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|Release date||June 1985|
|Operating system||Digital Research's GEM run via Atari TOS|
|CPU||Motorola 680x0 @ 8 MHz & higher|
|Memory||512 KBs (512×210 bytes) to 4 MB (4×220 bytes)|
|Predecessor||Atari 8-bit family|
The Atari ST is a line of home computers from Atari Corporation and the successor to the Atari 8-bit family. The initial ST model, the 520ST, saw limited release in April–June 1985 and was widely available in July.The Atari ST is the first personal computer to come with a bitmapped color GUI, using a version of Digital Research's GEM released in February 1985. The 1040ST, released in 1986, is the first personal computer to ship with a megabyte of RAM in the base configuration and also the first with a cost-per-kilobyte of less than US$1.
Home computers were a class of microcomputers that entered the market in 1977, that started with what Byte Magazine called the "trinity of 1977", and which became common during the 1980s. They were marketed to consumers as affordable and accessible computers that, for the first time, were intended for the use of a single nontechnical user. These computers were a distinct market segment that typically cost much less than business, scientific or engineering-oriented computers of the time such as the IBM PC, and were generally less powerful in terms of memory and expandability. However, a home computer often had better graphics and sound than contemporary business computers. Their most common uses were playing video games, but they were also regularly used for word processing, doing homework, and programming.
Atari Corporation was an American manufacturer of computers and video game consoles from 1984 to 1996. Atari Corp. was founded in July 1984 when Warner Communications sold the home computing and game console divisions of Atari, Inc. to Jack Tramiel. Its chief products were the Atari ST, Atari XE, Atari 7800, Atari Lynx, and Atari Jaguar.
The Atari 8-bit family is a series of 8-bit home computers introduced by Atari, Inc. in 1979 and manufactured until 1992. All of the machines in the family are technically similar and differ primarily in packaging. They are based on the MOS Technology 6502 CPU running at 1.79 MHz, and were the first home computers designed with custom co-processor chips. This architecture enabled graphics and sound capabilities that were more advanced than contemporary machines at the time of release, and gaming on the platform was a major draw. Star Raiders is considered the platform's killer app.
The Atari ST is part of a mid-1980s generation of home computers that have 16 or 32-bit processors, 256 KB or more of RAM, and mouse-controlled graphical user interfaces. This generation includes the Macintosh, Commodore Amiga, Apple IIGS, and, in certain markets, the Acorn Archimedes. "ST" officially stands for "Sixteen/Thirty-two", which refers to the Motorola 68000's 16-bit external bus and 32-bit internals.
The kilobyte is a multiple of the unit byte for digital information.
A computer mouse, often simply referred to as a mouse, is a hand-held pointing device that detects two-dimensional motion relative to a surface. This motion is typically translated into the motion of a pointer on a display, which allows a smooth control of the graphical user interface. The first public demonstration of a mouse controlling a computer system was in 1968. Originally wired to a computer, many modern mice are cordless, relying on short-range radio communication with the connected system. Mice originally used a ball rolling on a surface to detect motion, but modern mice often have optical sensors that have no moving parts. In addition to moving a cursor, computer mice have one or more buttons to allow operations such as selection of a menu item on a display. Mice often also feature other elements, such as touch surfaces and "wheels", which enable additional control and dimensional input.
The Macintosh is a family of personal computers designed, manufactured and sold by Apple Inc. since January 1984.
The ST was sold with either Atari's color monitor or the less expensive monochrome monitor. The system's two color graphics modes are only available on the former while the highest-resolution mode needs the monochrome monitor.
A monochrome monitor is a type of CRT computer monitor which was very common in the early days of computing, from the 1960s through the 1980s, before color monitors became popular. They are still widely used in applications such as computerized cash register systems, owing to the age of many registers. Green screen was the common name for a monochrome monitor using a green "P1" phosphor screen.
In some markets, particularly Germany, the machine gained a strong foothold as a small business machine for CAD and desktop publishing work. Thanks to its built-in MIDI ports, the ST enjoyed success for running music-sequencer software and as a controller of musical instruments among amateurs and well-known musicians alike.
Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.
Small businesses are privately owned corporations, partnerships, or sole proprietorships that have fewer employees and/or less annual revenue than a regular-sized business or corporation. Businesses are defined as "small" in terms of being able to apply for government support and qualify for preferential tax policy varies depending on the country and industry. Small businesses range from fifteen employees under the Australian Fair Work Act 2009, fifty employees according to the definition used by the European Union, and fewer than five hundred employees to qualify for many U.S. Small Business Administration programs. While small businesses can also be classified according to other methods, such as annual revenues, shipments, sales, assets, or by annual gross or net revenue or net profits, the number of employees is one of the most widely used measures.
Desktop publishing (DTP) is the creation of documents using page layout software on a personal ("desktop") computer. It was first used almost exclusively for print publications, but now it also assists in the creation of various forms of online content. Desktop publishing software can generate layouts and produce typographic-quality text and images comparable to traditional typography and printing. Desktop publishing is also the main reference for digital typography. This technology allows individuals, businesses, and other organizations to self-publish a wide variety of content, from menus to magazines to books, without the expense of commercial printing.
The ST was superseded by the Atari STE, Atari TT, Atari MEGA STE, and Falcon computers.
The Atari Mega STE was Atari Corporation's last ST series personal computer, released in 1991. The MEGA STE was essentially a late-model 680x0-based STE mounted in the case of the otherwise unrelated Atari TT computer, although a number of TT features were also blended in. The resulting machine was a more business-like version of the ST line.
The Atari Falcon030 Computer System is a personal computer released by Atari Corporation in 1992. The machine is based on a Motorola 68030 main CPU, and had a Motorola 56000 digital signal processor, a feature which distinguished it from most other microcomputers of the era.
The Atari ST was born from the rivalry between home-computer makers Atari, Inc. and Commodore International.
Atari, Inc. was an American video game developer and home computer company founded in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney. Primarily responsible for the formation of the video arcade and modern video game industries, the company was closed and its assets split in 1984 as a direct result of the Video game crash of 1983.
Commodore International was a Canadian - American home computer and electronics manufacturer founded by Jack Tramiel. Commodore International (CI), along with its subsidiary Commodore Business Machines (CBM), participated in the development of the home–personal computer industry in the 1970s and 1980s. The company developed and marketed the world's best-selling desktop computer, the Commodore 64 (1982), and released its Amiga computer line in July 1985. With quarterly sales ending 1983 of $49 million, Commodore was one of the world's largest personal computer manufacturers.
Jay Miner, one of the original designers for the custom chips found in the Atari 2600 and Atari 8-bit family, tried to convince Atari management to create a new chipset for a video game console and computer. When his idea was rejected, Miner left Atari to form a small think tank called Hi-Toro in 1982 and began designing the new "Lorraine" chipset. The company, which was later renamed Amiga Corporation, was pretending to sell video game controllers to deceive competition while it developed a Lorraine-based computer.
Amiga ran out of capital to complete Lorraine's development, and Atari, owned by Warner Communications, paid Amiga to continue development work. In return Atari received exclusive use of the Lorraine design for one year as a video game console. After one year Atari would have the right to add a keyboard and market the complete computer, designated the 1850XLD. As Atari was heavily involved with Disney at the time, it was later code-named "Mickey", and the 256K memory expansion board was codenamed "Minnie".
After leaving Commodore International in January 1984, Jack Tramiel formed Tramel Technology with his sons and other ex-Commodore employees and, in April, began planning a new computer. The company initially considered the National Semiconductor NS320xx microprocessor but was disappointed with its performance.This started the move to the 68000. The lead designer of the Atari ST was ex-Commodore employee Shiraz Shivji, who had previously worked on the Commodore 64's development.
Atari in mid-1984 was losing about a million dollars per day.Interested in Atari's overseas manufacturing and worldwide distribution network for his new computer, Tramiel negotiated with Warner in May and June 1984. He secured funding and bought Atari's Consumer Division (which included the console and home computer departments) in July. As executives and engineers left Commodore to join Tramiel's new Atari Corporation, Commodore responded by filing lawsuits against four former engineers for theft of trade secrets.
The Tramiels did not purchase the employee contracts when they bought the assets of Atari Inc., so one of their first acts was to interview Atari Inc. employees to decide whom to hire at what was essentially a brand new company. This company was originally called TTL (Tramiel Technologies Limited), later renamed to Atari Corp. At the time of the purchase of Atari Inc's assets, there were roughly 900 employees remaining from a high point of 10,000. After the interviews, approximately 100 employees were hired to work at Atari Corp.
At one point a custom sound processor called AMY was a planned component for the new ST computer design, but the chip needed more time to complete, so AMY was dropped in favor of an off-the-shelf Yamaha sound chip.[ citation needed ]
It was during this time in late July/early August that Leonard Tramiel discovered the original Amiga contract, which required Amiga Corporation to deliver the Lorraine chipset to Atari on June 30, 1984. Amiga Corp. had sought more monetary support from investors in spring 1984 (among them Tramel Technology, which wished to replace nearly everyone at Amiga).
Having heard rumors that Tramiel was negotiating to buy Atari, Amiga Corp. entered into discussions with Commodore. The discussions led to Commodore wanting to purchase Amiga Corporation outright, which Commodore believed would cancel any outstanding contracts, including Atari's. Instead of Amiga Corp. delivering Lorraine to Atari, Commodore delivered a check of $500,000 to Atari on Amiga's behalf, in effect returning the funds Atari invested into Amiga for the chipset. Tramiel countersued Amiga Corp. on August 13, 1984. He sought damages and an injunction to bar Amiga (and effectively Commodore) from producing anything with its technology.
At Commodore, the Amiga team was in limbo during the summer of 1984 because of the lawsuit. No word on the status of the chipset, the Lorraine computer, or the team's fate was known. In the fall of 1984, Commodore informed the team that the Lorraine project was active again, the chipset was to be improved, the operating system (OS) developed, and the hardware design completed. While Commodore announced the Amiga 1000 with the Lorraine chipset in July 1985, the delay gave Atari, with its many former Commodore engineers, time to deliver the first Atari ST units in June 1985. In March 1987, the two companies settled the dispute out of court in a closed decision.
With the hardware design nearing completion, the Atari team started looking at solutions for the operating system. Soon after the Atari buyout, Microsoft approached Tramiel with the suggestion that they port Windows to the platform, but the delivery date was out by two years, far too long for their needs. Another possibility was Digital Research, who was working on a new GUI-based system then known as Crystal, soon to become GEM. Another option was to write a new operating system in-house, but this was rejected as Atari management was unsure whether the company had the required expertise to do so.
Digital Research was fully committed to the Intel platform, so a team from Atari was sent to the Digital Research headquarters to work with the "Monterey Team" which comprised a mixture of Atari and Digital Research engineers. Atari's Leonard Tramiel was the Atari person overseeing "Project Jason" (a.k.a. The Operating System) for the Atari ST line of computers. The name came from the original designer and developer, Jason Loveman.
GEM was based on CP/M-68K, essentially a direct port of CP/M to the 68000. By 1985, CP/M was becoming increasingly outdated; it did not support sub-directories, for example. Digital Research was also in the process of building a new DOS-like operating system specifically for GEM, GEMDOS, and there was some discussion of whether or not a port of GEMDOS could be completed in time for product delivery in June. The decision was eventually taken to port it, resulting in a GEMDOS file system which became part of Atari TOS (The Operating System and colloquially known as the Tramiel Operating System). This gave the ST a fast, hierarchical file system, essential for hard drives, plus programmers had function calls similar to IBM PC DOS. The character set is based on codepage 437.
Besides the original TOS operating system, a number of third-party OSes were developed for, or ported to, the Atari ST. Among Unix clones, Idris, Minix had an Atari ST port and the Mint OS was developed specifically for the Atari ST.
After six months of intensive effort following Tramiel's takeover, Atari announced the 520ST at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 1985.InfoWorld described prototypes shown at computer shows as a "typical Commodore-64-style, corner-cutting, low-cost Jack Tramiel product", but Atari unexpectedly displayed the ST at Atlanta COMDEX in May. Due to its similarities to the original Macintosh and Tramiel's role in its development, it was quickly nicknamed the Jackintosh. Atari's rapid development of the ST amazed many, but others were more skeptical, citing the ST's "cheap" appearance, Atari's uncertain financial health, and the poor relations the Tramiel-led Commodore had with software developers.
As early as 1981, Adam Osborne wrote that while Tramiel "deserves credit for what he has been able to accomplish", "the microcomputer industry abounds with horror stories describing the way Commodore treats its dealers and its customers."In 1984 Ahoy! had written that Tramiel "had never been able to establish very good relations with computer dealers ... Under his reign, computer retailers have accused Commodore of treating them as harshly as if they were suppliers or competitors". After purchasing Atari, Computer Gaming World stated that his poor reputation likely made computer stores reluctant to deal with the company, hurting its distribution of the ST. One retailer said, "If you can believe Lucy when she holds the football for Charlie Brown, you can believe Jack Tramiel", and another said that because of its experience with Tramiel "Our interest in Atari is zero, zilch". Neither Atari nor Commodore was able to persuade large chains like ComputerLand or BusinessLand to sell their products, but observers criticized Atari's erratic discussion of its stated plans for the new computer, quickly shifting from using mass merchandisers to specialty computer stores to both; Atari executives could not name any computer stores that would carry the ST when asked at COMDEX. One analyst stated after attending a meeting with the company, "We've seen marketing strategies changed before our eyes".
Although the more than 30 companies exhibiting ST software at Las Vegas COMDEX in November 1985—while the Amiga had almost none—surprised the industry,Tramiel's poor reputation also influenced potential developers of software for his computer. One stated that "Dealing with Commodore was like dealing with Attila the Hun. I don't know if Tramiel will be following his old habits ... I don't see a lot of people rushing to get software on the machine." Large business-software companies like Lotus, Ashton-Tate, and Microsoft did not promise software for either the ST or Amiga, and the majority of software companies were hesitant to support another platform beyond the IBM PC, Apple, and Commodore 64; "These days, if I were a consumer, I'd stick to companies [Apple and IBM] I know will be around", said Philippe Kahn of Borland. The New York Times reported after Atlanta COMDEX that "more than 100 software titles will be available for the [ST], most written by small software houses that desperately need work", and contrasted the "small, little-known companies" at Las Vegas with the larger ones like Electronic Arts and Activision which planned Amiga programs.
Trip Hawkins of Electronic Arts said "I don't think Atari understands the software business. I'm still skeptical about its resources and its credibility." Although Michael Berlyn of Infocom promised that his company would quickly publish all of its games for the new computer, he doubted that many others would soon do so. Other companies such as Spinnaker Software and Lifetree Software were more positive. Both promised to soon release ST software, with the former reporting that "Atari has a vastly improved attitude toward software developers. They are eager to give us technical support and machines", and the latter stating "we are giving Atari high priority". Some, such as Software Publishing Corporation, were unsure of whether to develop for the ST or the Amiga,while John C. Dvorak wrote that the public saw both Commodore and Atari as selling "cheap disposable" game machines, in part because of their computers' sophisticated graphics.
Atari ST print advertisements stated "America, We Built It For You", and quoted Atari president Sam Tramiel: "We promised. We delivered. With pride, determination, and good old ATARI know how".Although Atari was out of cash, sales of its 8-bit computers were "very, very slow" according to Jack Tramiel, and employees feared that he would shut the company down, the 520ST shipped during spring 1985 to the press, developers, and user groups, and in early July 1985 for general retail sales, saving the company. By November the company stated that it had sold more than 50 thousand 520STs, "with U.S. sales alone well into five figures". The machine had gone from concept to store shelves in a little under a year.
Atari had intended to release versions with 128 KB and 256 KB of RAM as the 130ST and 260ST respectively. However, the ST initially shipped with TOS on disk, requiring 206 KB RAM when loaded, leaving no or little room for applications. The 260ST did make its way into Europe on a limited basis. Early models were designed with six ROM sockets allow easy upgrading to the future ROM-based TOS. These became available only a few months later and were included in all new machines as well as being available as an upgrade for older machines. By late 1985 the machines were also upgraded with the addition of an RF modulator (for TV display), a version known as the 520STM. ST systems before the Mega ST range have no battery-backed clock.
Atari originally intended to include GEM's GDOS (Graphical Device Operating System), which allowed programs to send GEM VDI (Virtual Device Interface) commands to drivers loaded by GDOS. This allowed developers to send VDI instructions to other devices simply by pointing to it. However, GDOS was not ready at the time the ST started shipping and was included in software packages and later ST machines. Later versions of GDOS supported vector fonts.
A limited set of GEM fonts were included in the ROMs, including the standard 8x8 pixel graphical character set for the ST. It contained four unusual characters which can be placed together in a square, forming a facsimile of the face of J. R. "Bob" Dobbs (the figurehead of the Church of the SubGenius).
The ST was less expensive than most machines, including the Macintosh Plus, and tended to be faster than most.Largely as a result of the price/performance factor, the ST would go on to be a fairly popular machine, notably in European markets where the foreign-exchange rates amplified prices. Indeed, the company's English advertising strapline of the era was "power without the price." In fact, an Atari ST and terminal emulation software was much cheaper than a Digital VT220 terminal, which was commonly needed by offices with central computers.
The original 520ST case design was created by Ira Velinsky – Atari's chief Industrial Designer. The ST is wedge-shaped, featuring bold angular lines and a series of grilles cut into the rear for airflow. The keyboard has soft tactile feedback and rhomboid-shaped function keys across the top. The 520ST is an all-in-one unit, similar to earlier home computers like the Commodore 64, but with a larger keyboard with cursor keys and a numeric keypad.
The 520ST uses an external power brick.
The 520ST features a large number of ports mounted at the rear of the machine that remained largely unchanged over the ST's history.
Because of its bi-directional design, the Centronics printer port can be used for joystick input, and several games make use of available adaptors that plugged into the printer socket, providing two additional 9-pin joystick ports.
The ST supports a monochrome or color monitor. The color hardware supports two different resolutions, 320 × 200 with 16 out of 512 colors, or 640 × 200 with 4 out of 512 colors. The monochrome monitor was less expensive and has a single resolution of 640 × 400 at 71.25 Hz. The attached monitor determines available resolutions, so software either supports both types of monitors or only works with one. Color is required by a majority of games.
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Atari initially used single-sided disk drives that could store up to 360 kB. Later drives were double-sided and stored 720 kB. Some commercial software, particularly games, shipped by default on single-sided disks, even supplying two 360kB floppies instead of a single double-sided one, for fear of alienating early adopters.[ citation needed ]
Another sticking point with the ST's floppy drives was that, whilst double-sided drive equipped STs could happily read discs formatted under MS-DOS on IBM PCs, PCs could not themselves read Atari disks, because the initial versions of TOS could recognise, read, and write to – but not themselves create – discs in the same particular specification used and indeed demanded by MS-DOS because of different field usage on the FAT filesystem.[ clarification needed ] Achieving successful data interchange between the two platforms using floppies thus required pre-formatting dedicated file transfer discs under MS-DOS, and copying the necessary data onto them from any unsuitable Atari formatted discs, or by using a conversion utility such as MOSDOS.TOS to adapt an ST disk to make it readable on a PC. This formatting issue was soon resolved by the emergence of third-party formatting and file copier software, MS-DOS disc imaging software capable of reading the unusual formats used by the ST and various other machines (such as the Commodore Amiga) and, a few years later, Atari's own version 1.4 (and later) TOS upgrades.
Atari later upgraded the basic design in 1986 with the 1040STF (also written STF). The machine is generally similar to the earlier 520ST, but moved the power supply and a double-sided floppy drive into the rear of the housing of the computer, as opposed to being external. This added to the size of the machine, but reduced cable clutter in the back. The joystick/mouse ports, formerly on the right side of the machine where the disk drive now sat, were moved to a niche underneath the keyboard.
The 1040ST was the first personal computer shipped with a base RAM configuration of 1 MB. When the list price was reduced to $999 in the U.S. it appeared on the cover of BYTE in March 1986 as the first computer to break the $1000/megabyte price barrier; Compute! noted that, in fact, the 1040ST was the first computer to break the $2500/megabyte price barrier. However, the ST remained generally the same internally over the majority of its several-year lifespan. The choice of model numbers was inherited from the model numbers of the XE series of the Atari 8-bit family of computers. A limited number of 1040STFs shipped with a single-sided floppy drive.[ citation needed ]
The same basic design was also used for a cut-down version, the 512 kB 520STFM, which replaced the earlier 520ST models in the market. The early 'STF' machines lack the 'M' modulator that allows a TV to be used and will only work with a monitor.
Initial sales were strong, especially in Europe where Atari sold 75% of its computers. Germany became Atari's strongest market,with small business users using them for desktop publishing and CAD.
To address this growing market segment, Atari came up with the ST1. Debuted at Comdex in 1986, it was received favorably. Renamed the Mega, this new machine includes a high-quality detached keyboard, a stronger case to support the weight of a monitor, and an internal bus expansion connector. A 20 MB hard drive called the SH204 could be purchased as an option and stacked below or above the main case of the Mega. The upcoming SLM804 laser printer would not come with a processor or memory, reducing costs. It would attach to the Mega through the ST DMA port and require the Mega computer to render the pages. As TOS was not a multitasking OS, this meant the computer could not be used while printing. Initially equipped with 2 or 4 MB (a 1 MB version, the Mega 1 would later follow), the Mega machines would complement the Atari laser printer for a low-cost desktop publishing package, which received acclaim and was featured on the cover of Computer Shopper magazine.
A custom blitter co-processor was to be included to speed the performance of some graphics operations on the screen, but due to delays it was eventually released on the Mega 2 and Mega 4 machines. Developers wanting to use it had to detect for it in their programs because it was not present on all machines. However, properly written programs using the screen VDI commands can use the blitter seamlessly, since GEM API is a higher-level interface to TOS.
In late 1989, Atari released the 520STE and 1040STE (also written STE), enhanced version of the ST with improvements to the multimedia hardware and operating system. It features an increased color palette of 4,096 colors from the ST's 512 (though the maximum displayable palette of these without programming tricks was still limited to 16 in the lowest 320x200 resolution, and even fewer in higher resolutions), Genlock support, and a blitter co-processor (stylized as "BLiTTER") which can quickly move large blocks of data (most particularly, graphics data) around in RAM. The STE was the first Atari with PCM audio; using a new chip, it added the ability to play back 8-bit (signed) samples at 6258 Hz, 12517 Hz, 25033 Hz and even 50066 Hz, via DMA (Direct Memory Addressing). The channels are arranged as either a mono track or a track of LRLRLRLR... bytes. RAM was now much more simply upgradable via SIMMs.
Two enhanced joystick ports were added (two normal joysticks can be plugged into each port with an adapter), with the new connectors placed in more easily accessed locations on the side of the case. The enhanced joystick ports were re-used in Atari's Jaguar console and are compatible.[ citation needed ]
The STE models initially had software and hardware conflicts resulting in some applications and video games written for the ST line being unstable or even completely unusable, primarily caused by programming direct hardware calls which bypassed the operating system. Furthermore, even having a joystick plugged in would sometimes cause strange behavior with a few applications (such as the WYSIWYG word-processor application 1st Word Plus). Very little use was made of the extra features of the STE: STE-enhanced and STE-only software was rare.[ citation needed ]
The last STE machine, the Mega STE , is an STE in a grey Atari TT case that had a switchable 16 MHz, dual-bus design (16-bit external, 32-bit internal), optional Motorola 68881 FPU, built-in 3½-inch floppy disk drive, VME expansion slot, a network port (very similar to that used by Apple's LocalTalk) and an optional built-in 3½" hard drive. It also shipped with TOS 2.00 (better support for hard drives, enhanced desktop interface, memory test, 1.44 MB floppy support, bug fixes). It was marketed as more affordable than a TT but more powerful than an ordinary ST.
In 1990, Atari released the high-end workstation-oriented Atari TT030, based on a 32 MHz Motorola 68030 processor. The "TT" name ("Thirty-two/Thirty-two") continued the nomenclature system as the 68030 chip had full 32-bit wide buses both internally and externally. Originally planned with a 68020 CPU, the TT included improved graphics and more powerful support chips. The case was a new design with an integrated hard-drive enclosure.
The final ST computer is the multimedia-capable Atari Falcon030. Like the TT, this was also 68030-based, operating at 16 MHz, but with improved video modes and an on-board Motorola 56001 audio digital signal processor. The Falcon, like the Atari STE, supports sampling frequencies above 44.1 kHz; the sampling master clock is 98340 Hz, which can be divided by a number between 2 and 16 to get the actual sampling frequencies. Apart from these frequencies, it is also able to play the STE sample frequencies (up to 50066 Hz) in 8 or 16 bit, mono/stereo, all by using the same DMA interface as the STE, with a few additions. The Falcon can both play back and record samples; it has 8 mono channels / 4 stereo channels; thus this allowed musicians to use the computer for harddisk recording. Although the 68030 microprocessor is capable of using 32-bit memory, the Falcon uses a 16-bit bus which affects performance, but also served to reduce its cost. In another cost-reduction measure, Atari shipped the Falcon in an inexpensive case much like that of the STF and STE. Aftermarket upgrade kits were available that allowed the Falcon to be put in a desktop or rack-mount case, with the keyboard separate.
Released in 1992, the Falcon was discontinued by Atari the following year. In Europe, C-Lab licensed the Falcon design from Atari, and released the C-Lab Falcon Mk I (the same as Atari's Falcon except for some slight modifications to the audio circuitry), Mk II (as Mk I but with an internal 500 MB SCSI hard disk) and Mk X (as Mk II but in a desktop case). The C-Lab Falcons were also imported to the US by at least some Atari dealers.
As with the Atari 8-bit computers, —as Compute! reported in 1988—the belief in the existence of a "higher-than-normal amount of software piracy". That year WordPerfect threatened to discontinue the Atari ST version of its word processor because the company discovered that pirate bulletin board systems (BBSs) were distributing it, causing ST-Log to warn that "we had better put a stop to piracy now ... it can have harmful effects on the longevity and health of your computer". In 1989 magazines published a letter by Gilman Louie, head of Spectrum Holobyte. He stated that he had been warned by competitors that releasing a game like Falcon on the ST would fail because BBSs would widely disseminate it. Within 30 days of releasing the non-copy protected ST version, the game was available on BBSs with maps and code wheels. Because the ST market was smaller than that for the IBM PC it was more vulnerable to piracy which, Louie said, seemed to be better organized and more widely accepted for the ST. He reported that the Amiga version sold in six weeks twice as much as the ST version in nine weeks, and that the Mac and PC versions had four times the sales. Computer Gaming World stated "This is certainly the clearest exposition ... we have seen to date" of why software companies produced less software for the ST than for other computers.software publishers attributed their reluctance to produce Atari ST products in part to
The ST has built-in MIDI ports, and there was plenty of MIDI-related software for use professionally in music studios, or by amateur enthusiasts. The popular Windows/Macintosh applications Cubase and Logic Pro originated on the Atari ST (the latter as Notator Logic, preceded by Creator, Notator and Notator-SL). Another popular and powerful ST music sequencer application, Dr. T's KCS, contains a "Multi-Program Environment" that allows ST users to run other applications, such as the synthesizer patch editing software XoR (now known as Unisyn on the Macintosh), from within the sequencer application.
Music tracker software was popular on the ST, such as the TCB Tracker, aiding the production of quality music from the Yamaha synthesizer ('chiptunes').
An innovative music composition program that combines the sample playing abilities of a tracker with conventional music notation (which was usually only found in MIDI software) is called Quartet (after its four-note polyphonic tracker, which displays one monophonic stave at a time on color screens).
Due to the ST having comparatively large amounts of memory for the time, sound sampling packages became a realistic proposition. The Microdeal Replay Professional product features a sound sampler that cleverly uses the ST cartridge port to read in parallel from the cartridge port from the ADC. For output of digital sound, it uses the on-board frequency output, sets it to 128 kHz (inaudible) and then modulates the amplitude of that.
Another program that had success on the ST platform is MasterTracks Pro from Passport Designs, of Half Moon Bay, CA., that was first put out by Don Williams for the Macintosh. When the ST died, a PC version continued that one could port MIDI to using the generic .MID format. GVox bought out Passport, and continues the program for Windows and macOS along with the other Passport product, the notation program Encore .
Also popular on the ST was professional desktop publishing software, such as PageStream and Calamus ; office tools such as word processors ( WordPerfect , Microsoft Write , AtariWorks , WordWriter ST , First Word [shipped with the machine] and its Plus continuation, and others); spreadsheets ( 3D-Calc , LDW Power , LDW Power 2 , LOGiSTiX Senior , PowerLedger ST , SwiftCalc ST , VIP Professional , and others); turnkey programs ( Mail-Pro , Sales-Pro 6 , Video-Pro , and others); database programs ( A-Calc Prime , Data Manager , Data Manager Professional , DBMan V , Base Two , H&DBase , Informer II , DB Master One , SBT Database Accounting Library ( dLedger , dInvoice , dOrder , dPurchases , and dPayables), Superbase Personal , Superbase Professional , Tracker ST , Zoomracks and others); and various CAD and CAM tools from amateur hobbyist to professional grade (Campus CAD, DynaCADD, Leonard ST, Technobox CAD/2...): all being largely targeted at, or even limited to owners of high-resolution monochrome monitors.
Graphics programs such as NEOchrome , Degas & Degas Elite, Canvas, Deluxe Paint , and Cyber Paint (which author Jim Kent would later evolve into Autodesk Animator )featured advanced features such as 3D design and animation. One paint program, Spectrum 512 , uses the ST's rapid palette switching ability to expand the maximum number of colors to be displayed on-screen at once to 512 (up to 46 in each scan line.
3D computer graphics applications (like Cyber Studio CAD-3D , which author Tom Hudson would later develop into Autodesk 3D Studio – low frame rate, mainly silent and monochrome, but progressing to sound and basic color (in still frames) by the end of the machine's life. At the end, Spectrum 512 and CAD-3D teamed up to produce realistic 512-color textured 3D renderings, but processing was slow, and Atari's failure to deliver a machine with a math coprocessor had Hudson and Yost looking towards the PC as the future before a finished product could be delivered to the consumer.), brought 3D modelling, sculpting, scripting, and computer animation to the desktop. Video-capture and -editing applications using special video-capture 'dongles' connected using the cartridge port
The Atari ST was the computer upon which today's prevalent graphical touchscreen point of sale software for restaurants was originally developed. This software was created by Gene Mosher under the ViewTouchcopyright and trademark. It does not feature the Atari ST's GEM graphical user interface but, instead, features an application specific graphical user interface and widget framework which he developed using, in part, the Neochrome paint program.
The initial development kit from Atari included a computer and manuals. The $5,000 cost discouraged many from developing software for the ST. Later, the Atari Developer's Kit consisted of software and manuals (but no hardware) for $300. Included with the kit were a resource kit, C compiler (first Alcyon C, then Mark Williams C), debugger, and 68000 assembler (plus the non-disclosure agreement). The third-party Megamax C development package reduced the cost of entry to $200.
The ST came bundled with a system disk that contained ST BASIC, the first BASIC for the ST. However, due to its poor performance, users favored other BASICs, such as HiSoft BASIC, GFA BASIC, FaST BASIC (notable for being one of the few programs to be supplied as a ROM cartridge), DBASIC, and STOS , which then inspired and led to the creation of AMOS on the Amiga,and was powerful enough that it was used (with a compiler, opposed to its usual runtime interpreter) for the production of at least two commercial titles and a host of good quality shareware and public domain games. In the late years of the Atari ST Omikron Basic was bundled with it in Germany.
Other development tools include 68000 assemblers (MadMac from Atari Corp, HiSoft Systems's Devpac, TurboAss, GFA-Assembler), Pascal (OSS Personal Pascal, Maxon Pascal, PurePascal), Modula-2, C compilers (Lattice C, Megamax C, GNU C, Aztec C, AHCC), LISP, Prolog, Logo, and others.
The ST enjoyed success in gaming due to the low cost, fast performance, and colorful graphics. Notable individuals who developed games on the ST include Peter Molyneux, Doug Bell, Jeff Minter, Éric Chahi, Jez San, and David Braben.
The realtime pseudo-3D role-playing video game Dungeon Master , was developed and released first on the ST, and was the best-selling software ever produced for the platform.[ citation needed ] Simulation games like Falcon and Flight Simulator II made use of the ST's graphics, as did many arcade ports. Proto first person shooter MIDI Maze , uses the MIDI ports to connect up to 16 machines for networked deathmatch play. The critically acclaimed Another World was originally released for ST and Amiga in 1991 with the engine developed on the ST and the rotoscoped animations created on the Amiga. Games simultaneously released on the Amiga that didn't use the Amiga's superior graphics and sound capabilities were often accused by video game magazines of simply being ST ports.[ citation needed ]
Garry Kasparov became the first player to register the commercial ChessBase , a popular commercial database program produced for storing and searching records of games of chess. The first version was built for Atari ST with his collaboration in January 1987.In his autobiography Child of Change, he regards this facility as "the most important development in chess research since printing."
Spectre GCR lets the ST emulate the Macintosh. There were also MS-DOS emulators released in the late 1980s. PC-Ditto came in two versions: software-only, and a hardware version that plugs into the cartridge slot or kludges internally. After running the PC-Ditto software, a DOS boot disk is required to load the system. Both allow users to run DOS programs in CGA mode, though much more slowly than on an IBM PC. Other options are the PC-Speed (NEC V30), AT-Speed (Intel 80286) and ATonce-386SX (Intel 80386sx) hardware emulator boards.
The ST's low cost, built-in MIDI ports, and fast, low-latency response times made it a favorite with musicians:
All STs are made up of both custom and commercial chips:
As originally released in the 520ST:
Very early machines included the OS on a floppy disk due to it not being ready to be burned to ROM (like the Amiga 1000 had). This early version of TOS was bootstrapped from a very small core boot ROM, but this was quickly replaced with (expanded capacity) ROM versions of TOS 1.0 when it was ready. (This change was also greatly welcomed as older ST machines with memory below 512 kB suffered, as GEM loaded its entire 192 kB code into RAM when booting the desktop). Having the OS loaded from disk was due to Atari trying to rush the machines to market without ironing out all the bugs in the OS. Soon after this change, most production models became STFs, with an integrated single- (520STF/512 kB RAM) or double-sided (1040STF/1024 kB RAM) double density floppy disk drive built-in, but no other changes. The next later models used an upgraded version of TOS: 1.02 (also known as TOS 1.2). Another early addition (after about 6 months) was an RF Modulator that allows the machine to be hooked to a color TV when run in its low or medium resolution (525/625 line 60/50 Hz interlace, even on RGB monitors) modes, greatly enhancing the machine's saleability and perceived value (no need to buy a prohibitively expensive, even if exceptionally crisp and clear, monitor). These models were known as the 520STM (or 520STM). Later F and FM models of the 520 had a built-in double-sided disk drive instead of a single-sided one.
As originally released in the 520STE/1040STE:
The members of the ST family are listed below, in roughly chronological order:
The 130ST was intended to be a 128 KB variant. It was announced at the 1985 CES alongside the 520ST but never produced. The 4160STE was a 1040STE, but with 4 MB of RAM. A small quantity of development units were produced, but the system was never officially released.
Atari Transputer Workstation is a standalone machine developed in conjunction with Perihelion Hardware, containing modified ST hardware and up to 17 transputers capable of massively parallel operations for tasks such as ray tracing.
Following Atari's exit from the computer market, both Medusa Computer Systems and Milan Computer manufactured Atari Falcon/TT-compatible machines that used 68040 and 68060 processors. The FireBee is an Atari ST/TT clone based on the Coldfire processor. The GE-Soft Eagle is a 32 MHz TT clone.
The Amiga 500, also known as the A500, is the first low-end Commodore Amiga 16/32-bit multimedia home/personal computer. It was announced at the winter Consumer Electronics Show in January 1987 – at the same time as the high-end Amiga 2000 – and competed directly against the Atari 520ST. Before it shipped Commodore suggested a list price of US$595.95 without a monitor. At delivery in October 1987 Commodore announced that the machine would carry a US$699/£499 list price.
The Commodore 64, also known as the C64 or the CBM 64, is an 8-bit home computer introduced in January 1982 by Commodore International. It has been listed in the Guinness World Records as the highest-selling single computer model of all time, with independent estimates placing the number sold between 10 and 17 million units. Volume production started in early 1982, marketing in August for US$595. Preceded by the Commodore VIC-20 and Commodore PET, the C64 took its name from its 64 kilobytes(65,536 bytes) of RAM. With support for multicolor sprites and a custom chip for waveform generation, the C64 could create superior visuals and audio compared to systems without such custom hardware.
The Amiga 600, also known as the A600, is a home computer that was introduced at the CeBIT show in March 1992. The A600 is Commodore International's final model based on the Motorola 68000 CPU and the ECS chipset. It is essentially a redesign of the Amiga 500 Plus, with the option of an internal hard disk drive and a PCMCIA port. A notable aspect of the A600 is its small size. Lacking a numeric keypad, the A600 is only slightly larger than a standard PC keyboard. It shipped with AmigaOS 2.0, which was generally considered more user-friendly than earlier versions of the operating system.
The Amiga 2000, or A2000, is a personal computer released by Commodore in March 1987. It was introduced as a "big box" expandable variant of the Amiga 1000 but quickly redesigned to share most of its electronic components with the contemporary Amiga 500 for cost reduction. Expansion capabilities include two 3.5" drive bays and one 5.25" bay that can be used by a 5.25" floppy drive, a hard drive, or CD-ROM once they became available.
The Mindset, released in spring 1984, was an Intel 80186-based MS-DOS personal computer. Unlike other IBM PC compatibles of the time, it had custom graphics hardware supporting 16 simultaneous colors, and hardware-accelerated drawing capabilities including a blitter which allowed it to update the screen 50 times as fast as a CGA adaptor in a standard PC. The basic unit was priced at US$1,798. It was conceptually similar to the more successful Commodore Amiga released over a year later, due to financial and legal complications.
The Commodore 65 is a prototype computer created at Commodore Business Machines in 1990-1991. It is an improved version of the Commodore 64, and it was meant to be backwards-compatible with the older computer, while still providing a number of advanced features close to those of the Amiga.
The Atari TT030 is a member of the Atari ST family, released in 1990. It was originally intended to be a high-end Unix workstation, however Atari took two years to release a port of Unix SVR4 for the TT, which prevented the TT from ever being seriously considered in its intended market.
The Atari Coldfire Project (ACP) is a volunteer project that has created a modern Atari ST computer clone called the FireBee.
Amiga Corporation was a United States computer company formed in the early 1980s as Hi-Toro. It is most famous for having developed the Amiga computer, code named Lorraine.
The Amiga computer can be used to emulate several other computer platforms, including legacy platforms such as the Commodore 64, and its contemporary rivals such as the IBM PC and the Macintosh.
Minimig is an open source re-implementation of an Amiga 500 using a field-programmable gate array (FPGA).
The Amiga 4000T, also known as A4000T, is a tower version of Commodore's A4000 personal computer. Using the AGA chipset, it was originally released in small quantities in 1994 with a 25 MHz Motorola 68040 CPU, and re-released in greater numbers by Escom in 1995, after Commodore's demise, along with a new variant which featured a 50 MHz Motorola 68060 CPU. Despite the subsequent demise of Escom, production was continued by QuikPak in North America into at least 1997.
TOS is the operating system of the Atari ST range of computers. This range includes the 520ST and 1040ST, their STF/M/FM and STE variants and the Mega ST/STE. Later, 32-bit machines were developed using a new version of TOS, called MultiTOS, which allowed multitasking. More recently, users have further developed TOS into FreeMiNT.
The STacy was a portable version of the Atari ST.
The Amiga 1200, or A1200, is a personal computer in the Amiga computer family released by Commodore International, aimed at the home computer market. It was launched on October 21, 1992, at a base price of £399 in the United Kingdom and $599 in the United States.
This was the last classic Amiga compatible chipset that Commodore announced in 1992. They planned to release it in 1994 for low end Amiga computers along with AAA.
The Amiga CD32, styled Amiga CD32 and code-named "Spellbound", is a 32 bit home video game console developed by Commodore and released in western Europe, Australia, Canada and Brazil. It was first announced at the Science Museum in London on July 16, 1993, and was released in September of the same year.
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