CES and COMDEX: A Tale Of Two Cities
Keith Ferrell, Features Editor
It happens every spring—two of the nation's biggest computer and electronics trade shows unveil all of the new hardware and software planned in the coming months for personal computers. It's an exciting panorama of machines, applications, games, add-ons, and peripherals. There was no shortage of good news in just about every area of computing, from the new Amiga 500 computer and a host of low-cost PC compatibles to a surge of software on the horizon for owners of 8-bit machines and the 16-bit Amigas, STs, and Macintoshes. This spring's shows were so strong, in fact, that some likened the present to the go-go days of 1983. The marketers and manufacturers, though, remember the dark days of 1984, and introductions are positioned to avoid any repeat of that downturn. With prices lower than ever, and capabilities greater, the remainder of 1987 promises to offer plenty of excitement no matter what computer you own.
The story of this year's Summer Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Chicago and Computer Dealers Exposition (COMDEX) in Atlanta is truly a tale of two cities, with different attendees, different markets, and different products.
CES In Chicago
For Atari, a host of PC-compatibles manufacturers, and most of the leading entertainment and educational software manufacturers, the city was Chicago. These companies represented a highly visible 15 percent of the show—and more than held their own among the flash of video cameras and recorders, compact disc players, boom boxes, telephones, and every conceivable combination of consumer-oriented circuitry. Their collective strength served to remind the more than 100,000 attendees at this largest of all U.S. trade shows that computers and software are, and will continue to be, an important segment of the home electronics market.
Software manufacturers eagerly displayed programs more powerful than ever before, with better graphics, more exciting sounds, more complex scenarios, and more detailed options. Developers of educational software adjusted to the increasing presence of MS-DOS machines in schools, while remaining committed to utilizing the potential of the Apple computers. Entertainment software developers unveiled a host of products for Commodore and IBM-compatible machines, as well as a generous sampling of games that exploit the full graphics and sound potential of the Amiga and the ST.
Atari's booth at CES was crowned by a full-size Cessna airplane and adorned with banners proclaiming the company as "Flying High." But in terms of new ST hardware and solid information on the availability of the company's delayed PC, Atari seemed to be in a temporary holding pattern. With first-quarter profits nine times those of a year ago, however, there was little doubt that Atari and ST would have a clearly defined flight path before the fourth quarter.
By contrast, manufacturers of PC compatibles made their plans quite clear. They are aiming themselves directly at every home electronics consumer in the country. MS-DOS-oriented manufacturers almost literally surrounded the software section of the show, a virtual wall of compatibles and clones, with add-ons, upgrades, and peripherals for nearly every purpose. The compatible and clone manufacturers indicated that they have picked this year—especially the fourth quarter—for the strongest drive yet made toward capturing those consumer households without computers.
COMDEX In Atlanta
Atlanta's COMDEX, which for the first time overlapped the CES schedule, focused more closely on hardware and upper-end business software. It was in Atlanta that Commodore made its stand, and it was at the company's elaborate, attention-getting display that Commodore's new management defined its commitment to the Amiga, reestablishing its aggressiveness in the compatibles marketplace as well.
The number of companies entering the PC marketplace was even more dramatic at COMDEX than at CES, with COMDEX boasting dozens of MS-DOS compatibles manufacturers. IBM was there as well, its new Personal System/2 machines on display, and its new operating system on many minds. While business software was COMDEX's primary focus, entertainment and educational programs were represented. Quite a few of the software developers and marketers who had made a showing during the first few days of CES shifted their energies southward and put in appearances at COMDEX, too.
At both shows there was a sense of an industry that has by now been through enough ups and downs to have arrived at a certain aggressive self-awareness, a canniness and instinct about the marketplace and the directions it will be taking in the months to come. Every exuberance is tempered by the understanding that although the industry's size and sales volume are growing, the number of key players—with the important exception of PC compatibles manufacturers—is not. The past year witnessed the acquisition of more than a few independent software manufacturers by larger companies, and also saw the fortunes of some of software's leading players decline.
Hardware manufacturers, too, gave the impression of gathering their forces, of regrouping for a market that may be changing. Apple, which attends neither show, saw its hold on the educational market come under increasing pressure over the past year from the rising wave of inexpensive IBM compatibles, especially Tandy's 1000EX and SX machines, in the schools.
IBM itself is busy establishing its new machines and awaiting the introduction of the new Microsoft operating system that will exploit the full potential of the new machines. For many MS-DOS compatible manufacturers, 1987 looms as a make-or-break year: Prices for compatibles have come down dramatically, but it is still too early to tell just how large a segment of the public actually wants PCs, not to mention the fact that there are far more manufacturers than retail shelf space can readily accommodate.
Determination On Display
Still, the attitude at CES and COMDEX was one of considerable optimism. Martin Davies, president of Firebird Licensees, a software manufacturer, noted that while the home computer industry is not for the faint-hearted, the market nonetheless offers unbounded opportunities. "We can do more with software than ever before," Davies said, "graphically, conceptually, and in terms of market penetration. And the consumers are there, ready to respond. For those who can get their act correct, the sky remains the absolute limit."
While the Commodore 64 continues to drive the entertainment software market, Apple and MS-DOS machines have established a permanent and growing presence to which all developers are responding. "The installed base of 64s, not to mention the fact that it's a great gaming machine, makes it the logical choice for initial development," observed Michael Harrison, communications manager for Microprose. "Once you've done a game for the 64, then it becomes a matter of adapting it for other machines and their particular capabilities." For the forthcoming IBM version of its Gunship helicopter simulation, for example, Microprose is offering hard-disk installability, as well as a boot that automatically configures the game to the clock speed of the machine on which it is being run.
While virtually all software exhibitors expressed confidence in a permanent 64 market, they were also aware of the dynamic growth of MS-DOS machines. "The price drop on the compatibles, along with the fact that most of them have some sort of color card now, means that compatibles are as serious an entertainment market as 64s," said Bob Botch, vice president at Epyx. "In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see 64 software and PC software running neck-and-neck this Christmas."
Even show attendees with no connection to the computer industry could be found staring wide-eyed at the dazzling graphics of the Amiga and the ST. From entertainment software to digitized images to word processing, the demos running on these computers were vivid proof of the astonishing feats of which personal computers are now capable. Nearly every software developer present announced Amiga and ST packages, some created for those machines alone. Commodore's renewed commitment to the Amiga, and especially to the Amiga 500, means that the number of programs for those machines will continue to grow.
While the Commodore 64 continues to drive the entertainment software market, Apple and MS-DOS machines have established a permanent and growing presence to which all developers are responding.
Familiar Faces Made Fresh
For the most part, entertainment software manufacturers and designers introduced enhancements and refinements of existing and established game categories. It was as if they had decided in concert to wring every refinement possible out of their currently popular software before creating new categories. Flight and air-combat simulators, auto-racing programs, sports and martial-arts games, strategic battle recreations, text adventures, and arcade action offered higher resolution, higher impact graphics, smoother animation, a larger number of more detailed screens, longer and more complex parsers and narrative scenarios, as well as levels of complexity that could challenge and engage the most experienced gamers.
Educational software developers applied equal energy to their new generation of programs. Much of the school-oriented software took traditional approaches to tutorial material, with bowling games, rocket ships, and other arcade-style rewards for successful spelling, calculation, or other academic accomplishment. The software, though, demonstrated the same increasingly effective and smooth animation, as well as taking advantage of pulldown menus and windows.
The growth in school-system purchases of MS-DOS systems has not gone unnoticed by educational developers. Jan Davidson, president of Davidson & Associates, an educational software company, estimated that MS-DOS versions would account for as much as 40 percent of her company's sales this year. "There's no question that MS-DOS is taking a larger and larger share of the educational software market," Davidson stated. "But Apple remains the most popular classroom computer, and it would be a mistake to underestimate the educational future of Apple machines."
Desktop publishing programs continued to be introduced by developers, with packages whose capabilities put Macintosh-like publishing programs in the reach of virtually all computer owners. The Commodore 64 was the focus of much desktop publishing development, with PrintMagic from Epyx, GeoPublisher from Berkeley, and The Timeworks Desktop Publisher from Timeworks all being introduced at CES.
Commodore's Push At COMDEX
Little more than a month after going through a major corporate reorganization, Commodore made clear at COMDEX its intentions to move the new Amiga 500 and 2000 computers aggressively into home and business markets, respectively.
Commodore decided against exhibiting at CES this year, but made an impressive showing at COMDEX with a large booth displaying all three Amigas: the original 1000 and the two new versions. Within the exhibit space, two dozen software companies showed their latest products for the Amiga, including a wealth of new audio, video, entertainment, and applications programs.
Not only were there a host of new products for the Amigas at the booth, but the amazing audio and visual capabilities of these machines drew show-goers like a magnet. Color video digitizers, color paint programs, television video production software, MIDI sound studio programs, desktop publishing packages, and other programs effectively showed off the Amiga's graphics and sound powers. And of equal importance, serious application programs such as the Word-Perfect and ProWrite word processors were also on display.
On another front, so successful have the Commodore 64 and 128 computers been that the company no longer feels any urgency to display those computers at trade shows. Company officials noted that the 64 has now reached the seven million mark in sales over the past five years. The 128 also continues to sell well, with more than a million machines purchased by consumers. As noted below, there's still plenty of new software planned for the 64 and 128.
However, Commodore clearly sees the Amiga family of machines as the cornerstone of the company's future. The Amiga 500 and 2000 computers have reportedly been selling well in Europe for several months, and Commodore arrived at COMDEX with 500s ready to ship throughout the U.S. and Canada.
The 500 and 2000 are Commodore's response to those who complained that the original Amiga 1000 was priced too high for the home market and was too limited in features for a high-end business machine.
Homeward Bound Amiga
Commodore officials hope that the Amiga 500, priced at $699 without monitor, will sell into the home market the same way that the Commodore 64 and 128 have. The A500 comes with 512K of memory that can be expanded to one megabyte by the user with an optional expansion card, a built-in 880K, 3½-inch floppy disk drive, an expanded keyboard with separate cursor and numeric keypads, the Kickstart 1.2 operating system built into ROM instead of on disk, and a 35-watt power supply.
Commodore's new Amiga 500 computer, priced at $699 without monitor, is aimed directly at the home computer user.
The new 500 and the earlier 1000 have the same stereo audio outputs, system expansion bus, RGB and composite video outputs, and two joystick/mouse ports. One of the differences between the Amiga 500 and the 1000, however, is that the genders of the RS232 serial port and Centronics-standard parallel port were swapped, which enables the 500 to work with IBM PC modem and printer cables.
"With the acclaimed Amiga performance and the price point of $699, the A500 will aggressively drive the home market segment," says Alfred Duncan, Commodore's new general manager.
The Powerful 2000
The 2000, an expandable Amiga with slots for both Amiga and IBM cards, is scheduled for release in the U.S. in late summer. Priced at just under $2,000 without a monitor, the Amiga 2000 is a high-end computer system which Commodore will direct toward traditional business markets and emerging computer markets such as desktop publishing, advertising, video and film production, and other fields requiring a cost-effective and versatile computer video system.
The one-megabyte Amiga 2000 can be expanded to nine megabytes of memory, and with the addition of an optional Bridge-board, it becomes IBM compatible. The system has seven expansion slots configured as either Amiga or standard IBM XT slots, a built-in 880K, 3½-inch floppy disk drive, three drive ports, a video expansion slot, and a 200-watt power supply. The front section of the system box has space for one additional half-height PC-compatible 5¼-inch disk drive and two 3½-inch drives. The user can configure the drive options in any variety of floppy and hard drives desired.
All three Amiga versions use the same Motorola 68000 microprocessor running at 7.16 MHz, have the same four screen resolutions ranging from 320×200 to 640×400, and the same custom sound chip, custom animation chip, multitasking operating system, custom graphics chip, and two-button mouse. And, they're all compatible with one another. (For more details, see the March and April issues of COMPUTE!.)
Commodore officials believe that over the next several years the Amiga 2000 will be used in a variety of new ways as other business markets begin to use computers more often and more effectively. "Amiga's outstanding graphics make it an ideal machine for PCCAD [Computer-Aided Design] and other desktop design applications," says Duncan. "This is a huge market that will increasingly shift to smaller systems in the next five years."
As noted in last month's "Editor's Notes," Commodore went through a corporate reorganization in April that removed Chief Executive Officer Thomas Rattigan and a number of senior managers on his staff. The new team in U.S. operations, led by Alfred Duncan and General Sales Manager Richard McIntyre, is moving swiftly to accomplish the mandate set out by long-time Commodore International Chairman Irving Gould: Increase U.S. sales of the Amiga to the level already being achieved in Europe.
Going To Market
To help accomplish that goal, Commodore is in the process of revamping its sales strategy by beginning direct sales to independent computer retailers. At a COMDEX press breakfast, Alfred Duncan announced the plan, which is aimed at giving the Amiga computers greater visibility. Diminished emphasis will be placed on Commodore's traditional distributor-based sales.
"We looked long and hard at the way the three most successful computer companies were doing business and knew it was time to make a change," says Duncan. "It's clear that the best way to sell computers is the most direct—and that's the approach we're taking."
The emergence of the new Amiga 500 and 2000, along with Commodore's announced aggressiveness in the sales area, is good news to Amiga fans. In the home market, especially, the many software companies that have supported the Amiga from the outset have been waiting eagerly for the 500 to begin selling in the U.S. The new machines will also mean that more software publishers will move toward the Amiga as the installed base of users grows.
Atari: The Road Not Taken
Atari was perhaps the company hit hardest by the overlapping CES and COMDEX trade shows. CES is heavily consumer-oriented, and COMDEX is predominantly business-oriented. Since Atari aims at both markets with its videogames, home computers, ST series, and PC clones, it wanted to exhibit at both shows. Unfortunately, the company couldn't split its resources and opted for CES instead of COMDEX—just the opposite of Commodore.
As a result, Atari scored big at CES with its videogame machines and cartridges. But the long-awaited Mega STs were nowhere to be seen, and Atari announced no firm release dates or prices for them. The same applies to the laser printer, a key component of the ST desktop publishing system unveiled at the Winter CES in January.
Another product announced in January—the Atari PC clone—sat by itself in a corner at Summer CES, almost escaping attention. Again, Atari announced no release date. And at COMDEX, the absence of an Atari exhibit rendered Atari almost invisible at the show. The only refuge from the MS-DOS chaos seemed to be the Commodore exhibit, which was packed with dazzling Amiga software and fascinated onlookers.
Sig Hartmann, Atari's vice president of software, expressed some regret over Atari's absence during his short tour of COMDEX. "We'll be here in November [at the Fall COMDEX in Las Vegas]," he promised.
Meanwhile, back in Chicago at CES, Atari's videogame strategy racked up a lot of points with mass merchandisers. Apparently a new generation of youngsters has sparked a resurgence in videogame machines, and Atari just happens to be sitting on a gold mine of game cartridges and proven videogame hardware.
There's an old saying that goes, "If life gives you a lemon, make lemonade." The lemon, in this case, is the Atari 65XE, at $89.95 the lowest-priced eight-bit home computer remaining in the U.S. market. Despite the fact that the 65XE is an enhanced 64K version of the respectable Atari 800 that sold for $1,100 just six years ago, it isn't selling as well as Atari thinks it should. (At least, not in the U.S.—Atari says that foreign sales are healthier.) According to Atari, U.S. retailers complain that they can't sell low-end home computers anymore. Everyone wants either a higher-end personal computer or a videogame machine.
So Atari is making lemonade. After a cautious taste-test at the Winter CES in January, Atari showed up this time with a fullblown XE videogame system. Atari took a 65XE computer, detached the keyboard, redesigned the case with colorful pastel pushbuttons and a top-mounted cartridge slot, tossed in a matching joystick and gun controller, and bundled the whole package with three cartridges: SubLogic's Flight Simulator II, the classic Missile Command, and Blast 'Em, a new shoot-'em-up.
It's still a computer—when you plug in the keyboard (included) and a disk drive (not included), you're back to a regular 65XE, fully compatible with all Atari eight-bit programs and peripherals. But it doesn't look like a computer, and apparently that makes a big difference to mass merchandisers. At CES they went crazy over the machine. The suggested retail price, incidentally, is $150.
To make certain that plenty of games are available, Atari is unearthing old classics and even buying up rights to long-deceased games by other companies (and at bargain rates, we hear). Old games which were available only on disk are being converted into cartridges, thanks to a recent innovation that makes it possible for Atari to squeeze up to 128K of data into what was originally designed to be an 8K cartridge.
The XE videogame system is yet another ironic twist in the evolution of the home computer. Was it only five years ago that everyone suddenly wanted a real computer instead of a videogame machine?
A New Disk Drive
Also on the eight-bit front, Atari introduced a new disk drive that's compatible with the XE, XL, and 400/800 computers—but it's not the 3½-inch drive that everyone was expecting. Instead, it's a faster, higher-capacity 5¼-inch drive.
Atari says the XF 551 is rated 50 percent faster than the current 1050 drive and can handle three disk formats: Atari single density (88K formatted), Atari dual density (127K formatted), and true double density (360K formatted). The XF 551 will come with a new disk operating system, ADOS, which adds such features as time/date-stamping and subdirectories. Atari announced no firm release date or price, but said the XF 551 would cost roughly the same as a 1050.
The 3½-inch drive for the eight-bit computers, which has been rumored for two years, seems doomed to oblivion. An Atari spokesman said that when Atari approached software publishers with the idea, only one company expressed interest in reissuing its programs on microfloppies. That made the 3½-inch drive a moot point.
Birth Of A Salesman
Atari's only significant ST-related announcement at Summer CES was that a major advertising campaign is scheduled to begin by September and continue through December. One of Atari's prime goals for 1987 is to boost U.S. sales of the ST, and that means widening distribution and increasing visibility.
Atari says it is quadrupling its advertising and promotional budgets for both the computer and videogame lines. Seven TV commercials have been prepared for network broadcast this fall—four for the ST series, two for the XE videogame system, and one for the 7800 videogame machine. Radio commercials are scheduled to air on top-40 stations, and magazine advertisements will run in consumer and computer publications. Atari is also planning to advertise its videogame machines in comic books for the first time.
TV screens at the Atari booth were continuously showing previews of ST commercials. They are reminiscent of the aggressive spots that Atari Chairman Jack Tramiel successfully used to promote the Commodore 64 during the early 1980s when he was in charge of Commodore. In one spot, Tramiel's personal business philosophy—"Business is war"—fills the screen with huge letters as the unseen narrator compares the 1040ST to the IBM PC AT and Apple Macintosh.
All four commercials emphasize that the 1040ST comes with twice as much memory as a Macintosh and four times as much as a PCAT, yet at only one-half or one-fourth the price. One satirical scene shows the "extra features" that, according to Atari, account for the higher price of a Mac or AT—the Apple and IBM logos. Another spot attributes the success of the Macintosh and AT to the marketing prowess of Apple and IBM rather than to the computers themselves. All four commercials end with a rapid-fire sequence of typical Atari ST color screens.
MS-DOS On The March
While Atari put on its show in Chicago, and Commodore took its act to Atlanta, PC compatibles manufacturers were everywhere.
Whether for home office, the workplace, or consumer entertainment, MS-DOS machine manufacturers perceive a solid price-driven commodity market for their products. Concerns about the effect of trade restrictions on imported chips did not dim manufacturer enthusiasm for 8088 and 8086 machines, whose inventories are already high and whose prices are little affected by the restrictions. Intel's 80386 is the chip most directly affected by the restrictions, with most 386 machine manufacturers facing back orders and delivery slowdowns as a result of trade legislation.
The broad consumer market for PCs. is 8088- and 8086-driven anyway, and there is a large supply of those machines on-hand and ready for retail shelves. And most manufacturers feel the consumers are ready to empty those shelves during the third and, especially, the fourth quarters of this year. With machines and marketing poised at the starting line for these two crucial quarters, manufacturers are getting ready to deal.
Confidence in Consumers
Perhaps confident that consumers are already well aware of their MS-DOS machines through the Radio Shack retail network and aggressive television and print and campaigns, Tandy skipped CES altogether, and at COMDEX it concentrated its energies on the workstations with which it hopes to woo the business market. Both PC- and AT-level workstations were on display in Atlanta, as well as the company's Tandy/3 networking hardware.
Other manufacturers expressed similar confidence in the market, but were less sanguine about presenting their wares.
"Consumers know what PCs are by now," said John Rossi, president of Blue Chip, "and they're increasingly comfortable with the idea that someday, soon, they're going to have one. We've put together a package that gives us room to be aggressive, and we're going to be." With a new advertising campaign, and an increasing name recognition, Blue Chip, Rossi believes, could achieve sales of 30,000 to 50,000 units between now and the end of the year.
One of the marketing tools Blue Chip will be using to pursue those sales is its Ready-to-Go! kit, a package of applications software, demos, publications, and coupons redeemable for savings on products and services. The package is intended as an add-on sale at point-of-purchase, with a suggested retail of $49.95, although Rossi pointed out that some retailers may choose to be flexible on the price. "We can also shift the contents of the kit to suit seasonal needs such as Christmas, tax time, or SAT time," Rossi said.
PC Popular, Blue Chip's flagship PC, offers a dual-speed 8088 processor, 512K RAM (expandable to 640K), a mouse, a single 5¼-inch 360K disk drive with controller for a second disk drive, two expansion slots, MS-DOS 3.2, and GW BASIC; monitors, mass storage devices, and other add-ons are available as options. Rossi noted that the full retail price for the PC Popular is $549, but added that, as with Ready-to-Go!, Blue Chip has left generous margins for the retailers to manipulate.
Rossi described as "unfounded" recent trade press rumors of difficulties with Hyundai, the Korean conglomerate which serves as Blue Chip's manufacturer and is also providing machines. "Blue Chip is a recognized name in the industry," Rossi said, "and it's the Blue Chip computer that consumers will shop for."
In Atlanta, Hyundai Electronics introduced a compatible under its own name. The Hyundai Super-16 uses an 8088 chip and processes at 4.77 MHz, with 256K RAM, a single 360K disk drive, MS-DOS 3.2 and GW BASIC, six expansion slots, and a monochrome graphics controller. Options include RAM expansion on the motherboard, color and monochrome monitors, mass storage devices and controllers. Hyundai Electronics also announced two 80286 units, each processing at 8 or 10 MHz, with 512K on the motherboard (expandable to one megabyte). Because Hyundai will be selling the machines only to distributors, no prices were announced.
Introduced at COMDEX, Cordata's IBM compatible WPC offers an 8088-2 processor capable of running at either 4.77 or 8 MHz, both CGA and AT & T 6300 graphics support, 512K RAM (expandable to 768K), four expansion slots, two 360K disk drives, and a built-in, tilting monochrome monitor. The WPC is priced at $1,095.
Also showing at COMDEX was Zenith's redesigned eaZy PC, a one-piece system that uses 3½-inch disks. The computer's 8088-compatible processor runs at 7.16 MHz, and the machine is available in three configurations: Model 1, with a 720K disk drive, priced at $999; Model 2, with two 720K disk drives, for $1,199; and Model 3, which has one disk drive and a 20-megabyte (MB) hard disk, for $1,699.
More Machines For First-Timers
England's Amstrad was very much a presence at CES and COMDEX, showing off the PC compatible that has achieved much success overseas. Marketed in this country by Video, the Amstrad PC 1512 comes with an 8 MHz 8086 processor, 512K RAM (expandable to 640K), three expansion slots, MS-DOS 3.2, Digital Research's DOS Plus, Digital Research's Graphics Environment Manager (GEM), GEM Desktop and Paint applications programs, a mouse, and a monitor whose housing contains the power supply for the computer, helping to achieve both a small footprint and an "all-in-one-box" market profile.
With a single 360K 5¼-inch disk drive and monochrome monitor, the 1512 is priced at $799; with dual drive the price is $1,099. Color monitor configurations are priced at $1,099 for single disk drive, $1,299 for dual disk drive. Configured with a 20MB hard disk, Amstrad is marketing machines at $1,499 for monochrome, and $1,699 for color.
At COMDEX, Amstrad also announced an EGA machine, the PC 1640, with prices beginning at $899 for single disk drive and mono monitor, up to $1,999 for a hard-disk enhanced version. Aware of the peripherals market that accompanies PC sales, Amstrad announced two dot-matrix printers with full PC compatibility.
Wally Amstutz, vice president of marketing for Amstrad in the U.S., projects third- and fourth-quarter sales approaching 50,000 units for the company's machines. "We found in England," Amstutz stated, "that Amstrad can quickly carve out as much as a 25 percent share of the PC market before beginning to reduce the sales of other companies—in other words, we're tapping a market that hasn't previously bought computers, as well as providing a new alternative for existing computer users."
Toshiba announced two new laptop computers, the T1000 and the T1200. The T1000 weighs 6.4 lbs., and has a single 3½-inch 720K disk drive, 512K RAM, and MS-DOS 2.11 in ROM, as well as a 25-line LCD screen. With shipment anticipated for July, the T1000 is priced at $1,999.
Also debuting at COMDEX was the company's T1200, a 10.8 lb. laptop with a built-in 20MB hard disk, a 3½-inch 720K disk drive, 1MB RAM, with a 80C86 processor that delivers clock speeds of 9.54 and 4.77 MHz. In addition to MS-DOS 3.2, Toshiba is bundling Borland's Sidekick with each T1200. Price and delivery of the new machine are to be announced later.
Epson America was present at both shows, introducing its Apex PC compatible. The Apex is 8088-based, offering 512K on the mother-board (expandable to 640K), three expansion slots, two 360K 5¼-inch disk drives, MS-DOS 3.2, and GW BASIC 3.2. The Apex is being marketed at a suggested retail list of $899. Monitors, mass storage devices, printers, and modems are available from Epson as options.
Netherlands-based Vendex International took advantage of the Chicago CES to unveil its PC compatible, the Turbo-888-XT. Marketed in this country by Vendex Pacific, the Samsung-manufactured basic model Turbo-888-XT includes a monitor in all configurations, is built around Intel's 8088-2 processor, and runs at either 4.77 or 8 MHz. It has two 360K 5¼-inch disk drives; 512K RAM (expandable to 768K); a graphics card capable of monochrome, Hercules, or color graphics configuration; an external color/mono switch; a full-size At-style keyboard; RAM-resident utilities software including menudriven DOS; an interactive tutorial program called Headstart for the first-time computer user; and applications software that includes word processing, RAM-resident pop-up desktop functions, a spreadsheet, and a database program. The Vendex system is packaged with over $1,000 worth of software, service, and add-ons coupons.
"We feel that we're the first of the compatibles manufacturers to come into the American market with the resources to mount a huge, ongoing marketing campaign," noted Alex Weiss, the company's product manager. "Our parent corporation is an over-$9 billion group that has already achieved substantial success with computers in foreign markets."
Weiss believes that Vendex's interactive tutorial approach, along with the bundled software including Executive Writer and Executive Filer from Paperback Software, will find strong response from consumers. "Because we've taken the trouble to design our tutorial in standard English, with color-coded disks, and because of the quality not only of the tutorial but also the DOS shell, the first-time user can plug in our machine, sit down, and let the machine itself show how it can be used. Experienced users can, of course, skip the tutorial, but take advantage of some of the advanced programming utilities we've included."
The Turbo-888-XT is available with green monochrome monitor for $995; with color monitor, the system is priced at $1,295. Through its Easy-Does-It peripherals program, Vendex will provide a hard card with autoformatting software, a Migent-style mini-modem, and memory upgrade chips with a chip insertion tool. Confident of selling at least 50,000 units during the third and fourth quarters, Vendex placed an initial order with Samsung for 200,000 computers, according to Weiss.
More Than Apple Compatible
Franklin Computer, having gained experience with Apple compatible machines, continued to push its PC compatibles. Priced at $699.95, the Franklin PC-6000 includes 512K RAM (expandable to 640K), a single 360K disk drive, MS-DOS 3.1, and a single open slot. At $799.95, it offers the same features, with two disk drives.
Options available from Franklin include a $39.95 battery backed-up clock/calendar, and MS-DOS 3.2 and GW BASIC for $99.
Video Technology Computers is another Apple-compatible manufacturer now looking to tap the PC market, extending their Laser line with new MS-DOS machines, the Laser Compact XT and XTE. The company is using the same box for both its Apple and MS-DOS lines, establishing for perhaps the first time a visual compatibility between the two types of computer.
Featuring 512K RAM (expandable to 640K), dual speeds of 4.77 or 8 MHz switchable from the keyboard, a 5¼-inch disk drive, and an expansion slot, the Laser Compact XT is priced at $599. The XTE comes with 640K RAM (expandable to 1MB), a built-in EGA, dual speeds of 4.77 or 10 MHz, a 5¼-inch disk drive, and a realtime clock with battery backup. Laser's Compact XTE carries a suggested retail tag of $649.
Here Clones Commodore
While Commodore was busy making clear its Amiga commitment, the company did not neglect its PC compatible line, attracting much attention by slashing prices and adding features including Borland's popular Sidekick, which will be bundled with all Commodore PCs.
Commodore's PC10-1 provides 512K RAM (expandable to 640K), one 360K disk drive, five expansion slots, and MS-DOS 3.2. The company's PC10-2 comes with two 360K drives and 640K on the motherboard. All Commodore PCs come complete with a Commodore monitor, and are available in the following prices and configurations: the PC10-1 with mono monitor, $799.95; the PC10-2 with mono monitor, $899.95; the PC10-1 with color monitor, $999.95; and the PC10-2 with color monitor, $1,099.95.
As with Amiga displays showing the effectiveness of office software such as WordPerfect on that machine, Commodore's PC price cuts and solid corporate endorsement seemed aimed at reminding COMDEX attendees that Commodore Business Machines means business.
Continuing its direct-response marketing assault on the big business bastions of IBM and Compaq, Texas-based PC's Limited took advantage of COMDEX to announce the availability of its 80386 machine, the 38616, priced from $4,499 to $6,499, depending on system configuration, which ranges from a 40MB hard drive and monochrome at the low end to a 150MB drive and EGA at the upper end.
In all configurations, the 38616 delivers a megabyte of pure static RAM, a 1.2MB 5¼-inch disk drive, PC's Limited's proprietary SmartVU speed and diagnostic panel, and a 101-key keyboard.
Despite the excitement over its 386 line, PC's Limited is not neglecting the 80286 models that have been responsible for much of the company's success. The two models built around the 80286 are the 2868, running at 8 MHz and priced at $1,249; and the 28612, running at 12 MHz for $1,999. Each offers one megabyte of RAM, a 1.2MB disk drive, SmartVU, and eight expansion slots. The company is also offering an optional on-site service contract through Honeywell Bull.
Coinciding with the shows was PC's Limited's announcement of record first quarter profits. The company announced as well the change of its name from PC's Limited to Dell Computer Corporation. Founder Michael Dell noted that the new name better reflected his firm's commitment to and presence in the business market, as well as solving certain problems with the use of "Limited" as a corporate identifier in the United Kingdom. Dell Computer plans a mid-June introduction of its products into the U.K. marketplace.
Advanced Logic Research announced the ALR 386/2, with 1MB of RAM (expandable to 2MB), a 1.2MB 5¼-inch disk drive, 8 expansion slots, and a 101-key keyboard. Priced at $1,990, the ALR 386/2 typifies company vice president David Kirkey's declaration of "intent to dominate the 80286 and 80386 market."
The company offers 2MB RAM models with mass storage devices of up to 130MB at prices ranging from $3,990 to $7,299.
Software By The Score
One thing that every machine announced or reaffirmed at CES and COMDEX will need is software, and the software developers and publishers had plenty of products nearing completion or on-hand to fill that need. The following is an encapsulated tour of many—but by no means all—of the new product announcements from the spring shows.
Accolade. Test Drive, announced at CES, puts users behind the wheels of Ferrari Testarosa, Lamborghini Countach, Lotus Esprit Turbo, and several other topline sports cars. The player's perspective is that of a driver inside the car, with instrument panel, rear-view mirror, a radar detector, and other features. Drivers must pit their skills against actual road conditions, including twisting mountain highways, tumbling rocks, and the highway patrol. Test Drive will be available for the Amiga and the ST at $44.95, for IBM compatibles at $39.95, and for the Commodore 64 at $29.95.
With Apollo 18: Mission to the Moon, Accolade lets players recreate some of the space program's finest moments as they take the role of both mission control and astronaut, completing a variety of tasks in order to achieve successful lunar missions. There are eight separate activities ranging from prelaunch to moonwalk to splashdown; each activity requires mastering specific skills without which the mission fails. Apollo 18 will be available for the Commodore 64 at a suggested price of $29.95.
Sigma 7 is the company's latest addition to its midprice Advantage line. An arcade-style space game, Sigma 7 is available for the Commodore 64 at $14.95, suggested retail.
Accolade, 20813 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino, CA 05014
Activision. Activision is in the process of cutting back on the development of traditional productivity programs while building its share of creativity and entertainment packages. The company has established relationships with software developers such as Lucasfilm Games, Sierra On-Line, and New World Computing for a variety of development and distribution projects.
At CES, the company announced a number of new programs, including Maniac Mansion, an animated comedy adventure developed with Lucasfilm for the Commodore 64 and Apple II computers; The Last Ninja, a martial arts program for the Commodore 64 scheduled for fall release (PC compatibles and Apple II later) that features more than 130 screens of three-dimensional color graphics and more than 1000 moving objects; Top Fuel Eliminator, a colorful drag-racing fast-action game for the Commodore 64 and Apple II computers; and Writer's Choice Elite, an Apple IIGS–specific word processor with a MacWrite-like environment and the ability to combine graphics and text easily, joining a growing list of Apple IIGS-specific programs from Activision.
In the Last Ninja from Activision, your challenge is to use martial arts skills and weapons to recover the long-lost scrolls of wisdom that are held on a fortified island.
Also introduced by Activision were Draw Plus, an Apple IIGS full-color drawing program, and the Apple IIGS version of GBA Championship Basketball, an action sports game already available for several other computers.
Activision, 2350 Bayshore Pkwy., Mountain View, CA 94043
Berkeley Softworks. The developers of the GEOS operating system for the Commodore 64 and 128 computers announced two new products to add to the growing number of applications being developed for the system: geoPublish, a desktop publishing program that allows multipage documents with multicolumn layouts and easy mixing of graphics and text; and geo-Programmer, a full-featured application development package for users with a good understanding of 6502 assembly language. Both are scheduled for fall release.
The $69.95 geoPublish software permits the creation of customized master pages of graphics and text that can be used on each page of a document and can be loaded from a library or saved for later use. Layout is carried out by defining rectangular regions on each page, which will automatically reformat as the user needs to modify the layout. Text automatically flows around graphics. An onscreen toolbox contains graphics tools, and there are additional type fonts for headlines up to 48 points. All pages can be previewed before printing, and the finished documents can be printed on any GEOS-compatible printer. A special PostScript driver allows printers like the Apple LaserWriter to produce near-typeset documents.
geoProgrammer, also $69.95, contains three functions: geo-Assembler, geolinker, and geoDebugger. The geoWrite word processor is used as the editor for the assembler. Other GEOS programs include geo-File, geoCalc, Writer's Workshop, DeskPack I, FontPack I, and geoDex.
Berkeley Softworks, 2150 Shatuck Ave., Berkeley, CA 94704
Brederbund. Makers of such popular software as Print Shop and Loderunner, Brederbund has announced and released a number of new programs for a variety of computers.
Heavily supporting the Apple IIGS, Broderbund has converted its bestseller Print Shop and its animation program Fantavision to the Apple IIGS. Both packages take advantage of the GS's impressive graphics and increased memory, and will retail for $59.95 when they debut in the fall. Other Apple IIGS products include Geometry ($99.95), a conversion of the acclaimed mathematics tutorial originally for the Macintosh; and a new package, ShowOff ($59.95), a presentation graphics program for creating all types of transparencies, charts, graphs, and video slide shows.
Brøderbund's first foray into the Atari ST market is the ST Director Series—actually a two-progam set composed of Art Director, a powerful paint program, and Film Director, a simple-to-use animation package for creating slide shows or animations. Special tools do most of the repetitive drawing required for animation. Price for the ST Director Series is $79.95 for both. Another Brøderbund ST release is Karateka, which has recently been converted to the Atari ST. This $34.95 martial-arts adventure takes advantage of the ST's color, resolution, and computing power.
Another creation from the authors of Ancient Art of War is Brøderbund's new Ancient Art of War at Sea ($44.95, IBM, Tandy, and compatibles). This strategy game includes 11 ready-to-use naval campaigns, based on the most famous sea battles in history. Players' opponents include five of the world's best naval tacticians. Once the game's been mastered, players can turn to the Game Generator, which lets them design custom battle scenes.
The company's new Macintosh products are in the Sensei Software series of math and science learning software. Two new entries following the bestselling Geometry are Calculus and Physics. Like Geometry, these programs let students of all ages learn at their own pace, and cover an entire year's material. Both packages retail for $99.95 each.
Not forgetting the Commodore 64, Brøderbund is making the best-selling British arcade games Cauldron and Cauldron II available in one package for $29.95.
Brøderbund is also reducing prices on a number of its older packages and pricing them in its new line of "Value Priced Software." Arcade games such as Lode Runner and Choplifter! and productivity software such as Bank Street Speller and Bank Street Mailer are being offered at prices ranging from $14.95 to $29.95.
Brøderbund Software, 17 Paul Dr., San Rafael, CA 94903
Davidson & Associates. This educational software company announced two new programs: Read'n Roll, a reading comprehension program for grades 3–6 that contains 320 reading passages with comprehension questions; and Math Blaster Plus, an entirely new version of the popular Math Blaster program for grades 1–6, containing more than 750 basic math facts and five learning activities. Both will be available for the Apple II and IBM PC and compatible computers for $49.95 each.
Davidson & Associates, 3135 Kashiwa St., Torrance, CA 90505
Electronic Arts. Electronic Arts is introducing a number of new products, ranging from entertainment software to personal productivity packages. In its tradition of offering programs for almost every popular microcomputer system, the new releases are available for the Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, Apple IIGS, IBM PC, Macintosh, Commodore 64, and others.
New entertainment software includes such programs as the fantasy adventure game Legacy of the Ancients ($29.95, Commodore 64); Ferrari Formula One, a racing simulation ($49.95, Amiga); a multilevel flight simulator, Chuck Yeager's Advanced Flight Simulator ($39.95, IBM and compatibles); an action and strategy sports game, Earl Weaver Baseball ($49.95, Amiga); and a strategic space simulation, EOS: Earth Orbit Stations ($34.95, Apple II and Commodore 64).
New graphics packages are highlighted with the recent release of Deluxe Paint II for the Apple IIGS ($99.95). A professional-quality graphics program, Deluxe Paint II offers more than 90 painting tools and effects. Three collections of color clip art—Art Parts, Volume 1; Art Parts, Volume 2; and Seasons and Holidays—each contain more than 100 images for use in Deluxe Paint II. Price for each Apple IIGS clip-art collection is $29.95.
Other graphics programs include an enhanced and expanded version of Deluxe Video for the Commodore Amiga ($129.95). Deluxe Video 1.2's new features include Overscan for an edge-to-edge TV screen look, Interlace for broadcast quality recording, and a faster frame rate for animation and scrolling.
Instant Page is Electronic Arts' entry into the form and newsletter-generation market. Available in September for the IBM and compatibles ($49.95), Instant Page doesn't require a graphics card, it accepts text from most major word processors, and it formats in multiple columns. Forms, charts, newsletters, signs, and brochures can be quickly created with the menu-driven program. Over 100 ready-to-use forms and newsletter templates are included.
EA also makes microcomputer music with two new entries. Instant Music is now available for the Apple IIGS ($49.95), a multilevel program of digitized instruments. It's Only Rock'N'Roll and Hot & Cool Jazz ($29.95 each)—two new library disks—offer dozens of new instruments and songs for Instant Music fans. Music Construction Set for the Atari ST ($39.95) is scheduled for a July release. This popular program, available for a wide variety of computer systems, takes advantage of the ST's unique MIDI capabilities and point-and-click interface.
Two new typing tutors have been announced by EA—Intell Type, a program for adults which teaches typing in 30 days ($49.95 Amiga); and Mavis Beacon Teacher Typing, a graphics-intensive tuto for people of all ages ($39.95, IBM) and compatibles, Commodore 64 128, Atari 800 series, Apple II series; and $49.95, Macintosh, Atari ST, and Amiga).
Other Electronic Arts released are Thunder 1.1, an upgraded spelling checker for the Macintosh, an What They Don't Teach at Harvant Business School, a new business learning package based on the best selling book. For the IBM and compatibles ($49.95, June) an Macintosh ($49.95, Fall 1987).
Electronic Arts, 1820 Gatewa Dr., San Mateo, CA 94404
Epyx. Building on the success of their World Games series, Epy attracted a lot of CES attention with the introduction of California Games, a laid-back round-up West Coast skills including half pipe skateboarding, hacky-sad (footbag), BMX stunt bicycle riding surfing, roller skating, and Frisbee type toss. The game will be released for Commodore, Apple II family and IBM compatibles in the third quarter of 1987, with Amiga and Apple IIGS introductions planned for the fourth quarter. Prices are be announced.
Street Sports Baseball inaugurates a new line of urban athletid for Epyx, adding backlot feature such as tree stumps and bushes, a well as a trash-can lid that serves a home plate. The game also has identified characters, each with particular skill; players can select their own teams or can allow the computer to make the selection Street Sports Baseball will be available for Commodore, Apple II, and IBM compatibles this summer, with a price that is to be announced.
Surfing is only one of the activities in Epyx's new California Games. Also featured are BMX stunt bicycles, flying disk competitions, rollerskating, foot-bags, and half-pipe skateboards.
Omnicron Conspiracy was in-troduced as the second in Epyx's Masters Collection, aimed at experienced computer gamers. The new package offers a science-fiction scenario as players take the role of an officer in the Star Police, assigned to unravel the mystery of a starship displaced farther than is possible by known technology. Among the investigative tools at the player's disposal are a reference library, a droid named PAL, a planet-sized computer, and the members of a cult of psychics, all accessible through icons by way of joystick or cursor. Omnicron Conspiracy will be available in the fall for Commodore, Apple II-series, and IBM-compatible computers; the price will be announced upon delivery.
Epyx's new midprice line, Maxx-Out, will be launched with three packages, including Rad Warrior, Boulder Dash Construction Kit, and Spy Vs. Spy III: Arctic Antics. Rad Warrior challenges players to destroy an alien invader in a radioactive world of the future; the game will be available for Commodore, Apple II-series, and IBM-compatible machines in the third quarter of 1987. Boulder Dash Construction Kit permits users to customize their own tunnels, caves, and treasures, and will be available for Commodore, Apple II-family, Atari 800/130 and ST, and IBM-compatible machines. Spy Vs. Spy: Arctic Antics pits the familiar spies against each other and a frozen backdrop; the game will be sold in formats for Commodore, Apple II-series, IBM compatibles, and Atari 800/130 and ST systems. Prices are to be announced.
Print Magic is designed to be a graphics tool program for Apple II-series and IBM-compatible computers. Available in the third quarter of this year, Print Magic will include a variety of fonts, borders, and graphics, as well as drawing and painting tools and patterns for customizing images. Until December 31, 1987, Epyx will include a special disk of holiday images with each Print Magic at no extra charge.
Epyx, 600 Glaveston Dr., Redwood City, CA 94063.
Firebird. With its Universal Military Simulator (UMS), Firebird provides Atari ST owners with the capability to create their own battles, configuring terrain, weaponry, and combatants from throughout history, as well as fantasy and science-fiction battles. Included in the program are historically accurate recreations of six significant battles; another feature is a display which shows the gamer the actual calculations made as the computer determines the results of conflict. UMS will be available in July at a suggested retail tag of $49.95.
Knight Orc puts players in the role of an orc, a mythical bird which, in this scenario, is oppressed by evil humans. The game is illustrated, possesses a 1000-word vocabulary, and will be released in late summer for Commodore machines including the Amiga, as well as for the Atari ST, the Apple II family, Macintosh, and IBM compatibles; suggested retail is $39.95 for the Commodore version and $44.95 for all other formats.
Martial arts on the ST is the promise of Firebird's Golden Path, in which players take the part of a wise man who must overcome obstacles and challenges while on a mystical quest. Clues are delivered in the form of a book of lore that appears as an onscreen window, and continues to give clues to help the player solve the game's central puzzle. The ST version is available for $44.95, with future releases planned for Commodore, Apple II, and Amiga machines.
The Advanced OCP Art Studio is a graphics program that provides users with 16 pens, 16 user-definable brushes, eight random sprays, and three levels of zoom and magnification, as well as a font editor, rotation and enlargement capability, cut and paste, and other graphics/desktop publishing options. The program will be available for $39.95 in Commodore format, and $44.95 for the Atari ST version.
Firebird Licensees, P.O. Box 49, Ramsey, NJ 07446
Gessler Educational Software. With Battle of Words, available in French, German, and Spanish, Gessler offers a five-part arcade-style program aimed at increasing student vocabulary and speed of translation. Priced at $49.95, the program is available for the Commodore 64, Apple II family, and PC compatibles.
French Micro Scrabble adapts the classic word-building game for competition in French either against the computer's 20,000-word vocabulary, or against other players. The game is available for $39.95 for the Commodore 64, Apple II family, and IBM-compatible computers.
Gessler Educational Software, 900 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
Infocom. The master storytellers at Infocom are at it again, with two new text adventures for all major computer systems: Stationfall, a sequel to the popular Planetfall comic adventure, both created by Steve Meretzky (who also collaborated with Douglas Adams for the Infocom hit, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy); and The Lurking Horror, Infocom's first venture into interactive horror fiction, a fearful cross between Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft that was designed by Dave Lebling (coauthor of the ZORK series).
Infocom, 125 CambridgePark Dr., Cambridge, MA 02140
Inkwell Systems. The makers of the Flexidraw high-resolution graphics program (recently enhanced in Version 5.5) for Commodore 64 computers announced several new products, including the September release of Flexidraft ($499.95), a drafting program driven by a light pen for PCs and compatibles that's coupled with the model 184-1 light pen and the Pixel Port enhanced light pen interface card.
Inkwell also announced the availability of two new light pens: the model 170-C ($99.95), a new version of the industrial-quality light pen Inkwell has up to now bundled with the Flexidraw graphics program; and the model 184-C ($59.95), a new light pen featuring surface-mount technology, two-touch surface switches, and an er-gonomic design. Both light pens are designed to be plug compatible with the Commodore 64 family of computers and the Amigas, and they also come with additional pin-out information for use with IBM, Tandy, and other PC compatibles.
Inkwell Systems, P.O. Box 85152 MB290, 5710 Ruffin Rd., San Diego, CA 92138
MicroProse. Pirates, an adventure/simulation game for the Commodore 64, puts players in the Caribbean during the seventeenth century. Sailing, naval combat, land battles, sword fights, trading, smuggling, and more are a part of this latest creation by Sid Meier, designer of such software hits as F-15 Strike Eagle and Silent Service. State-of-the-art graphics and player-selected scenarios are a couple of the features of Pirates. IBM and Apple II versions are planned, though not announced.
Pirates, new from Microprose, recreates the Caribbean during the seventeenth century. The game is both a text and an arcade-style adventure, with historical detail in both segments.
Other new Commodore 64 products include Project Stealth Fighter ($39.95), a flight and combat simulator based on the super secret new Air Force aircraft that evades detection; and Airborne Ranger ($34.95), an arcade game in which players take the role of a Ranger behind enemy lines. Both products are scheduled for a latesummer to fall release.
Gunship, the attack helicopter simulator, has been converted to the IBM and compatibles. The game offers realistic flight characteristics, filled, solid-object 3-D graphics, and numerous combat mission scenarios. It even adjusts its speed to take advantage of the computer. The faster a machine operates, the smoother the flight and animation. Price is $49.95 retail.
Microprose anticipates an early 1988 introduction of Red Storm Rising, a game based on the popular book by bestselling author Tom Clancy, who is playing a part in the game's development. Late this year the company is expected to announce a complex, far-future, science-fiction game called Space.
MicroProse Software, 120 Lake-front Dr., Hunt Valley, MD 21030
Mindscape. Mindscape has been moving aggressively in both the entertainment and educational arenas in recent months, and has announced a number of new products for the remainder of the year.
In January, the company was purchased from its parent corporation, SFN Companies, by Mindscape Chairman John Purcell and Mindscape President and CEO Roger Buoy. Within the past year, Mindscape has acquired the products of software companies Scarborough Systems, Learning Well, and CBS Interactive Learning. The acquisitions have made Mindscape an even bigger player in both the education and entertainment fields.
Among the new products Mindscape announced recently are Superstar Ice Hockey, a complete hockey action simulation for one or two players, for the IBM PC and compatibles for $34.95 (already available for the Commodore 64 and Apple II family); Understanding the United States Constitution ($49.95), a program that helps students learn about and understand the Constitution (Spanish-language version on flip side), for the Apple II family (48K minimum); Intro the Eagle's Nest, a World War II combat arcade game for the Commodore 64 ($29.95) immediately, and for PCs, Amigas, STs, and Apple IIs later in the year; Plutos ($29.95), a space war action game with superb graphics for the Atari ST; Bop'n Rumble ($29.95), a comic action game in which you save all the grannies from the vicious elements in the city, for Commodore 64 initially; and Q-Ball, another St action program.
Mindscape, 3444 Dundee Rd., Northbrook, IL 60062
Okidata. Okidata announced a universally compatible dot-matrix printer, the Okidata 180, designed for either home or office use, with a suggested retail price of $329. With standard Commodore serial and Centronics parallel interfaces, the Okidata 180 is compatible with all the major personal computers available to home users, without having to add separate interface modules. The printer supports all Commodore and Epson control codes, insuring compatibility with all major software packages for the home. The 180 has print speeds of 180 characters per second (cps) in draft mode, 120 cps in utility mode, and 30 cps in near-letter-quality mode.
The new $329 Okidata 180 printer is compatible with all major personal computer systems.
Okidata, 532 Fellowship Rd., Mount Laurel, NJ 08054
QuantumLink This Commodore 64-specific telecommunications service announced the introduction of four multiplayer casino games that will allow people across the country to play against one another.
The four games, which are packaged on one disk, require the use of a Commodore 64 or 128 computer, modem, telephone, and QuantumLink service. They will be available this fall at $14.95 for the disk, and include blackjack, poker, bingo, and slot machines.
QuantumLink, 8620 Westwood Center Dr., Vienna, VA 22180
Simon & Schuster. Hoping to capitalize on the 300,000 plus sales of Typing Tutor III, Simon & Schuster announced Typing Tutor IV, along with Speed Reading IV, two tutorials that allow users to customize their lessons and track their progress at both typing and speed reading.
With P & L., the company introduces a spreadsheet for nonfinancial managers. P & L uses traditional financial and business forms such as income statements rather than matrices, and can seek goals in more than 20 different areas of financial analysis.
Farther down the road, Simon & Schuster will be introducing a third text-oriented Star Trek game, which will borrow features from the two different modes of its earlier Trek texts. Also on the horizon is Star Trek: The Rebel Universe, the company's first graphics-oriented Star Trek package, and their first game to be configured for the Amiga and the ST.
Simon & Schuster Software, 1 Gulf & Western Plaza, New York, NY, 10023
Spectrum HoloByte. Spectrum HoloByte recently released its Atari ST desktop publishing program, Fleet Street Publisher. Full-page composition, multiple columns, text editing, and picture sizing are all offered with Fleet Street. Text can be imported from any ASCII word processing file or entered directly, while graphics can be brought into a page from Neo-chrome, Degas, and other software or scanners. Priced at $119.95, the program will soon offer laser printer drivers for such printers as the HP Laserjet and PostScript-compatible printers.
In the entertainment/simulation area, Spectrum HoloByte will soon make available Falcon, an F-16 jet fighter simulator for the Macintosh. Detailed instrumentation, accurate flight characteristics, and multilevel combat are just some of the features of this flight-and-fight simulator. Price for Falcon has not been set.
Spectrum Holobyte, 2061 Challenger Dr., Alameda, CA 94501
Springboard Software. The publisher of the popular Newsroom and Certificate Maker software is readying its newest entry in the personal publishing market, Springboard Publisher. Expected release date is mid-September.
This desktop publishing program for the Apple IIe, IIc, and IIGS allows for total text, graphics, and layout control on a single screen. With a built-in word processor, simplified graphics import functions, and automatic wrapping of text around any graphics, Springboard Publisher has all the tools necessary to create a professional-looking publication. Price is set at $139.95. Printing can be done on almost any dot-matrix printer or with the optional Laser Driver ($39.95), on a PostScript-equipped laser printer.
Slated for release at the same time as Springboard Publisher are three volumes in the Works of Art clip-art collection ($39.95 each). More than 500 pieces of art are included in each package. Springboard Publisher Style Sheets ($29.95), with predesigned page layout style sheets, will also be available at Springboard Publisher's release.
An MS-DOS version of Springboard Publisher is planned, though a schedule hasn't been set.
Springboard Software, 7808 Creekridge Cir., Minneapolis, MN 55435
SSI. Strategic Simulations announced the release of President Elect—1988 Edition, a $24.95 strategic simulation game of presidential politics for Apple, Commodore 64, and PCs and compatibles. A previous version of this game was released prior to the 1984 presidential race, and the current game lets you make a contest of every bout for the top spot from 1960 through 1988. Owners of the original version can receive the new game for just $10 plus $2 shipping and handling by sending in the old disk.
SSI is also introducing B-24, a $34.95 flight and combat simulator for Apple, Commodore 64, and PCs and compatibles; Rebel Charge at Chickamauga ($49.95), a sophisticated simulation of one of the South's major offensives during the Civil War, for Apple, Atari, 64, and PCs/compatibles; and The Eternal Dagger ($39.95), a sequel to SSI's popular Wizard's Crown fantasy adventure game, for Apple, Atari, and Commodore 64.
SSI, 1046 N. Rengstorff Ave., Mountain View, CA 94043
Three-Sixty. This new computer games company, founded by former Accolade head Tom Frisina, has announced that it will offer a variety of new entertainment programs for the major computer systems, starting with the Commodore 64, Atari ST, Amiga, and IBM PC/compatibles versions of Dark Castle, the graphics adventure that has been very popular in Macintosh form from Silicon Beach Software. An Apple IIGS version will be available in early 1988.
Three-Sixty, 2105 South Bascom Ave., Campbell, CA 95008
Thunder Mountain. This budget software line, a division of Mindscape, offers almost 50 different titles of educational and entertainment software at a suggested retail price of $9.95 each. Among the newest additions to the list are Top Gun, an arcade action game based on the popular movie, for Commodore 64 and PCs and compatibles; and Rock 'N' Roll Trivia, a five-volume set of music trivia questions for Commodore 64 and PCs and compatibles, including on each disk over 1000 questions and answers with six different musical categories and three levels of play.
Mindscape, 3444 Dundee Rd., Northbrook, IL 60062
Timeworks. Timeworks has released and announced a number of productivity software packages for a broad range of computers.
The Timeworks Desktop Publisher—with versions for IBM and compatibles, Apple II, Atari ST, and Commodore 64/128—is scheduled for release this year. With word processing, page design, drawing tools, and high-resolution graphics, this program offers ease of use and sophistication. Prices have not been announced.
Other new Timeworks' offerings include Partner ST ($69.95, Atari ST), a desktop accessory program with such features as an appointment calendar, memo pad, auto dialer, calculator, and more; Sylvia Porter's Personal Investment Manager ($149.95, IBM PC, PC compatibles, and Apple II), volume 2 in the series of personal financial management software; PC Quartet ($149.95, IBM and compatibles), with four full-featured applications, including a word processor, spreadsheet, database, and telecommunications; DOS University ($79.95, IBM PC and compatibles), a combination disk manager, file recovery, file security, and disk optimizing package; and The Ultimate Word Writer PC ($149.94, IBM PC and compatibles), a sophisticated word processor with three built-in spelling checkers, an integrated thesaurus, style checker, column editing, and more.
Timeworks, 444 N. Lake Cook Rd., Deerfield, IL 60015
The following editors contributed to this story: Selby Bateman, Tom Halfhill, and Gregg Keiser.
Information on additional products announced at CES can be found In "News & Products" on page 112.