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DEPARTMENTS

2 EDITORIAL

9 INPUT/OUTPUT Letters from our readers.

144 NEWS YOU CAN USE Of robots, and VCRs, among others.

23 EDUCATION

An interview with Tom Snyder, plus educational game reviews, and more.

30 LOGO NOTIONS WHEN Demons.

34 HAPPY HACKER A hands-on look at the 130XE and DOS 2.5.

42 COMPUTER CLASSROOM Getting into assembly language programming.

46 BITS AND PIECES A mixed bag of useful tricks.

50 USER FRIENDLY All about M.A.C.E.

58 REVIEWS Cutthroats, Suspect, Stealth, HomePak, Flak.

FEATURES

THE PRINTED WORD: ATARI INTRODUCES THE XE AND ST

PRINTERS An exciting display of new printers by Atari.

ATARI COMPUTER CARTRIDGES: A RETROSPECTIVE Atari's treasure trove in ROM.

KINGS OF THE ATARI DIAMOND An assortment of baseball programs for Atari computers. |

ELECTRONIC MAIL, TYPESETTING, AND MY ATARI

Everything you need to know about electronic publishing .

38

THE MANY WAYS OF ARRAYS Keeping track of your Little Leaguers.

80 aoe

ATARI WINS BIG AT LAS VEGAS CES

APRIL 1985 ATARI EXPLORER 1

CDIORIAL

have to thank you.

A letter was sent to everyone who had a current subscription to the old Atari magazine. In it was word of the changeover in Atari’s ownership and the new plans for both the company and this magazine. | asked you to write and tell me what you wanted from this magazine. That request was repeated in the letter col- umn last issue. :

The response was_ terrific—hun- dreds of letters from people who care about Atari and who let it be known that you're pulling for us out there.

Aside from the good wishes which are most gratefully appreciated, you said that you want this magazine to provide insight into Atari computers. You also asked for more articles on new products and, surprisingly (to me at least), for more profiles on “key play- ers” inside Atari. Also, of course, more programs and more meat.

Were listening! In this and the next few issues you will notice this maga- Zine evolving in answer to your re- quests. My experience back in the Atari world leads me to believe that Atari users need something that is funda- mentally different than what is pro- vided for other computers. I don’t know if Ican explain just what it is, but it will manifest itself on these pages with a broader perspective of comput- ing than other system-specific maga- zines, and a look at the directions that we're taking as an industry and as a hobby. And we're sure glad you asked.

Last issue I promised more news on support for users groups. The first mailing to users groups on our master list went out in March. Included was a complete press kit from the CES in January with all the new product infor- | mation. We also asked users groups to answer some questions and mail them to us. In case you represent a group and aren’t on our list, send me your groups name, address, meeting loca- tion and dates, phone numbers of offi- cers, number of members, and dates of any local shows in which the group participates.

A data base containing the most up- to-date list of groups has been created. This list will appear frequently in this magazine. It will be distributed in every way possible, including the ever- popular Customer Service department, and by electronic means.

What that last part suggests is that Atari is starting to use its technology to get in touch with you. The first step was to establish a BBS for Atari users. By calling (408) 745-5308, your com- puter and modem can connect with > one of several Atari 800XL systems. As I’m writing this it’s just getting off the ground with the user group list, but other information will appear quickly, like service center lists, calendar of events, and plenty more.

Lots of other projects are getting readied now. As they are launched, you'll find out about them first in these

pages. —Neil Harris

An electronic filin

9 System . A telephone communications Woh 6 ne hed with MOOrarn thet allows YOU €Nd your “in tem eye COMPUOF to talle lo the world

Atari Introduces the XE es ol Printers

by J.D. Bass

“Perhaps nowhere else within the new Atari product lineistheas ¢ company’s dedication to power, versatility, and, most of all, remarkable value as evident as within the new line of printers.”

4 ATARI EXPLORER APRIL 1985

Il the TVs, VDTs, LEDs, and CRIs: will never replace: the medium of the written word: ink on paper. It’s still the most i: Aefficient and eye-pleasing way to get your message across.

Perhaps nowhere else within the new Atari product line is the company’s dedication to power, versatility, and, most of all, remarkable value as evident as within the new line of printers.

The printers run the gamut—letter |

quality daisy wheel, feature-packed high speed dot matrix, and low-priced color and monochrome dot matrix ther- mal transfer printers. They are all at- tractively designed, complementing the exterior design of the Atari comput- ers they support.

A truly impressive start. Let’s take a closer look.

The Atari XOM121 and SDM124 Daisy Wheel Letter Quality Printers

In writing, whether it be a personal letter, term paper, resumé or business report, how one’s written work looks is almost always as important as what one says. Atari’s two new letter quality daisy wheel printers produce remark- ably fine, fully formed characters. They

afford your written work the kind of

print quality normally available only with a high-quality office typewriter— but at a fraction of the price. Needless

to say, these are the ideal printers for

home or business word processing ap- plications.

On the hardware side, the XDM121 and the SDM124 are virtually identical. The major difference between the two is. their; respective. interfaces. Ine XDM121 directly connects to the Atari 8-bit computers (the 400, 800, and all XLs and XEs). The SDM124 is equipped with a Centronics parallel connector. It connects to all Atari ST Personal Com- puters (the incredible 16-bit machines), as well as to the IBM PC and compati- bles. ! | The daisy wheel mechanism is an ex- traordinary device. The wheel itself is a circular, rather flat, spoked piece of plastic. Around the rim of the wheel, at the end ofthe spokes; “are the type characters arranged for printing. When the printer receives an instruction to print a certain character, the wheel spins to bring that character into strik-

ing position. After it prints the charac-

ter, the wheel spins again to bring the

next character into position. All this happens at a remarkable speed—the wheel spinning to bring characters into striking position, and the carriage mov- ing into the correct horizontal print position.

The print wheel packed along with the printer is the handsome Courier 10 (40 characters, per inch). It is not in- stalled at the factory, but snaps right into place without complication. If you write in a foreign language, the XDM121’s special diasy wheel over- strikes to produce the Atari interna-

tional character set. The printers are equipped with an

easy-to-install (and remove) cassette containing a multistrike carbon film ribbon that provides excellent print quality and long life (about 190,000 characters). The multistrike ribbon

lasts longer than one-strike carbon film

because the same spot on the ribbon can withstand repeated strikes from the print wheel. One-strike carbon film and fabric ribbons are also available.

The printers feed paper with friction, like a. typewriter. They accept single sheets, so you are free to use your per- sonal or business stationery, or any other single sheet of paper up to 11.8 inches wide. A pin-feed tractor feeder and a single-sheet feeder are available as optional accessories.

Both printers are loaded with sophis- ticated features like boldface printing, underlining, and subscripts and super- scripts (half-line and reverse half-line feed). they print bidirectionally- for extra printing speed (12 characters per second). And the print mechanism is logic seeking, which means that the carriage never moves unnecessarily. The printers provide an excellent array of tabbing controls and page-length op-

tions, having the ability to store these

commands in memory. | . The printers’ control panels feature two indicators (Power and On Line) and three built-in functions: Line Feed, to advance the paper; On Line, to switch the printer on- and off-line; and Top of Form, to set the desired top of

_ page. Though the panels are feature-

packed, they remain uncomplicated and easy-to-use.

The XDM121 has been designed for compatability with the AtariWriter word processor, as well as all other applica- tions programs that support Atari 8-bit computers and printers (past and pre- sent). The SDM124 has been designed for software compatability with major word processing programs, as it em-

ploys industry-standard printing and formatting commands.

My one criticism of the printers is that certain formatting functions seem overly complex. However, when com- patible word processing or other appli- cations programs are driving the ma- chines, there is little to bother oneself about. Without such a program, one must do a little arithmetic to figure line spacing, print pitch, and inches per page. Luckily, the documentation is very careful to present these points as clearly as possible.

The Atari XMM801 and SMM804 Dot Matrix Graphics Printers

As with the XDM121 and SDM124, the Atari XMM801 and SMM804 are nearly mechanical twins. The XMM801 is for use with the Atari 8-bit comput- ers. The SMM804 is for use with the Atari ST Personal Computers, as well as with the IBM PC and compatibles.

At this low price, you won't find a dot-matrix printer more powerful and versatile. It’s the perfect all-around printer for everyday use. What's more, both printers feature dot-addressable graphics capability.

The dot-matrix printing method al- lows you maximum flexibility in for- matting your written work. Conven- tional typewriters and daisy wheel printers have a different piece of type for each character. A dot matrix printer, on the other hand, prints every charac- ter with a single print head. The print head contains 8 dot wires (9 for the SMM804) that strike the ribbon in a matrix of 8 dots high by 9 dots wide. The microprocessor inside the printer keeps track of which dots to print and where to print them for any given char- acter or print style.

Packed along with the printers is a multistrike carbon film ribbon car- tridge. Both printers accept pin-feed computer fanfold paper or single sheets. at

The printers offer a full panoply of fonts—pica, elite, condensed, and pro- portional. The elite and condensed fonts are as close to correspondence- quality as you're likely to get with a dot matrix printer. The two printers also feature a rich assortment of print styles —double width, boldface, double strike, underlining, and subscript and superscript characters. (The SMM804

CONTINUED ON 70

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Printers that run the gamut—letter quality daisy wheel, high speed dot matrix, and low- priced color and monochrome thermal transfer dot matrix. :

APRIL 1985 ATARI EXPLORER 5

ee

STAR RAIDER

JOUST

Still Fun After All These Years

Atari Computer Cartridges: A Retrospective

One of the less obvious casualties of the Great Videogame Shake-out is the ROM cartridge. They haven’t com- pletely disappeared, of course, but most new software is published on floppy disk.

There are several reasons for the change. The advances in hardware have fed the popularity of large-mem- ory entertainment programs, which are not suitable for the cartridge for- mat. Disks are cheaper than carts to manufacture. Because the price of disk drives has fallen more than 30 percent in the last two years, more computer owners have mass storage devices now than was formerly the case.

Caught up in today’s disk-o-mania, it’s easy to overlook the treasure trove of entertainment cartridges produced by Atari for its home computers. Many Atari carts are faithful adaptations of coin-ops that collected mountains of quarters in the family amusement cen- ters. The best of the designs have proven their ability to entertain and challenge players on millions of play- screens across the land.

Naturally, not all cartridges have risen to classic status. Some just got old. So, here’s a rundown of Atari's best entertainment cartridges.

-GALAXIAN

This multi-wave invasion contest is the prototypical vintage action game. Its elegantly simple play-mechanic is as absorbing in 1985 as it was when Namco created the coin-op more than Six years ago.

Only those totally jaded with target- shoots will fail to enjoy this sequel to Space Invaders. The aliens don’t march down the display like so many sitting ducks, but swoop back and forth across the screen like cosmic birds. The dive- bombing nasties pose a far greater threat to the player’s horizontally mo- bile cannon/ship than the marching monsters of Space Invaders.

The graphics, astonishing at the time, have held up well. Watching the space birds glide out of formation is still a treat, but keep moving and firing or the cannon is doomed.

by Arnie Katz & Bill Kunkel

CENTIPEDE

Atari's 1981 coin-op utilized the inva- sion game play-mechanic ina highly in- novative fashion. “Galaxian with bugs” | may sound like a bizarre premise for a game, but no one can quarrel with this title’s enduring popularity.

The main antagonist is a hundred- legger that travels down the garden playfield toward the player's bug sprayer. Mushrooms function as bar- riers, shaping the centipede’s route. For the first time in any invasion con- test, the player’s weapon moves verti- cally as well as horizontally. This makes it possible for the player to avoid deadly collisions with spiders, fleas and the like.

One thing that the cartridge lacks is the sheer speed of the coin-op. Arcade aces may well miss the machinegun- rapid fire of the bug sprayer, but Cen- tipede remains quite challenging in this edition.

DONKEY KONG

Some games follow the leader, while others set the trend. This cartridge is

DONKEY KONG

based on a Nintendo play-for-pay ma- chine that introduced the jumping and climbing game genre. The _ player guides Mario the maintenance man through a three-screen quest to rescue his girlfriend from the clutches of the titanic gorilla Donkey Kong. The hero must climb to the top of each play- screen, dodging Donkey Kong's barrels or busting them open for bonus points with a sledgehammer.

Despite its ground-breaking play- mechanic, the design of Donkey Kong has rarely been “aped” by other pub- lishers. Thus it remains a singular en- tertainment experience.

The popularity of Donkey Kong has made multi-media stars of both Mario and his simian adversary. It has also sparked a sequel, Donkey Kong Jr, which is also available on cartridge from Atari. In this one, the player con- trols the son of Donkey Kong, who is try- ing to free Daddy from Mario's cage.

MISSILE COMMAND

This jewel of a game is so perfectly balanced that it still has no serious rivals in its category. Even the com- promises necessary to bring it to the home computer screen turned out to be beneficial simplifications for the most part.

The main change from the Atari coin- op is that the gamer controls one com- mand center instead of three. This cleans up the situation by eliminating needless over-complication.

A less welcome difference is that the arcade machine featured a lightning- quick trackball controller, while home

MISSILE COMMAND

players use a Trak Ball™ or conven- tional joystick.

Most coin-ops must be altered to some extent for the home market. Here, the computerist clearly comes out ahead. Missile Command belongs in every software library.

PAC-MAN

The granddaddy of gobble games didn’t come across well as a 4K video- game, but the computer cartridge is re- markably true to its inspiration.

Play a few rounds of this maze- chase, and it becomes easy to under- stand the almost hypnotic hold it once had on arcaders. Its labyrinth provides an ample arena for spur-of-the-mo- ment strategy, and Pac-Man and the ghosts who chase him through the pellet-lined corridors are well drawn in a cartoon style.

MS. PAC-MAN

This sequel to Pac-Man enhances and embellishes the concepts introduced by its predecessor. There are three dif- ferent mazes, more scrolling tunnels and mobile bonus prizes to delight the maze-game lover.

The cartridge edition is outstanding in every respect. Even the joystick con- trol seems somehow more responsive than usual as the gamer steers Ms. P around the labyrinth.

Those who find the pre-set mazes of Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man confining are invited to create their own in Dig Dug. The player earns points by excavating

tunnels in the varicolored soil of the playfield. | Lurking in small caves beneath the surface are monsters that can kill Dig Dug with a single touch. The miner can blow up Pooka the intelligent tomato or Fygar the fire-breathing dragon by pumping the action button. Harvesting the bonus vegetables before they dis- appear scores up to 8,000 extra points. since Dig Dug depended so much on its cuteness in the amusement centers, it’s good to know that Atari’s cartridge reproduces the graphics and music fairly accurately. Dig Dug isn’t as chal- lenging as some other action games, but playing it is a highly enjoyable ex-

perience.

DEFENDER

Frenetic action is the halimark of this duo-directional scroller. Aliens have conquered the player’s home planet, and it’s up to the super-ship Defender to cruise the multi-screen playfield to rescue humans and destroy the inva- sion armada. You have to fight a half- dozen different aliens with laser and smart bombs, -and- thats not 100 shabby.

Few games boast a more devoted fol- lowing than Defender. The home ver- sion of this science fiction shoot-out is guaranteed to heat the blood of any member of the blast brigade.

SUPER BREAK-OUT

Wall-bashing games are pretty scarce these days, perhaps because no one has designed a better one than this clas- sic. Super Break-Out offers four different

CONTINUED

DIG DUG

variations on the basic theme for one- to-four players. (Actually, the cart al- lows up to eight people to play if your machine has ports for four sets of pad- dles).

It isn’t graphics or sound that makes this program a winner. Both are all right, but nothing spectacular. Play- action gives Super Break-Out its special zip. The “Progressive” version, in par- ticular, gives gamers plenty of oppor- tunity to work those angles as the walls march down the screen toward the hor- izontally movable paddle.

QIX

Although this line-drawing strategy contest was probably too cerebral for the amusement arcades, it can glue a gamer to the monitor for hours.

The player scribes lines on an other- wise empty playfield to create boxes covering 75 percent of the available

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area. A Qix whirls across the field, and two Sparx travel the lines to thwart this aim.

There’s not much to look at in Qix, but graphics are largely a side issue for programs of this kind, anyway. Q1x is that rare cartridge which is just as much, tun the hundredth. time <its plugged into the slot as it was the first.

STAR RAIDERS

Computerists rated this as the most popular program for two years in monthly polls conducted by Electronic Games magazine. Many attribute the early success of Atari computers, at least in part, to the allure of this first- person flying and shooting game.

Star Raiders makes the gamer the cap- tain of a single spaceship. Its mission: Save the universe from an alien inva- sion. Single-key commands allow the pilot to travel by hyper space or im-

PLAYER -

pulse drive, energize shields, select from two viewscreens, consult onboard computers or fire weapons.

Even after several years, this cart is still impressive. Other titles have eclipsed it graphically, but few have matched its excitement level.

JOUST

A high point in arcade-to-home trans- lations, this combat between knights mounted on giant winged birds moves to the home screen without a single feather out of place. The intricate graphics, superlative sound effects and flawless play-action all come through loud and clear in the cartridge edition.

One of the title’s greatest virtues is that it can be played head-to-head as well as solitaire. Playing solo is fun, but guiding that ostrich through the sky against live opposition is even more entertaining. AM

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—Visit the Lawrence Hall of Sclence Com- puter Classes! Interfacing—a tutorial on how to connect your Atari computer to various printers. And KIDBITS programs!

Get an “Artist's Guide to Painting with Atari Computer Color” plus meet the Marcuses—a family with a Computerized Household.

—Special programs for the GTIA graphics chip and PILOT Playground with four new joystick-controlled ATARI PILOT fun programs. Plus, learn how an ATARI 800 computer helped create action sound effects for the TRON movie.

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—Learn how to Introduce your child to a home computer and how to read a computer program. Plus, book reviews and the new hottest games and educational software.

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—Special ‘Creative Applications” Issue features an in-depth article with a world-renowned musical techni- clan and Hollywood collaborator. Also, a special look at the new AtariLab and Atari Plato. Even more programming tips from Atari's Advanced Games Group.

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ST Series Drives

Is there a built-in disk drive? Are they compatible with software for the old Atari computers? Are BASIC and

Logo built-in or are they cartridges? William Thomas Delta Atari User’s Group Stockton, CA

Can you hook up a5inch floppy disk to the 520ST? Is there someone who buys old Atari computers so I can

“trade up?” Tim Proster

Solon, Oh

Can I use my 1050 disk drive with a 130ST or 520ST? |

| Scott Quarmly

Sarasota, FL

INPUTOUTPUT

Why are you using a 3.5 inch drive instead of standard 5.25 inch drives? In fact, more data can be stored on the 5.5 inch disks. _ Austin Rains , , Stockton, CA

Yes, the ST uses a 3.5 inch drive that ts not in any way compatible with the old familiar 5.25 inch 1050's. The ST comput- ers have the disk controller board built-in, which saves putting the electronics in each

drive separately and makes them faster and

less expensive than a 1050 drive. The ST's 3.5 inch floppy drive stores 500K on each diskette, far more than the larger diskettes due to a more precise mechanism.

BASIC or Logo will be built-in to the computer. Right now there's a possibility of different models, one with Logo and the other with BASIC. ;

On the issue of “trading up” from the 8- bit to the new 16/32-bit computers, there's no policy from Atari on this, but your local area may have a store or newspaper that specializes in. “pre-owned” computer sys- tems.

Remember that the ST line ts totally differ- ent from the XE line (or your XL or 400/800 computer). It 1s as different from them as the 8-bitters are from the VCS game ma- chines.

ST Memory Expansion Is the 130ST expandable to more than 128K memory if you can’t afford the 520ST with 512K now? Cynthia Hawrylak Franklin Park, IL

The ST computers are not designed to be RAM expandable. The cartridge port ts for ROM expansion only, up to 128K of ROM per cartridge. Since the price difference be- tween the 520ST and 130ST is only about $200, you should consider getting the 520ST if you think you'll need the extra RAM.

How Many Columns The review of the new hardware studiously avoids any references to 40

or 80 column screens. Was this simply | an oversight? Tom Calmeyer Richmond, VA

The screen of the ST computers ts entirely bitmapped, not divided into 8 by 8 charac- ters as in other computers. This allows the computer to display characters using a wide variety of typestyles, sizes, and with special effects like italics and bold facing. The result is the ability to create screen displays that look like a typeset page—like this magazine!

Since the maximum resolution of the ST is 640 x 400 dots, assuming 8 x 8 as the character size gives you an 80 column by 50 line display. Smaller sized characters would actually increase your resolution beyond this.

XL or XE

I have had an Atari 800 for almost three years now, and I am for a fact going to get a new Atari computer soon, but one thing I’ve got to know. Should I get an 800XL now, or hold off for the new XE product line? It would

seem better to wait for the latest. Mike Burks Maize, KS 67101

There isn’t really a whole lot of difference between the 800XL and the 65XE except for styling and the presence of the processor bus port on the XL. The 130XE is a definite step up if you need speed or extra capacity in word processing (see the review later in this issue).

New Printers + 1200XL

Are the new printers (letter quality daisy wheel, low cost dot matrix ther- mal transfer printer, and the high speed dot matrix impact printer) totally compatible with my 1200XL? Do any of these printers print graphics? | | Chris Hays Fords, NJ

The answer to everything is yes. All of the dot matrix printers will print graphics, and all the new products for the XE line are

compatible with your 1200XL. CONTINUED

APRIL 1985 ATARI EXPLORER 9

What’s the Difference?

What is the difference between the Atari computers, the XL series, and the XE series? Tom Carroll

“Orland Park > UG

This is a question that bothers lots of people. The main difference between the first Atari computers, the 400 and 800, and the later XL and XE models, ts the built-in pro- gram called the operating system, or OS.

All known hardware is compatible with all these Atari computers. And software de- velopers who followed Atari’s published standards had no problem with compatibil- ity. However, some programs were written that only worked on the older computers. In most cases the software developers quickl corrected their products.

If you have an XL or XE computer and buy a piece of disk-based software that won't work, you should acquire a translator disk from Atari Customer Service. For only $9.95, any problems with software incom- patibility will disappear.

For your copy, write to: Atari Customer Service PO Box 61657 Sunnyvale, CA 94088 Attn: Translator Disk

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80 Columns for XL

[have an 800XL computer. Is there a way I could make this into an 80-col- umn computer and still be able to use AtariWriter and Visicalc?

Robert Duffy Des Moines, lowa

The new 80-column monitor (the XM128) lets any Atari computer use 80 col- umns. However, the software that you use must recognize that this device 1s plugged in and transmit to it. The new AtariWriter Plus (compatible with the original Atari- Writer) supports both the 80-column monti- tor and the extra memory ina 65XE. Most software vendors will probably adjust their software to work with this peripheral.

Networks

I have the Atari 800, 400, and 600XL. Is there an easy way of making these machines “talk” to each other? If so, I would think combinations of these could make for an extremely powerful network, comparable to large and ex- pensive computer systems. Next I wish to purchase and use the 1027 letter

quality printer and the newest Atari

disk drive. Is there any problem going

from one computer to another? Is there |

any problem using the AtariWriter car-

10 ATARIEXPLORER APRIL 1985

tridge with the 600XL and the 1027 printer? ; John FE. Leahy Chualar, CA

There have been whispers in the Atari back rooms of a low-cost networking system that lets Atar1 computers share data over a very simple system of wires. With luck, a prototype of such a system will be ready to show soon.

There is no problem when switching be- tween these machines, except where you use up the 16K memory in the 600XL. The 1027 printer requires a printer driver to work properly with AtariWriter. See the News You Can Use section in this issue for more on the printer drivers.

Is Plato A Myth?

In the Summer 1984 issue of Atari Connection I read an article about Plato. l have not.seen ab ynestoresiyet.ls it planned for release to the public at all?

Peter Joe Villanova, PA

The cartridge that gives your computer and modem the ability to access the Plato system is officially called The Learning Phone. This cartridge ts finally ready to go and should be in stores by the time you read this. It 1s compatible with almost every modem, including the new XM301 and the 1030, 835, MPP, and 850-interfaced mo- dems.

AtariWriter + Tape !

I write daily (using AtariWriter) but my time is limited. I need to know how I can SAVE on tape what I type daily, then add to it at a later time. I want the combined text to be stored as a single file. How do! do this? ©

Mary Shahpazian Lincoln Park, NJ

Each time you want to add to a document on tape, you should start the session by us- ing AtariWriter’s LOAD command to get your original document back from the tape. Make all the additions and alterations you like. When you're through, rewind the cas- sette and SAVE your new. document on top of the old one. If you're a stickler for backing yourself up (a good habit, actually), alter- nate between two different tapes—yust in case one copy goes bad.

Where's the Proofreader?

Where can I find the Atari Proof- reader program, advertised in the Feb- ruary