Popular Computing Weekly 26 Jan - 1 Feb 1984

Adam finally comes to Britain

THE Coleco Adam is to be launched in the UK in the first half of this year.

The Adam caused a considerable stir when it was first announced at last summer’s Consumer Electronics Show (see PCW 23-29 June). It was priced at $600 and included a daisy-wheel 80-column printer, 80K Ram, built-in stringy microfloppy drive and a Rom cartridge slot.

However, production problems delayed the Adam’s availability in the US and forced an increase in price.

The Adam Will be available first in the UK in the form of Expansion Module 3, which comprises a memory storage unit, keyboard and printer. Added to the Colecovision video games console, the Expansion Module 3 will make up a complete Adam.

The UK price, which will have a large bearing on the Adam’s success, has yet to be announced.
However, the Adam will be offering Digital Research’s personal CP/M. Coleco has agreed to manufacture Digital Research’s personal CP/M on both digital data packs and floppy discs.

“Personal CP/M is significant as it provides the consumer with an easy to use, easy to understand, yet professional operating system” explained Ken Harkness, general manager of Digital Research.

Successor for Jack Tramiel

MARSHALL Smith, currently president of ThyssenBornemisza, will succeed Jack Tramiel as president and chief executive of Commodore on February 21.

The appointment of the 55 year old Mr Smith to Commodore has been widely linked with Jack Tramiel’s decision to resign from the company (see PCW 19-25 January). Marshall Smith is believed to have refused to accept the Commodore post while Jack Tramiel was still in charge.

Mr Smith joined Indian Head, the US soft-drinks bottler and metal parts manufacturer, in 1967.

Thyssen took over Indian Head in 1974 and Mr Smith was appointed chief executive of the company in 1977. Indian Head was subsequently renamed ThyssenBornemisza.

Irving Gould, Commodore’s chairman and largest single shareholder, is credited with persuading Mr Smith to join the company. The two first met in 1978 when ThyssenBornemisza acquired Interpool, a shipping container company in which Irving Gould had a financial stake.

Cut-price school offer

COMMODORE has finally come up with its answer to the government’s ‘micros in schools scheme’ — a cut-price offer of its own.

Deliberately designed to coincide with the end of the government scheme, Commodore is offering schools and colleges throughout the UK the chance to buy Commodore 64s complete with 1541 single floppy disc drives, Logo and Simon’s Basic for £299.99 per package. This is a saving of £172 over the recommended retail price of £472.

But the offer closes on April 30, 1984.

Commodore marketing manager John Baxter said the scheme was chiefly aimed at “easing the financial burden on schools which have already bought machines under the micros in secondary schools scheme but now require additional equipment”.

Commodore was understandably upset at being excluded from the ‘micros in schools’ scheme, particularly as its main rivals — Sinclair and Acorn — were both included. However, the government scheme had a number of drawbacks and some schools preferred to make their own decisions about the choice of microcomputers.

Details of the Commodore offer can be obtained from approved Commodore dealers anywhere in the UK.

Pentagon restriction

THE US Pentagon is attempting to restrict the export of 16-bit micros to Warsaw Pact countries.

If the US plan is accepted by the EEC, the shipment of any 16-bit micro to an eastern bloc country would require an export licence. More advanced micros, such as Sinclair’s recently launched QL, would also be included in the scheme.

However, the signs are that the EEC will reject the US plan as being unworkable.

Buy-back launch from Acornsoft

ACORNSOFT has launched a buy back system to enable owners of Acornsoft cassette based programs to exchange them for equivalent discs for 50 percent of the usual cost.

In the past, most people who bought a BBC disc drive were unable to transfer existing Acornsoft cassette programs on to disc and consequently had to buy a disc copy of the program.
This situation, which is a common source of complaint among owners of many micros besides the BBC, is partly remedied by the Acornsoft exchange scheme.

If you send Acornsoft your cassette version of any of their programs they will send you the disc equivalent, providing there is one, for half price. Thus Starship Command which costs £11.50 on disc, can be obtained for £5.75 if you send your old cassette version with the money.

The deal only covers Acornsoft programs and orders should be sent to Disc Replacement Service, Acornsoft Ltd, do Vector Marketing, Denington Industrial Estate, Wellingborough, Northants NN8 2RL.

ZX fair at Ally Pally

THE latest ZX Microfair will be held on Saturday, February 4, at London’s Alexandria Pavilion. Tickets will cost £1 for adults and 50p for children (if bought in advance) and £1.25 and 60p on the day.

In the palm of your hand

PALMTEX has introduced the first hand-held video game with interchangeable cartridges. The PVS, which features colour graphics and eight direction movement, went on sale in the US earlier this month for $49.

The cartridges, which cost approximately $15 each, can be swapped so that a variety of different games can be played. Current games include Aladdin’s Adventure, ReactAttack and Outflank — another version of the strategy game Go.

The PVS measures 4 3/4in by 3 1/2in when closed, while the liquid crystal display screen is 2 1/4in by 1 1/2in.

Powered by four 1 1/2 volt batteries, the PVS has 512 addressable pixels and a 4K Rom. The cartridges each contain 2K Ram.

All lines engaged

THE announcement of the QL — Sinclair’s new business machine — has already had a significant effect on the market.

Although the machine has only been seen at one press conference, lines to Sinclair’s mail order centre in Camberley have been continuously engaged with people trying to order machines.

Computer bookshops are experiencing a rush on books about the 68000 processor — the QL uses a 68008. A spokesman for Foyles, which has a large computer book section, said: “We sold out within days of the announcement and not only are the books mainly quite expensive American imports, but they’re also all about the 68000 which is not the same as the 68008.”

Acornsoft go champion

GO, an ancient Japanese board game in which black and white stones are strategically placed on a grid, has been the subject of a competition run by Acornsoft.

Entrants had to design a computer program to play the game, which involves complex and subtle tactics, and take part in a tournament which was held in London over two days – January 7 and 8.

The eventual winner was Bronislaw Przbyla (right), a professional programmer who collected the £1,000 prize money from David Johnson-Davies of Acornsoft, and earned the title ‘Champion Computer Go player of the world’. A version of his winning game will be marketed by Acornsoft in the summer.

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