1984 Winter Consumer Electronics Show. David H. Ahl.
Three years ago, computers were a curiosity at the Consumer Electronics Show. Sessions about them were relegated to the last day when many show attendees had already left, and computer manufacturers were shoehorned into the area with calculators and watches. No more. Computers now have their own exhibit area (one of the largest), and the sessions are scheduled at prime time on the program.
Indeed, this year we found that things had almost come full circle. Many journalist were acting blase, and all too often we heard the comment, "Not much new here." In a sense, that was true. Many of the products were evolutonary in nature,a nd the new computers announced were predictable in their capability and features. Nevertheless, we found a fair number of prdoucts that got our juices flowing and that were, if not exciting, certainly interesting.
Instead of putting everything from CES into one huge roundup, we have divided our coverage by topic. Thus, in this issue, you will find a section on computers and peripherals (following this intro) and separate sections on educational software, games, personal software, and electronic software distribution (a fascinating concept). Other new products are covered in our regular columns on printers, telecommunications, and specific computers. Peripherals, Software, and Servicing for Coleco Adam
Coleco announced an impressive line of peripherals and software for the Adam. The peripherals all connect to the "Adam Bus" and incluee a 5-1/4" double density, doubled sided floppy disk drive (under $400); 300/u200 baud direct connect modem and telecommunications software (under $200); 64K RAM card; second digital data drive (under $150); tractor feeder for fanfold paper; and accessory kit (three daisy wheels, blank tape, and head cleaner).
In addition, Coleco announced the coming availability of 170 software packages. Several in the entertainment line are licensed versions of games from third-party manufacturers. In addition, seven of these manufacturers plan to market Adam software directly.
Beyond the applications software, Coleco also announced CP/M and, for later in 1984, compatibility with the IBM PC. Sounds ambitious to us, possibly too much so for a company that has been in the computer field for less than three months.
Service for the Adam is to be provided by Honeywell under a new arrangement. Honeywell currently has five Coleco service centers operational, and 30 more are scheduled to come on line in the next few months. We feel compelled to ask, "Can that many trained service people be brought on line all at once?"
At the Coleco press conference, the new product introductions went off without a hitch, but they probably should have cut it off there. The question session produced several rough moments for Arnold Greenberg, the president. One person recounted a horror tale of two sick Adam computers and asked why the company was unable to get either one fixed. Greenberg said, "See me after the press conference, and we'll get ir resolved."
Another person asked why no machines had been shipped to magazines for review. Some people in the audience whispered, "Because they don't work." The official answer was, "They'll be shipped in a few weeks," We'll see. Questions about IBM PC compatibility and the recent agreement with AT&T were all met with a "No comment."
as to reports published in USA Today and other newspapers that the Adam initial defect rate is around 30 to 40%, a Coleco spokesman responded that it is "simply not true."
In a low key move, Coleco also raised the wholesale price of Adam by about 20% bringing it to $650. Foregoing the "normal" 30% markup, most dealers in the New York area are selling the Adam for $700-$799.
Coleco Industries, Inc., 99 Quaker Lane South, West Hartford, CT 06110. (203) 725-6000. SpectraVideo Announces Bundled Systems
Ever since we tested the SpectraVideo 318 and 328, we have felt that the company offers the consumer a great deal of performance for the price. Unfortunately, Microsft was late in delivering Basic chips to SpectraVideo, and SV missed having prduct on the shelft during the crucial Christmas season.
As a result, SV has dropped the low-end 318 and is concentrating on the mid-range 328 (in bundled systems).
The Family Park Plus ($599) is designed to meet the Coleco Adam head on. In addition to the basic 328 (with full-stroke keyboard), it includes a high speed cassette recorder (1800 baud), 50 cpds dot matrix printer, two joysticsk, word processing software, SpectraDiary (a time organization package, and Spectron (a colorful, challenging game).
The 328 Pro System includes the 328 Mark II with 80-colum card expander box with two los profile 5-1/4" floppy disk drives and six slots for other boards, 80 cps do matrix printer, monochrome monitor, CP/M 2.2, Microsoft Basic, and the Perfect Software library (Perfect Writer, -Speller, -Filer, and -Calc). A most impressive system!
SV was also showing the 728, the first MSX standard machine in the U.S. At a recent Japanese show, Sanyo, Matsushita, Yamaha, Sharp, And JVC showed MSX computers in the $250 range. However, none of these manufacturers showed an MSX machine at the Winter CES. Thus, for the time being, SpectraVideo will be carrying the MSX flag alone.
On the software front, SpectraVideo announced a wide range of CP/M software for the 328. It will be marketed by an independent maker, Add-On Software, Inc., 11879 Dublin Blvd., Dublin, CA 94568. (415) 833-8330.
SpectraVideo, 45 South Service, Rd., Plainview, NY 11803. (516) 420-6990. Apple Mouse and Winchester Disk Software and the IIe
In an unexpected move, Apple Computer exhited at CES in a diminutive 20 x 20 foot booth. Normally, Apple either takes a huge booth or ignores a show completely.
Apple was showing the same products described in our coverage of Comdex last month. With this activity in new products and showing at a trade show for consumer markets, it appears that Apple hasn't written off the Aple II as some of the popular press would have us believe.
Apple Computer, 10260 Bandley Dr., Cupertino, CA 95014. (408) 996-1010. Laser 3000, an Apple Work-alike from Video Technology
V-Tech was again showing the Laser 3000, an Apple work-alike with many extended features. The machine, which supposedly in completely original, should be available this spring for a retail price of $695. The basic Laser 3000 has 64K (expandable to 192K), 80-column text display, Centronics parallel printer interface, four-channel sound generator, eight programmable function keys, numeric keypad, and built-in Microsoft Basic with all the extended graphics commands. There are three grpahics modes, one of which provides 560 x 192 pixel resolution with six colors.
V-Tech was also showing a 5-1/4" floppy disk drive for the Laser 300 (or Apple) with 164K capacity. Price is under $200.
Also on display was the Laser 200 (reviewed May, '83) and a mid-range model, the i001, which is able to run Colecovision software.
Video Technology (U.S.) Inc., 2633 Greenleaf Ave., Elk Grove Village, IL 6007. (312) 640-1776. New Modem and Printers from Timex
Timex was again showing the 2068 and 1500 computers, but were emphasizing a new TS 2050 modem ($119.95), TS 2080 80-column dot matrix printer, TS 2040 32-column thermal printer ($99.95), and an expanded selection of software.
The 2050 is a 300-baud modem with auto-dial, auto-answer, built-in modular phone jacks, and data buffer. It includes a Smart Terminal I cassette software kit and membership in The Source. An optional Smart Terminal II software package is available on cartridge. Also available for $169 is a package for telecommunications services which includes memberships and usage time in CompuServe, Dow Jones News Retrieval, MCI Mail, and The Source.
The 2040 thermal printer features complete graphics and text capability in two modes: screen print and program controlled. Print speed is two lines per second.
With all the hoopla aobut the 2068 computer, many people have overlooked the 1500, one of the least expensive entries into the world of computing ($79.95). The 1500 has 16K of RAM, built-in Sinclair Basic with single key entry of all keywords, 22 graphics characters, PLOT and UNPLOT graphics statements, and improved keyboard (although it still does not have a spacebar).
Times computer Corp., Waterbury, CT 06725. Keyboard for Intellivision From Mattel (Again)
Following in their years-old tradition, Mattel Electronics again introduced a computer adaptor (sic) and keyboard for Intellivision. According to the press release, "The Computer Adaptor plugs into the Master Component and unlocks the power of the 16-bit microprocessor." The adaptor includes built-in Basic in a 12K ROM, an additional 2K of RAM, RS-232 interface, and increases the sound channels to six.
The keyboard has 49 Chiclet-style, full travel keys with four cursor directional keys at the left side. According to a Mattel spokeswoman, the computer adaptor and keyboard are currently available.
Mattel also announced a "System Changer" that allows the Intellivision II system to play Atari 2600 games. In addition, Mattel was showing a music synthesizer with 49-key piano-style keyboard for use with Intellivision II. To round out their display, 12 new Intellivision games and five games for Apple and IBM computers were at their booth.
Mattel, Inc. recently sold Mattel Electronics to a group of investors so we don't know if these new products will carry the Mattel brand name. Elan to be Available in U.S.
In our PCW SHow coverage (Dec. '83), we reported with some enthusiasm about the Elan Enterprise 64. Thus, we were pleased to see it at CES (translation: it is nice that we here in the States may get a chance to buy one).
The Elan Enterprise is based on the Z80A (4MHz) and has 64K of RAM, 32K of ROM, 68 full-stroke keys with built-in joystick, display of 84 characters x 56 lines (or 672 x 512 pixels) in color, four sound channels, and many extras. We are very impressed with the specifications--now all we would like is to see one in the flesh!
Elan Computers, Ltd., 31-37 Hoxton St., London N1 6NJ, England.
CIRCLE 431 ON READER SERVICE CARD 16-bit Business Computer from Olympia
Olympia USA, the domestic division of the German manufacturer of high quality typewriters, was showing their first computer, the People. It uses a 16-!it 8086 mpu, and has 128K of RAM built in. Like the IBM PC, the People has a detachable keyboard (91 keys and 12 programmable function keys), and system unit with dual double-density, doubled-sided disk drives (655K each), and interfaces for Centronics parallel printer and RS-232 serial device.
Three operating systems are available for the People: CP/M-86 Concurrent CP/M-86, and MS-DOS. Also available is a wide array of applications software.
Olympia USA Inc., P.O. Box 22, Somerville, NJ 08876.
CIRCLE 432 ON READER SERVICE CARD Royal Business Machines Personal Computer
Royal Business Machines, a long-established maker of typewriters, entered the computer market with the Alphatronic Personal Computer. The machine has a Z80a mpu, 64K of RAM, 32K of ROM (includes Microsoft Basic), and interfaces for RS-232 devices, Centronics parallel printer, floppy disk drive, and cassette recorder.
The keyboard has 79 keys including six programmable function keys. Two text display formats are available: 80 characters x 24 lines and 40 x 24. Eight foreground and background colors can be selected.
ROM cartridges with applications software plug into a slot on the left (under a cover). Also available is a 5-1/4" slim line double density disk drive with 320K capacity. Price for the basic machine is $695.
Royal Business Machines, 500 Day Hill Rd., Windsor, CT 06095. (203) 683-2222.
CIRCLE 433 ON READER SERVICE CARD Sanyo Announces IBM Compatible Unit
Jumping on the IBM PC compatible bandwagon, Sanyo introduced the MBC 550, a 16-bit computer with 128K of RAM, 160K disk drive, Centronics parallel printer port, hi-res color graphics capability (NTSC or RGB), speaker, and joystick port. The machine is compact (15" x 14" x 4.3") with a detached keyboard, and color or monochrome monitor.
The bundled software includes Sanyo Graphics Basic, MS-DOS, Easy Writer, WordStar, and CalcStar. The bundled price (without monitor) is only $999, nearly $1900 under the comparable system from IBM.
Sanyo Business Systems Corp., 51 Joseph St., Moonachie, NJ 07074. (201) 440-9300.
CIRCLE 434 ON READER SERVICE CARD IBM PC Keyboard from Rabbit Computer
Rabbit was showing the RBK-201, a capacitance keyboard for the IBM PC. It has 83 keys including ten programmable function keys and numeric keypad. Like the Keytronics and other replacement keyboards, the RBK-201 has a more "standard" layout than the IBM PC so that touch typists will not hit unintended keys accidentally. Also, the capacitance designs gives it a lighter touch than mechanical keyboards. Suggested list price is $199. A version may be made available for the Apple also.
Rabbit was also showing a Z80-based computer with 80K, 256 x 192 pixel resolution with eight colors, extended Basic, 32 graphics sprites, three sound channels, and many other nifty features. At $299 it is a bargain, but it was not clear whether or when it would be available in the U.S.
Rabbit Computer Inc., 39-01 Main St., Flushing, NY 11354. (212) 961-8623.
Disk, Drives and Disk Care Products Fast, Compatible Disk Drives from Concorde
Concorde Peripheral Systems, a major manufacturer of disk drives, announced the C-321-P disk drive for the Commodore 64 featuring a high-speed parallel interface. This unit provides greatly increased speed compared with the Commodore 1541 serial drive, yet it is completely software compatible. The C-321-P interface plugs into the game cartridge slot and has output ports for up to four drives, a modem, or other devices. Including one half-height single-sided drive (174K), the price is a modest $356. A double-sided drive is available for $446.
Concorde also offers a wide selection of single- and double-sided drives for Apple II, IBM PC, TRS-80, Atari, and TI computers. In addition, they have a line of compact 3-1/4" Sony-type drives--single- and doubled-sided--for Apple and IBM computers. Retail prices tend to be 25% to 40% lower than comparable drives from the computer manufacturers.
Concorde Peripheral Systems Inc., 23152 Verdugo Dr., Laguna Hills, CA 92653. (714) 859-2850.
CIRCLE 435 ON READER SERVICE CARD Expanded Disk Capacity for Apple II and III from Micro-Sci
In our coverage of Applefest (Feb. 1983, p. 89), we mentioned the Micro-Sci A82, an 80-track double-density drive with considerably faster track-to-track access time than original equipment Apple drives ($699 with controller), and the A2, a cost-effective plug compatible drive ($445 with controller).
Micro-Sci also offers three drives for the Apple III, two of which offer greater speed and capacity than the original equipment Apple drive. The top-of-the-line A143 drive is a double-density unit (140 tracks) with 5MSec access time, 572K capacity, and SOS driver. Price is $659.
Micro-Sci, 2158 S. Hathaway St., Santa Ana, CA 92705. (714) 662-2801.
CIRCLE 436 ON READER SERVICE CARD Premium Floppy Disks and Cleaning Kits from PerfectData
PerfectData, PermaByte Magnetics, and Polaroid announced a joint venture to market a premium line of floppy disks under the dual Polaroid and PerfectData labels. Using its special technology, Polaroid will apply a film coating to the raw media which will be converted into finished disks by PermaByte; the disks will then be marketed by PerfectData.
PerfectData also announced The Case, a computer care system which contains virtually every type of cleaning solution and material necessary for maintaining a computer system and peripherals. The Case holds two drive cleaning disks, head cleaning solution, CRT screen cleaning solution, plastic case cleaner, lint free wipes, two printer platen cleaners, and anti-static spray. Retail price is under $50.
For printer maintenance, PerfectData was showing two kits, one for cleaning daisy wheel and ball-type printing elements with a special container that ensures that cleaning fluid will not splash onto your hands or other equipment, and an innovative dot matrix head cleaner for under $10.
PerfectData Corp., 9174 Deering Ave., Chatsworth, CA 91311. (213) 998-2400.
CIRCLE 437 ON READER SERVICE CARD New Disk Line and Free Exercise Guide from Verbatim
To introduce the ValuLife line of disks, Verbatim displayed the new line in a health-oriented environment at their CES booth. Denise Austin, an exercise specialist, designed and demonstrated 20 exercised to help alleviate the stress and tension that can build up during extended periods in front of a computer or terminal.
Pictorial descriptions of these 20 exercises are available in a free booklet, "tone Up At The Terminals," to anyone requesting it (up to 100 copies) from Verbatim.
In addition, booth visitors were able to obtain a lifestyle appraisal. This health risk program was developed by Dirk Martin and Deborah Knapinski at the Institute for Lifestyle Improvement at the University of Wisconsin. After completing a series of questions regarding lifestyle and habits, participants received a printout revealing their "health age" as opposed to their chronological age. Both of us who completed the program found our health age to be a bit older than we were--being a magazine editor is no picnic! It told me, for example, that I could reduce my chances of dying if I obtained "an appropriate weight" and exercised more.
The ValuLife line of disks, aimed at high volume retailers, comes in twin-packs or ten-packs and is priced very competitively.
Verbatim, 323 Soquel Way, Sunnyvale, CA 94086. (408) 245-4400.
CIRCLE 438 ON READER SERVICE CARD Discwasher Introduces Interactive Disk Head Cleaner
Clean Runner, an interactive disk head cleaner from Discwasher is "designed to lead the computer user step-by-step through the cleaning process." The Clean Runner utilizes a lint-free cleaning surface bonded to a polyester diskette. The included software program directs the drive head to a different track for each cleaning, providing a contamination-free cleaning surface. The cleaning operation takes 30 seconds and each disk is good for 20 uses.
Discwasher, 1407 N. Providence Rd., Columbia, MO 65205. (314) 449-0941.
CIRCLE 439 ON READER SERVICE CARD
For the longest time, the monitor market belonged to a small group of manufacturers. However, in the last six months, the competition in monitorland has picked up considerably.
Although Amdek was not an exhibitor at CES, they certainly were in evidence. Practically every software manufacturer was using Amdek monitors with a discreet little sign, "Monitor by Amdek." It probably cost Amdek about the same to loan these monitors as it would have to have a booth, but the strategy was very effective since showgoers saw Amdek monitors up and down all the aisles.
Several computer manufacturers who also make (or OEM) monitors were showing them at their own booths. These include NEC (beautiful RGB and NTSC units), Toshiba, Sanyo, Apple, Commodore, and HP. Sakata had a booth showing only monitors (see review in Creative, Computing, Mar. 1984). In addition, four other companies announced monitors at the show. Leading Edge
Leading Edge announced the Gorilla, a 12" high-resolution green screen monitor. It has a display format of 80 columns by 25 lines of text or 800 lines graphics resolution. With a video bandwidth of up to 22 MHz (min. 18 MHz), the dot pattern is dense and vivid compared to a fuzzier image produced on many 15 MHz monitors. The input is composite video. A small LED on the front panel indicates when the the monitor is on or off.
Leading Eagle Products, Inc., 225 Turnpike St., Canton, MA 02021. (617) 828-8150.
CIRCLE 440 ON READER SERVICE CARD Roland DG
Roland dG (Digital Group) is a new division of Roland Corp., a leading producer of synthesizers and electronic musical instruments. At CES, Roland unveiled a line of six high quality monitors.
The top of the line unit ($795) is a 14" RGB color monitor with 640 x 200 pixels resolution (graphics) or 80 x 25 characters of text. One step down ($395) is a 14" composite color monitor with 270 lines (graphics) or 40 x 25 (text).
Four monochrome monitors include two green and two amber units. The MB-121G is a 12" low flicker unit for composite video with 640 x 200 pixel resolution (graphics) or 80 x 25 (text). The MB-122G is a TTL signal unit (for IBM PC, etc.) with a 12" screen and 720 x 350 pixel resolution. Both units are available in amber.
Roland DG Corp., 7200 Dominion Circle, Los Angeles, CA 90040. (213) 685-5141.
CIRCLE 441 ON READER SERVICE CARD Tatung
Tatung, a Taipei manufacturer of audio and video equipment, was showing a new line of six monitors. Two 13" RGB units seemed to have identical specs: 640 x 400 pixel graphics resolution or 80 x 25 text. A 13" composite video unit boasts 260 x 300 graphics resolution and 40 x 24 text.
The DM-12V is a stylish green screen monitor on a tilt and swivel base with 1000-line resolution. Two other monochrome units have "industrial" type styling. The 12" unit has 800-line resolution and the 9" one has 650 lines. No information on pricing, but judging by other Tatung products, it should be very competitive.
Tatung Co. of America, 2850 El Presidio St., Long Beach, CA 90810. (213) 637-2105.
CIRCLE 442 ON READER SERVICE CARD Samsung
Samsung, a Korean audio/video manufacturer, showed two monitors. The CD-1451D is a 14" composite video color monitor with 250 x 320 pixel graphics resolution while the MD-9051D is a stylish 9" green screen unit (no specs on resolution). Prices were not specified, but again, judging from other Samsung products, we expect them to be very competitive.
Samsung Electronics America, 117 Seaview Dr., Secaucus, NJ 07094. (201) 867-7575.
CIRCLE 443 ON READER SERVICE CARD Personal and Business Software
The range of software packages for personal applications being shown at CES was staggering, and yet those packages are only a small fraction of the total number available. Obviously, at a show like CES, the majority of pacakges were aimed at true home computers and not business machines occasionally pressed into personal use.
Packages for the Commodore 64 out-numbered all others together. However, there were many for Atari, Apple, IBM, and some other computers too. While many of these packages are intended for personal use, it seems that some would be suitable for a small business as well. Conversely, some of the packages aimed at the business user might well have a place in the home. Sundex Personal Financial Management Software
Sundex demonstrated three personal financial management packages for the IBM PC, PCjr, Apple, TI Professional, and Commodore 64 computers. The simplest program, Personal Payables, is a bill paying package that handles multiple bank accounts and will print checks with addresses for window envelopes.
The second program, Certified Personal Accountant, also handles bill paying and includes net worth, budget, cash flow, and tax computations, money market and credit card accounts, and a simple stock portfolio.
Certified Personal Investor will track the return on stocks, long and short term gains and losses, dividends, commissions, current market value, and tax position, and automatically produce information for income tax returns. It will also monitor other selected stocks that may be of interest.
The Sundex programs are very user-friendly and have both a "help" key and a "teach" function incorporated. In addition, the three programs are integrated and information entered in one can be automatically transferred to another.
Sundex Software Corp., 3000 Pearl St., Boulder, CO 80301. (303) 440-3600.
CIRCLE 444 ON READER SERVICE CARD Synapse Home Business and Health Care Software
Synapse introduced a set of seven home business packages for filing, calculating, graphing, stock analysis, telecommunications, appointment management, and tax preparation. All seven packages share and exchange data with each other and run on Atari 400/800/XL series computers.
SynFile is a comprehensive database management and report generator program; SynCalc is a menu-driven spread-sheet with many extended functions and complete compatibility with VisiCalc; SynTrend offers comprehensive graphing, charting, and forecasting; and SynChron is a personal time management program.
SynComm is a fine-scrolling communications package for use with any modem and timesharing service; SynStock is a complete stock charting and analysis program; and SynTax is an easy-to-use program to make dealing with Uncle Sam easier.
In a dramatic departure from its games and personal software, Synapse announced a new product division to market healthware titles. The first in the series is Relax, a stress reduction system. It includes a sensor headband (to monitor muscle tension (shown in graphical form on the screen), a workbook to help you understand your reactions to stress, and an audio tape to guide you into deep relaxation. Relax is available for Atari, Commodore, Apple, and IBM computers.
Synapse Software, 5221 Central Ave., Richmond, CA 94804. (415) 527-7751.
CIRCLE 445 ON READER SERVICE CARD Financial Management and Spreadsheet Packages from HesWare
Human Engineered Software, introduced Finance Manager for the IBM PC, PCjr, Apple, and Commodore 64. This pacakge allows users to track income and expenses, build a budget and compare it with actual results, balance multiple checking accounts, pay bills, print checks, and maintain tax records. Going a step beyond other available packages, Finance Manager has a wildcard search capability for access to specific transactions and can make financial calculations and print an amortization schedule.
Through a licensing agreement with Microsoft, HesWare is marketing Multiplan for the Commodore 64. The program contains all of the advanced Multiplan features including built-in arithmetic, financial, and trig functions; screen windows; variable column widths; alphabetic and numeric sorting; the capability to link worksheets; and flexible formatting of screen displays and reports. Price is just $99.95.
Hesware will also market OmniWriter, a page-based word processing program for the Commodore 64. Features include multi-line headers and footers, mail merge, underline and bold-face, scrolling capabilities and function keys to page forward and backward, global search and replace, and support of a wide variety of printers. The word processor is compatible with OmniSpeller, a 30,000-word spelling checker and Multiplan. It sells for $69.95.
Human Engineered Software, 150 North Hill Dr., Brisbane, CA 94005. (415) 468-4111.
CIRCLE 446 ON READER SERVICE CARD Database, Tax, and Money Management Packages from Timeworks
Timeworks announced seven packages for the IBM PC and Commodore 64. Programming Kit 3 was created to introduce C64 owners to the concepts of database design. It allows for information entry and retrieval and can be used for anything from a date reminder to a mail list.
Also for the C64 is Swiftax, a comprehensive, menu-driven tax preparation package. It sets up a taxpayer file which allows changes at a later date, checks tax alternatives automatically, including income averaging, and prints tax information directly on each IRS schedule. Price is $49.95.
The four packages for the IBM PC include Money Manager, a budget and cash flow system which produces bar charts of budgeted and actual amounts; Electronic Checkbook, a check recording, sorting, and balancing system; Data Manager 2, a menu-driven generalized database system with statistical calculations included; and Wall Street, a competitive game of financial speculation based on realistic models for one to four players. Prices range from $39.95 to $89.95.
Word Writer, also for the 64, is a word processing program which features the ability to move blocks of text, automatic search and replace, insertion, deletion, indentation, automatic word wrap, 14 tabs, automatic page numbering, document chaining, form letter printout, highlighting, merging, page skipping, horizontal and vertical scrolling, color control, disk cataloguing, resetting, and centering. Suggested price is $59.95.
Timeworks, Inc., P.O. Box 321, Deerfield, IL 60015. (312) 291-9200.
CIRCLE 447 ON READER SERVICE CARD Ten Insta Series Software Packages for C64
Micro-Sci, makers of those excellent replacement Apple disk drives, have embarked on a new venture: marketing the Cimarron Insta series of ten software packages for the Commodore 64.
Insta-Writer is a cartridge-based word processing system to create, edit, store, and print documents. It has an easy-to-use manual and many help screens. It can be integrated with Insta-Mail, a mailing list manager, or Insta-File, a versatile database management program. All three programs are available together in one package called the Management Combo.
Insta-Calc is a cartridge-based spread-sheet program. Partial spreadsheets can be moved and overlayed into other spreadsheets and help screens are available throughout. Insta-Calc interacts with Insta-Graph, a bar and line graphing package, and Insta-Vestor, a program for recording stock trades and prices. These three packages are sold together as the Investment Combo.
The last four programs include Insta-Sched, a time management program; Insta-Key, a keyed file access system; Insta-Speed, a Basic compiler; and Insta-Music, a learning tool for mastering music composition. Prices of the packages range from $31.95 to $99.95.
Micro-Sci Marketing, 2150 Hathaway St., Santa Ana, CA 92705. (714) 662-2801.
CIRCLE 448 ON READER SERVICE CARD Spreadsheet, Database, and Diagnostics from CSA
From Computer Software Associates comes a program different from any other we have seen. Called 64 Doctor, this disk or tape allows a user to diagnose C64 hardware malfunctions including the keyboard, audio, video, joysticks, RS-232 port, disk drive, printer, RAM, and cassette player. Only $29.95.
PractiFile is a versatile database package fort he C64 which allows batch entry of data, multiple lines per record, alphabetic and numeric sorting, calculated entries, and multiple reports. Bar graphs can be generated to illustrate numeric data. Price is $55.
For Apple and C64 owners, CSA offers PractiCalc II, an advanced spread-sheet program with variable column widths, long labels, alpha and numeric sorting, and an on-screen default menu. Moreover, it is considerably faster than many other spreadsheets, and costs just $69.
CSA Software is distributed by Micro Software International, The Silk Mill, 44 Oak St., Newton Upper Falls, MA 02164. (617) 527-7510.
CIRCLE 449 ON READER SERVICE CARD Softsync Personal Accounting Package for Many Computers
Softsync has released Personal Coleco, and Timex computers with promised availability for the IBM PC and PCjr.
The program uses double-entry bookkeeping which allows the user to make single entries that are posted to their proper categories and added or subtracted from the appropriate accounts. This comprehensive program provides professional accounting reports which list assets and liabilities, income, expenses, and trial balances. An integrated database accesses names, adresses, and other related information while an amortization section calculates principal and interest payments and calculates future values for any compounding period. The program is said to have more features and be faster than many of its competitors.
Softsync, Inc., 14 East 34th St., New York, NY 10016. (212) 685-2080.
CIRCLE 450 ON READER SERVICE CARD Accounting, Tutorial, and Graphing Programs from TriMicro
International TriMicro announced an extensive line of programs for the Commodore 64, a key one of which, 3 Plus 1, will be available on a chip incorporated in the new Commodore computers. This package is an integrated window system which includes a spreadsheet, word processing program, and database manager.
Available directly from TriMicro are Tri Count ($149.95), an accounting package with modules for general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, and inventory; Tri Forth 1.0 ($59.95), a Forth language package; Scriptimus ($39.95), a comprehensive, menu-driven text editor; Your Filing Cabinet ($39.95), a database system; Your Personal Accountant ($39.95), a budgeting/expenditures package; Tri Graph ($29.95), a graphing and freehand drawing system; and Easy Tutor ($24.95), a ten-lesson tutorial in the Basic language.
International Tri Micro, 1055 N. Batavia Unit G, Orange, CA 92667. (714) 771-4038.
CIRCLE 451 ON READER SERVICE CARD Bank Street Writer for IBM PC
Broderbund introduced an enhanced version of Bank Street Writer for the IBM PC. The enhanced version includes full tab features, including normal and decimal tabs; center, indent, and new page commands; and full control over margins, line spacing, text placement and placement and format of headers, footers and page numbers. It supports boldface, underlining, and other printer formatting commands and allows the user to define the function keys. Bank Street Writer supports all standard printers and all monitors, including monochrome, color composite video, and RGB. It is compatible with Compaq and IBM PCjr computers and sells for $79.95. Versions of the program are also available for Commodore 64, Apple, and Atari.
Also announced at the show was Bank Street Speller, a spelling checker designed specifically for use with Bank Street Writer. The program proofreads documents, highlighting misspellings in context, and allows the user to create a custom dictionary. It uses the same screen layout, control keys, menus, and prompts used by Bank Street Writer. Bank Street Speller is available for Apple at a price of $69.95.
Broderbund Software, 17 Paul Dr., San Rafael, CA 94903. (415) 479-1170.
CIRCLE 452 ON READER SERVICE CARD Home Productivity Software from Sierra On-Line
Sierra On-Line announced an Atari version of Homeword, a home word processing program currently available for Apple and Commodore 64 computers. Also announced was a series of personal productivity packages compatible with and complementary to Homeword.
Homeword Speller, an integrated program to check spelling, features the same icon technology found in Homeword. It contains 28,000 words and has the capability of adding 2500 additional words of the user's choice. The program is available for Apple at $39.95. Commodore 64 and Atari versions will be released later in the year. Homeword and Homeword Speller packaged together will sell for $99.95.
Homeword Filer is a database program for use with Homeword. Apple, Atari, and Commodore 64 versions will be released later this year. Homeword Finance and Homeword Tax will be available in late 1984 and 1985.
Sierra On-Line, Inc., Sierra On-Line Building, Coarsegold, CA 93614. (209) 683-6858.
CIRCLE 453 ON READER SERVICE CARD Audio Instruction about Computers from Flip Track
Fliptrack Learning Systems were showing their widely-acclaimed audio cassette training packages as CES. Lee McFadden, president of FlipTrack, explained to us how audio cassette based learning gets users off to a fast, satisfied start. He feels it is like sitting down and listening to a knowledgeable friend. The positive reviews in many magazines seem to back up this assessment of the process.
You can find a FlipTrack course for practically any computer or major software package. For example, courses are available on How to Operate the Apple IIe, II Plus, III, IBM PC, XT, and Franklin Ace 1000. Courses for using software packages are available for Wordstar, MailMerge, AppleWriter, EasyWriter II, VisiCalc, SuperCalc, Multiplan, and Lotus 1-2-3. There are courses on two operating systems: CP/M and CP/M-86.
Each course contains two, three, or four audio cassettes of about two hours each. They are accompanied by a fully-indexed operator's guide and packaged in a vinyl binder. Prices range from $57 to $110.
FlipTrack Learning Systems, 999 Main, Suite 200, Glen Ellyn, IL 60137. (312) 790-1117.
CIRCLE 454 ON READER SERVICE CARD Audio Training, Health, and Business Packages from K-Tek
K-Tek was showing two packages to help users make better use of their computers. Computer Coach has a floppy disk, audio cassette, and instruction booklet that teaches about periperhals, modum (sic), CPU, ROM, RAM, and other terms. Keyboard Coach focuses on the keyboard including graphics and special keys. Available for C64, Atari, and Vic 20.
K-Tek had eight other packages including Option Analysis for analyzing hedges, puts, calls, and other options; Health & Diet to define ideal body weight and count calories; Fact Finder, a file management system; and Business Field Analysis for travelling salespeople. Available for Apple, Atari, and Commodore 64.
K-Tel Software, Inc., 11311 K-Tel Dr., Minnetonka, MN 55343. (612) 932-4004.
CIRCLE 455 ON READER SERVICE CARD Phi Beta Filer from the Scarborough System
Phi Beta Filer is said to be the first list management software program designed for home use by both children and adults. It uses both color and sound, sorts and prints alphabetically and numerically, and it has a "Quiz Master" mode which can be used for developing games or for help in studying for exams.
The system comes on two disks, but may be used on a one-drive system. The data disk is pre-loaded with forms for listing credit cards, home inventories, cataloging collections, maintaining sports records, scheduling car maintenance, managing paper routes, and recording important dates. Available for Apple; C64 and IBM PC versions will be out shortly. Price is $49.95.
Scarborough Systems, Inc., 25 North Broadway, Tarrytown, NY 10591. (914) 332-4545.
CIRCLE 456 ON READER SERVICE CARD Accounting, Inventory, and Utility Software from Southern Solutions
Southern Solutions has long been producing high-quality accounting packages for Commodore Pet, CBM, and "B" series computers. Now, most of these packages have been adapted for the Commodore 64 and many new utility packages developed.
Newest entry in the C64 accounting series is The WidgetTracker, an inventory program that supports purchases, orders, sales, and credit memos. It can generate many reports including sales analysis, price list, file list, low quantity, and on order.
The Accounting Four Pack for the C64 includes general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, and payroll modules in a single binder for $349.95.
Five home utility programs have also been packaged together at a reduced price ($49.95). They include Letterhead which prints any kind of letterhead; Memo Pad, a message center; Little Invoice which creates invoices for a small business; Painting Helper which calculates the paint needed for a job; and Grocery List.
Southern Solutions also plans to release Dr. Daley's Software Library, a collection of 50 miscellaneous programs, for the C64. For years it has been a popular package for the Pet.
Southern Solutions, P.O. Box P, McKinney, TX 75069. (214) 542-0278.
CIRCLE 457 ON READER SERVICE CARD Typing Tutor from Simon And Schuster
The Typing Tutor III program continually monitors and records the precise time that it takes for the user to respond to each key. These data are then used to customize current and future lessns to meet the specific needs of the user.
This time response monitoring approach was used in the original Typing Tutor program from Kriya Systems in 1979; however, this new version is written in Forth for faster and more accurate response as well as easier transportability to many different computers.
Simon and Schuster Electronic Publishing, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020. (212) 245-6400. Typing Game and Utility Programs from Quick Brown Fox
QuickFinger, a touch-typing game designed to improve keyboard skills, has been developed by Quick Brown Fox for the Commodore 64. The disk contains three games: Alphazap, a game with a mission to destroy letters that threaten a pedestrian; Link the Letters, an eight-level vocabulary game; and Keyboard Pacer, a game which requires increasing speed in typing, $37.50.
Quick Brown Fox has augmented its original word processing program with several additional entries including: ExpandaFox, a software modification for displaying 80 columns; QuickMail, a mailing list/merge program; and QuickLink, a smart terminal telecommunications program for use with any modem.
Other programs from QBF include QuickFix, a 6502 assembly language debugger for the C64, Apple, and Atari; and Quick Basic Aid forthe C64 which offers renumbering, a cross reference of variables and line numbers, and the ability to extract routines from one program and use them in another.
Quick Brown Fox, 536 Broadway, New York, NY 10012. (212) 925-8290.
CIRCLE 458 ON READER SERVICE CARD Gladstone Home and Business Management Software
Gladstone announced three new packages for Commodore 64 and Vic 20 computers. All are priced below $30.00.
Real Estate Management is a menu-driven program that allows a user to compare, revise, and analyze actual and budgeted income and expenses for an apartment building or personal residence.
Personal Money Management is a menu-driven program that allows a user to compare, revise, and analyze actual and budgeted income and expenses for an apartment building or personal residence.
Personal Money Management is a group of seven programs ranging from a checkbook record system to a point and figure charting program for investments.
Calc Pro is a spreadsheet package which includes, as a bonus, a statistical analysis package.
Gladstone Electronics, Inc., 1585 Kenmore Ave., Buffalo, NY 14217. (716) 874-5510.
CIRCLE 459 ON READER SERVICE CARD Computerized Slide Show for IBM PC from Prentice-Hall
Prentice-Hall was showing ExecuVision, a presentation graphics program for the IBM PC. This menu-driven package lets you create graphics and picture images, copy parts of slides, copy and move objects, combine multiple slides, superimpose images, alter foreground and background colors, and even use animation. Up to 100 slides can be stored on a single disk. The package is also compatible with VisiTrend and VisiPlot.
Prentice-Hall Inc., 200 Old Tappan Rd., Old Tappan, NJ 07675. (800) 345-8112.
CIRCLE 460 ON READER SERVICE CARD
Program Writing Aid from Dynatech
Dynatech was showing a series of CodeWriter programs that helps you create your own programs. CodeWriter is said to look at a problem the same way you look at it without computer jargon or high level match, and then handle much of the actual coding.
Five packages are available for Apple, C64, Atari, and PCjr. They include Home FileWriter for writing a database manager; FileWriter 2, and advanced database system; Dialog for creating inactive quizzes and stories; Adventure Writer for creating adventure games; and The ELF System (Easy Language Form) for writing programs to do personal calculations.
Dynatech, 7847 N. Caldwell Ave., Niles, IL 60648. (312) 470-0700.
CIRCLE 461 ON READER SERVICE CARD Green Arros Data Management Systems
Green Arrow is a data management system for the Commodore 64. It comes with a built-in mailing list and label printing format, appointment calendar, recipe box, and tutorial instructions to help you design your own formats. The package is menu-driven and has high-speed browsing through the records. A record may contain up to 1600 characters, and up to 1000 records can be stored on a disk. The system permits y ou to sort and select on any field within a record.
Softwave, 156 Drakers Ln., Summertown, TN 38483. (615) 964-3573.
CIRCLE 462 ON READER SERVICE CARD T&F Releases Checkbook and Property Management Packages
CheckEast! from T&F is a program which maintains multiple checking accounts with full reconcilation. Reports can be printed by check number, budget category, or tax category. Checks can be voided or unvoided, and data are compatible with Commodore's Personal Finance package. For the C64, Vic 20, and Atari; $20.97 on disk.
P.M.P. 2000 is a property management template for VisiCalc which provides an apartment status report, tenant status report, cash receipts worksheet, invoicing, distribution of expenses, bank account statements, and income/expense schedules. For Apple, IBM, and Atari; $131.97.
T&F Software Co., 16742 Stagg St., Suite 106, Van Nuys, CA 91406. (818) 901-8941.
CIRCLE 463 ON READER SERVICE CARD Electronic Software Distribution Xante
Xante (pronounced Zahn-tay) Corp. announced an innovative way to deliver software electronically. Basically, a retailer buys (or leases) a Production Station ($15,000). When a customer wants to buy a software package, the store calls a central computer, pops a blank cartridge or disk (the right type, or course) into a slot on the Production Station, and a few minutes later, out comes a finished cartridge or disk. A narrow printer produces a label for both the cartridge and outside package while a second printer runs off the program instructions. If desired, up to 900 finished titles can be displayed in a snazzy display rack included with the Production Station.
The system has been on test in Tulsa, and has been well-received. The big advantage of the system is that stores can offer a wide selection of software titles, both new and old, without having to stock a huge inventory. In addition, stores will be able to carry software for all computers, not just two or three.
For more information, contact Dick Yocham, Xante Corp., 6846 South Canton, Tulsa, OK 74136. (918) 492-4089. Cumma
Remember Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari? His name seems to keep cropping up in new ventures. Three years ago, it was the Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Time Theaters; last year, it was Androbot; and today it is Cumma, an electronic software distribution scheme.
Unlike Xante, the Cumma MetaCart terminal is owned by the corporation; the retailer simply provides space in the store. Up to 200 programs are stored in the machine, and a new cartridge can be burned in a matter of seconds. To operate the MetaCart, the customer buys a blank cartridge, inserts it in the machine with some $5 bills (usually three), and that's it.
Cumma Technology Corp., 1105 Fair Oaks Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94089. Romox
A third entrant in the electronic software distribution sweeptakes is Romox, also headed up by an industry old-timer, Paul Terrell. The Romox point of sale terminal has an IBM PC built in with a 10 Mbyte hard disk drive able to store up to 500 tiles. The Romox system uses an EPROM cartridge (erasable with a UV light unit in the back of the terminal).
At the moment, Romox is the only system that can make cartridges for the PCjr. Also unique to the Romox system is an "attract mode" that shows customers the play of the game at the time of purchase.
Documentation for all the programs on the system is contained in a fat book (free with the first cartridge) that doubles as a catalog. The company has been testing consumer response in drug stores, mass merchandisers, and record stores in northern California; the reception to it has been excellent.
Romox, Inc., 476 Vandell Way, Campbell, CA 95008. (408) 374-7200. Rom-Labs
Rom-Labs was also showing an electronic software distribution system. Like the Xante system, programs are downloaded from a central computer onto an EEPROM (electronically erasable) cartridge. The ROM-Loader is built around an IBM PC and takes about 40 seconds to erase and reload a cartridge. The big difference between other systems and the one from Rom-Labs is that it can be purchased directly by end users. The price, without computer, is projected to be about $100.
Rom-Labs Inc., 2643 151st Pl. N.E., Redmond, WA 98052. (206) 881-7744. And the Winner is ....
In the electronic distribution field, there is a fifth entrant, Softyme, about which we have no information. Who is (or will be) the winner? One answer is that you, the consumer, will be. After all, anything that can make more tiles available on a widespread basis is good for the end user. But of the companies involved, who is likely to come out on top?
Let's consider some of the pros and cons of each system.
* Cost to customer. Romox and Rom-Labs are the winners because cartridges can be reused.
* Image. Cumma, Xante, and Romox all had large 1000 plus sq. ft. booths at CES; Rom-Labs had 100 sq. ft. Cumma had slick brochures, Xante had an impressive reception. When you are trying to sign up dealers, all these things count.
* Selection. Xante and Rom-Labs use a central computer with virtually unlimited capacity; Cumma and Romox are limited to what will fit into a stand-alone unit.
* Formats. Xante is the only one that can produce computer disks as well as cartridges.
* Packaging. Lots of hype, but no good solutions. Perhaps Xante's hinged display racks are the best.
* Demonstration. Romox is the only system that promises software demos in color.
We could go on, but it is unlikely that a clear winner would emerge. If we had to rank the contenders today, we would probably put them in this order: Xante, Romox, Cumma, Rom-Labs. But in the long run, only the free marketplace will decide whether there will be one winner, or whether four (or more) systems will compete side by side. Robots and Miscellaneous Computer Carrying Cases
In response to the burgeoning personal/portable computer market, American Tourister introduced a special line of nine hard-sided computer carrying cases. They are available for the following: IBM PC, Epson HX-20, Epson FX-80 printer, Sharp PC-5000, Apple II, NEC 8201, Franklin ACE 1000, Xerox 1810, and Workslate. Each case has a sturdy ABS shell and custom foam interior.
American Tourister, 91 Main St., Warren RI 02885.
CIRCLE 464 ON READER SERVICE CARD CyberLynx Home Control System
CyberLynx was showing Smarthome I, a system which allows an Apple or IBM PC to monitor a security system and control electrical appliances without tying up the machine. The Smarthome I packages comes with a controller unit, wireless security sensors, handheld remote controller, powerline appliance controllers, and disk of software.
Key to the Smarthome system is the software which lets the homeowner use a joystick or mouse to move objects (icons) around the screen. The system includes a program to allow the user to draw and customize his own house or building. The starter package sells for $600.
CyberLynx, 4828 Sterling Dr., Boulder, CO 80301. (303) 444-7733.
CIRCLE 465 ON READER SERVICE CARD Computer Care Products from Recoton Many audio and video accessory vendors are entering the computer care and accessory field, once the excluse domain of a small handful of companies. One of the biggest to make the leap is Recoton with a wide variety of products.
Their products include printer, monitor, modem, and cassette cables; AC adapters; power strips; surge protectors; and computer covers. In the maintenance area, they offer cleaning kits for disk drives, keyboards, screens, and cassette recorders. In media, they offer disks, cassettes, and storage boxes. We checked a few prices and found them very competitive, especially for cables which computer manufacturers tend to price on the high side.
Recoton Corp., 46-23 Crane St., Long Island City, NY 11101. (212) 392-6442.
CIRCLE 466 ON READER SERVICE CARD Small Screen Teevees
Two years ago, the rage at CES was battery-powered 5" TV sets. Since we are not addicted to TV viewing (except when attached to a computer), we never got one of these little wonders. (Frankly, we thought the screen of the Osborne O1 was better suited to an elf than a full-size human, so now you know where our biases lie).
In any event, this was the year of the micro TV set. Casio and Citizen had sets with LCD displays which are viewed through a magnifying mirror, and Sinclair showed a unit with a 2" screen (magnifier available) using a bent-neck picture gun. It is the smallest of the three (5.5" x 3.5" x 1.25") and is the only one to incorporate both of the worldwide TV standards (NTSC, PAL). But does it have the resultion to view text from a computer (say the Sinclair Spectrum)? We can't be sure until we get one, but we would guess not. What say you, Clive?
Sinclair Research, 50 Staniford St., Boston, MA 02114. (617) 742-4826.
CIRCLE 467 ON READER SERVICE CARD RB Robot Enhancements
You've read all about the RB robots on these pages. Now the company has released four preprogrammed software modules for the RB5X Robot. Owners can either program the robot themselves using a computer or use the modules.
As you will recall, the RB5X comes completely assembled with Polaroid rangefinder sonar, tactile sensors, battery charger, and several options including a multi-function arm.
The four software packages include Pattern Programmer (allows the robot to remember a sequence of instructions), Bumper Music (use the robot bumpers like piano keys), Spin-the-Robot (a game module for children that lets them get RB dizzy), and Intruder Alarm/"Daisy, Daisy." When we first heard of this last package we wondered if when the robot sensed an intruder it was programmed to sing "Daisy." Not quite, but close--it sounds an alarm, and a separate command directs it to sing. We like RB5X--as if you couldn't tell--but we'd sure like to see a module to program him to do windows.
RB Robot Corp., 18301 West 10th Ave., Suite 310, Golden, CO 80401. (303) 279-5525.
CIRCLE 468 ON READER SERIVE CARD Hubotics Robot
Hubotics introduced the Hubot, said to be the first robot intended for use in the home rather than by hobbyists or educators. Well, maybe, but we think hobbyists, educators, and homeowners will all like Hubot.
Hubot stands 44" tall and is more of a mobile computer than a robot. The computer, the SysCom, has three Z80A mpus, 128K of RAM, 42K or ROM, an 80-column by 24-line display, 64-key detachable keyborad, 5-1/4" disk drive, and ports for a parallel printer, RS-232 serial device, and joysticks. Robotic peripherals include a voice synthesizer (with 1200-word vocabulary), sonic transducer, battery charger, digital clock, and, of course, A C3PO garbage can-like body. Oh, yes, if he gets on your nerves, you can always switch off the robotic functions and turn him into a B&W TV set. $3495.
Hubotics, Inc., 5375 Avenida Encinas, Suite B, Carlsbad, CA 92008. (619) 438-9028
CIRCLE 469 ON READER SERVICE CARD Bit Banger
Are you frustrated by your computer? Did it just east two weeks of programming effort? Do you have the urge to put your foot through the screen? This product may be the answer to your frustrations. Called a bit banger, it is a foam-headed mallet with a plastic tubular handle. We asked for one to bang away our stray bits but the manufacturer refused to give us one to test, so you'll have to be your own judge as to whether it is worth $14.95.
Bits & P.C's, 1850 Union St., San Francisco, CA 94123. (415) 929-7789.
CIRCLE 470 ON READER SERVICE CARD I Hate Computers
Perhaps you hate your computer and you would like to threaten it with great bodily harm. Here are some ideas of how you can get even with your diabolical machine; they include turning it into a boat anchor, soccer ball, punching bag, or litter box. Even if you like your computer, these 76 diabolical ideas of John Barry's illustrated by Richard Tennat are sure to give you some quiet chuckles, if not loud guffaws. Published by Hayden Book Company, Rochelle Park, NJ, for only $4.95.