Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 9th Jul 2018 11:18 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

I promised you an Atari story, so you get an Atari story. How about a history of and ode to the Atari ST, the Amiga and Macintosh competitor?

Surviving on its remaining video-game inventory, the new company went to work developing Tramiel's new 16-bit computer. Based on the same Motorola 68000 processor used in the Apple Macintosh, the Atari ST (the ST apparently standing for "sixteen/thirty-two" although some have speculated it stood for "Sam Tramiel" after Jack's son), was designed to be attractive to a wide variety of computer users. Like the Commodore 64, the ST could be plugged into a television for casual video-gaming, but additionally it could use a colour or monochrome monitor - the latter of which featuring a higher resolution than the Macintosh, an appeal to those in the then-emerging world of desktop publishing. It also came standard with MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) ports for controlling synthesisers, making it attractive to musicians.

I actually bought an Atari T-shirt last week that I'm wearing right now, which is a tad bit disingenuous since I've never actually used an Atari, be it a console or an ST. The ST is on my wish list, though, alongside an Amiga 1200 and C64. I promise I'll earn the right to wear this shirt.

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It's one failing
by JLF65 on Mon 9th Jul 2018 14:06 UTC
JLF65
Member since:
2005-07-06

The ST was a good computer, but it had one major failing - it didn't have digital audio. That was added years later to the STe models. You COULD do digital audio on the ST by interrupting the cpu and changing the volume of the sound generator, but it sounded bad and used a LOT of cpu time. To help minimize the time spent, a trick was often employed. The trick was centered on knowing that (like the Mac), the ST ran exclusively in Super State mode. This meant the User State stack pointer was unused, so programs (games and music players mostly) doing "digital" audio would put a pointer to the volume data into the usp; the interrupt code could use usp without needing to read a pointer from memory, saving a lot of cycles.

Reply Score: 4

<3 Atari ST
by chrish on Mon 9th Jul 2018 15:01 UTC
chrish
Member since:
2005-07-14

I used my Atari 1040STf for ten years :-O until I replaced it with a BeBox. So awesome, for the time...

Reply Score: 3

Comment by ssokolow
by ssokolow on Mon 9th Jul 2018 19:43 UTC
ssokolow
Member since:
2010-01-21

I actually picked up an Atari 520STFM with a high-resolution black-and-white monitor from the curb on big garbage day several years ago but my other retro-hobby interests eat up the vast majority of my leisure budget and I'm pretty space-constrained, so I'm still working down my list of parts necessary to make it usable.

(So far, I've got an RCA/Composite cable for low-cost color video, a PS/2 mouse adapter, An Atari 2600 controller, and a $5 USB-MIDI cable to replicate the aconnectgui-based strategy I already use to get my DOS machine talking to my USB-only Yamaha PSR-E413.)

When I find time to temporarily set it up somewhere, getting software onto it will probably require me to take the "slight reliability hit" of covering the hole on one of my old 1.44M floppies and reformatting it to Atari's 720K format using my DOS/Win98 Retro-PC. I can't shell out for the cost of a floppy emulator on a whim and I'm not sure if I have any 720K floppies I'm willing to rewrite. (I think they're all either things that didn't come empty and unlabelled or 800K GCR-formatted Mac floppies I haven't backed up yet because I'm still trying to fit a Kryoflux into my budget.)

Edited 2018-07-09 19:44 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Macintosh
by Treza on Mon 9th Jul 2018 21:04 UTC
Treza
Member since:
2006-01-11

Well, the ST was better than a Macintosh, because, with Aladdin and Spectre GCR, you could run Macintosh programs on your Atari. Faster.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Macintosh
by Kochise on Tue 10th Jul 2018 04:32 UTC in reply to "Macintosh"
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

Only for a little time, until Apple brought people with more powerful computers, yet far far far more expensive.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Macintosh_models

Reply Score: 2

Those were the days
by The Lone OSer on Tue 10th Jul 2018 02:17 UTC
The Lone OSer
Member since:
2005-07-11

I started with an 8-bit 64k Atari 800 XL computer... That started my all-night gaming sessions with mates playing games like Bruce Lee and Zorro. Upgrading to the Atari 520 STFM when they came out and upgrading the memory to 1 meg.. Those were the days!!!

Reply Score: 3

RE: Those were the days
by JLF65 on Tue 10th Jul 2018 13:58 UTC in reply to "Those were the days"
JLF65 Member since:
2005-07-06

I started with an Atari 400 with 32KB and a cassette. It went through upgrades before I finally replaced it with an Amiga 500. The Amiga was the spiritual successor to the Atari 8-bit line. I looked at the ST, my oldest brother had one, but I liked the Amiga better.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Those were the days
by zima on Fri 13th Jul 2018 18:27 UTC in reply to "RE: Those were the days"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

The Amiga was the spiritual successor to the Atari 8-bit line.

A little bit more than spiritual - didn't largely the same people work on their custom chips?

Reply Score: 2