Popular Computing Weekly 7-13 June 1984

The end of the road for Dragon?

DRAGON Data has called in the receiver.

Managing director Brian Moore explained: “With the continuing difficulties of establishing profitable trading in the home computer markets in the UK and abroad, Dragon Data Ltd has requested its bankers to call in a receiver.

“This is despite great efforts in the last 12 months when the management was strengthened, the overheads cut, advisors brought in, several new models developed and further finance provided by the shareholders.

The decision to call in the receiver comes just eight months after Prutech organised a £4.5m rescue (PCW 8-14 September, 1983). The package consisted of £1.25m in new equity, £1.25m in loans and a £2m guaranteed overdraft.

There have been signs for some time that Dragon has been in trouble, most recently with British Home Stores dropping the Dragon 32 and Boots deciding to add the Amstrad and MSX machines to its range.

However, Dragon appeared to have weathered its latest problems with the launch last week of the Dragon Professional — a 6809-based machine with 64K Ram and integral 3 1/2in disc drive.

Additional business and MSX machines were also in the offing.

But Brian Moore still hopes to salvage something front the company. “The Dragon manegement has confidence in its new products and the market opportunities they represent and will be using their best endeavours in helping the receiver to explore ways of continuing trading.”

Other companies which produce software and peripherals for the Dragon also hope to continue in business. “It is the blackest day so far for the 6809,” said Ted Opyrchal of Compusense. “But whatever happens, we will continue to support the machine for as long as customers want software.”

Argus buys out Quicksilva

ARGUS Specialist Publications (ASP), a subsidiary or the giant BET group, has taken over Ouicksilva. The deal. which was concluded last week, is understood to be worth several million pounds.

“Negotiations have been held over eight months, following an approach from the Chief Executive of the Argus group. and they reached their conclusion on May 29 at 11.30pm,” said Quicksilva managing director Rod Cousens.

Co-founders and principal shareholders Nick Lambert and John Hollis have now left the company, but Quicksilva will retain the first option on their future programs. Rod Cousens continues as managing director with ASP chief executive Jim Connell becoming chairman. Ron Harris and Mike Dougan of ASP become non-executive directors while Mark Eyles becomes creative design executive.

Included in the deal are Software Studios, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ouicksilva and the label under which Games Designer was launched last year (PCW 15-21 September, 1983). and Quicksilva’s US arm, Quicksilva Inc.

Rod Cousens believes that the takeover will help Quicksilva to expand both at home and overseas. “It is an opportunity to speed up Quicksilva’s expansion programme, and an opportunity to diversify into new technological areas.

“We would also anticipate substantial investment overseas in promoting the identity of Quicksilva.”

Southampton-based Quicksilva, which was founded in 1981. employs 14 staff and currently has 70 software titles on the market. Another 10 programs are due to be launched on June 14 at The Computer Fair at Earls Court.

Prestel for BBC

BBC MICRO owners can now take advantage of Prestel with the launch of Acorn’s Prestel adaptor.

The adaptor comes complete with a viewdata telecomms Rom and user guide. The adaptor plugs into the RS423 port on the micro and the Type 600 BT telephone socket. The Rom slots into one of the spare sideways Rom sockets inside the computer.

It also has an autodial facility and built-in sofware to download telesoftware programs from Micronet 800.

The Prestel adaptor costs £113.85 and is available on mail order from Vector Marketing, London Road, Denington Estate, Wellingborough, Northants.

Printer for Amstrad

BY September a dot matrix printer should be available for the Amstrad CPC 464.

The printer, called the DMP 1, use the standard centronics 7-bit printer interface, which will be supplied with the printer.

It runs at up to 50 characters second with a maximum width of 80 columns. It contains a dot-addressable graphics capability and full screen dump facility.

The print is created by a 5 7 character matrix, and it has facilities for both traction and plain paper feed.

Manufactured by Sikosha in Japan, the printer will cost £199.00 and will be available in the same four stores stocking the Amstrad CPC 464 — Boots, Dixons, Comet and Rumbelows.

At last. . .

ULTIMATE has launched its eagerly awaited program Sabre Wulf. Like Atic Atak, the program is a mixture of arcade and adventure styles.

Essentially it. maze game, you must move through a jungle avoiding wild animals while searching for a map. The Wulf of the title is one of the more dangerous animals lurking in the jungle.

include Parrots and Fruit Bats. Sabre Wulf costs £9.95 — previous games have retailed for £5.50. The price move apparently reflects “increased development time”.

War of the Worlds

CRL has launched its video game version of War of the Worlds, based on the music from Jeff Wayne’s top-selling album.

The game takes the form of a graphic adventure, in which you control — With the keyboard or joystick — a journalist wandering through the Home Counties after a Martian invasion.

War of the Worlds will be available on Spectrum from June 14, when it will be on show at the Computer Fair at Earls Court, priced at £7.95.

Spectrum goes public

SPECTRUM Group. leading distributor of computer hardware, software, peripherals and photographic equipment. will be going public on June 19.

Although chairman Michael Stern and managing director Alan Warren only founded the company in 1980, by December 1983 turnover had reached £15m with profits of £1m. Projected profits for the six months ending June 1984 are well over £1.7m.

Much of Spectrum’s software distribution goes through its subsidiary Micro Dealer UK, whose own turnover is running at about £4.8m.

After the flotation. Spectrum plan to expand Micro Dealer UK further, and set up a service company for manufacturers, distributors and users.


WELL over 100 electronics companies exhibited at CETEX (Consumer Electronics Trade Exhibition) at Earls Court last week.

Three Japanese companies — JVC, Mitsubishi and Toshiba — had their MSX machines on display, although the micros reaching the UK this autumn will be modified versions.

A number of working Amstrad CPC 464s were on view with running software from Bourne Educational Software. GEC were also displaying the now ill-fated Dragons 32, 64 and the new £700 Professional machine, plus a new range of business software for the latter.

On the software side. Atari were advertising their new range of software, both for the Atari machines and conversions of games such as Pole Position for Spectrum, Commodore, BBC and Electron.

Nothing new at CES

THERE was little new on display at the Consumer Electronics Show which opened in Chicago on Sunday.

Commodore showed its +/4 — the renamed 264 — which was first shown at the CES show in Las Vegas in January. Few details were available, but the machine will cost under $300 and will include four built-in software packages — File Manager, Spreadsheet, Word Processor and Graphics and a machine code monitor.

Sig Hartmund revealed that the machine would be available in September and said: “The +/4 is a more serious machine — a productivity machine — whereas the 64 is a more generalised computer.”

Also on display from Commodore were the sub 1100 16 micro, the SFS 481 fast disc drive and the DPS 1101 letter quality daisy wheel printer.

Sinclair showed the QL, which it will sell mail order for $499, and its flat-screen tv.

JVC demonstrated its MSX micro, which was linked up to a video-disc showing a golf simulation, but said it had no plans to release the machine in the US.

The upcoming Olympics made their presence felt on the software scene, with both Hess and Activision producing athletics-based ‘games.

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