Antic Tests Newest Atari Hardware
Latest Mega, PC, Laser timetable
by Nat Friedland, Antic Editor
Just as this issue went to press, Antic was invited to visit Atari and preview the new SLM804 Laser Printer in action. Take a look at the sharply detailed laser printout accompanying this article and you'll see why we were impressed with the SLM804.
While we were in the Atari Engineering Department observing their laser printer crank out ultra-sharp pages, on a workbench behind us was a line-up of seven Atari PC clones. These IBM-compatible Ataris were running a wide range of MS-DOS software, from Lotus 1-2-3 to Flight Simulator II.
According to Atari Marketing Communications Director Neil Harris, those PCs were a preproduction test shipment. In manufacturing start-up timetable, this would put the PCs about 30-45 days behind the 2-megabyte Mega 2 and 4Mb Mega 4 three-piece STs.
The first production run of Megas was shipped to software developers and is now going on sale in Germany and France. Harris said that a major "rollout" of the Megas and laser printer would take place in October, with a series of regional dealer meetings. At that time, final prices for these products were to be set.
Antic has just received a developer's 4-megabyte Mega 4 (with blitter chip), which will be covered in detail in coming issues of Antic and in the Spring 1988 issue of STart, The ST Quarterly.
We opened up our Mega's motherboard box and looked at the clean chip layout. Especially impressive was the wide-open Direct Memory Access which should make it easy to tap the power of the Mega for a variety of specialized hardware uses.
Of course, while at the Atari Corp. we also took advantage of the opportunity to check on the latest status of previously announced hardware for the 8-bit computers. According to Harris, the first cargo containers of the 80 column XEP-80 display box (Antic, July 1987) and SX212 1200-baud modems had just arrived in Atari U.S. warehouses. We also heard that the XE Game System computers and many new XL/XE-compatible game cartridges were due to start reaching the stores in October.
However, the double-sided, double-density XF551 Disk Drive shown at the June Consumer Electronics Show (Antic, September 1887) will not he scheduled for manufacture until programming of the new operating system is successfully completed.