News & Reviews Index > Micro Computer Weekly Pilot Issue November 1982

Micro Computer Weekly Pilot Issue November 1982, page 2

An Ace By Jupiter, And The
Forth Winning Hand?
A MICRO that puts its faith in Forth has just been released by Jupiter, the firm started by a former Sinclair employee and a former subcontractor. Called the Ace, it's based on the Zilog Z80A chip set and will cost £89.95 mail order only.
Its launch has been anticipated by Sinclair that has since cut the price of some of its products. The Ace has what makers, Steve Vickers and Rick Altwasser, call a proper QWERTY   keyboard with upper and
Our Forth is not fully compiled to machine code but to   one step  before   at address level. It's obviously an untested market but we see three types of user: Forth enthusiasts who will find it's just what they have been waiting for; people who use Basic but want something that is faster. Forth is ten times faster because it's compiled; this make games zippier: and, lastly, people who aren't interested in programming but who want programs on tape which run faster.
lower case characters - which could be a strong selling point.
By calling it the Ace, Jupiter is perpetuating a name that harks back to the very start of the computer industry. . . being linked originally with a machine installed by the National Physics Lab.
Vickers believes that Basic has too many faults for it to last into the 1990s. He picked Forth largely because it was recommended by the National Computing Centre as the language for controlling school experiments.
As with some Sinclair products, the operating system is an integral part of the machine. Vickers told MCW exclusively: "Forth is entirely interactive. You type in one word and the system automatically looks it up in a dictionary of definitions and then executes it.
"The user can define new ones and programming is like writing subroutines.
For example, controlling experiments in the school's physics lab. It also has user define graphics and a programmable sound generator. We hope to have 16K RAM packs by Christmas," Vickers added.
A Centronics printer interface is available, along with a colour graphics board. Vickers said Jupiter would produce some software for it and other people would be encouraged to do likewise.
A Sinclair spokesman said: "Nobody has seen it yet, so I can't comment."
At present the Ace is being distributed through mail order only and the price includes VAT and postage & packing.
There are obvious attractions to putting a new product out to distributors as it guarantees the first year's sales. Vickers, however, is undecided as any distributors would depend on how much profit margin Jupiter could afford to give them. "It might happen," Vickers added.
Forth can be contacted on 0954-80437.