Editorial

 

Issue 11

Sep/Oct 84

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A NEW DAWN?

This issue's Editorial was to have been a criticism of Atari's continuing lack of support for their computers prompted by a press release which started "Long live the Video game!" but of course everything has now changed. What was Atari policy is no longer Atari policy. By the time you read this, Atari's new path will have been charted and let us all hope that this time they are heading in the right direction.

For those of you who do not read the U. K micro magazines, all of this has to do with the take-over of Atari by Jack Tramiel, founder and ex- President of Commodore. In fact, even if you do read the micro magazines, you may not have learned much as the take-over was covered much more extensively in the Financial Times, but then the U.K. computer press has never taken much interest in Atari. Maybe now that will all change.

Many Atari owners seem to have taken events as the toll of doom for Atari, as the throwing away of a great computer to the opposition, but I think that Atari owners may now be well and truly on the verge of a new dawn. A dawn that will finally bring true recognition of the fact that Atari has always produced the finest computer on the market I hope that in saying this I don't follow Compute!'s unfortunate classic of bad timing when they published, in their July issue, an interview with James Morgan on the future of Atari. By the issue date, James Morgan was no longer CEO of Atari and the whole structure of the company had changed! Such are the perils of writing copy in advance. I have no doubt that much more will develop between my writing this and publication.

Every reader who has stayed loyal to Atari computers for any length of time must have realised that Atari was slowly sinking into obscurity, still riding the VCS wave, still failing to realise what a great computer system they had and still misunderstanding the U.K. market. Despite all the promise nothing had really changed by mid-summer and with plans to launch a new video game system in the autumn, which would compete with their own computers, the future for the computer side of Atari in the U.K. looked even bleaker. Warner Bros had been talking to Phillips for some time but in the end they made what was perhaps one of their wisest decisions since buying Atari, they sold the company to the man that more than any other, outside Atari, put Atari in the sorry position it was in.

Jack Tramiel founded and built Commodore and he put Commodore at the forefront of home computing. Not only did he put Atari in the shadows, he completely eclipsed them and not once did he mention a video games machine. He was offered the arcade machine side of Atari but turned it down and has been quoted as saying that the video game machine is dead, which leaves us with a company that we have all wanted all along - a company totally dedicated to the home computer. At the time of writing, reports from the U.S. state that the workforce had been reduced to 200 and the price of the 800XL dropped from $250 to $150 to bring it in direct competition with Commodore. U.K. prices were expected to drop to 199.99 for the 800XL and 99.99 for the 600XL. Mr Tramiel is said to have plans to drop the VCS entirely 'within six months' and to introduce a computer to compete with the Apple II. He is also said to be considering, for next year, a direct competitor for Apple's Macintosh. All of which seems to be the direction in which we would all like Atari to go.

Atari have always had superb products but they have in the past lacked understanding of both their own products and marketing in general. Jack Tramiel has proved with Commodore that he fully understands the marketing of home computers and he now has the opportunity to marry one of the best marketing strategies in the business with the best products. It won't be so easy this time round because Commodore won't make it as easy for Atari as Atari made it for Commodore but it promises to be the most exciting time since the early days when Atari took the home computer world by storm.

If Atari had stayed with Warner Bros, those of us who have remained loyal would probably have witnessed the end of a dream. It may still happen but I think not. Atari is dead, long live Atari!

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On a personal note, please be patient if you find any delays between now and Issue 12 on anything ordered or if the next one is a few days late. A new Atari fanatic is due to be born on 27th September right in the middle of the typesetting preparation for the next issue!


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