AAi WorkBench
Volume 2, Number 5-6
May-June 1987, don'tcha know

Pre-KEEPS (pre-paper, nonfinal) version compiled by Andre Frech
Contributing members: Gerald Owens, Scott Powers, and the Usenet Gurus

Tuesday, May 5, 1987 at 7:30 will certainly be an interesting time for all.
Of course, we will be meeting at the Boggs Chemistry Building, Lecture Room
B6A, at the Georgia Institute os us (he's our New England correspondent.)  For further
information call Andre Frech (404-565-6363) or Ron Heimbigner
(404-394-0577), both after 8pm Eastern time.  Since this newsletter will not
be out before the May meeting, an announcement for the June meeting is in
order.  Conditions are the same as above, except that the date is June 2,
1987.  Now if you could figure out your new W-4 form these directions
shouldn't be difficult...

April's meeting went into overtime on the 7th, which was a tuesday, not a
yardage marker (there isn't any such thing as a 7th down!)  Mary McCullough
of Disk Publications flew from Dallas to display the New Aladdin, which is a
new concept in interactive video magazines.  The crowd's favorite section
consisted of an interview with Ron and Nancy.  A review of The New Aladdin
is still pending due to limited manpower but we hope it will
appear in the next issue.  Any takers for a review column?  Please form a
line over here, thank you.

Ron Heimbigner wooed the crowd with new and unusual public domain software,
which we hope will become a regular feature each month.  Robotroff, ping,
jive, and melt were mighty popular, and jive continues to be a perennial
winner on Index II, our electronic bulletin board.

Speaking about bulletin boards (bbs for short), two are up and local to the
Atlanta area.  Index II is run by Rory Didas and can be reached at
404-991-3569.  It contains room for several megabytes of downloads and
boasts a rather active discussion group.  Spotanae is back up and running
after its rather unexpected sojourn, and its number is 404-943-0447.  Both
operate at 1200 baud, although the latter has line noise in a few isolated
areas.  Stay tuned in the next couple months for AAi's own bbs, operating on
a 30 megabyte machine with 2400 baud capability!  We have finally reached
the purchasing stage and need to choose a name for the system.  Your ideas
would be greatly appreciated.  We are hoping that the two existing bbs'es
will continue their fine service to the Amiga community as discussion boards
and that the AAi board will become a repository for software and a read only
Amiga Usenet node.

In the News...

Absoft Corporation has announced the availability of their new AC/BASIC
compiler for the Amiga.

AC/BASIC is a high speed BASIC compiler, compatible with the AmigaBASIC
(Microsoft) interpreter.  Absoft, also the developer of the Microsoft BASIC
compiler for the Macintosh, claims that most programs developed under the
AmigaBASIC interpreter can be compiled with no code change and will run up
to 30 times faster.  Additionally, AC/BASIC provides full support for the
Amiga interface and includes several powerful features not offered with the
interpreter, including: BLOCK IF, CASE statement and STATIC as a keyword.

The AC/BASIC compiler requires only 56K of RAM and will run on an Amiga with
a single disk drive.  It generates native object code for the MC68000, does
not require line numbers, supports both BCD and IEEE math, 32 and 64 bit
floating point and allows development of stand alone applications.  There is
no charge for redistribution of applications developed with AC/BASIC.

AC/BASIC retails for $195 and is not copy protected.  For more information
contact Absoft Corporation, 4268 N. Woodward, Royal Oak, MI 48072 USA.
Phone is 313-549-7111, Telex 235608.

New Horizons has released ProWrite Word Processor for the Amiga.  ProWrite
is a "What You See Is What You Get" (WYSIWYG: pronounced wissy-wig) word
processor, meaning that your printout looks exactly like what you see on
your monitor.  You have a choice of fonts in different colors, and the
ability to incorporate graphics in the text.  The menus are mouse driven
and ProWrite is multitasking and compatible with Flow, the Amiga Idea
Processor.  Prowrite requires a minimum of 512K and Version 1.2 of the
operating system software.  Information may be had by contacting New
Horizons Software, P.O. Box 43167, Austin, TX 78745 or phone 512-329-6215.

Desktop Astronomy has made its arrival with the Amiga.  No, you can't create
your own universes yet (maybe in the next release...or maybe the Amiga
9000!), but Infinity Software introduces Galileo, a full featured astronomy
program for the 512K Amiga.  With a data base of 1600 stars, Galileo can
scroll any portion of the sky for constellation identification, rise and set
times of planets and stars, and display the positions and pathways of
planets.  The sky can be shown from any point on Earth for any date in this
century, and show each star in 1 of 9 levels of brightness.  Galileo retails
for $84.95 plus $3 shipping.  In this galaxy, contact Infinity Software,
Thais Mazur, Vice President of Marketing, 1331 61st St., Suite F,
Emeryville, CA 94608, or phone 415-420-1551.

Two Amiga workshops are scheduled for various dates throughout this year and
the next.  Lincoln College in Illinois has its Fifth Annual Commodore
Computer Workshop with Jim Butterfield on July 19-25, 1987.  Average tuition
and incidental expenses run about $350, and for more information contact
Mary McLaughlin, Director of Continuing Education, Lincoln College, 300
Keokuk, Lincoln, IL 62656, phone 217-732-3155.

AmiExpo is The Amiga Event.  It is a three day conference meeting in Fall
87, and Winter and Spring 1988.  Seminars are more Amiga intensive and many
papers and important speakers will be present.  1-800-32-AMIGA will get you
more information, or write to AmiExpo Headquarters, 211 E. 43rd. St., Suite
301, New York, NY 10017.

Scott Powers, who has become our MVP (most valuable player) in Germany,
recently sent us a German version of "Run" magazine and a magazine called
"68000er" (actually spelled like 68oooer...sounds like a deflated chip!)
Scott tells us: " 'What does Commodore do with
all its profits?'  Research and development, you may answer.  Well some may
go that way, but Commodore of Germany also sponsors a soccer team here.
That's right, a soccer team!  How much does Commodore love the sport of
soccer you may ask!  Would you believe they spend more than 4.5 million
dollars a year on the team, that's right, 4.5 million dollars. ... The CBM
logo is splattered all over the chests of the bavarian leather-shorted
players.  So next time you read about Commodore's financial crunch maybe it
should be harder to swallow."  Well Scott, we do enjoy a degree of
muckraking, and at this point no one is really surprised if the director of
CBM were to say, "Let them eat cake!"

Speaking of upper management, front page articles in Computer Systems News
and Electronic Engineering Times (both 4/27/87) report that Thomas Rattigan,
CEO of Commodore International, was ousted in a "series of soap opera-like
events that unfolded last week" reported CSN.  Rattigan was responsible for
bringing CBM out of five quarters of financial red with the acquisition of
Amiga.  Yet analysts were startled to hear that Rattigan was removed from
Commodore's offices by security personnel last monday.  The flustered CEO
promptly filed a 9 million dollar lawsuit, charging that the company had
breached his five year contract.  New management plans to quickly revamp the
marketing and management structure and make operations more streamlined,
placing emphasis on advertising and dealer support.  Finally we may get some
positive action, and not just disappointing media butchery.

In fact, this is what Usenet (aka: encyclopaedia Usenetlaetica) guru Gerard
Lachac has summarized:

Date: 29 Apr 87 11:36:33 GMT
Organization: Rutgers Univ., New Brunswick, N.J.

First of all, Bill Rizzi writes:

>       Gould, who is majority stock holder (something like 20%), has
>little operations experience and investors don't seem to find that to
>their liking. Additionally, Ratzinger (sp?) who had been recently lured
>from a position with a major company has done an impressive job in bringing
>Commodore back from the brink of bankruptcy. It seems that Gould was
>displeased that sales had not rebounded as well as the company books.
>This does not bode well for Commodore unless Gould brings in someone
>else who is respected by investors and who can get the advertising and
>sales up to speed.
>       A real shame ...

Gerard issues this rebuttal:

Not as much a shame as it might be.  There is another side to this story.
What follows is a thread of messages I pulled off Plink about the recent
fiasco at Commodore.  After I read these I began to wonder.  Read it and
you'll know what I mean.

(My apologies to the authors of the messages whose names got chopped in my
attempt to clean the text)

I checked out yesterday's WSJ and also looked at today's.  Yesterday's
sounded extremely pessimistic, but today's was less so and also very

Apparently, the whole thing is due to a power struggle between Gould and
Rattigan.  About 6 months ago, Rattigan was given a 5 year contract, but
starting in January, his responsibilities have been whittled away (according
to him).  The whole thing came to a head when Rattigan called for a special
meeting of the board to try to overthrow Gould and get control, but
underestimated Gould's strength.  When the board didn't react the way he
wanted and he found most of his people fired, he was forced to resign.
Rattigan has now sued CBM for 9 million dollars.  Besides Rattigan,Nigel
Shepherd, N. american product manager, the treasurer, controller, and
computer sevices manager were also fired.

On the other side, people say Gould was unhappy that Rattigan was giving
interviews and releasing information about new Amigas months before they
could be delivered.  He was also unhappy that North American sales were not
pushed more.  Apparently, he was the one who sent Amiga design operations to
West Germany, where his man, Henri Ruben, supervised final design.  Rattigan
couldn't have much control in Germany, they said.  Rumor says that
administration will be cut about 40% in favor of marketing.

Nigel Shepherd: "Sometimes personality conflicts override good judgement."

The new manager of North American operations was in that position before.
He is said to have good relations with bankers.  CBM is still negotiating
restructuring of loans.  Uncertaintly has hurt the situation. (New manager
is Alfred Duncan.)

This is my interpretation as a result of a brief reading in the library.
Please excuse any misinterpretation on my part.  Fascinating story, don't
you think?


I have been talking with a few Amiga people I know, asking for their
views on Rattigan's firing.  Here are a few items for your consideration:

--Rattigan has been presented as the model manager who was bringing CBM back
from the brink, but that image is somewhat questionable.  The question which
should be asked is this:  Given the products that Commodore has, is this the
best they could be doing at the time?  I would tend to doubt it.  Granted,
the financial losses have been stemmed, but that was mainly a matter of
cutting personnel.  The profits CBM has shown have still been rather slim.

--There have been some disturbing behavior shown recently by CBM under
Rattigan (who, as CEO, must take direct responsibility for the total
operation), especially in:

        1) ADVERTISING:  Every quarter, CBM has promised that from
           now on, they "would not let another quarter go by without
           Amiga advertising."  (That was a direct quote, by the way.)
           But every quarter so far, we have seen even less advertising
           than previously.  Actually, the last major ad campaign for
           the Amiga was the "Maserati of personal computers" series
           that ran about a year ago.

        2) MARKETING PLAN:  At least for the Amiga, there has yet to be
           one consistent plan, merely a lot of flailing about (the
           latest example of which is the "desktop-publishing-is-the-
           future-of-the-Amiga" line).

        3) SIDECAR:  What happened to it?  CBM still claims that it is
           being held up by the FCC, when it is well known (and confirmed
           by a "highly-placed source" in CBM manufacturing) that it
           passed FCC approval some time ago.  Meanwhile, what might have
           been the breakthrough product for the Amiga now appears destined
           for a quick dump on the market, then to be taken out of

        4) 64 EMULATOR:  Again, a "lost product."  It is known that
           a third-party company developed such an item.  It is also
           known that they were in negotiations with CBM, either to
           get permission to market it themselves, or to sell it to
           Commodore (where, it was rumored, it was to be bundled
           with the Amiga 500).  Now, Commodore denies knowledge of
           the existence of any such emulator!  Once again, this could
           have become a breakthrough product; by bringing out such
           an item, Commodore could have accomplished what Apple has
           failed with the II series and the Mac:  a link between their
           two product lines.  Such an arrangement would have benefitted
           both lines; but the impression many have is that CBM (under
           Rattigan) got to the emulator and, in essence, killed it.

        5) 2000 DELAY:  Finally, we get to the matter of the A2000.
           Introduced several months ago, the 2000 was supposed to
           be out by May, and to carry a price tag of $1495.  Just
           two weeks ago, dealers were informed that the release date
           would be pushed back to at least some time in July, and the
           price would be raised $200.  From what I hear, the reaction
           was highly negative, and re-awakened fears of the many times
           Commodore would deliver product months after its scheduled
           release date.  I have heard informed estimates that, regardless
           of Rattigan's departure, when news of the 2000 delay and price
           increase hit Wall Street, CBM stock would likely drop to where
           it is now (around 9).  This may have been the single biggest
           reason for Rattigan's dismissal, as many are placing CBM's
           entire future on the A2000, and any blows to its credibility
           could be highly damaging.

It could be said that, taken together, these fiascos show Rattigan to
be less than the miracle worker he has been presented as being.  One may
wonder how well Commodore (and the Amiga) might have done had all these
problem areas been taken care of properly.  As one of my sources has
speculated, we might now be looking at an installed base of 500,000+
Amigas, rather than the 150,000-200,000 actually sold.

But there is a darker possibility that some people have spoken of:
Especially considering the haste in which the dismissal was made, it may
be possible that Mr. Rattigan (and others?) may have been planning a
coup d'etat--a takeover from within.  According to this theory, the lack
of advertising, the Sidecar vanishing act, and especially the A2000 delay
may not be the result of incompetence, but of deliberate strategy:  by
temporarily "sabotaging" CBM, they may have been hoping to force stock
prices down to a level where a buyout would be possible, plus have all the
products ready to release as soon as the company changed hands.  There
have been two schools of thought on this:  one holds that Rattigan would
have been planning this with his self-appointed management team, all on the
inside; the other, that he would have been planning this in union with
another company (some, obviously, have identified this company as Atari,
but I have my doubts--could you imagine Rattigan and Tramiel trying to
run a company TOGETHER?).

   I, myself, am not endorsing either the "incompetence" or "takeover plot"
theories yet.  But there are a couple of facts which might point to the
latter.  First, the way in which a number of other executives got
terminated along with Rattigan.  Second, Gould installing HIMSELF as CEO.
This is a real surprise--generally Chairmen don't like having to get their
hands dirty along with the "hired help."  It has been speculated that the
only reason Gould would do so, rather than promoting one of the other
executives, is that he is unsure of the loyalty of the Rattigan-installed

Well, all this is a lot of speculation.  Since the firing decision was
made by the whole Board of Directors, and was "for cause," obviously
some people know the truth of the matter.  If there were good reasons
(such as the ones I enumerated) for this decision, then Commodore should
spell them out publically, rather than giving people this "differences
in management philosophy" B.S. (when was the last time you heard of a
company calling out security guards because of a "difference in
philosophy"?), and do so right away, rather than letting the uncertainty
go on for weeks or months.  To do otherwise might truly be fatal.

Good News from the Front

Leo Schwab, creator of Robotroff, Guru Meditation Number 49424D53.75636B73
(spell it out), and other marvelous Amiga hacks, brings us
news of -=RJ Mical's=- Latest Creation.  Take it away, Sir Schwab:

I spoke to -=RJ Mical=- this evening.  He is indeed a father.

The child's name is Alexander Joseph Mical.  No word yet on whether
or not it's surrounded by -= =-, or any other symbol.

-=RJ=- happened to mention in passing that they have the same middle
name.  "So from where did you derive Alexander?" I asked.

"Well, we wanted a conqueror......"

                                            Timothy Rue (AAi member)