Spring is in the air, and with it come changes at ANALOG Computing.
The first, and most obvious, is a new format for the magazine. At the top of each article page, you will see a heading and an "icon" which tell you what category the article falls under (utilities, home applications, and so forth). The new layout of the magazine is modeled after the new Atari ST line's graphic operating system, and is designed to help new readers (as well as old) to quickly locate the types of articles they're interested in.
We are open to your comments and suggestions about how we can further improve the new format and make ANALOG Computing even more useful to you.
The second change is less visible but just as important as the format change. It is ANALOG Computing's entry into the telecommunications field.
Over the last year or so, we at ANALOG Computing have been paying close attention to the area of telecommunications with Atari personal computers. We have made staff members available on the CompuServe Atari Special Interest Group (SIG), in order to answer questions and ask readers what they'd like to see in the magazine.
In this year, we've seen the number of user-to-user messages on the SIG grow past the 94,000 mark. This growth rate is constantly increasing, with no end in sight.
We've seen the tremendous power and potential of personal telecommunications as authors have submitted their articles electronically and our programmers have uploaded programs to the SIG for everyone to use.
In September of last year, ANALOG Computing publisher Lee Pappas and I began discussing the possibility of starting up a company-sponsored electronic bulletin board system in early 1985. We didn't want an ordinary BBS (i.e. an Atari 800 with an 810 disk drive running public domain BASIC software). Little did we know what we'd end up with.
As it stands now, the ANALOG Computing Telecommunication System (or TCS) is based in the programmer's area of the ANALOG Computing editorial offices, with four 48K Atari 400 computers tied together with custom hardware, interfaced with an 11-megabyte hard drive system. All the computers are connected to phone lines with Anchor Mark XII 300/1200 baud modems.
Four people may use the system simultaneously, and this number will be expanded to seven in the near future, as demand dictates.
The software for the TCS was my department and has been developed over the past six months, to the exclusion of virtually all my other projects (including HChess, a chess-like game in machine language, which I promise will be in the pages of ANALOG Computing as soon as possible.
Developing the TCS software was an education in itself, and I have to give credit to the people at Optimized Systems Software, the creators of MAC/65 and the MAC/65 Toolkit. Their products have been instrumental in the development of the TCS's software, which is 100% machine language.
Machine language was chosen for the TCS in order to get maximum speed, even in 1200 baud. Even with several users hacking away at their keyboards, downloading software and storing messages, the TCS will zip along at fantastic speed. Users of terminal programs with XMODEM protocol won't have the transmission timing problems they may have experienced on systems like CompuServe.
The key to the TCS's usefulness is software and user support. We will be doing all we can to provide new programs on a regular basis, and Charles Bachand and I will be on-line daily to answer your questions. If you have original programs, subroutines, editorials, etc. that other users may be interested in, and you'd like to see them on the TCS, upload them! We will reimburse you in free TCS time if we accept your material. The more programs we have, the better the TCS will be.
In the center of this issue, you will find a bound-in copy of the ANALOG Computing TCS user's guide. Carefully remove the staples, and you've got your ready-to-use TCS manual. I suggest you read through it before logging onto the TCS, in order to familiarize yourself with the system's operation.
I hope you enjoy both the new magazine format and the TCS. We've put a lot of effort into both, and will be expanding and improving them further in the future - to keep ANALOG Computing the #1 Atari user's magazine and telecommunications system.
Finally, the staff of ANALOG Computing would like to thank Mr Edmund Miarecki, who was kind enough to provide us with the Atari 520ST computer pictured on this issue's cover.Tom Hudson