Visit Atarimax Store

Free-Net Logo
The Atari SIG Historical Archive
Created and hosted by:

Article #20 (44 is last):
From: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG)
Newsgroups: freenet.sci.comp.atari.nwsltr
Subject: Atari SIG: 17-Jun-90  #101
Reply-To: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG)
Date: Wed May 25 12:30:17 1994

                                     / \
                                    /   \
                                   /     \
                                  /       \
                      ___________/         \__________
                      \                              /
                       \ June 17, 1990  Vol.I  No.1 /
                        \                          /
           /________________                    __________-_____________/
          /___|_|_|_________ CLEVELAND FREE-NET _________| |___________/
         /____|_|_|_________                    ________|   |_________/
        /____/__|__\________     ATARI SIG      ________|   |________/
       /____/___|___\_______                    ______| |   | |_____/
                             /       / \      \
                            /      /     \     \
                           /     /         \    \
        //       ______                             _______          \\
       //       /      \                           /       \          \\
      ()       /________\    ON-LINE NEWSLETTER   /_________\          ()
     /||       | ______ |                         | _______ |          ||\
    //_________||ATARI ||_________________________|| ATARI ||____________\\
    -\||       ||  ST  ||                         ||   XE  ||          ||/-
      \|       ||______||      Supporting the     ||_______||          |/
      |\      /|________|\                       /|_________|         _/|
      ||\_   /____________\     Atari XE, ST,   |                    / ||
      ||  \__| /|\   ___  |                     |          |\___/|  /  ||
      ||    _|____________|     Portfolio, &    | ___________   ____   ||
      ||   |                                    \| ///////// | | __ |  ||
      ||   \ ____________ _     Lynx systems     |___________| | __ |  ||
      ||    |/////////// | \                     |______/////| | __ |  ||
            |LLLLLLLL LLL| _                     |LLLLLLLLLLL| | __ |    
            |LLLLLLLL LLL||'|                    |LLLLLLLLLLL| |____|    
            |_[____]_____| -                     |__[_____]__|  \_-/    
              (aka C.A.I.N. - Cleveland Atari Information Network)
        216/368-3888 | 300/1200/2400 bps | type 'Go Atari' at any menu       
               Atari SIG, P.O. Box 21815, Cleveland, Ohio, 44121              


Words from the Editor...........................Len Stys
What to do About Atari..........................Kevin Steele
The Atari Portfolio (Review)....................Tony Thomas
The "Atari Advantage" is a real advantage.......Len Stys
Free-Net Online Magazines and Z*Net.............
Sparta DOS X (Review)...........................Doug Wokoun
Police Quest II (Review & Hints)................Robert Stys
Alpha Music Utilties (3 Reviews)................Michael & George Polly
What is new in the Cleveland Atari World?.......Mark Leair
Free Registration and Membership Offer..........
New Sierra Games for the Atari ST...............
Lynx and new Lynx game cards....................
About the Cleveland Free-Net Atari SIG..........

      Accessing Free-Net by Internet- IP address: "".
   Sending Atari SIG e-mail from Compuserve or other systems through Internet:
   Sending Atari SIG e-mail from BITNET systems usually found in colleges:

                         Words from the Editor

     Happy Father's Day and welcome to the first issue of the Cleveland
Free-Net Atari SIG's On-Line Newsletter.  WE hope you enjoy it and will
continue to bring you news, reviews, and articles every other month.

     It may seem a little ironic that we would start a newsletter at probably
one of the most depressing times in almost every Atarian's life but that is
exactly why we started one.  In this newsletter, we will not concentrate
on what Atari is doing wrong but instead we would like to concentrate
on what great things there are for your computer and how you can better use
your Atari.

     The Lynx is out and it is being advertised by Atari and just in time.
It seems as if Nintendo, NEC, and Sega are all bringing out new portable
game systems.  Each of these new portable systems will be able to run
games from their existing home system - something I'm sure Atari didn't
think they would do. But Atari has a chance if they get in a lot of America's
homes by this Christmas.  The Stacy's hard disk drive problem is being fixed
and already the Stacy is said to be the ultimate MIDI tool not to mention an
ultimate Mac Portable!  Rumor has it that the "Atari Advantage" package will be
out by Fall in the U.S. and will consist of the STe (hopefully!) and a bundle
of software to be sold in K-Mart type stores.  A few rumors have it that
a multi-million dollar advertising campaign to promote the STe and Stacy
computers in the U.S. has indeed been signed.  Of course, I cannot guarantee
that all of this is true but is seems as though it is about time that rumors
like these start becomming true.  The last bit of hope that I can give you is
from Sam Tramiel himself.  I received a letter from him about two weeks ago
that said, "Please keep the faith strong in Atari" and "you won't be
disappointed at year's end."  I believe I won't.

     Hmmm.  What do we have for you in our very first issue?  Everything.
We formally introduce the Portfolio by giving you a review on it.
A review for probably the most powerful product for the Atari 8-bits that
brings you past MS-DOS is SpartaDOX X.  SpartaDOS X as you will find out
is why 8-bitters are still 8-bitters- it is probably the best kept secret.
We bring you tons of reviews of software and products for the Atari ST.
We bring you an article on what to do about Atari.  What new titles are coming
out from Sierra for the Atari ST.  And much much much more!

Len Stys

                            What to do about Atari?


                                 Kevin Steele

      Recently, with the continuing slide of Atari's US market share, there
have been a large number of angry voices crying out, demanding that Atari get
its act together and release all those wonderful new machines it has been
promising for the last two years. Many have threatened to sell their
equipment and get Macs or clones if the new computers aren't out in this
month or that month. For those of you bemoaning the current status of the ST
market in the United States, I'd like to propose a little experiment:

        1. First, sit down in front of your ST. Okay, are you seated?
        2. Next, say these words directly at the monitor:
                "Atari has abandoned the US market!"
        3. Observe any reaction from your ST.

      Did your machine stop working? Did it evaporate before your eyes? Did
it run screaming from the room, spewing floppy disks? I thought not. Point
is, odds are your ST neither knows nor cares what the current state of the
U.S. ST market is--no matter what kind of strangeness goes on down in
Sunnyvale, odds are your ST will continue to do what it has always done,
unperturbed by rumors or vaporware, undaunted by the now-famous Atari
'revolving door' employee policy.

      You have to ask yourself one very important question:

      "Does my current computer meet my current computing needs?"

      If it does, then there is no reason for you to panic every time a new
computer is a couple of months or years late. Why be panic-stricken that the
STe, Stacy, TT, or whatever is late when you really aren't going to buy one
right away anyhow? I don't know about you, but my current system more than
meets my needs, and I'm not going to start worrying about which computer to
buy until such time as I see a genuine need to buy a new computer.

      My ST system has more than enough muscle for my needs, and my needs
are pretty big. As a freelance technical writer, I spend eight hours or more
a day in front of my ST, churning out page after page of manuals, diagrams,
invoices, and such. I've gotten nothing but positive remarks on the quality
of the work I've created with my Atari ST, and as long as I can continue to
produce professional-quality work in an expedient manner with this system, I
see no reason to waste time worrying about what my next type of computer will

      However, don't interpret any of the above as any sort of
'glossing-over' of the current status of Atari and their US policy -- my
personal views of Atari's management style really aren't that positive.
However, unlike many notable ST owners, I've made a conscious decision to
stay out of the pulpit when it comes to the ever-popular "Atari-Bashing"
sermon. If you've owned an ST for more than a month, you're bound to have
heard it -- that endless diatribe on the evils underfoot in Sunnyvale, about
the doom that each of us faces if Atari doesn't tow the line and submit to
our wishes.

      Why do I avoid "Atari-Bashing" when I share the same negative views?
Well, think of it as a cost/benefit analysis: what will bashing cost me, and
in what way will I (and others) benefit from it? In my opinion, bashing tends
to simply make one look like a whiner, especially since it really doesn't
yield any tangible benefits. If you're not a member of Atari Corp., you're
powerless to instigate changes, and all of your angry Atari-Bashing screaming
is just so much hot air in the wind. You'll save yourself (and others) an
ulcer by avoiding this practice. Owning an Atari computer these days is
discouraging enough with the scarcity of dealers and support--there's no need
to add to the doom and gloom with endless tirades on the evils of Atari

      The ST user community would be greatly enhanced if everyone who is
currently spending their evenings "flaming" about Atari on local BBS's would
instead upload a PD program, send in a shareware payment, participate in a
user group, or spend a minute or two with another user who needs some help
with their system. Take things in stride -- if your ST isn't affected by the
current antics at Atari, then you shouldn't be either!

Kevin Steele

                  The Atari Portfolio (Review)


                           Tony Thomas

If you were to tell me a few years ago that there 
would be a full-function, 8088-based computer that you 
could hold in the palm of your hand, I wouldn't have 
believed it.  Yet, I'm writing this article on just 
such a marvel of computer technology - the Atari 

The Portfolio redefines the word "portable".  When I 
bought my first portable computer - a CP/M-based 
Kaypro 2X - over five years ago, it weighed in at a hefty 
25 pounds!  Soon thereafter, I picked up another 
"portable" - a NEC 8201 (similar to Tandy Model 100) - 
which was a vast improvement, weighing in at about 5 
pounds.  The Portfolio, by contrast, tips the scales 
at just over a pound!  In fact, I was even able to 
weigh it myself on a tiny Pelouze postal scale!!

Now, the obvious question is: Just how powerful is it?  
While the Portfolio won't do away with the desktop 
computer, it is the perfect portable supplement to it.  
Since it fits into a coat pocket and runs for more 
than fifty hours on a single set of batteries, the 
Portfolio is the perfect traveling companion that will 
be at home on a plane, in a hotel room or even at the 

Files can be transferred to and from the Portfolio to 
your desktop computer via the optional serial 
interface or to an IBM-PC or compatible via the 
optional Smart Parallel interface.   Long term storage 
is also available via memory cards - an expensive 
medium (about $2-3 per Kilobyte) - limiting the 
Portfolio's usefulness as a stand-alone computer.

How compatible is the Portfolio with a PC?  First of 
all, its internal memory is only 128K, making it only 
possible to run the most miniscule PC applications.  
 Secondly, its operating system - DIP DOS - is similar 
to MS-DOS 2.11 in nearly every respect, except in the 
area of graphics.  Since it does not permit direct 
screen calls and since the screen is only 40 
characters by 8 lines), only simple programs that 
address the screen through DOS can be used.  They 
mostly fall into the category of simple utilities.

The Portfolio, however, does contain some very useful 
application programs which replicate some of the more 
powerful mega-programs.  The word processor is a 
simple ASCII editor with basic cursor movement and 
search and replace functions.  It is adequate for 
routine tasks or for material that will be later 
edited and formatted on a desktop computer (though the 
Portfolio does offer some print formatting options 
allowing material to be printed directly from that 
machine).  The spreadsheet emulates the basic 
functions of Lotus 1...2...3 Release 1A.  Lotus 
spreadsheets (memory permitting) can be loaded into 
the Portfolio and vice-versa.  The other applications 
(Address Book, Diary, Calculator) are similarly 
straightforward and simple to use.

Is the Portfolio worth it?  If you need desktop power 
in a tiny package, the answer is a resounding yes!  
While not as powerful as laptops like the Toshiba 
T1000, the Portfolio stands head and shoulders above 
PIMs (Pocket Information Managers like the Sharp 
Wizard and the Casio Boss) which are an electronic 
replacement to a Day Runner - address 
book/notepad/dairy.  The Portfolio is a palmtop 
powerhouse that will enable you to untether the 
capabilities of your desktop computer and take it with 

Tony Thomas

             The "Atari Advantage" is a real advantage


                             Len Stys

     In the beginning of this year, I wrote Sam Tramiel, President of Atari a
letter.  In this letter I stressed the fact that the "Power Pack" as it was
then called was a great idea.  The "Power Pack" now called the "Atari
Advantage" was to consist of a 520STfm with a bundle of software to be sold at
K-Mart type stores.  What???!  Put the precious Atari ST in K-Mart stores to
make it a game computer?  What about dealers?  What about beig a serious
business computer?  How could I dare to even condone such a thing?  Calm down
and I will explain my reasoning.

     Let's face it folks, Atari has no more than two dozen dealers in the U.S.
and almost half of them rip us off because we have no one else to turn to. 
Need a TOS 1.4 chip installed?  Sure, that will be $150 please.  Or how about a
512k memory upgrade for your fm?  That will be $250 please.  I have never
purchased hardware from my dealer that wasn't at retail price.  The small
number of Atari dealers may also explain why we don't see national commercials
or magazine ads for the ST computer.  Everyone is yelling, WHEN IS ATARI GOING
TO ADVERTISE!  What I would like to know is- how does Atari suppose to make any
money when they advertise and their dealers only have a handful of computers on
hand!  They would not make enough money to pay back for the advertisements let
alone make a profit. If Atari advertises in a city and there are one hundred
people who want the computer and there is only one dealer with ten computers on
hand, Atari will be losing out.  They must have enough computers in a city to
meet the demand when the advertisements create it.  This brings up another
question: why doesn't Atari just recruit more dealers?  They have been trying
but a lot of dealers would rather play it safe and stay with IBM and

     The big cry about the Atari Advantage package is that faithful dealers
will get hurt by it.  I do not see the logic in this whatsoever.  I believe
that Atari dealers will make out the best out of this deal.  It is safe to say
that these discount stores will not sell all the extras involving the ST line
of computers.  Even if they do sell floppy drives, printers, and color
monitors, they probably will not sell removable hard disks, hard drives,
modems, laser printers, and monochrome monitors.  As a new Atari Advantage user
wants to expand his or her new system, they will go to Atari dealers to do it. 
So in this case, the Atari Advantage is really an advantage for dealers. 
Professional users who are into Desk Top Publishing or MIDI will no doubt go to
Atari dealers for professional advise and help.  This is where dealers will be
able to sell the Mega ST professional computer system not to mention the
Portfolio and hopefully new TT computer.

     As for the ST becomming a serious business computer- you can forget it- 
or at least in large corporations.  The new IBM and Macintosh computers have
past the ST up in technology not to mention the new Amiga 3000.  Why would a
business purchase an Atari ST when they can buy faster and better computers
from well known business computer companies?  The TT will have to attack this
market alone.

     What about becomming a game computer?  This is probably not a bad idea. 
Atari has equipped the new STe with 6 joystick ports, 4,096 colors, stereo
sound, and better scrolling.  I believe Atari will be trying to drive out the
kiddies from Nintendo to the ST computers.  Have you noticed?  There are NO
home/personal computers on the market?  Remember what happened a few years ago?
The video game market crashed and everyone who owned a video game system
flocked to home computers.  With the ST looking so attractive to children as a
possible video game system and parents seeing the ST as taking their kids out
of video games and into serious computers, Atari may have something hot here. 
The ST may be another C64 or even another Nintendo in the personal computer
world but without competition for now.

     The Atari Advantage package may be a way of getting some desperately
needed users in the Atari world.  With more users, there is more software, with
more software, there is more users.  I for one am willing to give up my ST as a
professional system with only a few users to talk to in exchange for a
personal/home system with thousands of users to talk to.  I have seen user
groups dwindle in size, I have seen Atari magazines go out of business, I have
seen bulletin board systems close up due to lack of users, I have seen it all
and I am getting tired of it.  It is time Atari gets the ST out of its
prototype stage and into America's homes.

     The only thing that I was concerned about was the fact that the "Power
Pack" was to introduce the 520STfm into the package.  This would leave users
with 512k even though most software being produced now requires 1 meg.  This
would actually put Atari back a step when they have the 1040STe ready to go. 
The STe would be perfect in the Atari Advantage package for it can be expanded
easily in memory and has tons of nice features.  I am glad to say that I am now
hearing that the STe will be in the package instead and to me this was a great
move by Atari.

     The final question is when will this Atari Advantage be out?  It should be
out this Fall.  The only thing holding it up is contracts with software
manufacturers that Atari wants to include the STe with.  Rumor has it that
Atari has signed many major stores to carry the Atari Advantage already.  A
rumor also has it that a multi-million dollar advertising campaign has also
been given the OK for the STe, Megas, and Stacys.  So you may want to consider
saving up your money for this new package by Atari and get it for yourself,
your children, or for me- it looks as if it will be a hit.

     The Atari Advantage package should retail for around $400 and will include
a disk drive, and tons of software.

Len Stys

    T      ||ATARI      |
    h      || ON-LINE   |
    e      ||  MAGAZINES|     A
           ||-----------|     ut
    C      ||           |     t a
    l      ||   | | |   |     h  r
  Free-    ||   | | |   |     on- i
    v      ||   | | |   |     r
   Net     ||   | | |   |    line
    l   S  ||  /  |  \  | magazine
    Atari  || /   |   \ |     e
    n   g  ||           |     dealer
    d      ||1990 - ????|

                     Cleveland Free-Net with Z*Net

     Several weeks ago, the Cleveland Free-Net became a proud official
carrier of Z*Net Online Magazine as well as having an article about Free-Net
published in Z*Net.  Z*Net is one of the nation's best resources
for recent news about Atari.

     //////       //    //  //////  //////   Z*Net Atari Online Magazine
        //   /   ///   //  //        //      ---------------------------
     //    ///  // // //  //////    //              APRIL 06, 1990
  //       /   //   ///  //        //        ---------------------------
 //////       //    //  ///////   //                  Issue #514
                    (=) 1990 by Rovac Industries, Inc.
                            Post Office Box 59
                       Middlesex, New Jersey 08846
                     Z*Net Online BBS: (201) 968-8148
         Available on: * CompuServe * GEnie * Cleveland Free-Net *

     We also carry ST Report Online magazines as well as any other
publication when they become available.  They can be found in the
On-Line Magazine section in the Atari Library.

                            The SpartaDOS X cartridge
                                    a review

                                 by  Doug Wokoun

     The SpartaDOS X cartridge is the latest incantation of SpartaDOS for
the 8-bit Atari and very possibly the most powerful Disk Operating System
available for any 8-bit computer.

     The SpartaDOS X cartridge consists of 64K of ROM, with 48K (or 6
cartridge banks) formatted into a ROM-disk, and the remaining 16K used as the
main DOS core.  The ROM-disk contains files and drivers used by the system
and SpartaDOS X versions of several utilities found in the SpartaDOS ToolKit.
It also contains a very versatile ARC utility package.

     Some of the new features of SpartaDOS X (referred to as SDX):

     o  built in, memory resident FORMAT utility.  Old versions of SpartaDOS
          could only initialize Atari format disks using 'AINIT'.  To
          initialize a SpartaDOS disk required the loading of a program called
          'XINIT'.  Now, any time an XIO #254 call is made, the SDX format
          menu is brought up.  With this, you can select a variety of disk
          densities and types.  It will also allow "1-second" formatting by
          simply rewriting the root directory on a formatted disk.

     o  High speed disk I/O with U.S. Doubler, Atari XF551, and Indus GT disk

     o  New file loader supporting relocatable files (certain disk based
          commands can be held in memory and later removed) and symbol linking.

     o  Probably the lowest MEMLO of any DOS.  The DOS can load drivers under
          OS-RAM, into extended memory on an XE or at MEMLO on an 800.

     o  Environment variables: user definable PROMPTs, search PATHs, parameter
          passing on batch files, and a CARtridge or BASIC memory save 
          capability will retain programs even if the machine is shut off.

     o  The ability to go from a cartridge to internal BASIC without
          rebooting.  The CAR command enters the external cartridge, 
          "BASIC" enters internal BASIC.  You can go from Turbo BASIC XL to
          Atari BASIC to BASIC XE without rebooting! (with some provisions)

     o  Support of up to 1 Meg internal memory as a RAMDisk.

     o  "Persistent" batch files.  Continued batch file processing even after
          loading binary programs.

     o  Fast, powerful, versatile ARC utilities.  Supports ALF files.
          With these, you can Add files to an ARChive, Move (delete after
          Adding), Freshen (update files by date), Update (Freshen with Add
          capability), Delete files from an ARChive, View files in ARC,
          eXtract files, and Print ARC'd files to screen.  The ARC utilities
          also support password encryption and can function
          with the screen off to increase speed.  Also, all files are sorted
          in alphabetical order when added to the ARChive.

     o  A new MENU program very similar to the MS-DOS XTREE.EXE program.  This
          program allows multi-file operations and displays the entire
          directory tree, so files anywhere on a disk can be accessed easily.

     o  Command compatible with MS-DOS.  Directory commands have several 
          aliases.  CWD from disk based SpartaDOS can also be accessed
          as CHDIR, or CD from SDX.

     o  Drives can be referred to by letter or number.

     o  Drives can be remapped.  D1: can be SWAPped with D2:, etc. and from
          that point on, any referrences to D1: will be sent to D2: and vice

     SDX can be configured to take advantage of different hardware.  A file
placed on D1: called CONFIG.SYS is used for this, or the default configuration
can be used.  SDX can be configured to use OSRAM, or an extended bank of memory
for its drivers.  With the right setup, MEMLO can be pushed to below memory
location $1000!

     SDX uses a series of drivers to control most disk functions.  SPARTA.SYS
is the main driver and must be installed.  'DEVICE SPARTA' is used in the
CONFIG.SYS file to do this.  The number of sector buffers and file buffers
can be control by passing parameters to this driver.  Another driver is
ATARIDOS.SYS used to read Atari DOS 2.x disks.  Not installing this driver
saves memory, but then Atari DOS disks cannot be read.  The SDX cart also
contains a RAMDisk driver which can be used to install up to 3 RAMDisks of
any size.  An INDUS.SYS driver is used to program the INDUS GT to operate
at high speed.  There are also two clock drivers, used depending on whether
or not you have an R-Time 8 cartridge.

     A major change with the X cart is the way devices are addressed.  Since
ICD wanted drives to be addressed by letter or number, conflicts would have
occured with existing devices.  Also, ICD wanted SDX to be more similar to
MS-DOS, so those conventions were adopted.  E: has become CON:, P: has become
PRN:, and D1: D2: and D3: are A: B: and C:.  Switching between an IBM
machine and SpartaDOS X is much easier with these changes.

     Another feature of SDX is its I/O redirection.  With this, you can send
the output of a program to another device.  Ex: DIR >>PRN: would do a 
directory, but the results would be sent to the printer.  Also, you can
use a file to "feed" a program with input redirection.  Ex: BASIC <