ANOTHER cheap micro has been produced for the home market. The Jupiter Ace is the first computer to be designed by Richard Altwasser and Steven Vickers since they finished design work on the Spectrum.
The new machine, which will be sold by mail order for £89.95, uses the language Forth instead of the more usual Basic used on other microcomputers. Forth was chosen because of its "combination of speed, versatility and ease of programming".
The computer looks rather like a cross between a ZX-80 and a Spectrum. It has a full-size moving-key keyboard, although one thing it does not have is the one-key entry system for which the Sinclair machines have become famous.
As with the Sinclair machines, the Ace can be used with a domestic television set and uses an ordinary cassette recorder for back-up memory. The basic unit has only 3K RAM.
The screen is memory-mapped with a 24 x 32 character flicker-free display and user-definable high-resolution graphics. The cassette interface performs at 1,500 baud and has a Verify command.
It also has a programmable sound generator. "We hope it will be louder than that of the Spectrum," said Vickers.
The Ace will be manufactured by TW Electronics. It has an expansion socket at the rear which the designers hope to use for peripherals, RAM expansion and a colour board. The machine was due for unveiling at the Personal Computer World Show in September.
THE COLOUR Genie is another computer to be unveiled at the Personal Computer World Show. The machine has been produced by Lowe Electronics of Matlock, Derbyshire, and will cost £199.
The new computer will have 16K Basic ROM and 16K of user RAM. The typewriter-style keyboard is similar to previous Genies.
The machine can use up to 16 colours on the screen with a resolution of 160 x 96 for graphics characters. There are 128 programmable graphics characters and 64 present characters.
There will be a range of optional accessories, including a printer interface cable, printer, two joysticks, a position-detecting light pen and a cassette recorder. A full range of software is due to be launched after the launch of the machine.
Lowe now has eight Genie models in its range of computers, including the new Genie III Business System which was also due to appear at the PCW Show.
A SOFTWARE company is confident that it has produced one of the most difficult games for the ZX-81 that it is offering a prize of £100 to anyone who can beat the computer.
The game, Awari, is produced by Understanding of London. It is in three levels of difficulty - rabbit, beast and monster. The prize is being offered to the first person to send a solution to beat the computer at the monster level playing both first and second.
A deadline in early January has been set because of fears that it may not be possible. If no one has provided a solution by then, the prize will go to the person nearest to winning.
Staff at Understanding have managed to win only playing first at the monster level and the person who wrote the program has not passed the beast.
Awari was developed as a teaching aid and was adapted for micros when home computing began to take off. It is based on a West African game involving distributing beans between seven cups.
Entry forms are available when buying the cassette.
PRICES of ZX-81 software and hardware are on the way down. Software cassettes for games and business applications which formerly had cost £6 of £7 may now be cheaper by up to £1 or £2.
Quicksilva is one of the companies to have started the move. Its software cassettes Scramble and Asteroids are down from £5.50 to £4.95.
Hardware is also becoming cheaper and not only because of the drop in market demand. The Quicksilva high-resolution graphics board is down from £85 to £60. Quicksilva says that the drop in price is to keep the ZX-81 hardware moving.
Data-Assette has reduced the price of its data retrieval system, the ZX-99, to £49.95. The reason, said the sales manager Nigel Boyle, was "because Sinclair brought down prices to around £10 cheaper than the ZX-99".
Boyle sees no difficulty in continuing to sell ZX-81 add-ons.
"The ZX-99 makes the computer more advanced. Even if the machine is black and white it gives it data retrieval."