Calamus from scratch
By Christoph Brincken
In 1987 an early version
of Calamus 1 found its way in to my disk box. Some years
later, I bought a book from Data Becker, and learned
how to use Calamus 1.09. In those early times, there
were only two programs able to print real black with
a dot-matrix pin printer. 1st Word, for example left
nothing but a gray shadow.
This was when the famous
text processor, Signum appeared and later Calamus. Calamus
was in fact one of the key applications for Atari
in Germany, together with Signum, 1st Word, Cubase and
Steinberg 24. Unlike the USA or Great Britain, the Atari
ST in Germany was mainly used as a "black and white"
workstation. While the Macintosh cost about 4,000 US
Dollars, the Atari was only about 400. People wanted
a Mac, but bought an Atari ST, the "Power Without
The Price" Mac. Two million people were using the
Atari ST/TT in Germany.
Calamus was able to print
to cheap non-PostScript printers and brought two new
data formats to the Atari: The Calamus Font format (CFN)
and the Calamus Vector format (CVG). CFN brought superb
vector fonts to the ST/TT platform from all the famous
font houses, but, they were quite expensive.
Programs which supported
the CVG format were the popular Outline Art from DMC
and the high-end vector tool Avant Vector Pro, which
came in three versions: as a basic tracer (Avant Trace),
the more expensive vector tool Avant Vector and the
quite expensive Avant Vector Plot, the first Atari program
which exported and imported Encapsulated PostScript(EPS).
About 1992 DMC came out
with a new color version of Calamus, Calamus SL. It
was able to seperate films for pre-print, streaming
directly to a film exposure machine by SCSI.
Many graphic studios
where founded in Germany at this time and some still
use Calamus today. Around 1995, Calamus was sold to
MGI in Canada. Later the German programmers left the
sinking company DMC and bought back the rights from
MGI. But only the rights to develop an Atari version.
Some days ago the new Calamus SL2002 was delivered.
The new Calamus is very much like the old, using modules,
but these modules as well as the core have been enhanced.
There are five programmers
working on Calamus. An interesting is Calamus runs perfectly
on different platforms. On the Mac it needs MagiC Mac
and even though it's emulated, it's extremely fast.
One can also buy it as a "Windows package",
which comes with an Atari emulator included and behaves
just like a PC program. And in my opinion it's light
years ahead of Quark Xpress. The emulation is so perfectly
integrated that it is sold as a "Lite" version
at the on-line book shop "Amazon" as a page
layout program for the PC.
Calamus has two new printer
drivers, one, WINPRINT lets you use any printer active
in your Windows system, the other, MACPRINT for the
MagiC Mac emulation uses the active Mac printer - it
works superbly. Very nice is the ability to read almost
any ASCII text file, as is the ability to use PostScript
Type1 and TrueType fonts from Mac or PC without any
I have worked with Pagemaker
6.5 and Quark 3.31 and hated both. When I start Calamus,
it's pure power and joy. I particularly like the kerning
feature. With Calamus you will always have the feeling
of total control over your document, while with Quark
its always "print out and see what you get"
and with Pagemaker 6.5 you'd better save your document
before you print it because it might crash and overwrite
your open document.
Calamus Bridge 5 module
Bridge started as Dataformer,
it was very promising and added converting functions
and EPS export, but it was very buggy 10 years ago.
Later it was redesigned, became very stable and got
a new name.
Calamus SL2002 comes
with the Lite version of the Bridge module. This version
is able to convert text frames to vector frames, which
means you can make a text layout and convert this to
a vector graphic. This graphic can be exported and used
with a plotter program to cut out the foil for a signboard,
or it can be converted to a bitmap and exported in many
In the full version,
PostScript export was added. The PostScript export enabled
Calamus to use any film exposure service and convert
whole sites to PDF with Adobe Acrobat Distiller.
Bridge 5 adds a direct
Acrobat PDF export function. That makes it worth upgrading
from 4 to 5, it's brilliant and doubles the fun of Calamus!
For me it was a great
experience when I bought the Bridge 5 module. It exports
Calamus files directly as Acrobat PDF with perfect results.
web site for prices and upgrades.