Tekniikan Maailma 10/1984 ORIC Atmos review

Tekniikan Maailma, a high quality Finnish magazine that focused on all kinds of technical things such as cars, televisions, videorecorders, microwave ovens, home computers, and so on, published an article about the ORIC Atmos microcomputer. Here is a shot of the page 118 of the 10/1984 issue:

tekniikan maailma 10 1984 page 118 oric atmos

Tekniikan Maailma starts their article by stating that ORIC Atmos keyboard is an improvement over ORIC-1's. This is a "proper typewriter-style keyboard" that is required for more serious use. The BASIC language is relatively "large", meaning that it is versatile enough and it contains good commands for sound and graphics programming. But they go on to say that a personal computer needs to have ready-made (i.e. commercial) software available as well to be useful. They say that in addition to games, there exists a word processor, a file program and a spreadsheet program.

By "file program" I assume they mean a database program of some kind. They say they tested the programs using tape versions and complain that a regular tape recorder did not work well with them. But when they used a special tape recorder designed for data storage usage, everything went well. So they warn the user that buying a special tape recorder is probably a necessity.

The spreadsheet they tested was called Oric-Calc. They describe how the program operates, but make no positive or negative remarks about it. In those early days of home computers, it was absolutely necessary to explain what these so-called "utility programs" could do, because people were not at all familiar with them.

They do not mention the name of the word processor, but go on to say that Oric Atmos keyboard really shines with this program.

I suppose the "file program" is really some kind of a database like I guessed earlier in this article. It is called Oric Base. They describe how the program works, and make a small criticism at the end: Using this program might not be that smooth, because some operations are very slow.

After describing those three utility programs, Tekniikan Maailma enumerates the hardware accessories available for ORIC Atmos. Those include a four-colour plotting device and a dot-matrix printer called Gemini. According to them, the print-outs are even quality and clear, and scandinavian letters such as A with two dots ("ä"), O with two dots ("ö") and a swedish O "å" are supported.

Then they mention a disk drive. It supports 3 inch floppy disks. To the delight of gamers, you can plug a joystick into a printer port using a special program. However, that prevents the printer from being used at the same time. RGB monitor is available for serious users. According to the reviewer, the monitor's picture quality is really clear and error-free.

The manual that comes with ORIC Atmos is said to be much better than the one shipped with ORIC-1. The descriptions about graphics and sound programming are more complete and thorough. The manual also informs the user about how to do machine language programming, and it describes ORIC Atmos's inner workings so that advanced programmers can make full of use of this computer.

They conclude their article by saying that Atmos is not necessarily software-compatible with ORIC-1. Atmos BASIC contains some extra commands not found on ORIC-1, so that might cause incompatibility if those commands are used. Only about 25% of ORIC-1 commercial programs work on ORIC Atmos without alterations. The memory map is also different, so some complicated programs might suffer from that issue, too.

Yesterday (April 25th, 2018) I actually tried to load Manic Miner tape image using Oricutron's ORIC-1 emulation, but it did not work. ORIC-1 cannot run the program, it needs ORIC Atmos. So that's a concrete example of ORIC software incompatibility right there.

Finally here are the Finnish prices in 1984:

As you can see, the Disk Drive is insanely expensive compared to the Tape Recorder: You could almost buy twelve Tape Recorders for the price of a single Disk Drive, so it is easy to see that almost all people chose tapes. Even compared to the ORIC Atmos main unit, the Disk Drive is much more expensive!