News & Reviews Index > Personal Computing ToDay November 1982

Personal Computing Today November 1983 page 3
Last month yet another new computer was launched into the sea amongst the fleet of existing ones but it breaks with the tradition set by previous computer designers.
The Jupiter Ace does not use BASIC as its mother language. Instead it uses FORTH, a recently written programming language which has gathered a substantial following in a short time-span.
Launching a micro on the market running in FORTH says a lot for manufacturers and designers Jupiter Cantab's high impressions of this language, but could be a big risk for the firm.
Steven Vickers and Richard Altwasser must be praised for carrying out the courage of their convictions. But it could cause sales problems in convincing buyers to opt for FORTH.
FORTH itself was chosen by the Jupiter entrepreneurs because it is a very powerful and flexible language. In essence it is quite straightforward to pick up the thread of FORTH. You build up a string of commend words starting from a basic dictionary. All these commands represent a procedure that the computer has to carry out. If you can already use BASIC it will be awkward learning FORTH because the programming notation works in reverse.
This form of notation is much quicker than the standard Basic method and FORTH is said by many to be an excellent language because of it. Versions of FORTH are available for the Atom, Pet, TRS-80, BBC, Sharp, and Texas computers. Unfortunately, people are slow to take anything that breaks the bounds of tradition so Jupiter Cantab will have quite a hard task convincing people that theirs is the machine to buy.
To try and overcome people's reservations, with the Ace comes an operators guide which includes a complete FORTH tutorial. Steven Vickers wrote the ZX Spectrum manual for Sinclair Research so is a dab-hand at documentation.
Both Vickers and Altwasser have a good computing pedigree being the real brains behind the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. The idea for the Ace came to them while working on the Spectrum's design, and the Ace project started when the spectrum had been completed. The price of the Ace is competitive at £89.95 and with the market as buoyant as it the Ace should sell well providing Jupiter Cantab can convince people of FORTH's potential as a reliable and easy-to-use programming language.

Personal Computing Today November 1983 page 8

Jupiter Ace Comes

Now, From the People who helped bring you the ZX Spectrum, comes the Jupiter Ace. Designed by Steven Vickers and Richard Altwasser, both late of the Sinclair fold, the Jupiter's pedigree is instantly recognisable. Looking like a cross between a ZX81 and Spectrum it contains a whole has host of goodies and, shock horror, what appears to be a proper keyboard.
  The basic specifications of the machine are as Follows: Z80A central processor. 8K ROM. 3K RAM, 32 x 24 character display. High-resolution graphics, upper and lower case letters inbuilt
cassette interface and a programmable sound generator.
  Although there is nothing too different in these, the real difference is in the language the computer comes with. Up till now all home computers have come fitted with BASIC, either supplied on cassette or programmed into a ROM. The Jupiter Ace has broken with tradition by being fitted with the computer language FORTH as standard.

   FORTH is a higher level, structured language that is a lot more powerful than BASIC, and because it is compiled it runs a lot faster. The Ace offers unique editing facilities, allowing you to edit FORTH words even after they
have been compiled. They are already planning peripherals for the machine including a parallel Centronics printer interface and a 16K memory expansion unit. The Ace can be expanded up to 48K of RAM so it looks like there will be a rush from the ZX81 peripheral manufactures to convert their memory expansions for it.

   The Jupiter Ace is available from Jupiter Cantab by mail order and cost £89.95. It comes complete with all the necessary connecting leads and a comprehensive manual and FORTH tutorial. We will be looking at the Jupiter Ace in greater detail in a later issue, so watch this space!

Personal Computing Today November 1983 page 13

Jupiter Ace
     Hot off the production line is the very latest personal computer from a new, but experienced team Jupiter Cantab. Called the Jupiter Ace there is bound to be a lot of talk about this new entry into the computer race because if is unconventional. The programming language of the machine is FORTH, not BASIC ( See p3 and p8 for more details).

   Jupiter Cantab unveiled the Ace at the Personal Computer World Show in September and we took one away with us to scrutinise. Next month we will tell you the results and explain the language FORTH, showing how it differs from BASIC, as well as revealing the pros and cons of using it.

Personal Computing Today November 1983 Cover

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