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UnderColor, Volume 1, Number 4, February 1, 1985

  • Title: News
  • Author: Dennis Kitsz
  • Synopsis: Hot off the modem.
  • Page Scans: Link





* * * * * * COCO MAX by Tim Jenison / Colorware $69.95 / 64K Disk or Tape * * * * * *

(Note: This review was written February 2, and is based on a pre—release version of CoCo Max; by the time you read this Colorware should be shipping CoCo Max to the public).

It has long been one of my fantasies to own a Macintosh and be able to Macpaint any time I wanted to. Tim Jenison and the folks at Colorware have made that dream a reality. The first time I typed the words RUN"COCOMAX" my reaction was awe and astonishment.

The first thing that impressed me about CoCo Max was its blistering speed. We are talking fast -- REAL FAST -- as if there was a 68000 processor in that CoCo Max cartridge. If you use Color Computer graphics, you too will be impressed with speed of the "rubber band line" and "rubber band shape" drawing routines. Besides being an

amazing programming accomplishment, its speed makes CoCo Max a pleasure to work with.

CoCo Max is a clone of Macpaint from Apple's Macintosh computer. I didn't really think that there would ever be a clone on the CoCo that would be true to the original Macpaint, yet CoCo Max supports all of the major features of Macpaint with few exceptions (most notably the ability to stretch and shrink "captured" portions of the screen along a few of the more obscure Macpaint "shortcuts"). In fairness to the program’s author Tim Jenison (designer of the Micro Works Digisector Video Digitizer) I should mention that these were left out simply because he ran out of memory. Keep in mind that it takes 128K to run Macpaint on a Macintosh, yet Tim was able to shoehorn almost all its features into a 64K CoCo. In fact, the program is so similar to Macpaint that I learned how to use it from a borrowed Macpaint manual!

Macpaint's features separate the Mac from other drawing tools. On any page of Macworld magazine, the chances are pretty good that you will see the phrase "User Interface". That's what set the Mac apart from all other computers, until now. The Macintosh's friendly user interface asks the user to point with a mouse to a picture of the desired activity -- pictures known as "icons". Once you are pointing to the desired icon, you press the mouse's button to select it; thus, the phrase "point and click". Macpaint drawing tools are on the left side of the screen. When you "click" on the desired tool it is highlighted in black. In the accompanying pictures, the "hand" icon (second from the top) is selected. If you "point and click" on one of the words along the top of the screen you will get a "pull—down menu". You may select any option on the menu by clicking on it while the menu is pulled down (see picture #2). This user interface allows the "non—techie" to use the advanced features of a microcomputer without having to understand how they work. My mother (a professed computerphobe) will sit down to use CoCo Max any time; young children also find it very easy to understand and use.

Yes, there is some bad news. The biggest problem is that it may end up costing you more than $69.95 to use CoCo Max fully. If you are a disk owner (the tape version won't be ready until March) you will need a Y—cable or multi-pak to use CoCo Max's 8-bit analog-to-digital converter cartridge. Second, while you can use CoCo Max with a joystick, I recommend that you use a mouse, since it is more Mac-like and you have better control. Last, the program looks best on a monochrome monitor, largely because the original Macpaint is exclusively a black-and-white system. Tim has made some changes to the program to ease the use of the CoCo's high res colors, but even so I would at least recommend a color monitor or high quality television. Of course you can use CoCo Max without investing additional money, but to be honest, since getting CoCo Max I have bought a multi-pak, mouse, monochrome monitor and driver and I don't regret a penny of it! It's still a lot cheaper than $1500 for a Macintosh.

I asked Jack Knott, President of Colorware, a few questions after seeing the CoCo Max ads, and added some of my own:

Q. What printers does CoCo Max support?

A. Although all the printer drivers are not in the pre-release version, Colorware states that the Epson/Gemini, all Tandy dot matrix, and C. Itoh Prowriter printers will be supported. You will be able to print out in small and large and double strike and normal modes.

Q. Part of the screen is taken up tools and menus; how large is my actual work area?

A. CoCo Max uses windowing to allow your effective workspace to be larger than what can be displayed on the screen at one time. The total amount of workspace is roughly 3 1/2 times that of one window. You can select the hand icon and use it to move your workspace like a piece of paper. You will also be able to print your entire workspace as one big picture on a single piece of paper.

Q. What does that cartridge that comes with CoCo Max do?

A. It is an 8 bit analog-to-digital converter that the mouse or joystick plugs into so you can make large free hand strokes from one end of the screen to the other without jumping or being jerky.

Q. How many type fonts does CoCo Max have?

A. At least five; you can italicize, boldface, outline, and drop-shadow any font.

Q. Will I be able to draw graphics like those shown here?

A. The Garfield is by a friend who is not an artist but can draw a straight line. The Mr. Chips picture is by Mr. Thumbs, yours truly. The Fat Bits mode allows you to zoom in on working areas, and helps make a no—talent like me look pretty good.

Q. Can I paint with patterns other than those at the bottom of the screen?

A. Yes, there is another palette like the one you see, but geared more towards the artifact color set. You may also edit the existing patterns to create a new one.

Q. Are CoCo Max disk files compatible with BASIC?

A. Yes, CoCo Max pictures are binary files that start at $E00 so you can use them with BASIC programs or even other drawing programs.

Q. Can I have some of those neat pictures to look at?

A. If you have a modem you may download these and several other pictures from the Color America Users Group BBS in Los Angeles at (818) 335-6554.

It is a reviewers duty to help you to decide whether you want to buy a product; I have the perfect way for you. Go to your local computer store, sit down and play with Macpaint, and if you like what you see ... save yourself $1500 and get CoCo Max! There have been few CoCo programs that revolutionize the use of our computers. For me CoCo Max is one of those programs. It is one of the top three CoCo programs ever written.