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ATARI PICKS COMDEX TO MAKE ITS PITCH TO THE BUSINESS COMPUTER USER

Although Atari Corp says that the games market is coming back into fashion, its main focus at Comdex/Fall was on business, desktop publishing and scientific customers. While expanding its range of MC-DOS micros to include the 80286 PC4, and pre announcing the 80386-based PC5 for the first quarter of next year, Atari was insisting that its main loyalties lie with the 68000 family. The high memory capabilities of the 68010-based ST Mega lines can now be used with a Unix-like operating system, Idris, from Whitesmiths, which, insisted development vice president Telford Sartell was not the product the Unix market would have been aware of three years ago. Idris is compatible with the 1984 Unix /usr/group standard, and apparently continues to track System V and Posix developments, while requiring less memory. Atari says the main reason for choosing Idris was because the ST Mega lacks support for sophisticated memory management – this objection will go away once the company launches a planned 68030 version of the machine some time in 1988 – and though Atari wasn’t saying, it is understood that a true System V Unix is the most likely software for the next generation machines. Software announced at the launch included word processing packages from Lex and Tigera, Ficor’s Autograph business graphics, and networking software from Fusion and Moses Computers, as well as the Crystalwriter document management system from Syntactics – all Unix applications ported over a short time scale, according to Atari. The ST Mega acts as the input-output device for Atari’s prototype Abaq workstation, which is based on the Inmos T800 Transputer and uses another Unix-like operating system, Helios, which was designed for the machine by Perihelion Software Ltd of Cambridge, for multi-processor operations. By using RISC architecture and parallel processing, low-cost configurations of up to 100 MIPS performance are possible, according to Atari president Sam Tramiel – up to three cards with four T800 processors, each operating at 10 to 12 MIPS, can be installed in the Abaq. A C compiler for the Transputer has been developed and Fortran, Pascal, BCPL, Lisp and Occam are also supported. C libraries and a Unix command subset are also included. One early application for the workstation is Geographic’s desktop typesetting system, which offers professional WYSIWIG typesetting facilities from the screen.

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CBR Staff Writer

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