Industry News Week Ending 20-26 January 1983
New look for Commodore Pets
COMMODORE gives Pets a new look and taps into Zylog chip technology as the new year gets under way.
The Pet range of micro-computers has been rationalised, following the launch of the new mid-range machine the Commodore 64 and the new “Top-of-the-range” machine - the Commodore 700. Of the Pet range only the 8032 and 8096 machines will remain, and both will he repackaged in the futuristic-style housing of the 700 machine. A small number of old-style 4000 Pets will continue to be sold for use in education.
The new style 8000 series machine will be available in January. The 8032 (32K) is priced at £995 plus VAT. The 8096 (96K) costs £1,195 plus VAT.
Commodore has also announced a five-year shared technology agreement with Zylog, the US chip manufacturer.
This gives Commodore acess now to 16 and 32-bit know how. Zylog’s Z8000 chip, which can support CP/M 86, has been used to develop a 16-bit second processor card for Commodore’s new 700 machine.
Commodore 64K portables
COMMODORE has announced a new range of portable computers based on the Commodore 64 machine.
Planned for launch in Britain in May, three versions of new micro will be available.
The basic model. featuring 64K Ram. 5-inch screen with black and white display, and single 170K disc drive, is expected to sell for around £630.
The most advanced of the three models. with 64K Ram, 5-inch full-colour display and twin 170K disc drives. will sell for about £950.
New micro from Atari
ATARI has announced preliminary details of its new generation of microcomputers. The first new computer is the Atari 1200XL, an upgraded Atari 800 machine with 64K Ram, expected to sell for around £575.
Software and peripherals available for the Atari 400 and 800 machines will be compatible with the new computer.
At the same time as details of the 1200XL were released in the US, the UK price of the Atari 800 machine was cut from £499.95 to £399.99.
Waiting for Oric
AS Oric’s hardware production hits a problem, plans of extended software for the machine have been announced.
It now seems that there will be no 32K version of the Oric 1. Difficulties in finding a suitable direct chip replacement have been blamed for the decision to shelve the mid-range machine only six weeks after it was announced.
Meanwhile further problems — particularly with the colour display (see the review, Popular Computing Weekly. January 13) — have delayed production of the first 16K and 48K machines as the order backlog builds up.
On the software side Mere is some good news. Tansoft, the software development division of Tangerine, has been contracted to produce a range of material for the Oric.
An upgraded Rom providing Extended Basic is planned. Priced at £34.50 it will give the machine commands such as Usr, Proc, If-Then-Else and Do-Until.
The Forth cassette, promised free with every 48K machine sold, should be available in February.
Also being developed is a range of games and business material. Oric Chess, Oric Lander and Zodiac (an adventure game), 3D Noughts and Crosses and a multi-game pack (five games) are scheduled for March, priced around £6. On the business side a Database Management program (48K) being written, which will cost around £20.
Sinclair and the French connection
SINCLAIR may switch production of his ZX81 and Spectrum microcomputers to France, if Timex’s Dundee plant goes on strike. Last week Timex announced that it is to cut 1,000 jobs at Dundee, mainly within its watches division. Despite a warning from the US-owned company that any labour disruption would lead to closure of the whole plant, the 4,000 Dundee workers narrowly voted in favour of strike action if any compulsory redundancies are made. Although the planned job losses do not affect computer manufacture, any industrial action could have serious implications, and Clive Sinclair reacted sharply to news of the vote.
“If the threat of strike action is not removed in discussions between management and unions, and a full strike appears inevitable - which would affect cut production - we will move our business elsewhere, probably permanently.” he said on Wednesday.
“Accordingly, we have identified new sources of supply which would ensure complete continuity of production levels and enable us to guarantee supplies to all our customers”
One of the new sources of supply is thought to be Fralsen, an electronics company based in Besancon. France. Fralsen is owned by reclusive Norwegian business man Fred Olsen - a shipping magnate who also controls Timex through a major share holding in Nimslo, and is thus familiar with both Sinclair and his products.
Olivetti spark printer for Acorn
ACORN computers has adopted the Olivetti printer for use with its microcomputers.
The printer, called the JPIOP, uses the non-impact ’spark ink-jet’. printing method. Minute particles of the carbon print rod are ’spark’ transferred to the paper through a 7 x 7 dot matrix. In this way the print head has no moving parts, reducing print noise and increasing reliability
The machine can accept either 8 or 9 inch (pin to pin width) plain roll or continuous paper.
The JPI bi-directional printer has a 96 ASCII character set formatted either as 80 96 or 132 columns. Double width and double height characters are possible.
In high-resolution plotting mode the printer is dot- addressable and has a resolution of 110 215 pixels per inch (horizoncal xvertical). Other graphics modes include reverse and zoom.
The Acorn JPIOP prints at 83 characters per second (50 lines per minute) and has a shortest-path seeking capability.
The unit comes complete with Centronics interface and 1K onboard printer buffer. priced £395 plus VAT.
Spectrum in Las Vegas
TIMEX has announced its plans for the American version of the ZX Spoctrum — the TS2000.
Officially launched on January 7 in Las Vegas. two versions of the TS2000 will go on sale in the second quarter of 1983— a 16K version for £95 and a 48K version for £127.
The 2000 is virtually identical to its British counterpart. The only differences, apart from NTSC TV compatibility are those of styling - it is finished in brushed silver rather than black and the colour flash of the Spectrum is replaced by coloured squares.
A new printer was also launched by Timex at the CES Las Vegas show. The company has used Sinclair technology to develop a unit significantly different from the UK’s ZX Printer.
Retailing for £63.50 the more bulky TS2040, while still being a dot-matrix thermal printer, produces a 32-column display on 40 column width paper. The unit will on sale in January.