Friday, May 15, 2020

New Learning Experience

This New Learning Experience ad appeared on page 11 of issue 11 of ANALOG Computing magazine. This is the classic Adventure In The 5th Dimension issue of ANALOG Computing magazine.

This ad was for a series of Jewish/Hebrew-related software titles from the Davka Corporation for the Atari 8-bit family of home computers.

Davka Corporation seems to have published a couple of dozen software titles for the Atari 8-bit. Though many of them have never been archived.

The software titles in this ad include:

Jewish I.Q. Baseball? I've heard of the All-Time Jewish Major League Baseball Team, including that cheating Ryan BraunThe Hebrew Hammer, but never Jewish I.Q. Baseball. (Actually, of course I've heard of it, as I remember seeing this ad as a kid!)

The Davka Corporation itself was/is a software company based in Chicago, Illinois. It published software related to Israel, the BibleJewish history and the Hebrew language for the Atari 8-bit home computer as well as for the Apple II, Windows, and the Mac. The company still seems to be in business today and has an active website where it sells Davkawriter, a Hebrew/English word processor.

As I don't identify as Jewish, nor do I speak/read Hebrew, the software titles in this ad didn't particularly interest me as a kid. Heck, if my Catholic parents saw me learning Hebrew, they might of had me excommunicated!

As an adult, thanks to my friend, Mr. The Modern Atari 8bit Computer himself, Nir Dary, I have a Hebrew Atari 600XL computer in my retro computer collection, and the Jewish/Hebrew software from this company is perfect for running on it, if I ever decided to exhibit it at a Vintage Computer Festival East.

This PAL-based Atari 600XL has a ROM that supports the Hebrew character set and right-to-left display orientation as well as Hebrew key caps (engraved, not stickers). As the 600XL is PAL-based and has a built-in monitor jack (which NTSC-based, North American released 600XLs didn't have), I use it with a small, lightweight Insignia NS-19D310NA19 LED 19 inch TV from Best Buy, which has an undocumented feature of supporting the PAL television format.

If you want to make your own Hebrew-compatible Atari 8-bit, you can find some useful ROMs on Nir's web site. Custom key caps might be a little harder to come by. You could likely have a custom set of stickers made for the keyboard. A company called DataCal has been known to make custom keyboard stickers.

Recently, I was trolling on eBay, as you do, and low and behold, what pops up on my radar? The floppy disk portion of Davka Corporation's Hebrew Reading software package that is mentioned in this ad. There is likely a box, a manual, and an audio cassette tape (the first disk has a place where you listen to an introduction from cassette) included in the original packaging, but this auction (actually two separate auctions for the two disks) didn't include them. Better yet, this is software that hadn't yet been archived for the (Atari, Retro Computer, Jewish, Hebrew, take your pick) community. And now it has been archived!

I received two disks. One disk is a flippy disk with Hebrew Reading Units 1 through 6 on one side, and Hebrew Reading Units 7 through 12 on the other side. The second disk has Hebrew Reading Units 13 and 14 on the front side. The back side appears to be unformatted.

Here are scans of the three relevant floppy disk sides:


Here are some screen shots from the three disk images after I Kryofluxed them. I loaded the disk images into Altirra 3.20 in Atari 400/800 mode with Atari BASIC rev. C inserted.

From Hebrew Reading Units 1 through 6 Disk Image

From Hebrew Reading Units 1 through 6 Disk Image

From Hebrew Reading Units 7 through 12 Disk Image

From Hebrew Reading Units 13 through 14 Disk Image

Without looking to closely at the code, the program is either using a custom character set or possibly Atari's Player Missile Graphics (sprite) engine to not only display characters in Hebrew, but it displays them by forming them from right-to-left on the screen. It is a neat effect.

From Hebrew Reading Units 13 through 14 Disk Image

If you have ever had an interest in reading Hebrew, give this program a try!

Now, who's up for a rousing Game of Jericho?

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Nostalgia Nerd’s Retro Tech - Computers, Consoles, & Games

The Nostalgia Nerd’s Retro Tech - Computers, Consoles, & Games
By Peter Leigh

The Nostalgia Nerd's Retro Tech: Computer, Consoles & Games, a November 2018 released book by author Peter Leigh, covers about 50 gaming consoles and home computers from the early to mid 70s through to the early 2000s. Except for a brief blurb at the end of the book, it purposely leaves out handheld gaming and PC gaming, possibly as subjects for future books. In addition to the hardware, three “Must See, Must Play, and Must Avoid ” games for each platform are briefly covered as well. In addition to hardware popular with North American consumers, the author, based in the UK, covers systems that were popular in the UK and Europe as well, so I was able to learn about systems and games that I wasn’t as familiar with.

I didn’t always agree with the author’s “Must See, Must Play, and Must Avoid” choices, who doesn’t like K-Razy Shoot-Out? But I wholeheartedly agree with others, like Ultima IV on the Apple II platform. It's all subjective, and like the Apple/Atari/Commodore wars of the early 1980s,  it's all part of the fun.

Ultima IV

Other than the few editing mistakes (see page 70 for an  example), and a few errors (page 127, Ballblazer was originally released for the Atari 8-bit computers, not the Atari 5200), my one complaint, is that the text can be rather small in some places (Must See, Must Play, and Must Avoid), which is unfortunate, as there seems to be plenty of surrounding white space that could have been filled with a large font size.

If you are a fan of retro gaming consoles, retro computers, and retro video games, you should enjoy this book. The hardcover edition has full color graphics on a kind of thick, flat, cardstock type paper. It has 224 pages full of retro goodness. As of this writing, the hardcover edition costs about 14 USD on Amazon, which makes it a bargain.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Untold Story Of Atari’s Missile Command

Here is my review of the Advance Reader’s Edition (pre-release) of the forthcoming book 8-Bit Apocalypse: The Untold Story Of Atari’s Missile Command by Alex Rubens.

The book can be broken down into about three sections. The first eighty pages or so include background information on the state of economy in the early 1980s, the Cold War (the author’s view of it anyway), the political environment, and a brief history of Atari including the Nolan Bushnell years and the Ray Kassar years. Other books cover the history of Atari better, and in more detail. It is not really the main point of this book. The included background information gives you context leading up to the stewing cauldron in 1980 in which Missile Command was born. 

The next eighty pages or so cover the development of the Missile Command arcade video game, from where the initial idea came from, to David Theurer, Rich Adams and team designing and developing it. This is really the meat of this book. It covers the direction the development took, why certain decisions were made, and how the development affected Theurer, his health and his personal life. Rob Fulop’s Atari 2600 version of Missile Command and some of Theurer’s other work, such as Tempest, are also covered.

The last third of the book covers other tangential Missile Command related subjects, such as its effect on popular culture (opening credits of FX’s The Americans anyone), conspiracy theories, competitive gaming and a “Where Are They Now” Epilogue.
I would have liked to have seen some more technical information on the arcade video game development itself: development tools, hardware, snippets of source code, etc., but as Rubens’ states at the beginning of Chapter 5, “This isn’t a technical manual for Missile Command. I’m not going to pretend to know how the circuit boards work or how Dave Theurer and Rich Adam accomplished any of the programming feats…” It does, however, discuss the original prototype cabinet with its amazing (and distracting) electronic display imagery.

The Advanced Reader’s Edition has numerous typos which I expect the author and publisher will fix before the final release. I’ve certainly reported the issues that I found. These typos in no way took away from the narrative since I understood that it was a pre-release version of the book. I’ll likely pick up the hardcover edition when it is published so that I can have a cleaned up version which will also include twenty full color images. George Opperman amazing artwork for Missile Command was so classic Atari, that it made the front cover of Tim Lapetino’s book Art Of Atari. I’m looking forward to seeing which images Rubens' decided to include in his book.

While I enjoyed this book, there are a few instances where the author makes “factual” statements that I don’t necessarily agree with. I will not mention which, as they might be revised by the time the book is officially published. There are also times where the author repeats the same point over and over. Yes, employees used drugs at Atari, and yes, software developers have deadlines, got it. Overall, not a bad effort by first time author Alex Rubens. If you are a Missile Command fan, a David Theurer fan or an Atari fan in general, I think you will enjoy the book as well.

The 256 page hardcover edition of 8-Bit Apocalypse: The Untold Story Of Atari’s Missile Command will be published on October 16, 2018 and has a list price of $26.95.

For more information, see the book's website.  You can also follow author Alex Rubens on Twitter.


Thursday, March 1, 2018

ATARI Home Computer Merchandising Aids

This form is a 1982 ATARI Home Computers Merchandising Aids Dealer Administrative Order Form which lists various in-store merchandising aids available from Atari.

On September 17, 2017, the weekend after hosting ATARI PARTY EAST 2017, I was out picking with my wife, as you do, when I came across a huge collection of ATARI 8-bit related items at a local flea market. There was some hardware, a bunch of software and a large box full of ATARI dealer related items. I purchased some of the items that I had not seen before, such as the 5 1/4 floppy diskette-based ATARI 800 In-Store Demonstration Program, which I have already written about, and the ATARI 400 In-Store Demonstration Video VHS Tape, which has now been transfer to digital format and made available to the community. I've scanned much of the other paper materials and made it available in my library on

ATARI made a ton of marketing material, including the In-Store Demonstration Programs, the In-Store Demonstration Video Tapes, the Computers For People book, television commercials, printed ads and much, much more. All of these items were available for purchase by dealers or they could use their CO-OP Merchandising allowance in lieu of payment.

The purpose of the ATARI Cooperative Advertising Program was to increase retailers' sales of ATARI Home Computers. It was designed to fit each retailer's specific advertising needs for ATARI Home Computer products. Reimbursement for ATARI Home Computer advertising required adhering to the following rules:

  • 5% accrual based on net cost of purchases to retailers for purchases directly from ATARI.
  • 4% accrual based on net cost of purchases to retailers for purchases through distributors.
  • 100% of actual net cost of advertising up to accrual limit.
  • Available to all retailers (even through distributors).  

The ATARI Home Computers Merchandising Aids Dealer Administrative Order Form that I have, which you can see at the top of this post, lists in part:

  • CX302 ATARI 400 Demonstration Video Tape --- VHS
  • CX303 ATARI 400 Demonstration Video Tape --- Beta

As you can see in the photograph below, my tape is labeled ATARI 400 - THE BASIC COMPUTER In-Store Demonstration Tape Model No. CX303, but it is, clearly, a VHS tape. So there is some misinformation in either the order form or the tape label. The VHS version should be labeled CX302 as per the order form.

ATARI 400 - The BASIC Computer
In-Store Demonstration VHS Tape
Model No. CX303

Also according to the order form, in 1982, either of the ATARI Demonstration Video Tapes cost $23.00 or about $60.00 in today's (2017) money. 

Much like Anorak's Invitation, the video itself begins with the sound of trumpets and is just about five minutes long. The same video repeats over and over again on the VHS tape ... put it in, press PLAY, let it play over and over for a few hours, rewind, repeat. The video covers the ATARI 400 Home Computer, the ATARI Educator kit, the ATARI Communicator kit, the Programmer kit and the Entertainer kit.

Screen Capture From
ATARI 400 In-Store Demonstration VHS Tape

The ATARI 400 Demonstration Video Tapes were meant to be played in the ATARI Home Computers Point Of Purchase M Series Merchandising Displayers. The POP-M Series Displayer had a base which could hold a video tape player.

Point Of Purchase
Merchandising Displayer
POP-M Series

The point of purchase merchandising displayer was 25 inches wide, 56 inches high and approximately 26 inches deep. It had a wood base, silver, charcoal and black in color, with key-lock front access door, and an acrylic brochure dispenser. The displayer was designed so that the top portion could be removed and placed directly on a counter top doing away with the base. According to the marketing material, a key-lock acrylic cover was also available for an additional cost. 

"ATARI, we took a big idea and made it simple. ATARI, computers for people."

A big thank you to “Amiga” Bill Winters ( for transferring the VHS tape to digital format for me ... and for the Atari 8-bit community!


Bill (

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Atari Bean Counter

Small Business Accounting Ad
Creative Computing
September 1980

This Atari Bean Counter ad, which mentions the Atari Accountant software, is from pages 8 and 9 of the September 1980 issue of Creative Computing magazine.

Atari first introduced the fabled Atari Accountant software at the June 1980 Summer Consumer Electronic Show in Chicago. From the article Random Ramblings - The Consumer Electronics Show by David H. Ahl, in the September 1980 issue of Creative Computing, the Atari section on page 30 states that
Atari introduced a new piece of software, the Atari Accountant and three new peripherals ... The Atari Accountant was "created to give the small businessman the benefit of computerization without special training or the time required to learn computer programming." It seems to be aimed at the businessman who does his own bookkeeping or who has a part time bookkeeper. The Atari Accountant consists of a general ledger master module, with accounts receivable and payable available as independent add-on modules. Atari promises an inventory control and order entry module at a later date ... We'll reserve judgement on this system until we see it in operation ... 
The Atari 815 Dual Disk Drive was also introduced at the June 1980 Summer Consumer Electronic Show. From the same September 1980 Creative Computing article mentioned above:
The Atari 815 is a dual disk drive with double density on 40 tracks per diskette. Using this storage system each diskette stores over 163,000 bits of data. The dual drive has a built-in microprocessor for control and includes DOS/FMS (double density disk operating system/file management system). List price for the 815 is $1499.95.

Business Software Collection
BPI Systems, Inc.

Atari again showed the Atari Accountant series at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show, held January 9-12, 1981 in Las Vegas, Nevada. In an article by Jean Yeates that starts on the front page and continues on page 29 of the March 2, 1981 issue of InfoWorld covering the CES event, it states:
Business Applications for Atari
Atari has purchased, adapted and enhanced the BPI, Inc., accounting system (formerly available on the Apple II computer) to the Atari 800, and named it the “Atari Accountant.” Arthur Young and Company, a large CPA firm, has written a primer and manual on accounting specifically for the “Atari Accountant,” which has three packages: General Ledger, Accounts Receivable and Inventory Control. Atari’s new “user hotline” provides immediate response to questions about the system.
It's not clear (to me) if Atari purchased the rights to BPI Systems, Inc.’s accounting software and made the required changes in-house or if Atari just paid BPI to develop a version for the Atari 8-bit computers. Clearly, Atari paid Arthur Young and Company to write the documentation (and as we will see later, test the software).

Top Ten Most Popular Business Programs, 1981
Softalk Magazine
April 1982

The Atari Accountant software is based on BPI’s General Ledger and Accounts Receivable packages by John Moss and Ken Debower. According to a reader’s poll on page 164 of the April 1982 issue of Softalk magazine, the two Apple II software packages were listed in the top ten most popular business software programs of 1981.

Accounting Software for the Apple II
BPI Systems, Inc.

At the time, Austin, Texas based BPI Systems, Inc., had the United States’ largest installed customer base of microcomputer business accounting software. There were versions of the BPI accounting software available for the Apple II, the Apple III and later the IBM PC and compatibles. There is a review of a later version of the BPI General Accounting package on page 43 of the March 25th, 1985 issue of InfoWorld.

Front Cover
The Atari Accountant Sales Brochure

C016902 REV. 2

In 1981, Atari created a six page sales brochure covering the Atari Accountant. The sales brochure give a copious amount of information on the promised small business software packages, including sample screen shots.

The Atari Accountant
Accounting Software for the Atari 8-bit
(Recreated from
C016902 REV. 2 for Better Resolution)

The Atari Accountant was also mentioned as a new product on pages 4 and 5 of Atari Connection magazine, Vol. 1, No. 2, in June 1981:
The Atari Accountant 
Computerized accounting for small business is finally here. The Atari Accountant brings the price of computerized accounting within reach of most small businesses. You don’t have to be a computer professional or accountant to operate the Atari Accountant. Its operation is simple and straightforward.
The Atari Accountant is comprised of three packages: General Accounting System, Accounts Receivable System and Inventory Control System. Each operates by itself or in conjunction with the other packages. You can start with one package and add others as your needs dictate. The General Accounting System is now available at your local dealer. The other two packages will be available soon. 
General Accounting System 
The General Accounting System can be customized to your needs. With this program, you can process up to 750 general ledger accounts and up to 2,5000 journal entries per month. Financial statements and reports are generated automatically. Statements and reports range from balance sheets and profit and loss statements to subsidiary ledgers for accounts receivable, accounts payable, and payroll. In addition, updating your records is faster with this system than many other personal computer accounting programs on the market. 
The Atari Accountant will dramatically reduce manual bookkeeping, thus increasing the accuracy and timelines of journals and reports. Developed with assistance from and tested by Arthur Young & Company, a large accounting firm, the Atari Accountant will produce financial statements which summarize accounting data entered into the system. It will provide you with the financial information you need to make intelligent decisions concerning your business.
To use the Atari Accountant - General Accounting System software package in 1981, at a minimum, you would have needed an Atari 800 with 48K RAM, an Atari BASIC Cartridge, a mythical Atari 815 Dual Disk Drive, a hard to acquire Atari 850 Interface Module, an Atari 825 80-Column Printer and the Atari General Accounting System software. You would also need a supply of blank Atari CX8202 certified double-density 5 ¼ floppy diskettes or compatible.

The Atari Accountant In Action
Part I

In an announcement on page 158 of the June 1981 issue of Compute! Magazine, it states:
… The previously introduced Atari Accountant software package for small business or professional use has been priced at $1,499.85. Each of its three components, which are available separately, is priced at $499.95. They include systems for accounts and inventory control … All prices mentioned are manufacturer's suggested retail prices in the U.S. only.
Atari 815 Dual Disk Drive

The Atari 815 Dual Disk Drive was also mentioned as a new product on page 5 of the same Atari Connection, Vol. 1, No. 2, in June 1981:
More Memory Than Ever 
Atari announces its new Atari 815 Dual Disk Drive. This new Dual Disk Drive provides over 356K bytes of double density data storage on two 5 1/4 inch diskettes. It comes with full operating instructions and a diskette containing the disk operating system programs and File Management System. If one Dual Disk Drive is not adequate for your needs, your Atari 800 Personal Computer can control up to four Dual Disk Drives for a total of 1424 bytes of storage!
Imagine, four Atari 815 Dual Disk Drives at the suggested retail price of $1,499.95 each in 1981 dollars. $5,999.80 in 1981 dollars is equivalent to $16,156.95 in 2017. That's a lot of cannolis.

Atari 815 Dual Disk Drive and Atari Accountant Software Ad
Compute! Magazine
September 1981
Page 149

The Atari 815 Dual Disk Drive was an absolute beast. It wasn’t just two Atari 810 single-sided, single-density, 90K capacity, 5 ¼ inch drive mechanisms in one case, it was two single-sided, double-density, 180K capacity drive mechanisms. It required Atari CX8202 certified double-density 5 ¼ floppy diskettes and the Atari DOS 2.0D disk operating system. 

2020-03-04 Update: Kevin Savetz scanned the rare Atari 815 Dual Disk Drive manual and uploaded it to

According to the Atari 8-bit FAQ maintained by Michael Currant, rumor has it that Atari didn’t want to release the Atari 815 Dual Disk Drive due to serious quality issues. Atari hand-built enough of these units to satisfy pre-orders and then promptly killed the product. Many of the units that they did sell were returned due to the quality and reliability issues.

Atari 815 Dual Disk Drive and
Atari General Accounting System
Photograph courtesy of Curt Vendel 

The Atari Accountant series necessitated the need for higher capacity storage on the Atari 8-bit computers. With the Atari 815 Dual Disk Drive dead on arrival, the Atari Accountant series was simply no longer a viable product in its current form as it required the higher capacity 180K double-density diskettes. By this time, Atari probably realized that its 8-bit computers were mostly being used as personal home computers and game machines rather than serious small to medium sized business computers. Atari’s reputation as a game company and its lack of quality, affordable, high capacity storage devices certainly didn’t help.

From page 66 of InfoWorld's Essential Guide To Atari Computers by Scott Mace and the editors of InfoWorld:
Before converting your general-ledger books over to your Atari, be aware that your Atari computer is not optimized for accounting programs. The computer's image as a game and education machine for the home means that Ataris have not invaded offices in the way Apple and IBM computers have. Accounting is generally an office function, and if you accumulate any moderately large records, you'll quickly reach the capacity of both the Ataris' RAM and their disk drives. Also, hard disks are not readily available for the Ataris, and most businesses need the speed and storage capacity of hard disks to store their records.     
And from the December 1982 article Whither Atari? beginning on page 4 of Analog Computing issue #9:
The Atari computer has been on the market just over three years ... For the first year or so, Atari's marketing direction was unclear. All we knew was that Ataris were "Computers for People." With the scrapping of the double density dual disk drive, Atari Personal Computers became Atari Home Computers. The home market became established as Atari's target. The Atari Corporation had apparently decided to focus on the home and educational markets and leave the business market to IBM, Apple, and others ... 
The October 19, 1981 issue of InfoWorld briefly states on page 37 that “A new home accounting system for the Atari 800 will replace the Atari Accountant. The new system is designed expressly for the home market and will be ready for delivery in the first quarter of 1982…

The Atari Bookkeeper Kit

The unnamed new system mentioned above might be referring to what eventually became the Atari Bookkeeper kit. 

In the New Products section on page 167 of the November, 1981 issue of Compute! Magazine, it mentions, in part, that  
A new home accounting system for the Atari 800 Home Computer will replace the Atari Accountant, a small business accounting system, which will not now be offered for sale.
The new system will be lower priced and easier to use than the current system, since it will be designed expressly for the home market. It will be ready for delivery in the first calendar quarter of 1982. The Atari 815 Dual Disk Drive, which was required for use of the professional accounting package, will not be offered for sale. 
“The major thrust of our marketing efforts is toward use of our products in the home. We feel that our resources are better spent developing products aimed specifically at this market and segments that support this market, such as institutional education. It makes the most sense to convert the existing accounting package for home use,” Roger H. Badertscher, president of Atari’s Computer Division, said.
The new system will work with the Atari 810 Disk Drive, which is priced at $599.95. The dual disk drive was priced at $1,499.95, and offered “more capacity and a higher price than we feel is necessary for most home applications,” Badertscher added.
Considering the lead time required for publishing Compute! and InfoWorld, Atari must have cancelled the Atari Accountant series by at least October 1st, 1981. With purchasing the rights from BPI Systems, development costs of porting the software to the non-standard Atari BASIC format, Arthur Young and Company involvement, product documentation, product packaging and product marketing as well as the development of the Atari 815 Dual Disk Drive, Atari must have taken a bit of a financial hit on this product line! And this was happening at the same time as the Atari Personal Financial Management System debacle.

The Atari Accountant
Screenshot from the Atari 800 In Store Demonstration Program

Even after Atari killed off The Atari Accountant series in the fall of 1981, it was still being advertised in the disk-based version of the Atari 800 In Store Demonstration Program that was being sold to Atari dealers in 1982. 

Taking into account that the Atari Connection magazine stated in June, 1981, that “...the General Accounting System is now available at your local dealer. The other two packages will be available soon…”,  the Atari 815 and Atari Accountant ads beginning to appear in September, 1981, and it being known that at least a few copies of the General Accounting System are in collector’s hands in the United States, I suspect that at least a few copies of pre-ordered General Accounting System and 815 Dual Disk Drives were released into end-user's hands. There were literally no other released software packages in the Atari catalog at the time (or since) that required the Atari 815 Dual Disk Drive except for possibly the Atari 815 Master Diskette (CX8201), which shipped with the drive, and the Atari Word Processor (Atari 815 version) (CX408), if that itself was even released.  

The Atari Accountant In Action
Part II

I asked Curt Vendel, noted Atari historian, curator of the virtual Atari History Museum and co-author of the book Atari Inc. - Business Is Fun, how he acquired the copy of the General Accounting System that is prominently displayed in the atariwiki article on the Atari Accountant series and he said that “I acquired it in the 1990s, during my regular trips out to California … dumpster diving behind various Atari buildings … if I recall, I found it along with some Atari Word Processor binders in a cardboard box behind 390 W Caribbean Drive in Sunnyvale which was one of Atari’s warehouses.”          

With the limited release and failure of the Atari 815 Dual Disk Drives, any potentially released copies of the General Accounting System accounting software were probably returned to Atari and destroyed. Without the hardware to run it, it would have been a very expense paperweight. 

This accounting product was killed off before I even bought my first Atari home computer, an Atari 400, in March, 1982. Luckily, I didn’t need the Atari Accountant series to manage my newspaper route empire. I had the Newspaper Route Management Program by John R. Powers, III published by the Atari Program Exchange for that!

Atari General Accounting System
Photograph courtesy of Curt Vendel 

As of this writing, a few copies of The Atari Accountant General Accounting System (CX401) software and packaging are known to exist in private hands. Unfortunately, neither the multiple double-density floppy diskettes containing the software nor the extensive documentation Atari created for this package are known to have been archived and made available to the Atari 8-bit community. Considering these floppies are almost 40 years old, they might not even be readable any longer. 

Disk Operating System II Version 2.0D
For the Atari 815 Dual Disk Drive
Running Under Altirra 2.90 Emulation

KryoFlux, the forensic floppy controller, should be able to make archival backup copies of the original General Accounting System double-density floppy diskettes. The backup copies could than be used to make disk images. Version 2.90 of Altirra, the Atari 8-bit emulator, can read/boot the Atari Disk Operating System II version 2.0D disk image found on the Atarimania website, so it should be able to read the General Accounting System software if double-density disk images are created. If so, then Atari BASIC source listings could be generated as well.   

For more general information on the BPI Systems, Inc.’s family of accounting software, look for a copy of the book Practical Guide To The BPI Accounting System by Dale N. Flanagan published by Tab Books, 1986.

2019-03-10 Update

In the last few months, with the help of Atari enthusiasts around the world, The Atari Accounting General Accounting System software and documentation has been made available for the first time, and a few articles and blogs have been written about the release.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Stop The Presses!

The Newsroom Ad
Family Computing
Page 3

This Stop The Presses! ad for Springboard Software's popular The Newsroom desktop publishing software appeared on page 3 of the February 1986 issue of Family Computing magazine.

Family Computing was a U.S.-based computer magazine published by Scholastic, Inc. It covered most of the popular home computers of the time, including the Atari 8-bit family, the Apple II series, the Commodore Vic 20 and the Commodore 64, as well as the IBM PC and Apple Macintosh. The magazine was published from September 1983 until April, 2001. Although, in around July 1987, the magazine changed from a hobbyist home computing magazine to more of a home office computing magazine.

The Newsroom was a best selling (over 400,000 unit sold) Productivity software title for the Apple II series, the Commodore 64, the IBM PC and the Macintosh, as shown in the Software Best Sellers list compiled by the Billboard Research Department of Billboard Publications, Inc., and published on page 18 in the September 1986 issue of Compute! magazine.

Atari 8-bit Version Main Menu
The Newsroom
Springboard Software

According to a 1988 Springboard Software catalog available on, The Newsroom and its three optional clip art collection packages (Volume 1, Volume 2 and Volume 3) were the only software titles that Springboard released for the Atari 8-bit series of computes. In the July 1987 issue of Compute! magazine, there is blurb in the News & Products section on page 118 that states "Springboard has announced the release of Atari and Macintosh versions of its popular programs, Certificate Maker and Certificate Library Volume 1. And again, Certificate Maker for the Atari is mentioned in a WinWorld article. Unfortunately, Certificate Maker "for the Atari" was only released for the Atari ST platform, according to the same catalog.

Springboard Software
1988 Catalog

Springboard Software/Counterpoint Software existed as early as 1982 based on the Wikipedia entry for Early Games. From page 27 of the July 21, 1984 issue of Billboard, "Educational software maker Counterpoint Software has changed its name to Springboard Software Inc. According to a spokesman, the name change is part of a company-wide program to expand its operation. Company founder John Paulson would not comment on the change. It is believed that the switch is due to an undisclosed amount of venture capital which shuffled in new key staffers. The name modification is being explained as a more accurate reflection of the company's software."

In 1990, Spinnaker bought Springboard Software, creator of The NewsroomCertificate Maker and Springboard Publisher, among others software packages.

Originally, The Newsroom wasn't even going to be published for the Atari 8-bit family of home computers as Springboard Software had an unofficial "No Atari" policy.

In an editorial published on page 6 in the June 1987 issue of Antic magazine, editor Nat Friedland started a write-in campaign to convince Springboard Software to make an Atari 8-bit conversion. Two months, hundreds of letters and a chance meeting at the June Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago later, Springboard Software president John Paulson gave the go-ahead. The Atari 8-bit version of The Newsroom was finally released in March, 1988.

Editor Nat Friedland again addressed the successful Springboard Software write-in campaign in another editorial in the December 1987 issue of Antic. Antic magazine and its readers definitely deserve a lot of credit for getting an Atari 8-bit conversion of this popular and useful piece of software published.

There is a review of the Atari 8-bit version of The Newsroom by Clayton Walnum beginning on page 90 of the July 1988 issue, issue #62, of ANALOG Computing magazine. In his review, Mr. Walnum states
"What is The Newsroom? Basically, it's a stripped-down desktop publishing system that allows you to create newsletters, brochure, forms and other simple publications. It doesn't have anywhere near the power of such desktop publishing programs as Publishing Partner for the ST, but that's not its detriment. In fact, its simplicity is actually a good part of its charm."
For more information on Clayton Walnum, listen to an interview with him by the hosts of Antic The Atari 8-bit Podcast. He was interviewed in the ANTIC Interview 142 episode, published on March 8, 2016.

There is another review of The Newsroom by Jim Pierson-Perry starting on page 18 of the July 1988 issue (Vol. 7, No. 3) of Antic magazine. The Newsroom is also prominently featured on the July 1988 issue's cover.

Cover Feature - Springboard's The Newsroom
Antic Magazine
July 1988

There is a review of the Apple II version of The Newsroom by Deborah Kovacks in the October/November 1985 premier issue of II Computing magazine.

I used the Apple II version of The Newsroom years before I ever saw the Atari 8-bit version. When I started my senior year in high school at Toms River High School North (Go Mariners!) in the fall of 1985, I bought an Apple IIc from Atlantic Computers. One of the software packages I bought along with the Apple IIc was The Newsroom. [The other software package I bought was Karateka.] I used The Newsroom to create a short newspaper for a high school English project. I can remember two of the spoof articles I wrote for "the newspaper". One article was on Kurt Waldheim running for president of Austria with screenshots borrowed from Beyond Castle Wolfenstein by MUSE Software, specifically, the successful end of game graphic of the castle blowing up. The other article I remember was a spoof piece on the Chernobyl nuclear accident in the Soviet Union, complete with imagery of mutated monsters.

My Atari 8-bit copy of
Springboard Software's The Newsroom

The Atari 8-bit version of The Newsroom requires an Atari XL/XE with at least 64K of RAM, an Atari 1050 or compatible enhanced denstiy disk drive and a graphics-capable dot-matrix printer. An optional Atari-compatible joystick can also be used. A printer interface is most likely required for printer connectivity. The Atari 8-bit version box states "Recommend use with Microprint interface - Does not support Atari 850 interface." The previously mentioned review by Mr. Walnum also states "... The Newsroom doesn't seem to be compatible with the Atari 850 interface, although from talking to Springboard Software's representatives, I get the impression that they're planning to correct this oversight."  I do not know if the product was ever updated to support the Atari 850 interface.

[Note that Jason Howe mentioned that he uses the Atari 8-bit version of The Newsroom with an Panasonic KX-P2123 printer and the Atari 850 Interface, possibly with a patched disk image from an atariage thread or the atarimania website.]

Also, as previously mentioned, in addition to The Newsroom software itself, at least three optional additional clip art disks were published by Springboard Software as well.

Typical Clip Art Found In The Newsroom

B & C ComputerVisions still has new in box Atari 8-bit The Newsroom software available on their website and their eBay store. The Newsroom and The Newsroom Clip Art Collection have entries on the on the atarimania website, but no disk images are currently available. If you would like to try The Newsroom with the Altirra Atari 8-bit Emulator, try using the patched disk images in this thread on atariage website.You can load the disk images to physical Atari 8-bit hardware with the AspeQt SIO2PC software and the proper cable.

Did you use the Atari 8-bit (or any version) of Springboard Software's The Newsroom for school projects, group newsletters or any other interesting project?

If you find that this The Newsroom blog post is putting you to sleep, you can always get The Newsroom Clip Art Pillow!

Thank you to Allan Bushman for scanning and archiving the Springboard Software catalog referenced in this blog post!

-- Bill (@BillLange1968)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

From Kindergarten To College

ATARI Computer Educational Software Directory

The ATARI Computer Educational Software Directory, is a 48-page catalog of both Atari and non-Atari educational software products. This catalog has a print date of January 1983 as denoted on the bottom of page 48.

At the beginning of the catalog it states:
How to use this Directory: The ATARI Computer Educational Software Directory is divided into the categories shown in the Table of Contents. Each product is followed by the name of the company which produces or distributes the product. In the back of the directory, you will find the addresses and phone numbers for contacting these companies. Atari, Inc. distributes only those products marked "Atari, Inc." or "ATARI Program Exchange." 
This catalogs contains sections on Art And Music, Business, Computer Science, Courseware Authoring And Classroom Management, Foreign Languages, Language Arts, Mathematics, Religion, Science, Social Studies And History, Miscellaneous, an extensive Index, and finally, a Company Listings section.

The catalog lists hundreds of educational software titles from the following companies:
  • Atari, Inc.
  • ATARI Program Exchange
  • Basics and Beyond, Inc.
  • Compumax, Inc.
  • Compu-Tations, Inc.
  • Computer Assisted Instruction, Inc.
  • Control Data Corporation
  • Dorsett Educational Systems
  • DYNACOMP, Inc.
  • Educational Activities, Inc.
  • Educational Software
  • Edupro
  • Edu-Soft
  • Edu-Ware Services, Inc.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corp.
  • High Technology Software Products, Inc,
  • Home-Computer Software Company
  • Institute for Computers in Jewish Life
  • Jadee Enterprises
  • JMH Software of Minnesota, Inc.
  • Johnson Software
  • Krell Software
  • Lighting Software, Inc.
  • Micro School Programs Bertamax, Inc.
  • MICRO-ED, Inc.
  • Milliken Publishing Co.
  • MECC Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium
  • Optimized Systems Software, Inc.
  • Phoenix Software, Inc.
  • Program Design, Inc.
  • Random House Inc.
  • Reader's Digest Services, Inc.
  • School CourseWare Journal
  • SRA Science Research Associates
  • Spinnaker Software
  • Sterling Swift Publishing Co.
  • Sunburst Communications
  • Tamarac Software
  • Teaching Tools: Microcomputer Services
  • T.H.E.S.I.S.

The back of the catalog has an ad for the then upcoming release of ATARI Logo.

ATARI Computer Educational Software Directory
Back Cover

I've scanned and uploaded the complete catalog to

-- Bill (@BillLange1968)