Photo © Bill Bertram, 2006 – Own work

Upgrading to the cutting edge Atari ST was a gamechanger both for me and for our barely-started Asgard Publishing Services partnership. It opened up a new world of software, and a mouse-driven interface which was at least as good as the Apple Mac’s – at a fraction of the price.

The 1stWord word processor was also a definite step up from the Tasword software on the Spectrum – and it wasn’t long before I was able to upgrade the Atari’s memory as well. (Mind you, this did involve a somewhat hair-raising process where I had to lever out the old memory chip and replace it with one that doubled its storage space to 1080k – without damaging either chip…)

Better yet, new software for the Atari was appearing all the time, including some memorable games, a vector graphics program, and a truly remarkable program called Fleet Street Publisher – an absolute gift to a partnership like ours looking to specialise in services to publishers. Incredibly for such an early piece of software it allowed users to specify fonts, manage layout, and deliver the end result direct to the printers using a Postscript file. As a result we may well have been the first people in the UK who could offer that service to publishers. And yes, we had takers.

For me there was a definite fringe benefit, too. I was just getting to know my future wife, and had seen a copy of her book about Sashiko – which she, to her credit, had produced entirely on her Amstrad. Sashiko patterns proved particularly easy to produce on the Atari, so on one visit she discovered me in my bedroom (where I also kept my work desk) carefully recreating one of her illustrations as a vector graphic. It didn’t hurt my street cred but it also helped us both to realise how much we had in common and how well we could work together. Which we have done, again and again and again, for the whole of our wonderful marriage…