I must say that I was looking forward to the Glendale show for a long time. Lots of rumors have been circulating that many new and exciting things would be introduced at this show. Anyone who has been a long time supporter (some would say suffering supporter) of Atari computers knows that the introduction of anything new is cause for celebration.
When I first walked in the door my heart sort of fell, there were very few people there (the totals for Saturday were around 1600, and for Sunday around 850). And while it is true that attendance was light, most vendors were very pleased with sales. And in fact, on Saturday nine new Atari systems were sold.
Atari had the biggest area in the show. They had a semi-professional setup at the back of the main hall. They had all types of systems set up, including showing the CDR-504, and the Atari Hotz box. The Hotz box, looks neat. It allows those who have little or no musical inclination or training to sound like a Pro. Look for this product to ship soon in quantity. The CDR-504 CD-Rom drive made an appearance, but there was never anyone demonstrating it, and.. no one even seemed very excited about it.
Atari also had a large Lynx entertainment area set up, with around 15 Lynx's set up. There was never much of a crowd around it, and I was able to walk up any time and play a game. Talking to an Atari rep about sales of the Lynx he said that they had been poor because of the lack of new games, and he wished he knew what was holding Atari up with releasing new stuff. There were a few new titles shown. Slime World, which is now shipping, is fun. And Ms. Pac-Man and Paperboy also made an appearance.
The most exciting things at the show, in my opinion, was the various desktop replacements. NeoDesk 3 is GREAT. There is more power and bells and whistles in this desktop then any other computer OS that I know of. Now if they only could add multi-tasking then it would be perfect. When I did ask about multi-tasking I got a knowing smile. Perhaps soon.
The other new desktop being displayed was SLICCTOP. Those who go to a lot of shows know that this desktop replacement has been being shown for quite awhile. For those who don't know what SLICCTOP is, it is a multi-tasking replacement for GEM. The author is really excited about this product, and he has a lot of new applications coming out for it. While NeoDesk 3 adds a lot of neat bells and whistles to your desktop, SLICCTOP is a true replacement that gives you MUCH more power. SLICCTOP supports networks, so people in a network can share data, even going so far as working on the same document within a desktop publishing program. If it seems I am excited about this product I am, I really hope this program succeeds. Double Click was showing their DC Desktop, but did not seem to have added anything new to it so I did nothing but take a quick glance. Not that DC Desktop is bad, it is just overshadowed by the other products on the market.
The Codeheads was showing off a new product, called Codekeys. This new product fits into Codeheads integrated desktop theme, and allows you full macro control over your desktop, and applications. It has a very powerful macro language, and is up to the Codehead standard of excellence. Soft-Logic was there with a lot of new things for PageStream. They had a new Encapsulated Postscript graphics library that looked very nice. And they had their full line of fonts available for purchase. When asked about Version 2.0 of PageStream I was told that the programer had just started to work on it, and it would be another 3-4 months before anything shipped. ICD was showing off their new accelerator board, AdSpeed. It is a very nicely designed board that will give FAST Technology a run for their money. So watch out, here comes accelerator wars.
ISD was displaying Calamus version 1.09n, which adds a couple of new features, and fixes a few bugs. Calamus SL is coming, and sounds very nice. Branch Always Software was there showing off version 2.2 of Quick ST II. The competition between them and Turbo ST means that we consumers keep getting better and better products. If you have the older version of Quick ST I would upgrade.
Migraph was showing their hand scanner plus Touch-Up, but nothing else new. When asked about new products they said they have a new version of Easy Draw due out later this year. This will look a lot like Touch-Up as they are now going to a standard interface for all their programs. Also reported is a new version of Touch-Up that will be out sometime in the first quarter of next year. Anyone who has been waiting for Migraph's Adobe Illustrator clone should stop, it has been put on indefinite hold.
Rio/Datel was there showing off Lexicor's new "Phase-4" graphics software. It looks really nice, and should be shipping the first of November.
Talon Technologies was selling their Supercharger IBM emulator. They said that the VGA card was coming, and also a networking card that allows a person look network with other PC's.
Goldleaf Publications showed version 1.1 of Wordflair, which has a few new features, and fixes some bugs. People can upgrade to 1.1 by sending $5 to Goldleaf (as long as you are registered).
Gadgets by Small was there showing Spectre GCR version 3.0 and Megata- lk. This combination is a real winner. Gadgets' 68030 accelerator board was nowhere to be seen.
Neocept was showing Word Up 3.0, and selling it for an incredible $45. Needless to say it was selling fast.
Soft-Aware had their easy to use relational, graphic database, called, The Informer II there. Very nice database, it combines lots of power with ease of use.
Sprockits Computer Products showed their line of Lynx and ST products, including some nice custom travel cases.
Xoterix, a new company, showed a whole line of products for the Atari Portfolio, including a 20 meg hard drive.
Zubair Interfaces was showing their line of memory expansion for the ST. They were also showing their new product, Z-Keys, which allows you to hook up an IBM keyboard to your ST. Great for those 520 or 1040 owners who want to put their feet up while typing.
Wuztek was also showing their PC Keyboard adapter for the ST, along with their line of multi-sync monitors for the ST.
Bill Skurski Enterprises was there showing their line of great books and video tapes for the ST.
D.A. Brumleve had her great kids programs there. Dorothy writes some really great programs, and if you have kids you should take a look at her software.
The conferences throughout the day were very informative, with the highlight being Leonard Tramiel's number of talks about the TT. The TT is shaping up real nice. The 32 mhz version is 1.8 times faster then the 16 mhz. And contrary to the misinformed rumors the computer runs at a full 32 mhz. The only thing that will slow it down is memory speed, it is just too expensive to put the optimal chips in (50ns). But, if the user wants more speed they can upgrade the chips. He would not quote prices or configuration, saying that was up to the marketing people (my first, cynical, thought was "What marketing people?").
There is also a multi-tasking TOS in the works, but NO date on availa- bility. It was stated that it will be VERY HARD to upgrade the TT to a 68040 chip. And that Atari didn't have any plans to support a chip that was not even available. The new GDOS is HOT. Developers should be getting a version in about a month to start writing applications for it. It supports outline fonts, and at the time is becomes available 140 of the most popular typefaces will also be available. Look for this to add fire to the desktop publishing market.
From an attendance stand point the show was disappointing. I am sure that there will be people making all types of excuses why there were not very many people there, but the real reason is that Atari just does not have very many people left supporting it. But the show was NOT a failure. I had a very good time, and picked up a lot of very good information. The many dealers that were there were doing good business, and so were happy. John Tarpinian, the brains and energy behind the show should be congratul- ated on putting on a great show.