Article about Atari computers and software piracy. Published in AtariMagasinet 3-96 (swedish magazine) - October 1996. Translated into english by the author.

Guest's chronicle - Claes Holmerup

From time to time, I get questions from my musician friends who use other platforms than Atari, how I can stand a "slow old crappy machine running at 16MHz, which can't be expanded to more than 14MB RAM, when PC's and Macs use 200MHz or more and can be expanded to 128 or 256MB RAM".

Ok - I'll ask myself: -why do I use this "slow old crappy machine"?
The obvious answer is that my playing computer (in the true meaning of the word "playing") is the best one for my needs. I like the user interface and the fact that I don't have to re-configure the system hour after hour to get everything working. I like that the OS is relatively fast - when I tested one of my friends' Mac Quadra (which is a 68040) beside my Falcon, the guy was actually impressed by the speed of copying files, opening/closing windows, start programs, print out etc. Then - to break him down once and for all, I showed him Calamus. Only the 1.09 version in monochrome - but he thought that it was extremely quick to work with and now he's concidering buying MagiC Mac (couldn't talk him into buying another computer)...

Programs (and operating systems) on both PC and Mac have a tendency to swell out and demand more and more of the hardware to give the user a fair chance of working with them without going out of his mind. More and more graphics that slow down the machine (which don't actually have anything to do with the functionality of the program) are added to make the presumed buyer impressed.
When you look at the Atari market, the programmers have always been forced to optimise their programs to make them available to many people. The main reason is that the Atari computers always have had limitations when it comes to expansion and the fact that there's still many people who even lack a harddisk!
I've always felt this has been a good thing, since I'd rather work with a program that's fast than a program that looks prettier but lacks speed. To me, the computer is a working tool and not a TV-game. Ok, sometimes I'd wish that some more work was put into the graphics in some programs, but in general the Atari market feels like a more reasonable market - if you overlook the extremely wide-spread software piracy.
Microsoft in Sweden presume their software is being pirated for the sum of about SEK 1000 000 000 each year. All this money could have been used for continued development instead and in the long run maybe even contributed to lower prices.
I guess Microsoft will live on despite the piracy, but on a more limited market, like the case is with Atari computers, the piracy causes very much damage since the people who would have bught the programs disappear as customers (if they've recieved a free copy from a friend they're not likely to buy it) and eventually, the software producers will sell too few Atari programs to afford the development of Atari software.

To make it even clearer, I'd like to compare it with cars. Do you buy a car when you know that you can't afford the petrol? Of course you can steal the petrol, but that wouldn't make you very popular and most people's morals won't let them steal things. Should you really blame high software prices (which are much lower than the prices for comparable PC-software) and steal the programs (by pirating them) for the computer you bought for close to nothing?
If your conciense allows you to copy software after all (and in the long run that YOU contribute to the demise of the software development for your beloved Atari), you should at least think about the crime against copyright laws you make yourself guilty of. Here in Sweden (as in most other countries) all copying other than for backup purposes, is prohibited - and you risk up to two years of imprisonment, as well as lawsuits of huge amounts of money from the software companies.

Live well - and make less pirate copies!