Popular Computing Weekly 26 July - 1 Aug 1984

Activision sues Microdeal

MICRODEAL, the Cornwall based software company which last week took two Blackburn brothers to court in a software piracy action, has itself been taken to court.

American company Activision instituted proceedings in the High Court on the grounds that Microdeal’s Cuthbert in the Jungle is a copy of Pitfall. Activision claims that the consumer would be hard pressed to distinguish between the two on the Commodore 64.

“We applied to the court for an injunction to prevent Micro- deal selling Cuthbert in the Jungle,” explained Geoff Heath, UK managing director of Activision. “However, after reviewing the writ and our prosecution papers, Microdeal obviously felt our case was watertight because they didn’t fight it.

“They gave the court an undertaking that they would not reproduce, adapt or copy Pitfall in any form, and have written to suppliers to say that Cuthbert in the Jungle can no longer be sold.

“Our intention was to fight the case on the grounds of a breach of copyright. Happily it didn’t come to that.

“We had been working on our approach to this case for some time, but obviously the release of Pitfall in Britain, and its conversion to the Commodore 64 has accelerated proceedings.”

Microdeal’s solicitor, Michael Drynan, confirmed that Activision had an open and shut case.

“Microdeal obtained the license for the game from Tom Mix in the States in good faith. But when we compared our licence with Activision’s, theirs appeared to have been agreed first, so we were happy to withdraw.”.

Activision will now be taking action against Tom Mix in the US, again on copyright grounds.

Microdeal has, however, been successful in its case against Dr Tariq Mohammed who with his brother, 14 year old Mohsan, copied Dragon games from Microdeal, among other companies, and sold them at much reduced prices.

On Friday, July 20, it obtained a further injunction preventing Mohammed from copying and selling Microdeal’s games. After the ruling, Microdeal has decided not to pursue a full trial.

Major shake-up for Atari UK

THERE has been a major shake-up at Atari UK, just three weeks after the US parent was taken over by a company headed by ex- Commodore chief Jack Tramiel.

Atari UK’s managing dircetor Graham Clark has resigned, and many of the UK sales and management staff have been sacked.

Clark has been replaced, initially by Simon Westbrood, previously Atari UK’s financial controller. He will remain as acting managing director until a successor can be found.

Tramiel resigned his position as president of Commodore in January this year, and since his dramatic purchase of Atari from Warner Communications, several key Commodore executives have joined Trameil’s organisation in the US.

The upheavals at Atari UK are seen as part of a stategy to streamline the loss-making company and sell Atari products through appointed distributors rather than through the company’s own sales force.

Quest develops CP/M system for QL

QL OWNERS should be able to run CP/M software on their machines.

Hampshire based Quest Automation will be converting Digital Research’s CP/M 68K operating system to run on the QL.

“It will, in effect, mean that all CP/M software will run on the QL,” said Quest’s Grant McKeown. “Although the system is written to run with the 68000 chip, there are a few changes that need to be made for the QL.

“We feel that this will provide the key for using the QL for business purposes.”

CP/M 68K for the QL is planned to be available in October priced at £49.50. Quest will also shortly be announcing hard and floppy disc drives for the QL as well as add-on memory for the machine. Details from Quest Automation, School Lane, Chandlers Ford, Hants.

A joystick adaptor for the QL allowing any Atari- standard joystick to be connected is now available at £6.00 from Tirnedata, 16 Hemmells, Laindon, Essex.

Menzies opts for electronic software

TWO UK distribution companies are hoping to change the way you buy your software.

Program Express of Edinburgh and Micro Dealer UK have jointly launched a scheme to download software from ‘retail modules’ installed in individual shops.

Explained Neil Johnson, Micro Dealer’s managing director. “Customers will first look at a menu on the unit’s display to see which titles are available. When they have decided which they want, they buy a blank cassette, disc or cartridge and slot it into the machine. Twenty seconds later the software is downloaded into the cassette or whatever via the machine from a central host computer.” The system is still under evaluation but Neil hopes that the first such machines will be in the shops by October this year.

The cost of software bought from the system should be the same as a conventional cassette, cartridge or disc.

A similar system, Romox has been tried in the US but has yet to get a full-scale trial. Prism, which has the UK rights to Romox has yet to evaluate the system in the UK.

So the Program Express/Microdealer system could become the first operation of its kind to go on trial in this country. Already John Menzies has shown considerable interest. “We have ordered five machines,” said managing director Robert Black. “It means we will be able to have a full range of software available to customers all the time, and will save a huge amount of storage space. We hope to have our first machines installed before Christmas.”

Ivan Berg Mirrorsoft tie-up

WAN Berg Software has teamed up with Mirrorsoft to release a range of new titles for the Commodore 64, Spectrum, BBC and Electron machines in September.

These include Know Your Psi-Q — testing your psychic power and a no-diet weight control system designed by Professor Justin Joffe. Versions of Know Your Personality and BBC Mastermind will also be released on the Spectrum and BBC machines.

MSX versions of all the titles are planned through Mirrorsoft before Christmas.

Oric price increased

THE price of the Oric Atmos has been increased by almost £20 to £189.95. The company is blaming the dollar exchange rate for the increase.

“At present Oric is building up stock levels quickly in time for Christmas,” explained an Oric spokesman. “But the strong dollar makes the price components high, and we have had to raise the price accordingly.”

Oric announced record June sales of £2 1/2m, largely taken up by £1 1/2m sales to France, although Italian and German orders also increased. Only 30 per cent of this figure — about 4,500 units — went to the UK market.

The prices of Oric peripherals remain unchanged.

Enterprise move

SINCE losing its exclusive distribution contract with Sinclair, Prism has gained the distribution rights for the new EnterPrise computer as well as the Oric Atmos.

Prism will distribute the Enterprise through a national network of retailers and dealers, although Enterprise has retained a small number of accounts to supply direct.

First deliveries of the Enterprise are due in September.

Rabbit bounces

RABBIT Software, best known for its Commodore games such as Troopatruck, has gone into liquidation.

The company had been in difficulties for some time following the death earlier this year of its founder Alan Savage.

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