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End of an era?

I started Quinsoft back in 1988 after I wrote a couple of librarians and made a load of sounds for the Yamaha TX81z and FB01 modules. This was my first attempt at programming the Atari. Much to everyone's suprise, these programs are all written in Hisoft's Power Basic. Even by today's standards, this Power Basic makes Microsoft and Borland's languages look like the crap they are. Since I've gone PC, I've yet to find a language which can match up to Power Basic.

These programs didn't sell by the truckload, it was more of a hobby. A few of them were popular enough to be pirated - some compliment, eh?!! It was fun to do and as long as I broke even it didn't matter. The other bonus was that it put me in touch with a lot of people who became firm friends.

The real problem was the Atari Corporation. The product didn't really develop in its life. There is really nothing wrong with an all-in-one-box computer, as the new Macs will testify. Eventually, the prices of PCs and Macs dropped, and even the Falcon was decidedly overpriced and underpowered. Too little too late. The remainder of Atari's revenues went on the ill-fated Jaguar games console.

The truth is, the Atari was a bloody good machine, which had a lot of potential and all the hardware you would ever need for making MIDI music. Cubase was rock solid on Midi timing and rarely crashed.

My brother Tim asked me if he could have the back catalogue for Balanced Output, and I said sure. I didn't want any money for it - it would have done nothing whatsoever otherwise, so why not?

** Please note that Balanced Output cannot answer any queries on this software. Manuals are no longer available. If you find bugs, then i'm afraid it's a tad too late. There is NO support available for these products!!!

This is almost all of the music software I wrote, and very little of it is documented. You'll have to take it as seen. Some of the programs have some really useful general utilities like The Incredible Bulk and the MIDI mixer, which can be used with GM modules. It's worth downloading these. These files are zipped. Getting them into the Atari is not easy, but doubtless you've already figured out how to do it.

  • note from Tim...ST Zip is now available at this site. Get it at the Downloads Page.

    Many of these programs work in colour as well as mono. Accessory versions do exist, but beware of using them with a sequencer running.

    Some installers ask for a serial number. Enter 100, and any name. Ignore the docs referring to registration etc..

    Most of the info in the docs seems dated. Well, it is. It may be of some use.

    These programs are mouse driven. Try clicking on objects with both mouse buttons and things may magically appear. There are hotkeys as well, so try they keyboard and Control + Key.

    Summary of the programs.

    • VZ ED is an editor-librarian for the Casio VZ1. It is not difficult if you know the instrument's architecture. Select the function and use the slider for the value. The arrow keys can also be used. The librarian is drag and drop. Sysex dumps are fairly well prompted. The VZ1 is still my mother keyboard and it makes some smashing sounds.
    • Advanced Four Op is the version 2 graphic librarian with a load of sounds for the Yamaha TX81Z and its ilk. It will work with most variants. This too is drag and drop. Just clicking a sound sends it to the synth. It's pretty logical. Right clicking the mouse will bring up other things. There is some documentation. I still have my TX81Z and I won't part with it.
    • Yamaha FBO1 Librarian is similar to the Advanced 4 Op, also with masses of sounds. Likewise, there is some documentation. If you got one o' these lil boxes, this will breathe new life into it.
    • The Korg M1 Toolkit is a librarian for both singles and Combis. There are some extra utilities and an accessory version.
    • The Quadraverb Toolkit is a similar librarian, with some additional editing features. There's 100 new patches too.
    • The Matrix Editor is for the Oberheim Matrix 6 and 1000. You know all those modulation matrices everyone keeps banging on about - well here's the original mother of them all. Click on things, and all will be revealed. There's a load of sounds too.
    • The Juno Editor is for the Alpha Juno 1 and 2. Great little synths, and much much nicer than the overblown and nasal Juno 106. There's a librarian too, and lotsa sounds.
    • K4 Editor is an editor/librarian for the Kawai K4. Nice synths despite the noticable latency (delay between playing and hearing a note). A load of sounds to boot. This was to be the basis of my universal editor/librarian, but alas the MIDI sysex format is far from standard. Why on earth do synth manufacturers use non-standard sysex formats unnecessarily? The worst offenders have been Sequential and Akai, who drafted the original sysex guidelines.
    • Trax is a studio manager. A good seller which is still in use. It's a Tracksheet program with other bits added. Some useful utilities too.
    • Pravda (PRofessional Audio-Visual DAtabase) was supposed to be the successor to Trax. This is a mega program which took 18 months to write. It is VERY powerful, and if you're doing complicated things, then it's almost worth having another Atari just to run this. (Mono only.) Some of the calculators won't be found in any other program, so it's worth having it just for this alone. Unfortunately it never saw the light of day. Its development coincided with the falling out of favour of the Atari. There is some documentation too. I don't know if it's complete. It's a pig to get your brain around, but once you've figured it out, you'll see what a powerful program it is. Remember: use both mouse buttons to get to all the goodies. There's even an accessory version which does work with Cubase. Wow!

    It's better than a poke in the eye, and it's free. Remember, you're on your own with this lot. Any enquiries will be completely ignored. I'm a bit busy now.


    Quin Rice.
    Surrey, England.
    August 1998 rev August 2000

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