New Amiga Software
Welcome to the premiere of COMPUTE!'s Amiga column. For the last two years, I've been writing "Horizons," a Commodore column in COMPUTE!'s GAZETTE, and I'm very excited to be writing a new column for the Amiga. While other publications concentrate primarily on Amiga reviews and using your Amiga with commercial software, this column will have a strong bent toward programming techniques, tricks, and tips.
Nonprogrammers will find information on using the operating system (both the Workbench and AmigaDOS) to its fullest. We'll also pass along late-breaking Amiga developments.
Amiga Steals The Show
Although Commodore didn't exhibit at the recent Comdex or Winter Consumer Electronics Show, the Amiga did make a big appearance in early February at The Commodore Show II in San Francisco. This show was hosted by the West Coast Commodore Association, one of the largest Commodore user groups. Thousands of enthusiastic Commodore owners turned out to look at the latest offerings of software and hardware companies. In fact, the show was so popular that the fire marshal finally had to lock the doors to prevent the crowd from exceeding the building's occupancy limit.
About half the show was dedicated to the Amiga, and the Amiga was clearly the show-stealer. Commodore sponsored a large booth which was lent to developers for product demonstrations. This was the first time many Commodore owners got a chance to see the Amiga working with actual software instead of the same old demo programs, so there was quite a bit of interest. And more than a few people at the show were Amiga owners themselves, scouring the floor for everything they could find.
They didn't go home empty-handed. Lots of companies were displaying their latest Amiga wares. (Keep in mind that I'm writing this column in mid-February, so check with your dealer on the availability of promised titles.)
Activision wowed showgoers with The Music Studio, a complete music composition system. Using Commodore's MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) adapter, the Amiga and The Music Studio were playing a complex nine-part harmony on a keyboard synthesizer. Besides MIDI compatibility, other features of The Music Studio are a sound editor/synthesizer, standard music notation, beginner's music notation, a sound library, up to 15 instruments per song, full editing capability, a staff that scrolls during play, and the ability to print out lyrics along with the sheet music. Many of these options are accessible from pull-down menus. The suggested retail price is $59.95.
From C To Shining C
Aztec C, by Manx Software (Eaton Town, New Jersey), is a new alternative to Lattice C which supposedly compiles faster and generates smaller, faster-running code than the Lattice compiler. With its builtin libraries, Aztec C is compatible with all Amiga function calls. A new translation utility lets you translate existing Lattice source code to Aztec C. Aztec C is available in several levels, from a simple bare-bones C system for beginners who want to learn C to the fullpower Commercial System designed for developers writing commercial software.
A couple of companies were taking orders for their memory expansion boards. Skyles Electric Works (Mountain View, California) sells a 256K module that plugs into the front memory port for $149.95. Comspec Communications (Toronto, Ontario) sells a 256K board for $130 and offers two megabytes (2,048K) for $1,196. StarPoint Software (Yreka, California) sells a 256K board for $120, and it even comes with the schematics.
Two companies are introducing touch tablets for the Amiga. These flat pads let you draw with a pen to transmit screen coordinates to the Amiga. You can use the pad as a substitute for the mouse with graphics software for more natural freehand drawing and effortless tracing. Kurta Corp. (Phoenix, Arizona) sells a full line of digitizer pads, from the $375 Penmouse+ to a drafting-table size professional system. Software is included to interface the tablet with the Amiga operating system. Anakin Research (Rexdale, Ontario) has a high-resolution tablet called the EASYL with software that works in all Amiga screen modes. In 640 X 400, it's a lot like drawing with a pen on a white piece of paper. It also works with Electronic Art's Deluxe Paint. It sells for around $500.
Micro-Systems Software (Boca Raton, Florida) is selling Analyze!, a spreadsheet ($99.95), Online!, an already-popular telecommunications program ($69.95), and BBS-PC, a bulletin board system that lets anyone with an auto-answer modem set up their own BBS ($99.95). All three packages are available now.
I've seen a list of over 100 Amiga products that are promised by the first quarter of 1986. Even more projects are under development and "soon to come." As more machines sell, and as more products jell, the Amiga will escape this temporary shortage of software and expansion hardware. Every machine has had to run this gauntlet, but the Amiga may emerge as a particularly strong runner.