News

Volume 1

Number 11

January 1984

Award for Hauser?

HERMANN Hauser, joint managing director of Acorn, has been nominated for the RITA Personality of the Year A ward.

RITA stands for Recognition of Information Technology Achievement. The aim of the awards is to heighten national awareness of advances in information technology and to reward outstanding achievements in that field.

The award will be presented at the opening of the Which Computer Show.

ROYAL GIFT IS A BOOST FOR ACORN

ACORN has made a major breakthrough in its campaign to secure a foothold in the educational market in India thanks to a little help from the Queen.

For following a regal gift of five of the company's microcomputer networks to the President of India, the company has announced it has won "a substantial order" for the subcontinent.

The computers formed part of the traditional exchange of gifts to mark the occasion of the Queen's state visit to India.

In all, the royal present consisted of 30 BBC Micros in the form of five 6-station "Econet" networks, including monitors, disc drives and other peripherals.

Achievement

Now destined for India's leading universities for the development of software for schools, the gift was made at the suggestion of the Department of Trade and Industry to represent Britain's achievement in high technology.

The timing couldn't have been better for Acorn, for the company has been attempting to make inroads into India's educational market recently with the backing of the DTI.

Now the Queen's timely gift seems to have tipped the balance in its favour.

China tests Econet

ACORN seems intent on setting up a BBC Micro empire on which the sun will never set.

No sooner was a specially adapted micro launched for the US market than Acorn started negotiations with authorities in India and the People's Republic of China.

These Asian talks are at a delicate stage, said an Acorn spokesman, "with nothing finalised".

The deal with China has reached the stage of trials of the BBC Micro's Econet network.

Acorn is confident that the BBC Micro will meet the needs of the educational establishments in both countries.

BBC Micro aids deaf children

SUMMERFIELD School for Children with Impaired Hearing is very much involved in using the BBC Micro in education.

At present the principal, Mr Eulenkamp, is compiling a report on educational software to see how useful it is for deaf children.

He would very much like to hear from software houses and authors who think their programs could be of use with deaf children. He can be contacted at 141 Worcester Road, Malvern WR14 1ET.

ACORN SWITCHES BACK TO BASIC I

TO the amazement of their dealers, Acorn Computers has started supplying BBC Micros with Basic I as opposed to the Basic II that has been installed in machines since last January.

Customers have been buying the micros, taking them home and finding that they have the older version of the Basic chip.

"We were given no warning", said an irate dealer. "The machines with Basic I just turned up.

"Several customers have brought them back complaining they weren't new!"

Reasons

An Acorn spokesman would not be drawn on the reasons for using the older Basic chips. He was, however, prepared to elaborate on the role of Basic II.

"Basic II is not a bugs-fix, it's an enhancement of Basic I. Acorn do not consider it a replacement for Basic I".

He then went on to say that Basic I was the "specification" chip and that Basic II was a "gift".

Acorn had "no commitment to produce Basic II as a right", the spokesman added.

Technology's caring face

KEEP your eyes open for the "Concerned Technology" exhibition. At present on a nationwide tour, its aim is to introduce manufacturers and the public to the uses of new technology in the design and development of equipment for disabled people.

On display is an extensive range of aids developed to help them to lead a fuller and more independent life -many of them making use of the BBC Micro.

Now-CAL packages for nurse training

GARLAND Computing, a software firm from the south-west, is moving into the new and expanding field of providing computer assisted learning packages for nurse education.

Garland, a team of professional teachers, originally aimed their product at the education market covering subjects like biology, physics and maths.

It is their biology software, designed for schoolchildren, that is arousing interest in nurse education centres across the country.

The reason - software specifically aimed at this group is practically non-existent.

This despite much talk about CAL being used to train the nurses of the eighties and a three year investigation of its possibilities being partially funded by the DHSS.

While the talking continues Garland has gone it alone and found a new market.

Business is big business

AS more software reaches the market so the BBC Micro is increasingly becoming a business-orientated machine. This month sees two more business software releases.

The simplest is the Cashflow Forecast package from Data One Systems which can be used on both model A and B.

This, it is claimed, allows a 12 month forecast of income and expenditure to be created without having to become a computer whizz-kid.

From HCCS comes an integrated system of disc-based software for the small business user covering the range from stock control and payrolls to invoicing and order processing.

EXPORT DRIVE

BRUSSELS is the venue for the latest project in Acorn's export drive.

Together with the importation of the BBC Micro into Belgium, they're opening an Acorn Computer Centre.

The prestigious showroom is located in one of the best commercial streets in Brussels.

The opening, planned for mid-January, will be attended by Chris Curry, the UK ambassador in Belgium and several Belgium cabinet ministers.

Consultancy service

BUSINESS microcomputer users with problems now have a national consultancy service they can turn to for help.

It has been launched by Cambridge Systems Technology, a firm formed by David Oliver and Martin Baines, previously of Torch Computers.

It aims to provide help for the business user at every level from the initial selection of a system, through its implementation and even up to dedicated software design.

Wong to make BBC Micros

BBC Micros for the US are to be manufactured in Hongkong.

Wong Electronics, which already manufactures Acorn products for Australia and the Far East, has won a 45 million dollar order and intends to produce 50,000 of the micros by October 1984.

The micros, which sell for 995 dollars, come complete with disc interface, speech synthesis chip and Econet.

Aimed specifically at the vast US education market, each is supplied with two different sets of teacher training documentation.

Also a panel of edu cationalists has been set up to monitor all educational software written for the machine.

STILL IN BUSINESS

REPORTS of the demise of Acorn's ink-jet printer have been greatly exaggerated, says an Acorn spokesman.

He said there was no truth in the rumour that they were dropping it in favour of making a deal with one of the leading printer manufacturers.

Keyboard to ease computer teaching

CONCEPT keyboard is an approach to educational computing said to allow easier pupil-computer integration.

The keyboard takes interchangeable A4 overlays which define the number, shape, size, colour, position and legending of the keys.

Each program can use a separate overlay, with keys for the application.

The ability to respond directly to programmed questions, via keys labelled "YES", "NO", "TRUE", FALSE" improves pupils' interaction with the computer.

The keys can be made large enough for visually or physically handicapped users.

The flat pressure-sensitive keyboard also makes it easy to design teaching programs.

A program to teach shopping skills, for example, could use a model trolley and an overlay showing the floorplan of a supermarket with the various aisles and counters.

The keyboard can be used with any micro. It is of value in education work and where the normal Qwerty keyboard presents operating difficulties.

The keyboard has an 8 x 16 matrix of touch-sensitive areas, each producing a 7 bit Ascii code which the programmer defines as required.

A bleeper with on/off control, and two additional user-dedicated touch pads, are also provided.

IEEE interface

BEATING the official Acorn product to the market, Cambridge Systems Technology has launched an IEEE interface for the BBC Micro.

Called Procyon, it will allow users to communicate with the wide range of instruments operating to the IEEE-4888 international standard.

Supplied with Procyon is an IEEE filing system in ROM which can cope with up to 16 devices.

When it comes to the crunch...

THE latest 3 inch disc drive from AMS is claimed to provide the most durable form of storage for the BBC Micro available. The new discs, which

hold 100k per side, are encased in plastic sleeves. Said marketing director Nick Pearson: "We knew these new discs were really strong, so we put a couple in the road

and drove over them at various speeds up to 60 mph.

"Not only were they not cracked or anything, but they worked perfectly when we used them in the drives.

"If they can stand that sort of punishment they'll withstand anything that schools, companies or the general public hand out", he added.

Dow's new firm

SANDY DOW, former sales manager of Acorn Computers, has formed a new company, R.H. Electronics.

The Cambridge company is involved with the design, development, sales and marketing of peripherals and software for the BBC Micro.

On the hardware side it has the already successful R.H. Light Pen.

This is joined by a new peripheral called the Interbeeb, a system which, it is claimed, allows the BBC Micro to control the outside world.

MODEL B ON THE EXCHANGE

THE BBC Model B is to be the basis of a new computerised information service to be launched in the New Year by brokers Scrimgeour, Kemp-Gee.

Already the largest supplier of information to the Stock Exchange's Topic service, the firm has spent two years perfecting the hardware and software for the new system, called Dog Fox. The system uses BBC Micros as terminals linked to Scrimgeour's mainframe data bank. The micro's advanced graphics facilities will allow far more flexibility in the way customers can have their data presented than present systems.

Telesoftware gets a warm reception

SINCE its launch in September the BBC Telesoftware Service has been inundated with praise from enthusiastic users.

Said Lawson Brown, head of Telesoftware: "We expected a lot of feedback from schools. What's taken us by surprise is the number of letters we've had from the general public".

The most popular programs supplied by the service have proved to be those that access Ceefax pages.

Telesoftware plan to supply more of these, and schemes are underway to allow users to access other databases - the first of which will supply business information.

TELESOFTWARE SCHEDULE

January 9 to 22: Shell Sort, Anagram, Box Clever (word shapes). Plus two other educational programs.

January 23 to February 5: Quicksort, Watchperson (logic game), Axes of Symmetry, Build (simple computer design) plus two other educational programs.

Basic course

FRODSHAM based Micromode have developed the first correspondence course to teach Basic for the BBC Micro.

The 10 lesson course covers all the major features of BBC Basic with the emphasis on structured programming.

Along with the usual correspondence course features Micromode also provide a phone-in service which clients can use to get an immediate response to their questions.

ZX printer interface

A LEEDS firm, W.D. interfaces, has produced an interface which allows the BBC Micro to use the ZX printer the cheapest on the market.

The device, which comes with full machine code software and instructions, requires no modifications to either the BBC Micro or the ZX printer.

It is attached to the micro's 1mHz bus and has its own mains-derived power supply.

Retailing for just under £30 its low cost is aimed at making it an attractive proposition for schools and the more thrifty BBC Micro users.

Tireless scribe

DOCUMENTS of up to 255 pages long can be created with the latest word processing program for the BBC Micro, Merlin Scribe.

Distributors Bucon claim that it is the first package to make proper use of the Beeb's disc system.

Its main advantage is that the size of a document it creates is not limited by the amount of free computer memory, claims managing director Roy Morgan.

Scribe costs £59.95 and is supplied on a chip with printer utilities on disc.

Camps for computer boys

ELECTRONICS expert Paul Beverley is well known to our readers as a regular contributor to The Micro User.

However Paul, a deeply committed Christian, is also widely involved in evangelical work.

Next summer he will be combining these two areas of endeavour when he leads two camps for 13 to 16-year-old boys who wish to learn more about the links between electronics and computing.

In the evenings the participants will have the chance to learn more about what it means to be a Christian in today's world.

The camps, to be held at Letton Hall in Norfolk, are from August 11 to 18 and 18 to 25. For more details contact Sue Beverley, 57 Cambridge Street, Norwich, NR2 2BA.

More shows on the way

PLANS are well advanced for the next series of BBC Micro User Shows.

Following the tremendous success of our shows so far, we shall be staging four London shows this year, in March, June, October and December and we've plans for special events to make them more exciting than ever.

We've not forgotten the rest of the country, either. We've provisionally settled on August for this year's Manchester BBC Micro User Show, and are planning several other venues.

Acorn move into the CAL field

ONCE again Acorn has demonstrated its commitment to computer assisted learning.

It has bought out the whole of the ICL education section, now renamed Acorn Computer Educational Services.

ACES will be headed by Jeff Wood and the whole concern is being moved to new offices at Slough which the firm will share with Acorn International.

A spokesman was quick to point out that there would be no conflict of interest with Acornsoft.

ACES would have a training role, producing educational software for schools while Acornsoft would be concentrating on the home education market.

In order to service this market more fully Acornsoft will be distributing the widely-acclaimed range of educational games from ASK.

'SEXIST' DUO UNDER FIRE

TWO of Acornsoft's latest releases have caused a flood of controversy in the world of the BBC Micro, not least from feminist groups.

Described by critics variously as "rather silly" and "extremely bad taste", the programs "I Do" and "The Dating Game" are Acornsoft's attempt to cash in on the psychological testing fadism prevalent on the other side of the Atlantic.

Described as "marriage guidance by computer", "I Do" is based on a series of questionnaires used by controversial psychologist Hans Eysenck in his latest book.

Character

The program tests aspects of a person's character such as aggressiveness, marital satisfaction, political stance, sex drive and sexual satisfaction.

One of the features causing offence is its feminism versus anti-feminism scale which has been included "because the nature of feminism, with its tendency towards confrontation as opposed to accommodation, can lead to marital difficulties".

"The Dating Game" consists of four separate programs a computer dating and compatibility program, a "love style" analyser, a "preferred relationship" indicator and a "dating skills" examiner.

The compatibility ratings cater for both friendship and romantic attachment and, Acorn say, work for homosexuals as well as heterosexuals.

Said one psychologist: "The programs could be fun - but shouldn't be taken too seriously. For instance, they are supposed to point out the areas where a couple are in disagreement.

"I think most couples can manage that without a computer".

Knight in tourney

WHITE Knight, BBC Soft's chess program reviewed in our December edition, was joint winner of the computer chess competition held at the PCW Show.

The contest was in the form of a round robin in which the chess programs played each other.

White Knight, written by Martin Bryant, tied for first place with a program running on a micro costing five times as much as a BBC model.

* * *

TWO versions of a new drawing program to assist professional designers have been released by AB Designs for the BBC Model B.

* * *

THE BX80 colour printer for the BBC Micro, announced by Integrex, allows all the BBC Micro modes, including mode 7 teletext, to be printed using the screen dump listing. It costs £495.

BARRY WOOD'S TAILPIECE

NEW YEAR is always a sad time for our beloved editor. This year I stumbled over him in our local, tears in his eyes, clutching a copy of the New Year's Honours list.

"Overlooked again", he sobbed". I'm the VDUO of computing".

"What's that?" I asked, thinking I must have misheard.

"Ignored by the system, that's what".

* * *

QUOTES of 1983 "Aren't the second processors in--the shops?" Chris Curry, September.

"Who's Barry Wood?" Acorn spokesman to Barry Wood.

"We're not going to make the mistakes with the Electron that we did with the BBC Micro". -Acorn spokesman.

"No I'm not Barry Wood". - Barry Wood.

"There will be 150,000 Electrons in the shops by Christmas". - The same Acorn spokesman who wasn't going to make the mistakes.

"Well, go on then, just one more pint..." - The editor, frequently.

"... but don't quote me". - Nearly everyone in the micro trade.

"I don't know about that - Acorn never tell me anything". - Acorn PR man.

* * *

A FEMALE contributor complained to our editor, "Your magazine is sexist".

When asked to quote the offending pages, she replied, "Well I haven't any actual examples, it's just a feeling I get".

Women's intuition, no doubt . . .

* * *

I'VE written a New Year's resolution generator that should please everyone.

10 P. "I will not use GOTO".
20 GOTO 10

***

ACTUALLY, I did make one New Year resolution. As I told my Acorn contact, "This year I'm going to tell the absolute truth about Acorn".

I swear, he went white.

* * *

SO Acorn are selling micros with Basic I again, are they? Let's just hope they don't find a easeful of 0.1 ROMs about the place while they're at it. . .

* * *

WELL, first of all it was 150,000 Electrons before Christmas, then it was 100,000. After that it was 60,000, then it was 40,000. Let's face it, from the way those figures are declining, the thing sounds like an endangered species . . .

***

I THINK we're paying our technical editor too much. Last week I heard him say, "1'11 have to get another printer, the print-out from this one's getting faint".