Britain are 
“half-baked, stupid and will not work . □ 


g Mtw Scientist 21 February 1365 


Slow Response 

Computers in)U.S. Schools Fall Short of 

By John Marcom Jr. 
and Patricia A. Bellow 

Special to Til* Asian Wall Street Journal 

The more than one million computers in 
U.S. public schools are supposed to be chang¬ 
ing the shape of American education. Advo¬ 
cates expect computers to help students 
learn better, and some say the machines are 
the biggest development in education since 

But the rush to buy classroom computers 
— the number has increased 60% this school 
year—doesn’t seem to be doing the youngs¬ 
ters using them much good. At least not yet. 

“After we know how to push the buttons, 
what are we doing?" asks Morton Kaufman, 
the principal of East Street School in Sharon. 
Massachusetts. He suggests that “the com¬ 
puter has been a little bit oversold.” 

Computers are generating plenty of en¬ 
thusiasm among students, teachers and pa¬ 
rents even without solid proof of measurable 
benefits. One official of International Busi¬ 
ness Machines Corp.. has urged patience: 
"When Gutenberg introduced movable type, 
the next morning we didn’t have lending lib¬ 
raries on street comers.” 

Skeptics Remember 

Skeptics, however, remember educators' 
earlier enthusiasm for such then-new tech¬ 
nologies as film and television. 

"The history of technology in education is 
bleak.” says Michael Kirst, an education 
professor at Stanford University. 

“The last big innovation was unbolting the 
desk from the floor,” he added. “Educators 
have successfully resisted bringing televi¬ 
sion and radio into the schools, and probably 
for good reason. Teachers teach the same 
way they did in the 1920s — standing in front 
of a blackboard talking to kids. That type of 
teaching is established and works well.” 

(hie reason computers at the moment 
aren't living up to their billing, critics say, is 
that many schools are concentrating on 
teaching so-called computer-literacy 
courses. That is, they are putting the 
machines in something they call a computer 
lab and are teaching Johnny how to use them. 
Many states and major school systems re¬ 
quire some such instruction. 

"We aren't right now looking for a lot of 
software to teachskills,” says Robert R. Spil- 
lane, the superintendent of Boston's public 
schools. "My goal is to just expose youngs¬ 
ters to various computers.” 

The public and many educators like the 
computer-literacy courses, often regarding 
them as preparation for life. Fast-food 
stands, gas stations and grocery stores use 
computers, an often-heard argument goes, 
so why shouldn’t schools teach their use? 

“I like to make what we give students re¬ 
levant.” says Odette Harris, the principal of 
William Penn High School in Philadelphia. 

But many people in the computer industry 

and in education regard these classes as a 
waste of time. “There’s a big competition to 
say, ‘We’re computer-literate,’ ” says Paul 
Burton of Decatur. Illinois, who helps schools 
use computers. “It’s a big thing for schools to 
say that, but they don’t quite know what it 

Critics of these courses view any gain in 
computer literacy as extremely short-term. 
To use the computers and software that are 
soon coming on the market, they say, you 
won’t need a course. 

Even now. they add. you don’t always 
need one. They think that it's far wiser to use 
thecomputer as a tool in other courses and let 

computers and software to use them effec 

"A $50 software program is beyond oui 
budget; the administrators would laugh ai 
me asking for it." says David Hickman. wh< 
teaches Spanish and computers at Mediapo 
lis High School in Iowa. With a depressec 
farm economy and declining enrollment, thi 
maintenance of aging school buses take: 
priority over buying software for the school’s 
six computers. 

What many schools do when the compu 
ters are coming is to simply draft gurus — 
designating one or more teachers as instant 
computer experts. When Jordan Middle 

“There’s a big competition to say, ‘We’re compu¬ 
ter-literate,’ ” an analyst says. “It’s a big thing for 
schools to say that, but they don’t quite know what it 

the literacy take care of itself than to make 
the machine an object of study. 

Even when school computers are used 
that way. however, they often don't fulfill 
expectations. “There are few real-life exam¬ 
ples of schools exploiting the full power of the 
computer,” says Robert Calfee of Stanford 
University, a professor of educational 

Teacher Training 

One major obstacle is a shortage of 
teachers who understand their regular sub¬ 
jects and fast-changing technology. Training 
programs are spreading, but most of them 
focus on the basics of handling and maintain¬ 
ing computers, printers and floppy disks. 
They don’t necessarily equip a teacher to sort 
through new products and find the programs 
that might work best for a particular class. 

As a result, schools generally aren’t sav¬ 
vy purchasers of computer materials. They 
frequently buy primitive software, for exam¬ 
ple, and wind up with little more than a print 
workbook flashed on a video screen. 

Such software “threatens the whole mar¬ 
ketplace.” says Joseph Dionne, the president 
of McGraw-Hill Inc., the publishing concern, 
which is increasing its efforts in educational 
software. ‘There’s a real danger,” he says, 
“that the computer could end up in the 

Obviously, unfortunate purchases aren’t 
always the schools’ fault. Like home and 
business purchasers, schools have been 
stung when suppliers folcjed and left them 
with computers they couldn't get fixed or buy 
software for. 

Regardless of their proficiency at pur¬ 
chasing, many schools have such tight 
budgets that they are unable to buy enough 

School in.Palo Alto, California, bought its 
machines 10 years ago. “the computers first 
were dumped on the math teachers, who 
managed to dump them on the social-studies 
teacher, who dumped them on the science 
teachers, who dumped them on the typing 
teachers” says Joan Targ, since brought in to 
direct a computer lab. 

And after computer gurus do become 
knowledgeable, they may feel so overworked 
and Underappreciated that they leave the 
school system. 

Danville, Illinois, has lost three teachers 
that way in the past three years. One moved 
to the Chicago suburbs to become a computer 
coordinator for a number of schools, and two 
joined private companies selling computers 
and software. 

Glenview, Illinois, just outside Chicago, 
recently lost a librarian and a second-grade 
teacher to Apple Computer Inc., where they 
are salespeople. 

“You just have to plan on a cycle of re¬ 
cruiting and .losing talent every year," says 
Robert Harrington, a San Francisco admi¬ 
nistrator whose program lost two teachers in 
its first six months. 

Despite all the problems, schools continue 
to spend millions of dollars for computers. 
California’s Education Department wants 
$42 million for 1985-86—nearly triple the pre¬ 
sent level—for teacher training and develop¬ 
ment of software. For the same purposes. 
Rep. Timothy Wirth, Democrat of Colorado, 
soon will introduce a bill to spend $340 million 
around the country over the next 10 years. He 
also will seek hundreds of millions of dollars 
to buy computers for poorer school districts. 

Tennessee this year spent $9 million, part 
of the proceeds from a sales-tax increase, to 



buy 6.000 Apple II's for computer-literacy 
courses. One state-designed lesson, dubbed 
Bread Spread, illustrates financial software 
with a program that analyzes students' allo¬ 
wances and spending. 

Boasts James Kelley, Tennessee's assis¬ 
tant education commissioner: "We’re going 
to have hillbillies knowing what a spread¬ 
sheet is." 

Overall. this school year's sales of compu¬ 
ters for education have totaled more than 
*250 million, with Apple winning at least 55% 
of the market, estimates Talmis Inc., a New 
York market-research concern. According to 
InfoCorp. another market-research concern. 
Apple depends on schools and colleges for 
about 20% of its *1.5 billion in annual re¬ 

Many schools are led to Apple because 
they are encouraged by the Apple II’s eight- 
year history and they like Apple's national 
service and pricing policies for school cus- . 

tomers. ' , J 

The brand of computer used doesnt 
necessarily bear any relationship to the en¬ 
thusiasm engendered. "Computers are bet¬ 
ter than TV," says Josh Dailey, a thirdgrad- 
er at Northeast Elementary School in Dan- ; 

ffis mother Connie also thinks a computer 
is good for youngsters. “It can reinforce 
something they don't understand — it must 
help the teacher a lot," she says. "And it 
helps kids to go ahead." 

Teachers say computers help pique stu¬ 
dents’ interest in schoolwork. But while the 
machines are supposed toencourage creativ¬ 
ity, this is difficult to measure and at most 
schools computers are too new to have helped 
test scores or grades. 

“I don’t think it makes a difference” in 
grades, says Carla Macaluso, an eighth- j 
grader at Totowa. New Jersey. Memorial | 
School. who uses the school’s new computer 
lab for English composition. 

.Installing computers produces headaches 
for schools at the most basic level. Wiring 
five schools to accept an IBM donation of 
*400,000 in computers cost Philadelphia 
*19,000. Dust-free boards to replace black¬ 
boards are an expense that many schools for¬ 
go — at peril to the circuitry inside their new 
machines. Then there is the problem of 

At Philadelphia's William Penn High 
School, doors and windows to the computer 
classrooms are barred, and a special alarm 
system protects the equipment. Neverthe- 
less. two recently purchased Macintoshes re¬ 
main locked in administrators’ offices. , 
‘They’re too small” to put in a classroom, 
says Principal Harris, who calls the Apple 
bicycle-type lock “too easy to clip." 

Programming and Processing 

Still, the main problem is how to use the 
amputers. Despite weighty opinion against 
hem. the required literacy courses seem 
veil-entrenched. (Both the Russians and the 
French, incidentally, recently embarked on 
lational efforts to foster computer literacy.) 

And most educators think that computer 
programming is fine as a high-school elec¬ 
tive. But attempts to teach elementary- 
school pupils to program with a simple com¬ 
puter language called Logo haven’t produced 
all the hoped-for benefits of sharpening logic— 
and problem-solving. Part of the problem 
may lie with teachers' lack of experience 
with Logo. __ . _ ..." 

word processing. Scholastic Inc. says 70% of 
U.S. schools use its classroom edition of Bank 
Street Writer, a word-processing program 
developed with New York’s Bank Street Col¬ 
lege of Education. 

Carolyn Zadoyko. a language-arts 
teacher at New Jersey's Totowa Memorial 
School, asks students to write Poe-inspired 
horror stories using the Bank Street prog¬ 
ram, which she says makes it easier for stu¬ 
dents to revise work. 

At Falmouth Academy in Falmouth, Mas¬ 
sachusetts, headmaster Bruce Buxton is 
skeptical about the role of computers in other 
classes but calls word processing "an impor¬ 
tant advance. As a teacher, 1 found it difficult 
to convince students that the essence of writ¬ 
ing was in the rewriting, the word processor 
really makes that process more like play.” 

Schools have found other uses for their 
machines. At San Francisco’s Woodrow Wil¬ 
son High School, where immigrant students 
speak 17 different languages, computers drill 
students in English. 



software'* 5 

like tea 

Technical straps to wrist 

\17HAT is claimed to be the world’s 

yy smallest computer terminal is shortly 
to go on sale in Britain. The Japanese elec- 
jtronics firm Seiko has produced a wrist- 
watch that can also be connected to a 

The watch, not much bigger than normal 
digital watches, is equipped with a 
RS232 plug and lead which can be coupled 
to a variety of personal computers. 

The device, which Seiko calls the 
RC1000, has a small keyboard with keys 
that control the watch and its associated 
display. There are no keys for entering data 
into the watch, which is why this is done on 
i personal computer. Seiko supplies soft¬ 
ware on disk or cassette which can be used 
to download data to the tiny terminal. 

The snag is that, so far, the watch can be 
programmed only to sound alarms, store 
small reminders about appointments and 
display the time in different parts of the 

The watch face consists of two 
12-character display lines on which the 
messages appear. Every time the alarm 
rings, the appropriate message is flashed 
onto the screen. The watch’s wearer can 
also browse through memos, phone 
numbers, and so on, stored in its memory. 

An enthusiastic owner can write up to 80 
messages on a personal computer, and load 
them into the watch. 

The watch costs £119 and comes with its 
own disk containing the program for writ¬ 
ing messages. 

It remains to be seen who will buy the 
gadget—makers of ordinary portable 
computers admit privately that their 
machines are still waiting for a market. □ 


TWO Japanese companies 
have developed a system to 
sell software as though It 
were a product in a vending 
machine. Brother Industries 
and Intec are beginning trials 
of a personal computer vend¬ 
ing system in Japan this week. 

The machine Is linked to 
Inlec’s nationwide value ad¬ 
ded network called Ace Tele¬ 
net. This network provides 
computer data and Informa¬ 
tion over telephone lines. The 
host computer at Intec’s head¬ 
quarters will store various 
types of personal computer 
software including games. 

A customer chooses the 
software he wants while 
watching the display. Just as 
in a drinks vending machine, 
the customer places a coin, 
hut also a floppy disk or mag¬ 
netic tape Into the machine. 
The software will automatic¬ 
ally he recorded on the disk 
or tape. 

About 60 types of software 
mainly of the games variety, 
will be available through the 
vending machines which will 
be installed in the showrooms 
of Brother Industries in 
Tokyo and Nagoya. Later 
major software dealers are 
expected to have machines In 
their shops. Brother Indus¬ 
tries estimate that the mar¬ 
ket for the machines will be 
about 1.000 spread throughout 
book stores, record shops and 
supermarkets In Japan. 

Preventing piracy FT 

Coded memory chips ^ 

INTEL believes that it has come 
up with a device which will 
deter the most enthusiastic 
hacker—someone who likes to 
break computer codes to gain 
access to information. 

It has developed an erasable 
programmable read only 
memory called keprora which 
prevents unauthorised copying 
of software stored on read only 

The system designer can set 
up two codes, or keys, which 
have to match before the 

memory will give up Its In 
mation. Intel says that its < 
has 18 quintillion possible 1 
which even using a comp 
to try all possible combinai 
would take 45bn years. 

The device can be plui 
into the same sockets as i 
dard 128q eproms and has 
access time of 250ns. It is n 
in the companies n-mos sii 
gate process technologies 
will sell for a price of *45 i 
for quantities of 10,000 u 
More details from Intel 
Swindon on 0793 696000. 


BoK Puts Computers 
in Their Place 

The arrival of personal computers in 
the office, at home, and on college 
campuses has been heralded as a 
wave of new technology that will 
transform not only the way people 
work but also the way they leam and 

Harvard University’s Derek Bok has 
a different idea. In his annual report to 
the Harvard Board of Overseers, Bok 
challenged exaggerated claims for 
computer technology. With reference 
to computers on campus, he quoted 
Richard Clark, a leader in evaluating 
the effects of educational technology 

Derek Bok 

as saying, "The best current evidence 
i is that media are mere vehicles that 
j deliver instruction but do not influence 
student achievement any more than 
the truck that delivers our groceries 
causes changes in our nutrition.” 

In a reference to historical technolo¬ 
gy hype, Bok went back to Edison. 
“Thomas Edison was clearly wrong in 
declaring that the phonograph would 
revolutionize education. Radio could 
not make a lasting impact on the 
public schools even though founda¬ 
tions gave generous subsidies to 
bring programs into the classroom. 
Television met a similar fate in spite of 
glowing predictions heralding its pow- 
; er to improve teaching." 

Bok gave some ground when he 
said computers on campus do hold 
promise of inspiring “work and 
thought about teaching methods and 
the process by which human beings 
team.” Computer assisted instruction, 
he noted, is often most effective when 

- Briefing 

it consists of carefully worked out 
teaching programs that may require 
as many as 200 hours to write, tt may 
be, he suggested, that more effort is 
devoted to such efforts than to ordi¬ 
nary teaching preparation. "As more 
people begin to use technology for 
educational purposes, they are bound 
to think more carefully about the best 
ways to help students absorb new 
knowledge and master new intellectu¬ 
al skills,” he said. “One simply cannot 
produce good software for teaching 
without paying close attention to 
the details of how best to present 
the material to enhance teaming and 
sustain student interest. This is 
not characteristic of traditional instruc¬ 

However, Bok also said that com¬ 
puters can be seen as limiting stu¬ 
dents’ imaginations because comput¬ 
erized instruction often restricts them 
to a set of responses that appear on 
the monitor. Citing law, business, 
medicine and other sciences as ex¬ 
amples of disciplines in which com¬ 
puterized teaching could be useful in 
carefully chosen cases; he spoke 
dearly of limits. "With all its powers, 
the computer cannot contribute much 
to the teaming of open-ended sub¬ 
jects ike moral philosophy, religion, 
historical interpretation, literary criti¬ 
cism, or social theory—fields of- 
knowtedge that cannot be reduced to 
formal rules and procedures.” 

"Humanistic teaming has suffered 
enough from ill-considered efforts to 
ape the sdentists by concentrating on 
what is quantifiable, verifiable, and 
value free,” he observed. “Do we not 
have a foretaste of things to come in 
the eagerness with which dassitists 
fall upon computers for the analysis of 
ancient texts and the glee with which 
music instructors talk about teaching 
composition by machine?” 

AD in all, Bok, no starry-eyed con¬ 
vert to the myth that computers relieve 
one of the need to think, believes that 
one great benefit of computers to aca¬ 
deme may be that they stimulate 
thinking about education. “It is embar¬ 
rassing that professors, who spend so 
much time evaluating and criticizing 
other institutions, devote so little effort 
to finding ways to improve their own 
methods of instruction-If technol¬ 

ogy can help in encouraging such an 
effort, that is reason enough to wel¬ 
come its appearance.” 

—Barbara J. Culuton 


ATARI 1050 . 

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THE MAKERS of video and 
audio tapes last week launched 
their campaign against the 
government’s plan to introduce a 
levy on the sale price of blank 
tapes, the proceeds of which 
wonld be distributed to film and 
music copyright holders. A 
green paper advocates a 10% 
levy on audio tapes, and 5% on 
video tapes, writes George Perry. 

“It's like the government 
adding £50 to the price of nil 
cars sold to allow for offences 
that the owners might commit," 
says Christopher Hobbs, chair¬ 
man of the Tape Manufacturers 
Group. “This is an unpre¬ 
cedented form of taxation." 

As far as audio tapes are 
concerned, the makers dispute 
the figures put forward by the 
recording industry in its lobby¬ 
ing for the levy. The industry, 
for instance, claims that only 
. 50*. of audio tapes are used by 
tapers to record from records 
they already own: the TMG 
says the accurate figure is 70%. 

As for video, the tape makers 
say that less than 1% of tapes 
bought are ever viewed more 
than once. Most people use 
; their video tapes for "time-shift- 
. mg" - recording programmes to 
i watch at their convenience. 

; "Why should people who 
; have already paid for a record - 
t or the right to receive TV 
r programmes - have to pay for a 
: second time via levies, even 
\ though the act of copying has 
: not deprived anyone of a sale?" 
asks Hobbs. 


or fundable. Four indendent sound 
BASIC, Player/Missile 
RranhicsFu 11 s ,roke keyboard, 100*/. 
Software compatibility W/6SXE & 800XL. 




iviaii-uraer Bargains 
Are for Careful Buvei 



M AIL-ORDER advertise¬ 
ments, the sort usually 
found in the back of com¬ 
puter magazines, occa¬ 
sionally offer great bargains for 
everything from disk drives and 
printers to entire computer systems. 
With a copy of the mail order price 
list in hand, a potential customer goes 
into the local computer store to hag- 

The computer store manager 
smiles a lot and has a smooth sues 
pitch but will not budge on price. The 
agonizing begins. 

The daring hall of consciousness, 
die same one that has been nagging to 
buy the flashy 512K Macintosh in¬ 
stead of the drab but sensible little 
Commodore, urges: “Go ahead. Bub, 
save some dough and buy through the 
mail-order house. They could afford a 
big ad, so tots of people must be buy¬ 
ing from diem. Besides, it’s the same 
equipment as the corner store sells, 
and what can go wrong with a Ber¬ 
noulli Box sent through the mail as 
tong as it’s marked‘Fragile'? And be¬ 
sides, if it doesn’t work, either send it 
back or sue their shirts off. You can 
go to Atlantic City with the money 
you’ll save." 

The timid half, the one that has 
been thinking about shaving the cat to 
prevent it from shedding little hairs 
into the new disk drive, recoils in hor¬ 
ror: "But what if the mail order 
house is unscrupulous and tries to 
hoodwink us by sending defective or 
second-rate merchandise? What then 
shall we do? The extra money pays 
-for the warranty and the peace of 
mind of dealing with someone in the 
neighborhood, no matter how odious 
and urarictous be may be.” 

In the early days of home comput¬ 
ing, buying by mail was often the only 
choice. Many young companies took 
out ads, took in payments, and took 
. advantage of the expected mail order 
delays to establish cash flow. Now, 
however, local stores are competing 
with no-frills, high-volume mail-or¬ 
der discounters. Each avenue has ad¬ 
vantages and disadvantages. 


The advantage of shopping in the 
neighborhood is a sates staff that is 
supposedly fluent in plain English 
and eager to help with any problems 
that arise after the sale, and a service 
department that will lovingly and 
quickly repair any malfunction that 
surfaces in the 904ay warranty peri¬ 
od. The disadvantage is that the con¬ 
sumer pays a premium for these 
amenities, and that the friendly at¬ 
mosphere sometimes evaporates 10 
seconds after the buyer hands over 
the final payment. Sometimes, too, 
the local repair shop has a two-week 
backlog and no loaner models. 

The advantage of shopping by mail 
is lower cost, a result of lower over¬ 
head. The disadvantage is the uncer¬ 
tainty of dealing with someone hun¬ 
dreds or thousands of miles away. 

But there are many reputable mail 
order houses that offer good support 
as well as good bargains. Here are 
some points to consider. 

Figure out how much it would cost 
in effort as well as money to have the 
mail-order item fixed in the neighbor¬ 
hood, and weigh that against the sav¬ 
ings. Keep in mind that disk drives 
are the most common source of 
breakdqpm problems, followed by 
printers, then memory boards, then 
keyboards, so be cautious when or¬ 
dering these items. 

If the price looks too good to be 
true, beware. Compare several ad¬ 
vertisements, and do not forget to fig¬ 
ure shipping charges and taxes, if ap- 

Do not send money to a dealer who 
lists only a past office box. Also, itis 
wiser to use a credit card for pur¬ 
chases, which gives certain protec¬ 
tion in case payment must be with¬ 
held. Save records at all transactions. 

If a large purchase is being consid¬ 
ered, check with the local Better 
Business Bureau to see if there have 
been any complaints from earlier 

The vendor must ship the merchan¬ 
dise within the time promised, and no 
later than 30 days after the order. 
Otherwise the buyer is entitled to can¬ 
cel the order and ask for a refund, 
which must be received in seven days 
(or credit for the next billing cycle on' 
credit cards). 

Most problems can be resolved 

dor. If not, keep these addresses 

Complaints Division, Department 
of Consumer Affairs, 80 Lafayette 
Street, New York, N.Y. 10013. 

the Council of Better Business Bu¬ 
reaus, ISIS Wilson Boulevard, Arling¬ 
ton, Va. 22309. 

Direct Mail Marketing Association, 
Mail Order Action Line, 8 East 43rd 
Street, New York, N.Y. 10017. 

Pirates _ 

For every 11 people about to buy 
WordStar, there are nine others about 
to steal it, according to Future Com¬ 
puting Inc., a Dallas-based research 
firm/That may account for the rather 
hefty list price MicroPro has given 
the product, higher than many other 
word-processing programs in the 
same class. Honest users are paying 
for the program almost twice. 

But piracy also affects tower- 
priced software. Future Computing 
found as part of a detailed analysis of 

treads in personal computer usage in 
a variety of businesses. All in all, soft¬ 
ware piracy will cost the software in¬ 
dustry }800 ""»Hnn In tost revenue 
this year after a $600 million to6s in 
1984, the researchers found. 

Of all the programs studied, based 
on 45,000 responses, half of all soft¬ 
ware copies being used in the office 
had been made without authorization. 
As an example of large-scale piracy, 
a company will buy one copy Word¬ 
Star and mate copies for a dozen 
workers in the secretarial pooLtn- 
stead of paying MicroPro for a dozen 

The 50 percent figure may be high¬ 
er, considering that some employees 
have been known to bootleg a copy for 
use on the home computer. 

The study found that piracy of 
word-processing programs (55 per¬ 
cent authorized in contrast to 45 per¬ 
cent unauthorized) was less man 
piracy of data base programs and 
spreadsheet and accounting pro¬ 
grams (48 percent authorized and 52 
patent pirated). 

T>IONEER of Japan has beaten Philips to 
jL the marketplace with a videodisc 
player which incorporates a tiny solid-state 
laser diode. The Pioneer player, which costs 
£500, will also interface directly withan 
MSX format computer costing £300. this 
means that a fuily-interactive videodisc 
system will cost less than £1000. 

All optical videodisc players currently on 
sale in Europe use a helium-neon gas laser, 
producing 1-5 milliwatts of power at a 
wavelength of 0-63 micrometres. The large 
size of the gas laser-tube makes it impos¬ 
sible to make a small player, because it has 
proved impractical to produce solid-state 
lasers, with such a short wavelength. A laser 
beam needs to have a short wavelength if it 
is to be focused accurately on the track of 
pits that contains the picture and sound 

Pioneer steals a inarch on Philips 

information. If the beam is not sharply 
focused, it will read more than one track of 
pits at the same time, and there will be 
double images on screen or random, snowy 
noise over the picture. 

The new Pioneer player, has a gallium 
arsenide laser, operating at 0-78 micro¬ 
metres, but consumes twice the light power 
and incorporates more precise servo 
control for the beam focus. This con¬ 
tinually alters the laser lens setting to keep 
the spot as small as possible and tightly 
centred on the track of pits it is reading. 

Pioneer claims it has fine-tuned the servo 
focus so that results on screen from the 
diode laser are as clear as from a gas laser of 
shorter wavelength. 

The player has an 8-pin socket on the 
rear which matches a similar socket on the 

MSX format home computer which 
Pioneer will start selling this summer. The 
computer can be programmed to control 
the videodisc player, and has circuits built 
in which can lock the waveform of the 
video signals coming off the disc with the 
speed of the data signals coming from the 
computer. This lock lets the system overlay 
videodisc pictures on screen with text and 
graphics that are generated by the 

computer. ., 

Pioneer will sell videodisc with computer 
data on the left-hand sound channel. This 
data is loaded into the MSX computer as 
soon as the disc starts playing, and 
programs the computer to search out 
sections of the videodisc in response 
to instructions entered through the 
keyboard. O 

The Atari 

by RAY 

S WAS found In » ditch at 
ischwltz when he was 18. He 
is a New York taxi driver at 26 
id by the time he was 36 he 
id founded Commodore one of 

mputer companies. 

Today Jack Tramiel b SS and he la 
trunc all over again, 
rramlei went broke twlea trying to 
lid ud Commodore but by 1881 the 
npany was building the world's best 
ling micro, the Commodore 84 and 
■ annual turnover was In excess of 


How Tramiel 
the survivor 

Last year he was pushed out of Com* 
xtore — making StOO million from 
t sale of hb shares — and he promp- 
bought Atari, the world's leading 
iker of games computers from War- 
r Communications for *240 million, a 
n which Warners loaned him to 

ike the deal. _ 

Last week Jack Tramle'. arrived to 
italn to mastermind A tarts attempt 
crush his British counterpa rt Sir 
Ivc Sinclair, and to drive Commodore, 
srs, Amstrad and the other home 
mputer companies to the wall. 

The public have been paying too 
ich for too long', he told me to an 
elusive Interview. ‘Companies have 
en making vast profits from personal 
mputers and I aim to make Atari 
imber one by cutting out the over- 
ads. I unnk computers should be lor 
e masses, not for the classes 
Tm going to deliver the power with- 
t th« price.* 

rramlei b a survivor. Hb family per¬ 
iod to the holocaust but Jack was put 
work building roads and ditches to 
ischwltz. When the Americans were 
proasUng the death camp be craw- 
1 Into a ditch and played dead, 
dtlng among the corpses until a 
illsh OI with a kind heart found 


mat man adopted Jack and per- 
aded the American authorities to let 
m take the boy back to the Bronx to 
sw up as part of hb family. 
Despite hb early years of t o r tur e, 
umlel has located Atari’s new Eun>* 
an headquarters to Germany and he 
squently visits the country. Hb only 
nunent on hb return to farmer Nazi 
rrltory b: T don’t live to the poet, 
live In the future. There's nothing 

rramlei b a monster — or a man 
th a heart of fold — depending on 
in Is uuiing the story. He Insists 
at hb executives believe to what be 
lb The Religion' and he b lb self- 

a host of executives to 

war on 
big names 

rapid succession while he was at 
Commodore and he had the reputation 
of firing Irrationally and for personal 
spits. Tramiel's rages to the office end 
on the factory floor became so feared 
at Commodore that executives created 
a video game to nit honour. 

In 'Jack Attack* the warrior defeats 
Hu jumping on tixiir bends 

before they can lump on hb. 

When he arrived at A tad at 130 
am. on the day he bought toe com¬ 
pany he went on a head-hunting spree, 
chopping within toe $3 billion corpora¬ 
tion without compunction. 

Within a month he had cut Atari's 
staff roll from 8,000 people to 1.500 end 
within a week he reduced the number 
of Atari buildings around the world 
from 40 to seven. 

'I love cutting out waste, he ays. 
‘And If it b people who are toe waste, 
that’s tough. If people don't do their 
best then I went put up with them. I- 
don't see why anybody should expect 
to be supported by their company if 
they are not giving their best' 

- He insists that every ctaeaue paid by 
hb company b accounted for to him 
•nrf . Bonawiiv takes om tbs 
Issuing of mil payments when the going 
geb tough. Inevitably, thb lead* to 
delay and some Atari suppliers are 
already registering concern at 
Tramiel's new financial control. 

Werners themselves are feeling toe 
chin of dealing with TramleL The first 
$0 million interest payment on toe 
purchase was due to January, but, 
Tramiel has opened re-negotiations’. 

'Business b war,’ Tramiel told me. 
Thera an two aorroache*. You can 
either bolld a great big business and 
spend s lot on marketing, or yon can 
keep things tight and teU cheap. That's 
what I'm going to do.' 

After hb enforced exit from Com¬ 
modore last veer, most of TTamlel'a 
executives now think hb elm b to beat 
hb former company into the ground 
and then buy It back for him s e l f . But, 
at 5& shouldn’t be be c onsid eri ng 
retiring with hie millions ? 


Business Is war, says Mart boss Jack Tramiel ( abovei. And he means business 

The first thing I did after leering 
Tommodorv was to take my wife round 
he world.’ explains TramleL "We had a 
lice time, but I cot bored. I don’t have 
inv hobbies — my hobby b people — 
>nd 1 was missing an the people 1 had 
lot to know in the computer business. 


T don’t think Tm too old to go beck 
Mo business at 58. I’ll never retire, 
love doing things right and I enjoyed 
etttog Atari down to a manageable 

’Now I want to give people good com- 
uters end give them things to do with 

Tm going to put the Encyclopaedia 
iritannica on to a compact disk and sell 
. lor £400. That means anyone with 
n Atari computer can have it on tap. 
m going to bring the price of oom- 
utlng right down so that people can 
uy a £3,000 business system for £800. 
The technology that allows me to 
a that is here now.* 

Atari la reeling under Tramiel’s on- 
aught. When he arrived he brought 

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hb three sons with him and he la busy 
founding a Tramiel dynasty. Close 
sources suggest that It was hb attempt 
to move hb family members Into key 
executive posts la Commodore which 
prompted toe confrontati o n and lad to 
Tramiel’s walkout. 

Tramiel's belief to hb own family Is 
a legend. A few years ago, when family 
arguments seemed to suggest that toe 
sons would not work together to toe 
planned teem. Tramiel wrote a will to 
which they were forced to work to¬ 
gether after hb death If they wanted 
to share to toe Tramiel fortune. 

1 believe to family. You have to have 
people you can trust I Uva fairly 
limply with my wife at our ranch house 
to Lake Tahoe. Nevada. I commute two 
or three times a week to toe Atari fac¬ 
tory to Sunnyvale California — I fly 
my Jet there and back. 

T have a Rolls-Royce to the garage 
but I prefer to drive my wife's Volks¬ 
wagen. I always wanted a Rolls-Royce, 
but now that I have it I don’t drive It' 

The Image of Tramiel as s dynasty- 
obsessed monster is balanced by toe 
fierce loyalty shown by those execu¬ 
tives who choose to embrace The 

When toe newx broke Oat he was 
buying toe giant Atari company from 
Warn era 80 of hb former executives at 
Commodore downed terminals and 
went to work for their old boas again. 
Thb delivered a Wow to Commodore 
from which tt has bin to recover. 

During hb tone at Commodore he 
would reward those who were faithful 
to The Religion by offering them 
shares to toe oomptny. As a result of 
thb process, he made more then 30 of 
hb faithful followers Into dollar mil¬ 


Tramiel’s move had sent shudders 
through the home computer business. 
At Commodore he had built and sold 
the world's best selling micro, Com¬ 
modore 64. And be now vows to do ths 
same thing with new Atari models. 

T have an Oriental approach to 
business.’ tosbta tot rotund multi¬ 
millionaire. 'I don’t believe to “market¬ 
ing'’. l believe to building well and sell¬ 
ing cheap — that's how toe Japanese 
have done It with their ears and that's 
bow I do It with computers. I don’t 

hire corporate executives from Pepsi 
Cote to run my business.’ 

The reference to Pepsi Cola execu¬ 
tive* b a direct swtpc at Apple, toe 
world's most successful computer com¬ 
pany other than - IBM. In Britain, 

Tramiel has staked everything an 
and Commodore market, but worldwide 
he also has hb sights set on Apple. 

Hb new machine* run a system 
called GEM a place of software which 
makes toe machines conform to e very 
similar way to to* highly successful 
Apple Macintosh, and toe new A tails 
have already been nicknamed Jackln- 

Tramiel has staked everything on 
Atari’s success—hb personal fortune 
end credibility hang to the balance 
while he fights to raise finance lor 
bis draam of building two million com¬ 
puters thb year. 

He has stuck his neck out when he 
could have retired to a life of ease, but 
whether Tramiel will finally be seen as 
a god or a monster will depend on 
whether be can deliver hb promise to 
slash toe coat of eerioua computing by 

lor any ce 
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NEC exc 
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the ACT i 
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teaks like l 

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