As many of you predicted, the response to the ATARI Program Exchange (APX) was immediate and favorable. We’ve been processing your orders within 48 hours of receipt, so that you can enjoy your APX software in a matter of days. As for acquiring more software, we’ve already received a great many requests for program submission information, and the number grows daily, so the future looks bright. Because of a delay in mailing out this information, we extended the acceptance deadline for our first contest and for publication in this issue, to allow programmers time to submit their software and us time to review it. We’re pleased to be able to offer you some new and imaginative programs in all software categories.
This issue lists all software and hardware currently available through APX. You can identify new programs by the “NEW” symbol next to the program title. Look for many more programs in our winter issue!
First quarterly contest winners
We’re happy to see some well-written, useful and entertaining software coming into APX. The winning programs demonstrate both the flair and the solid programming effort we’re pleased to be able to offer ATARI Personal Computer users.
In the CONSUMER category, first place goes to professional game developer Alan M. Newman of Brooklyn, New York, for DOMINATION, an addictive game of political superpowers. A newcomer to programming, Alan bought his ATARI system in October of last year. He bought it primarily to develop games, and his investment has already paid off! Second place goes to 16- year-old high school senior Joel Gluck of Merrick, New York, for his action- and graphics-packed game BABEL. And third place goes to W.H. North- rup of Marina Del Rey, California, for a program that both entertains and teaches, BLACKJACK TUTOR.
In the EDUCATION category, the top prize goes to mechanical engineer Richard S. Waller of Seven Hills, Ohio, for an appealing and friendly number drill program, VIDEO MATH FLASHCARDS. Richard wrote the program after tiring of doing manual flashcard drills with his nine-year-old daughter. She immediately took to this program, which was her first non-game experience with their ATARI computer system, and a year later she still uses the program for fun. Second place goes to physicists Harry C. Koons and Art Prag of Harbor City, California, for their intricate map drawing program, MAPWARE, which they created because of a need for recording ground tracks for their work with satellites. Insufficient qualifying entries prevented awarding a third place prize in this category.
In the BUSINESS & PROFESSIONAL APPLICATIONS/PERSONAL FINANCE & RECORD KEEPING category, first place goes to a husband-and-wife programming team. Ronald and Lynn Marcuse of Freehold, New Jersey, win with their easy-to-use, multipurpose DATA MANAGEMENT SYSTEM. They wrote this program after tiring of writing many smaller programs for organizing information like addresses and telephone numbers and a record catalog. Now they can use one program for a wide range of applications. Second place goes to systems planner Robert A. Waldman of Greenwich, Connecticut, for a well-designed program for organizing and formatting financial data, FINANCIAL ASSET MANAGEMENT SYSTEM. What formerly took him six hours to organize and produce manually now takes about twenty minutes with his program, which is of great help to him in his sideline of monitoring stock portfolios for others. Third place goes to electrical engineer James L. Bruun of Idaho Falls, Idaho, for his program DECISION MAKER, which can help you make not only business decisions but also personal decisions.
Last, in the SYSTEM SOFTWARE category, M.l.T. junior John H. Palevich of Bethesda, Maryland, wins first prize for his program that converts an ATARI Personal Computer into a computer termi- nal, CHAMELEON CRT TERMINAL EMULATOR. John wrote his program so he could call up the M.l.T. computer he uses regularly, whose Operating System supports video display terminals with 80-column screens and full-screen editing. Ronald and Lynn Marcuse become two-time winners by capturing second place in this category for their DISKETTE LIBRARIAN program, which catalogs diskette files and will even automatically load and start some kinds of BASIC programs. Why did they write this program? Because they have more than 400 programs to keep track of! Third place goes to Image Marketing Corporation of Guymedd, Pennsylvania, for BLIS, a program that formats BASIC statements to make debugging easier. We at APX congratulate all these winners!
Next contest deadline is October 15
We’re now staffed to review your software submissions and we’re eager to see what you’ve written. We ask that you give us 60 days to look over a program. However, so far we’ve been able to notify program authors of our decision in far less time. Although we can’t promise we’ll always be able to do so well, at the moment you won’t have to wait long before hearing from us.
All programs accepted by APX between July 16, 1981 and October 15, 1981 automatically become contestants in our winter judging. Those accepted between October 16, 1981 and January 15, 1982 become contestants in our spring contest. First, second, and third prize winners in each of four categories receive ATARI products. The first category, Consumer, has larger prize values, reflecting our commitment to the home computer user:
What we look for in your programs
Reviewing your program involves a number of considerations. The two most important are whether your program is useful or entertaining and whether it’s easy to use. Here is a further breakdown of what we look for in these two areas:
- How useful or entertaining is your program? We consider the appeal of your program to its intended users. We’re interested in both programs appealing to a wide range of users and those appealing to special interest groups.
- How easy is your program to use? In this area we consider such things as whether it’s easy to start; whether it uses menus or prompted choices; whether it includes self- explanatory questions or brief on-line instructions; whether it guides users through its operations; whether it provides good user feedback while performing operations; whether it handles errors well; and whether it requires programming experience inappropriate for its intended users.
Other considerations we take into account are:
- Does your program contain bugs?
- Is your program flexible? If your program uses a controller, can users use the console keyboard instead? Is your program usable on both color and black and white televisions? If your program requires a printer, can it support any ATARI printer?
- Does your program use ATARI Personal Computer features? How imaginatively does it take advantage of the ATARI computer’s strengths, such as its sound, color, and graphics features? Does it use standard techniques, such as applying the OPTION, SELECT, and START keys appropriately?
- Is your user manual complete and easy to use?
Our APX Author’s Guide, included in the program submission packet, contains additional suggestions for making your program appealing and easy to use and for organizing your user instructions.
What you get for your efforts
Once you submit your program to APX, we don’t expect you to wait indefinitely while we make up our minds. We request 60 days from the date we receive your material to review and accept it. If we accept your program, we’ll offer it on a nonexclusive basis. That means you can sell it anywhere else you like, in addition to selling it through APX, provided the other sources also agree to distribute it nonexclusively.
We’ll publish a description of your software in our catalog within six months of acceptance and we’ll send you quarterly payments equal to ten percent of your program’s base price (see the later section explaining “base price”), times the number of programs sold in the quarter. Because every registered ATARI Personal Computer System owner automatically receives our catalog, we can offer you a very attractive potential market for your software. The program submission packet contains complete terms for submitting software to APX.
APX software now available through ATARI dealers and through MicroNET
It’s frustrating to wait for software you really want. We sympathize with your impatience, and so we’ve opened up two more channels for obtaining APX software. First, you can now buy our software through local ATARI dealers, making our programs only a walk or car trip away!
Or, you can purchase APX software without even leaving your house if you subscribe to MicroNET through CompuServe. You simply download the program directly onto cassette or diskette, and CompuServe will mail you the associated user manual. You can both browse through our catalog and buy most of our software via MicroNET. MicroNET availability appears in the order information under each program description. Because software purchased through MicroNET has no media charge, you pay only a program’s base price, resulting in a nice savings when you buy APX software this way. You can also obtain APX software in advance of the next catalog by checking MicroNET’s on-line catalog periodically for new entries. For information about accessing APX software, consult the APX Storekeeper under MicroNET’s “Special Services.”
Introducing combination diskettes
Another new feature we’re pleased to offer in response to users’ requests is a diskette of four BASIC utilities (a renumbering program, a code compression program, a cross-reference program, and a variable changer program). You pay only the base price of the four programs, plus a one-time media cost, thereby saving on the media cost for three additional programs! Of course, you may still purchase any of these programs separately if you wish to. If the idea is popular, we’ll offer more combination packages in the future.
A program’s base price
Because we’re offering our software on a variety of media — cassette, diskette, and now MicroNET — we needed to establish the value of the software itself, exclusive of the medium on which it is reproduced. We’ve called this value a program’s “base price.” A program author receives payment according to the program’s base price. In addition, as we mentioned, when you buy software through MicroNET, you can take advantage of this cost separation by paying only the base price. The base price appears in the ORDER INFORMATION section of the program descriptions.
APX uses ATARI 800 computers for its operations
We think the ATARI Personal Computer Systems deserve a nod of recognition for all the hard work they do at the ATARI Program Exchange. ATARI 800 Personal Computer Systems with 48K of RAM take care of all our order processing. They enter the information from the order form; compute the taxes and total payment due; calculate the postage, based on the weight of the order and on the zip code; print charge card data; and generate sales reports. ATARI computers also coordinate duplicating the software onto cassettes and diskettes and uploading software to MicroNET. In addition, we use ATARI Personal Computer Systems to write and edit all our user manuals. We use the ATARI Program-Text Editor*, available soon, to enter, edit, and store our documentation files, together with the text formatter FORMS, available through APX, to format the text.
*Indicates trademark of Atari, Inc.