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A.N.A.L.O.G. TCS #7 [message #120687] Tue, 02 July 1985 18:18
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Article-I.D.: ihlpa.710
Posted: Tue Jul  2 18:18:36 1985
Date-Received: Wed, 3-Jul-85 08:47:41 EDT
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                           06/18/85 CES WRAP-UP

                            Summer CES Wrap-Up
                           by Arthur Leyenberger

Permission  granted to reprint this article if following statement  appears 
in reprint:

"Entire contents copyright (C) 1985 ANALOG Computing Magazine.  All  rights 
reserved."

In  this  article,  we wrap up our CES coverage by reporting on  other  new 
products from companies exhibiting at the semi-annual electronics show.  In 
past  years,  each  show  typically had  a  theme.  Usually  informal,  and 
definitely not announced,  it was obvious what the latest fad, trend or new 
products were that year.  Previously games or educational software were the 
themes.

This year no one theme emerged except that several major software companies 
decided to to attend the show. But looking at the products from the various 
manufacturers, two central ideas were present: more value for your computer 
purchase  and  more mature entertainment  products.  Also,  everywhere  you 
looked,  software  for Apple,  Commodore and Atari computers all used  some 
form of pull down menus,  windows and icons. And these techniques were used 
on  8-bit  computers.  Here  then is what's new from the rest of  the  1985 
Summer Consumer ELectronics Show.

Activision  had  several  new  programs  for  the  Atari.  Garry  Kitchen's 
Gamemaker:  The  Computer  Game Design Kit is a programming  tool  for  the 
creation of your own computer games. Using only a joystick, you select from 
various menus to choose the different aspects of a game you wish to create. 
Pre-programmed characters such as an airplane,  rocket ship, flying saucer, 
ducks and a running man are included.  The program also lets you select the 
speed of movement and direction of the characters, background scenes, sound 
effects and even music.

The  Game  Design Kit also lets you save your game creations on a  separate 
disk so that you can give them to your friends.  Saved games do not require 
the Design kit in order to run.

Another  new Activision game is called Fast Tracks:  The Computer Slot  Car 
Construction  kit.  This is also a do-it-yourself program in which you  can 
create, edit and save slot car tracks and then race on them. The program is 
joystick  controlled whereby you select from a menu of track sections  such 
as curves,  loops and underpasses in order to assemble your track piece  by 
piece.  The  track  difficulty level and the slot car itself can be  custom 
designed  to  whatever you want.  The program also  includes  several  pre-
designed race courses to get you up and racing immediately.

Hacker  is  the third Activision game that was shown at CES.  Much  like  a 
mystery movie,  Hacker has no instructions,  goal or guidelines: you simply 
boot the disk and the program asks you to log on. What you do after that is 
totally  up to you.  All you know when you start the game is that you  have 
"accidently"  broken into an unknown computer system and have stumbled onto 
a  secret  beyond  anything you could imagine.  With  no  rules,  clues  or 
background information you must find out whose system you have logged  onto 
and  what  is going on.  All Activision will say about the program is  that 
there  is a mystery to be solved and there may be several solutions to  the 
problem.

Alter Ego is Activision's game designed for wimps.  The program allows  the 
player  to vicariously experience living the life of someone else.  As  you 
are  presented with situations and events,  you can respond in any way  you 
want and see how that behavior molds your personality.  With Alter Ego, you 
can  consider  many  different ways you might live in an  entertaining  and 
totally risk-free way. After each decision is made and entered the computer 
narrator explains the outcome and the possible consequences of that choice. 
Over  time  the  effects  of choices made early in  life  will  affect  the 
situations you later face.

The Game Design Kit, Fast Tracks, Hacker and Alter Ego will be available by 
the end of the year and each cost under $50.

Batteries  Included,  the Canadian firm responsible for two good  programs, 
Paper Clip and HomePak, was showing a new 80-column cartridge for the 8-bit 
Atari computers.  The BI-80 will work on the XL and XE computers and  plugs 
into the cartridge slot. It is priced at about $80 and will work with a new 
version of Paper Clip and HomePak due out this fall. 

Batteries Included announced that they would send a free BI-80 cartridge to 
any legitimate software developer,  complete with its specifications.  This 
open-minded attitude is refreshing in this industry and perhaps may yield a 
significant number of programs that will work with this product. A standard 
may be created in the Atari 8-bit line which is fine with me. It would also 
be fine with Batteries Included.

Broderbund   Software   had  only  a  few  Atari   related   announcements. 
Championship  Lode Runner will become available for the Atari computer this 
fall.  Also,  their  new game Karetaka,  will be available for  the  Atari. 
Karetaka  is  unique in that it is the first and only game that I  know  of 
that  uses film-style cutaway views for the game screens.  When approaching 
an enemy,  for example, the screen first shows your player, then it cuts to 
a view of the opponent approaching,  then back to you again. This technique 
is used effectively in this karate-combat-adventure game.

Another  new game shown by Broderbund was Lode Runner's Rescue.  This  game 
follows  in  the  footsteps  of Lode Runner in  that  your  character  must 
traverse a series of 46 mazes on the way to your goal.  You are  Alexandra, 
the  daughter  of  the famous Lode Runner,  trying to reach  your  father's 
prison cell.  Naturally you must pick up keys and avoid the hostile  guards 
on  your  journey.  The game also features a game editor in which  you  can 
create your own screens containing elevators,  trap doors, enemy guards and 
rushing  rivers.  Lode Runner's Rescue will be available for the ATari this 
fall and cost $30.

Broderbund  also announced the Print Shop Graphics Library Disk  Two.  This 
$25 disk, available this fall, provides 120 additional designs, symbols and 
pictures for use with your Print Shop graphic creations.  Images in six new 
categories consist of such items as a tractor,  jukebox,  microscope, whale 
and cross.  The Print Shop lets you easily write, design and print your own 
greeting cards, letterheads, banners and signs.

Computer Magic was showing an interesting product that will appeal to robot 
lovers of all ages. Called Robot Link, this program runs on any Atari 8-bit 
computer and lets you control Tomy Omnibot and Verbot robots. This software 
is  unusual in that you do not need to actually walk the robot through  its 
series of steps in order to train it to do something. Various sequences can 
be saved to disk and later reloaded.

The  software package also comes with several games that take advantage  of 
the  program's  unique  ability to make one of the Tomy robots  move  in  a 
random  fashion.  In addition,  Robot Link allows you to have more  precise 
control  over the maneuverability of your robot.  Robot Link will sell  for 
approximately $40.

A  small Oregon company named Covox had an intriguing product at the  show. 
They  were  exhibiting  a voice recognition and voice  synthesis  unit  for 
Apple,  Commodore and Atari computers. Called the Voice Master, it lets you 
record  words in any language using your own pitch and accent and have  the 
program later recognize and speak the words.  Included in the $90 price  is 
another  program  called  the Voice Harp.  This program lets  you  perform, 
compose and write music simply by humming or whistling into the microphone. 
Seeing (and hearing) it in action is truly uncanny.

The Voice Harp lets you produce various tone qualities,  different keys and 
multi-note harmonies. You can even see the notes scrolling on the screen on 
a musical staff as you hum or whistle.  The results of your composition can 
be  edited,  saved and even printed.  I look forward to obtaining  a  Voice 
Master in the near future in order to do a full-scale review.

Datasoft  was showing something old,  something new and something borrowed. 
The  borrowed  titles shown were licensed originals from  other  companies. 
From Atari,  Datasoft is now marketing Pole Position,  Pac-Man and Dig Dug. 
They are also marketing Zaxxon from Sega.   In the something old  category, 
Datasoft  is continuing to sell the Conan,  Mancopter and Bruce Lee  games. 
For something new, Datasoft announced several games for the Atari computer. 
Mr. Do and Pole Position II have been around for a while but are now making 
their debut on the Atari computer.  Mr. Do is similar to the popular arcade 
game.  Pole  Position II is also an arcade translation,  complete with four 
tracks  and the ability to create your own track.  Another acquired  arcade 
license is Elevator Action by Taito.  Elevator Action and Pole Position  II 
will be available in the fall and retail for about $30. 

Three  entirely new game were previewed by Datasoft.  Zorro,  based on  the 
famous character created by Johnston McCulley in 1919,  has appeared in the 
movies,  on  TV and in comics.  Now the computer game arrives with the same 
villain  that  we  all hate:  Sergeant Garcia.  The game  begins  with  the 
abduction of a fair maiden by Garcia's soldiers.  Zorro's pursuit takes him 
through  15  increasingly more difficult screens,  including  four  in  the 
catacombs beneath the mission graveyard.  As Zorro, you leap from rooftops, 
trampoline  your  way from one floor to another and engage Garcia  and  his 
soldiers in duels.

Another  new title from Datasoft has a movie tie-in with the new  Spielberg 
film:  Goonies.  Following  the adventures of the Goonie kids in the  film, 
each screen is an elaborate Rube Goldberg type maze. Your goal is to obtain 
the pirate's treasure while avoiding the evil Mama Fratelli.

Datasoft's  third  new game is called Alternate Reality.  It is  a  fantasy 
role-playing  game  in which you have been abducted by an alien  spacecraft 
and  transported  to another time and place.  In the  first  episode,  "the 
city",  you must learn basic survival skills such as finding food,  shelter 
and money. The goal: return to Earth or seek revenge on your abducters.

Zorro,  Goonies  and  Alternate  Reality will be available  for  the  Atari 
computer this fall.  Alternate Reality will sell for $40 while Goonies  and 
Zorro  will  sell for $30.  Datasoft has not been very strong in the  Atari 
market  lately but we wish them the best of success with their  line-up  of 
highly recognizable titles.

Electronic  Arts  was  not at the show but had a hotel  suite  in  downtown 
Chicago.  They were showing nothing new for the Atari computer at this time 
but  told  me  that  Skyfox,  Adventure Construction Set  and  Road  Racing 
Destruction  Set  would  probably  become available  for  the  Atari  8-bit 
computer line by the end of the year. They have purchased the rights to the 
arcade hit,  Marble Madness and mentioned that a version may appear for the 
Atari ST computers.  Also, an enhanced Financial Cookbook, may become their 
first ST product.

Epyx  Software,   the  folks  who  brought  you  Rescue  on  Fractalus  and 
Ballblazer,  two great Lucasfilm games, were proudly showing two additional 
Lucasfilm  games.  The Eidolon,  one of the two new games,  allows  you  to 
become an adventurer on a magical journey. In a kind of inverted Fractalus, 
you  roam throughout caverns populated by trolls,  greps and dragons.  Your 
goal  is to find the inventor of a 19th century time machine and learn  the 
secrets of its use.

The  other  new Lucasfilm game is called Koronis Rift.  This  is  really  a 
strategy  game in action game clothing.  You play the role of a  futuristic 
techno-scavenger  who  discovers the Koronis Rift:  the  legendary  weapons 
testing grounds for an ancient race of beings.  Unfortunately for you, this 
neat  technology  is guarded by a genetically engineered race of  creatures 
who have outlived their creators. It's up to you to decide what weapons and 
technology to recover in order to survive.

Both Eidolon and Rift employ Lucasfilm's fractal generators to create ever-
changing  3-D landscapes and caverns.  These techniques appear to  be  even 
better  than those used on the first two Lucasfilm games.  Explosions  look 
more  realistic,  objects  seem lighter in the distance and  more  colorful 
objects appear on the screen. These games will be available in the fall and 
will sell for about $30.

The  latest in the series of sports games from Epyx is The World's Greatest 
Football Game.  As a computer coach,  you can play against the computer  or 
another opponent with up to 120 different plays, choosing either offense or 
defense.  The game will sell for about $30 and be available by the time you 
read this.

Epyx also announced that a new enhanced version of Temple of Apshai will be 
available  for the Atari computer soon.  Called The Trilogy,  this dungeons 
and  dragons  type of adventure role-playing game  features  1400  separate 
chambers,  multiple  dungeon  levels,  improved graphics and faster  action 
play.  The  game will cost $30 and includes the original Temple of  Apshai, 
Curse of Ra and Upper Reaches of Apshai.

A  company  called Enhanced Technology Associates  was  demonstrating  some 
interesting  products in the back of the Atari booth.  They have a  product 
called  Virtuoso  that  allows you to create and edit sounds on  the  Atari 
computer.  What  is unique about their program is that you do not  need  to 
read  music  in  order  to use it effectively.  The  program  is  primarily 
joystick controlled and you simply draw the melody on the screen. Once this 
is done,  note names can be displayed,  timing may be changed and  sections 
cut and pasted for future use.

Virtuoso  requires an Atari 130XE computer and will sell for under $50.  It 
will be available by the time you read this.  Another of ETA's products  is 
Virtuoso MIDI.  This is a two-part product:  An enhancement to the original 
Virtuoso  program and a hardware interface.  The company says that existing 
owners  of  Virtuoso can upgrade to the new product for the  difference  in 
price.  ETA's MIDI interface will sell for under $150 and the program  will 
cost  $50.  The MIDI Virtuoso requires an Atari 130XE computer and will  be 
available by January.

Joseph  Lyons,  one  of the partners of ETA told me that they will also  be 
coming out with MIDI Virtuoso for the Atari ST computer by summer 1986. Few 
details  are  available  now but they are committed to  supporting  the  ST 
computer.

ICD, makers of SpartaDOS, were showing some interesting products. Their new 
SpartaDOS  Construction  Set  appears  to be  the  most  sophisticated  and 
powerful  DOS for the 8-bit Atari computer.  The program sells for $40  and 
offers an amazing array of features including many utilities.  When used on 
the 130XE computer,  a RAMdisk is created which can be configured as  drive 
1-8.  Directories  can be used,  batch files created,  individual files  or 
entire disks locked (protected) and drive speed checked.

SpartaDOS  also  time and date stamps files and even lets you change  these 
parameters.  A  disk  can be given a volume name and changed at  any  time. 
Their are just to many features to mention here.

Another product shown by ICD is their R-Time 8 Cartridge.  This is a  real-
time  clock for the Atari computer.  Using SpartaDOS without this cartridge 
allows  you to time and date stamp your files but you must enter  the  time 
and date each time you power up your computer.  With the R-Time cart,  time 
and  date  information  is automatically kept  for  you.  Also,  continuous 
time/date  information  can  be  displayed on  the  screen  and  is  easily 
accessible  from  Basic and other languages.  The cartridge uses  a  5-year 
battery,  sells  for $70 and has its own expansion port.  That way you  can 
keep this cartridge in your computer at all times and plug other cartridges 
into it.

Microbits  Peripheral  Products (MPP) has supported Atari owners for  years 
and is one of the few "oldtimers" in this young computer business.  At  CES 
they  were  showing  everything from hard disks to  inexpensive  1200  baud 
modems.  MPP has two hard disks, a 5 megabyte and a 10 megabyte system. The 
5 MB system will sell for under $1000 and includes the hard disk interface, 
hard disk and software. The 10MB system will probably sell for under $1200. 
If  you already have a hard disk,  then you can buy the hard disk interface 
for  under $250.  I saw the 10MB system working with and 800XL and  loading 
files is fast.

MPP will also be introducing a 1200 baud modem for the Atari that will sell 
for  under $200.  That price will include terminal software.  MPP  is  also 
currently  working on a brand new telecommunications program that will  run 
on  everything  from  Atari STs to IBM PCs to Atari  800s.  The  hard  disk 
systems and modem will be available by the time you read this.

Another  new product from MPP is the Micronet networking system.  This  net 
will  handle  up  to  eight  Atari computers running  off  of  one  set  of 
peripherals.  Standard  Atari SIO peripherals may be used for a very  cost-
effective multi-station Atari setup.  An eight-workstation arrangement with 
Atari  XL computers,  color monitors,  one set of peripherals and  Micronet 
would cost roughly $3500, about one-third the cots of similar Apple setup.

A piece of hardware,  appealing mostly to hackers and hardware buffs,  is a 
product  called Microport.  This is a breadboard which interfaces from  the 
Atari computer to the real world. It plugs into the parallel port on either 
an  XL  computer or a 130XE and gives you eight control channels.  It  will 
sell for $50 and be available by the time you read this.

Mindscape announced that their only new product for the Atari,  The  Halley 
Project:  A Mission in Our Solar System,  is available now. This is a real-
time space adventure simulation written by Tom Snyder.  Every planet,  star 
or moon depicted in this program moves at the same rate of speed and in the 
same orbit as they actually do in our solar system.

The Halley Project uses high resolution graphics and attention to detail in 
what looks like a very good simulation of outer space. Players must qualify 
for  the top secret "Halley Project" by completing a series of navigational 
tests. Through the tests and obstacles the program helps the players master 
facts about our solar system,  including Halley's Comet and its  orbit.  An 
understanding of gravity,  atmospheric conditions, orbital motion, relative 
size,  position and orbits of planets and moons,  location of constellation 
and  how eclipses work are all provided.  The Halley Project will sell  for 
$45.

Synapse  Software,  now owned by Broderbund,  is reported to be in  healthy 
financial  condition.  This is evident by their introduction of several new 
products for the 8-bit Atari computer line. Mindwheel and Essex are two new 
text adventures announced by Synapse.  Billed as ELectronic  Novels,  these 
two  novels are said to pick up were the printed word leaves off.  What  is 
interesting is that you begin these adventures by reading a hard-bound book 
that sets the stage and describes the characters.  Then, you begin the text 
adventure on your computer as a continuation of what you have just read.

The  parser  used in these text adventure games is as good as that used  by 
other text adventure publishers.  Mindwheel is a journey into the minds  of 
four  deceased  people of extraordinary power.  Off-the-wall humor is  used 
throughout  the adventure which adds to its unique quality.  Essex  is  the 
story of an intergalactic search and rescue mission.

Synapse  also announced new versions of SYNCalc and SYNFile+ that will take 
advantage of the extra memory in the Atari 130XE computer.  If you  already 
own  either of these excellent products,  Synapse is offering a $10 upgrade 
policy.  For  $10  and your current disk,  Synapse will send  you  the  new 
improved  version  of the program.  This offer is being done through  their 
customer service department.

Synapse has also announced the SYNCalc Template Disk. Available by the time 
you  read this,  this product features 22 different templates for use  with 
the SYNCalc spreadsheet program.  Spreadsheet formats and formulas in  such 
areas  as  stock/bond  evaluation,   expense  reporting,  mortgage  payment 
analysis,  personal  net  worth and conversion tables are offered  on  this 
$19.95  disk.  These templates make an already excellent and useful program 
even more worthwhile.

Another  new  product was announced by  Synapse.  Called  Letterhead,  this 
program  integrates  word  processing,  an  address  file  and  a  graphics 
capability.  Using  windows and drop down menus,  Letterhead allows you  to 
create and save letter formats, create letterheads using multiple fonts and 
use  a  tickler-style  address  file for keeping  track  of  your  data.  A 
keyboard,  joystick,  touch tablet or mouse can be used with this  program. 
Letterhead will be available in late fall and sell for under $50.
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