Stephen Gray covers TRS-80 Video Cassette advertorials and the amazing SCM Ultrasonic III Typewriter Printer. From the July 1984 edition of the Creative Computing Magazine.
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TRS-80 Strings As the speedometer of our Tandy Special reaches the 65 mark, we see on the super highway ahead of us the TRS-80 videocassettes, SCM's Ultrasonic Messenger 3 electronic typewriter printer, the Adder Voice program from HIB and another short program that creates twinkling stars. At your local Radio Shack, Computer Centre or Computer Department, you may have noticed over in a corner near a TV set, a VHS video cassette player and a dozen video cassettes. Perhaps you've even looked at the titles. Scripcet, Seminar, Accounting Software, Seminar, VisiCalc, Software Seminar, A Day in the Life of the Model 100, AgriStar, Profile Plus, Legal Software Seminar, Multiplan, etc. Each is 10-20 minutes long. These aren't tutorials, they're commercials covering the basic features of the product. These sales tools are played at the RadioShack seminars offered on various software packages to help encourage the attendees to buy the product. They're also used occasionally by computer centre personnel to familiarise themselves with various products. For such people, there are also special tapes on selling techniques. These tapes are professionally made, and resemble top-flight extended TV commercials. They all have the same beginning – a long introduction that discusses RadioShack, the largest chain of retail stores in the world. The Computer Centre Concept, the TRS-80 etc. Then the tape examines the main features of the software package. The tapes usually blend mini-dramas with show-and-tell. The Scrippset Difference Tape, for example, shows a harassed secretary, whose boss wants a complicated report revised, and re-revised by noon. We see brief segments of this continuing saga between descriptions of Scrippset features, showing, with close-ups, how they look on the screen, what kind of documents can be created with Scrippset, how to prepare a document, make corrections, move or delete phrases or sentences, do a global search and replace, use spelling checkers, hyphenation and page numbering, handle printing formats, use Scripcet, with accounting and other packages etc. Several Scripcet users give testimonials. Several TRS-80 models are described, including the 2, 16, 4 and 12. And also Super Scripcet. Some prices are given. The tape ends with the boss promising his secretary that if she retypes the report just one more time, he'll look into RadioShack's TRS-80 and scripts it. These tapes are in every RadioShack computer center and in some computer departments. They are excellent sales tools designed to show the basics of how the product works, its advantages, what it runs on and how much it costs. If you attend a software seminar, you may have a chance to see one of these fine commercials. The SCM Ultrasonic 3 Typewriter Printer The print mechanism used in the Smith Corona L1000 Daisy Wheel printer, reviewed here in the previous issue, is also used in several SCM electronic typewriters. The SCM Ultrasonic 3 Messenger is a portable model that doubles as a computer printer and offers electronic features such as full line memory correction, triple pitch selection, 10, 12, 15 CPI and automatic underlining and centering. Combined with its optional messenger module, the typewriter becomes a letter quality daisy wheel computer printer. The typewriter has a suggested list price of $635. The messenger module is $170. To use the SCM Ultrasonic 3 as a typewriter, just slide the pitch selector to the setting appropriate for the print wheel used, insert paper and start typing. The three pitches are 'peaker', 'elite' and 'micro'. A different look can be achieved by using a 12 pitch print wheel at 10 pitch or a 15 pitch print wheel in a 10 or 12 pitch setting. All L1000 print wheels fit the typewriter and vice versa since the print mechanism is the same in both with one difference. The typewriter has an error correction tape. Several print wheels are available for each pitch. At least two are designed to be used at either 10 or 12 CPI. The one for computer use is the ASCII Tempo 1012 wheel, which includes characters not found on the other wheels. Tempo 10 is a 10 CPI non-ASCII print wheel with characters a little different from the ASCII Tempo 1012. Regency 10 is a modern version of standard Pica. Print wheels are easily changed. Just remove the ribbon cassette, move the print hammer back from the print wheel, pull the print wheel off its spindle and reverse the process with another print wheel. All this can be easily done in less than 15 seconds. All three of the ribbons designed for the L1000 printer can be used on the Ultrasonic typewriter, reusable fabric nylon ribbon and one-time, multi-strike and single-strike Mylar film ribbons. In addition, the SCM electronic typewriters use Lift-Rite film cartridges, which have a different chemical formulation than the Mylar printer ribbons. Lift-Rite prints characters that can be lifted right off the paper with Lift-Rite correction tape. The Ultrasonic 3 has a memory that holds a full line of characters and will automatically correct any or all of them. To backspace and erase characters simultaneously, just press the 'Correct' key all the way down and hold it until all the wrong ones have been deleted. Then type in the correct characters. When the typewriter is first turned on, a preset light turns on at the top left of the keyboard. This indicates that the margins and tabs are predefined at settings that depend on which pitch has been selected. For example, at 10 pitch, the left margin is at 12, the first tab at 17, second tab at 42, third tab at 52, and right margin at 72. At 15 pitch, those settings are 18, 25, 63, 78, and 108. All these settings are easily changed using the Left Margin, Right Margin, Tab Clear, Tab Set and Margin Release keys. Change any setting and the programmed light turns on instead of the preset light to let you know which mode you're in. As an electronic typewriter, the SCM Ultrasonic Messenger is fine. I've been using it for several months and I like it very much. However, I'd like to see several changes in a future model. When you turn the power off, the typewriter returns to the preset margins and tabs. If TV sets can remember the previous station while being turned off, why can't an electronic typewriter? That way, you wouldn't have to keep reprogramming margins and tabs to often used settings every time the machine is turned on. The margin release seems to be mechanical. That is, it doesn't release unless you press the key. the printhead is exactly at the end of the line. I'd like the key to release the margin no matter where the printhead is, so when you're typing and get the end of line beep, you can hit the margin release key and keep on going. As it is, you have to wait until you're at the end of the line for the key to be effective. Most electronic typewriters offer features not found on standard electronic models? The ultrasonic has a nice variety of such enhancements. Activated by pressing the code key and a number key from 1 to 0. Auto return returns the carrier to the left margins at the end of each typed line. Auto center centers text between the margins currently in use. Auto underscore underlines words, but not the spaces between them. On code 5, all word and spaces are underlined on code 6. Tab Center centers typed text over a particular tab's stop. Decimal Tab allows you to do statistical typing. All numbers are aligned on their decimal points. Flush Right aligns text evenly to the left of a particular tab's stop. If you have an SCM ultrasonic typewriter, it can be upgraded to be used as a printer like the Messenger model. Either way, you need the messenger module between your computer and the typewriter. Although the L1000 prints in both directions, the typewriter is unidirectional. The SCM messenger module measures 1.8 x 6.8.8 inches and weighs 2.5 pounds. It has both RS-232C serial and Centronics compatible parallel interfaces. The serial interface has both hardware and software handshake protocols. You'll need an interface cable. I used the Parallel 26-1401 cable with the Model 1, 3 and 4. Press the code key and letter P and the typewriter goes into printer mode. The left and right margins are set to their extreme positions. And all tabs are cleared. Margins and tabs are now under computer control. as is pitch. Controls that were operated from the keyboard in typewriter mode are set from basic CHR$ statements in printer mode using the same software codes as the L1000 printer. For example, setting pitch via software requires three CHR$ codes. CHR$27 for escape, 31 for setting pitch, and 12, 10 or 8 for pitches 10, 12 or 8 respectively. By using CodeP again while in printer mode, you can get back into typewriter mode whenever you need to insert text manually, such as a name and address on a form letter. Inside the Messenger module are the same 14 DIP switches as in the L1000 printer to control features such as character length, parity, board rate and whether or not a carriage return is to be accompanied by an automatic line feed. For the TRS-80 all you need to do is turn on that last one or else the paper will never space up. By the way, the ultrasonic in the name isn't just there because it sounds futuristic. The typewriter actually operates by sending high-pitched sounds from the keyboard to the print mechanism thus eliminating all mechanical and electronic linkages between the two. This simplifies design and manufacture. The SCM Ultrasonic 3 Messenger typewriter was designed to be sold by office equipment and typewriter dealers. Two similar typewriters, with almost the same features and slightly varying prices are also offered, tailored to specific markets. The Citation 3 is designed for department stores and the MemoryCorrect 3 for mass merchandisers and catalogue houses. Both are available in Messenger models. the optional messenger module to either, and you have a computer printer. As an example, the Citation 3 Messenger is $24 less than the Ultrasonic 3 Messenger. It lacks automatic underlining and several tab features found in the latter. There are several printer type things I'd like to see changed for the Ultrasonic 4 or whatever the next model will be called, put the rollers on the paper bale. As on the L1000, without them, in printer mode, the paper can get all messed up. Include information regarding which line at the top of a page the printer will start on. As it is, much paper can be wasted figuring this out. Even without these changes, the SCM Ultrasonic 3 Messenger is an excellent typewriter and a fine printer. provide printing you'll be proud of. AdderVoice is a machine language utility from HIB that lets you add voice output to any BASIC program for a TRS-80 colour computer with 16k or more of memory. Extended BASIC is not required. Human speech was used to create 25 words which were digitally recorded and then written on tape for reading into memory. This lets you create voice output at any time in the program using any combination of the stored words. Only two simple commands are needed to select and generate a spoken word from your TV speaker. Two sets of words are provided to be used one set at a time. The game set has 13 words. Win, lose, I, you, go, hit, got, me, stop, help, missed, oh, yeah, laugh. The quiz set has 12 words. You, Yes, no, good, sorry, ah, right, wrong, try again, ah, winner! The entire Add A Voice program, including one of the word sets and driver program uses 4K of memory. To generate a voice output, use these two basic statements in your program. POKE 15694,X G=user1, where X is a decimal between 0 and 12 that indicates the word to be generated, "win" is word 0 in the game set, "winner" is word 11 in the quiz set. To change the pitch of the voice, use "poke" 15987x, where x is a decimal number between 1 and 20, with 11 being a normal pitch. The typed 5-page manual says you can add a filter to the program to "smooth" the voice. The sound is just about the same with or without a filter, resembling a voice transmitted from a million miles in space, surrounded by white noise. However, it is recognisable, especially after you become familiar with the short list of words. Two demonstration programs are provided, one for each word set. The stored words include enough blank space after each, so that when several are used in a phrase they don't run together. Run the game set demo, the first you'll be asked is to specify a voice pitch and to turn the filter on or off, then enter a number between 1 and 5, and a voice says a few words at the same time the words are shown on the screen to demonstrate phrases that might be used in games. And that's all there is to it.