Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Atari ST

Atari ST

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Atari ST'
Start a new discussion about 'Atari ST'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The Atari ST is a home
Home computer
Home computers were a class of microcomputers entering the market in 1977, and becoming increasingly 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...

/personal computer
Personal computer
A personal computer is any general-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and original sales price make it useful for individuals, and which is intended to be operated directly by an end-user with no intervening computer operator...

 that was released by Atari Corporation
Atari Corporation
Atari Corporation was a manufacturer of computers and video game consoles from 1984 to 1996. Atari Corp. was founded in July of 1984 when Warner Communications sold the home computing and game console divisions of Atari to Jack Tramiel. Its chief products were the Atari ST, Atari XE, Atari 7800,...

 in 1985 and commercially available from that summer into the early 1990s. The "ST" officially stands for "Sixteen/Thirty-two", which referred to the Motorola 68000
Motorola 68000
The Motorola 68000 is a 16/32-bit CISC microprocessor core designed and marketed by Freescale Semiconductor...

's 16-bit external bus and 32-bit internals. Due to its graphical user inferface
Gui
Gui or guee is a generic term to refer to grilled dishes in Korean cuisine. These most commonly have meat or fish as their primary ingredient, but may in some cases also comprise grilled vegetables or other vegetarian ingredients. The term derives from the verb, "gupda" in Korean, which literally...

, it was known as the “Jackintosh”, a reference to Jack Tramiel
Jack Tramiel
Jack Tramiel is an American businessman, best known for founding Commodore International - manufacturer of the Commodore PET, Commodore 64, Commodore 128, Commodore Amiga, and other Commodore models of home computers.-Biography:...

.

The Atari ST was part of the 16/32 bit generation of home computer
Home computer
Home computers were a class of microcomputers entering the market in 1977, and becoming increasingly 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...

s, based on the Motorola 68000
Motorola 68000
The Motorola 68000 is a 16/32-bit CISC microprocessor core designed and marketed by Freescale Semiconductor...

 CPU
Central processing unit
The central processing unit is the portion of a computer system that carries out the instructions of a computer program, to perform the basic arithmetical, logical, and input/output operations of the system. The CPU plays a role somewhat analogous to the brain in the computer. The term has been in...

, with 512 KB
Kilobyte
The kilobyte is a multiple of the unit byte for digital information. Although the prefix kilo- means 1000, the term kilobyte and symbol KB have historically been used to refer to either 1024 bytes or 1000 bytes, dependent upon context, in the fields of computer science and information...

 of RAM or more, and 3½" double-sided double-density floppy disk
Floppy disk
A floppy disk is a disk storage medium composed of a disk of thin and flexible magnetic storage medium, sealed in a rectangular plastic carrier lined with fabric that removes dust particles...

s as storage (nominally 720 KB). It was similar to other contemporary machines which used the Motorola 68000, the Apple Macintosh
Macintosh
The Macintosh , or Mac, is a series of several lines of personal computers designed, developed, and marketed by Apple Inc. The first Macintosh was introduced by Apple's then-chairman Steve Jobs on January 24, 1984; it was the first commercially successful personal computer to feature a mouse and a...

 and the Commodore Amiga
Amiga
The Amiga is a family of personal computers that was sold by Commodore in the 1980s and 1990s. The first model was launched in 1985 as a high-end home computer and became popular for its graphical, audio and multi-tasking abilities...

. Preceding the Amiga's commercial release by almost two months, the Atari ST was the first computer to come with a fully bit-mapped color GUI, using a version of Digital Research's
Digital Research
Digital Research, Inc. was the company created by Dr. Gary Kildall to market and develop his CP/M operating system and related products. It was the first large software company in the microcomputer world...

 GEM
Graphical Environment Manager
GEM was a windowing system created by Digital Research, Inc. for use with the CP/M operating system on the Intel 8088 and Motorola 68000 microprocessors...

 released that February.

The ST was primarily a competitor to the Apple Macintosh and the Commodore Amiga systems. This platform rivalry was often reflected by the owners and was most prominent in the Demo Scene. Where the Amiga had custom processors which gave it the edge in the games and video market, the ST was generally cheaper, had the CPU slightly faster clocked, and had a high-resolution monochrome display mode, ideal for business and CAD
Computer-aided design
Computer-aided design , also known as computer-aided design and drafting , is the use of computer technology for the process of design and design-documentation. Computer Aided Drafting describes the process of drafting with a computer...

. In some markets, particularly Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, the machine gained a strong foothold as a small business
Small business
A small business is a business that is privately owned and operated, with a small number of employees and relatively low volume of sales. Small businesses are normally privately owned corporations, partnerships, or sole proprietorships...

 machine for CAD and Desktop publishing
Desktop publishing
Desktop publishing is the creation of documents using page layout software on a personal computer.The term has been used for publishing at all levels, from small-circulation documents such as local newsletters to books, magazines and newspapers...

 work. The Atari ST also enjoyed some market popularity in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

.

The ST was also the first home computer with integrated MIDI
Musical Instrument Digital Interface
MIDI is an industry-standard protocol, first defined in 1982 by Gordon Hall, that enables electronic musical instruments , computers and other electronic equipment to communicate and synchronize with each other...

 support. Thanks to its built-in MIDI, it enjoyed success for running music-sequencer
Music sequencer
The music sequencer is a device or computer software to record, edit, play back the music, by handling note and performance information in several forms, typically :...

 software and as a controller
MIDI controller
MIDI controller is used in two senses.*In one sense, a controller is hardware or software which generates and transmits MIDI data to MIDI-enabled devices....

 of musical instrument
Musical instrument
A musical instrument is a device created or adapted for the purpose of making musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates back to the...

s among amateurs and professionals alike, being used in concert by bands and performers such as Jean Michel Jarre
Jean Michel Jarre
Jean Michel André Jarre is a French composer, performer and music producer. He is a pioneer in the electronic, ambient and New Age genres, and known as an organiser of outdoor spectacles of his music featuring lights, laser displays, and fireworks.Jarre was raised in Lyon by his mother and...

, Madonna
Madonna (entertainer)
Madonna is an American singer-songwriter, actress and entrepreneur. Born in Bay City, Michigan, she moved to New York City in 1977 to pursue a career in modern dance. After performing in the music groups Breakfast Club and Emmy, she released her debut album in 1983...

, Tangerine Dream
Tangerine Dream
Tangerine Dream is a German electronic music group founded in 1967 by Edgar Froese. The band has undergone many personnel changes over the years, with Froese being the only continuous member...

, Fatboy Slim
Fatboy Slim
Norman Quentin Cook better known by his former stage name Fatboy Slim, is a British DJ, electronic dance music musician, and record producer. He is a pioneer of the big beat genre that achieved mainstream popularity in the 1990s...

, and 1990s UK dance act 808 State
808 State
808 State are a British electronic music outfit, formed in 1987 in Manchester, taking their name from the Roland TR-808 drum machine and their common state of mind...

, as well as naming German digital hardcore
Digital hardcore
Digital hardcore is a subgenre of hardcore punk incorporating influences from electronic music. Digital hardcore fuses elements of hardcore punk with various forms of electronic music...

 band Atari Teenage Riot
Atari Teenage Riot
'Atari Teenage Riot' is a German digital hardcore group formed in Berlin in 1992. The name was taken from a Portuguese Joe song 'Teenage Riot' from the 'Teen-age Riot' album, with the word 'Atari' added as an Atari ST computer was used to create compositions...

.

The ST was later superseded by the Atari STE, Atari TT, Atari MEGA STE
Atari MEGA STE
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...

 and Falcon
Atari Falcon
The Atari Falcon030 Computer System was Atari Corporation's final computer product. Codenamed Sparrow, the machine was 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.-History:The...

 computers.

Amiga contract


The Atari ST was born from the rivalry between home-computer makers Atari, Inc. and Commodore International
Commodore International
Commodore is the commonly used name for Commodore Business Machines , the U.S.-based home computer manufacturer and electronics manufacturer headquartered in West Chester, Pennsylvania, which also housed Commodore's corporate parent company, Commodore International Limited...

. Jay Miner
Jay Miner
Jay Glenn Miner , was a famous integrated circuit designer, known primarily for his work in multimedia chips and as the "father of the Amiga"...

, one of the original designers for the custom chips found in the Atari 2600
Atari 2600
The Atari 2600 is a video game console released in October 1977 by Atari, Inc. It is credited with popularizing the use of microprocessor-based hardware and cartridges containing game code, instead of having non-microprocessor dedicated hardware with all games built in...

 and Atari 8-bit family
Atari 8-bit family
The Atari 8-bit family is a series of 8-bit home computers manufactured from 1979 to 1992. All are based on the MOS Technology 6502 CPU and were the first home computers designed with custom coprocessor chips...

, 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
Think tank
A think tank is an organization that conducts research and engages in advocacy in areas such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, and technology issues. Most think tanks are non-profit organizations, which some countries such as the United States and Canada provide with tax...

 called Hi-Toro in 1982 and began designing the new "Lorraine" chipset. The company, which was later renamed Amiga Corporation
Amiga Corporation
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.-History:...

, 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
Warner Communications
Warner Communications or Warner Communications, Inc. was established in 1971 when Kinney National Company spun off its non-entertainment assets, due to a financial scandal over its parking operations and changed its name....

, 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".

Tramel Technology


After leaving Commodore International
Commodore International
Commodore is the commonly used name for Commodore Business Machines , the U.S.-based home computer manufacturer and electronics manufacturer headquartered in West Chester, Pennsylvania, which also housed Commodore's corporate parent company, Commodore International Limited...

 in January 1984 Jack Tramiel
Jack Tramiel
Jack Tramiel is an American businessman, best known for founding Commodore International - manufacturer of the Commodore PET, Commodore 64, Commodore 128, Commodore Amiga, and other Commodore models of home computers.-Biography:...

 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
National Semiconductor
National Semiconductor was an American semiconductor manufacturer, that specialized in analog devices and subsystems,formerly headquartered in Santa Clara, California, USA. The products of National Semiconductor included power management circuits, display drivers, audio and operational amplifiers,...

 NS320xx
NS320xx
The 320xx or NS32000 was a series of microprocessors from National Semiconductor . They were likely the first 32-bit general-purpose microprocessors on the market, but due to a number of factors never managed to become a major player...

 microprocessor, but was disappointed with its performance. This started the move to the 68000.

Tramiel learned that Warner wanted to sell Atari, which in mid-1984 was losing about a million dollars per day. Interested in Atari's overseas manufacturing and world wide 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
Atari Corporation
Atari Corporation was a manufacturer of computers and video game consoles from 1984 to 1996. Atari Corp. was founded in July of 1984 when Warner Communications sold the home computing and game console divisions of Atari to Jack Tramiel. Its chief products were the Atari ST, Atari XE, Atari 7800,...

, Commodore responded by filing lawsuits against four former engineers for theft of trade secrets. This was intended to, in effect, bar Tramiel from releasing his new computer.

One of Tramiel's first acts after forming Atari Corp. was to fire most of Atari's remaining staff and cancel almost all ongoing projects in order to review their continued viability. It was during this time in late July/early August that his representatives 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).

Commodore and Amiga


Having heard rumors that Tramiel was negotiating to buy Atari, Amiga Corp. entered in to 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 developed, and the hardware design completed. While Commodore announced the Amiga 1000
Amiga 1000
The A1000, or Commodore Amiga 1000, was Commodore's initial Amiga personal computer, introduced on July 23, 1985 at the Lincoln Center in New York City....

 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.

The operating system


With the hardware design nearing completion, the Atari team started looking at solutions for the operating system
Operating system
An operating system is a set of programs that manage computer hardware resources and provide common services for application software. The operating system is the most important type of system software in a computer system...

. Soon after the Atari buyout, Microsoft
Microsoft
Microsoft Corporation is an American public multinational corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, USA that develops, manufactures, licenses, and supports a wide range of products and services predominantly related to computing through its various product divisions...

 approached Tramiel with the suggestion that they port Windows
Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Windows is a series of operating systems produced by Microsoft.Microsoft introduced an operating environment named Windows on November 20, 1985 as an add-on to MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces . Microsoft Windows came to dominate the world's personal...

 to the platform, but the delivery date was out by about two years, far too long for their needs. Another possibility was Digital Research
Digital Research
Digital Research, Inc. was the company created by Dr. Gary Kildall to market and develop his CP/M operating system and related products. It was the first large software company in the microcomputer world...

, who were working on a new GUI-based system then known as Crystal, soon to become GEM
Graphical Environment Manager
GEM was a windowing system created by Digital Research, Inc. for use with the CP/M operating system on the Intel 8088 and Motorola 68000 microprocessors...

. 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" (aka — The Operating System) for the Atari ST line of computers. The name came from the original designer and developer, Jason Loveman. Tim Oren has an article describing the history of the project, from his series "Professional GEM."

CP/M-68K was essentially a direct port of CP/M
CP/M
CP/M was a mass-market operating system created for Intel 8080/85 based microcomputers by Gary Kildall of Digital Research, Inc...

's original, mature operating system. By 1985, it was becoming increasingly outdated in comparison to MS-DOS 2.0; for instance, CP/M did not support sub-directories. Digital Research was also in the process of building a new DOS
DOS
DOS, short for "Disk Operating System", is an acronym for several closely related operating systems that dominated the IBM PC compatible market between 1981 and 1995, or until about 2000 if one includes the partially DOS-based Microsoft Windows versions 95, 98, and Millennium Edition.Related...

-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 TOS
Atari TOS
TOS is the operating system of the Atari ST range of computers. This range includes the 520 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...

 (The Operating System) and colloquially known as the (Tramiel Operating System). This was beneficial as it gave the ST a fast, hierarchical file system, essential for hard drive storage disks, plus programmers had function calls similar to the IBM PC
IBM PC
The IBM Personal Computer, commonly known as the IBM PC, is the original version and progenitor of the IBM PC compatible hardware platform. It is IBM model number 5150, and was introduced on August 12, 1981...

 DOS.

Debut of the ST


After six months of intensive effort following Tramiel's takeover, Atari announced the 520ST at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show
Consumer Electronics Show
The International Consumer Electronics Show is a major technology-related trade show held each January in the Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. Not open to the public, the Consumer Electronics Association-sponsored show typically hosts previews of products and new...

 in Las Vegas
Las Vegas metropolitan area
The Las Vegas Valley is the heart of the Las Vegas-Paradise, NV MSA also known as the Las Vegas–Paradise–Henderson MSA which includes all of Clark County, Nevada, and is a metropolitan area in the southern part of the U.S. state of Nevada. The Valley is defined by the Las Vegas Valley landform, a ...

 in January 1985. Due to its similarities to the original Apple Macintosh and Jack Tramiel's role in its development, it was quickly nicknamed the "Jackintosh". Many observers were amazed by Atari's rapid development of the ST and its powerful features but others were more skeptical, citing the ST's "cheap" appearance, the poor relations Commodore under Tramiel had had with software developers, and Atari's uncertain financial health. The majority of software companies were hesitant to support another platform beyond the IBM PC
IBM PC
The IBM Personal Computer, commonly known as the IBM PC, is the original version and progenitor of the IBM PC compatible hardware platform. It is IBM model number 5150, and was introduced on August 12, 1981...

, Apple, and Commodore 64
Commodore 64
The Commodore 64 is an 8-bit home computer introduced by Commodore International in January 1982.Volume production started in the spring of 1982, with machines being released on to the market in August at a price of US$595...

, and some were unsure of whether to choose the ST or the Amiga.

Although Atari was out of cash and its employees feared that Tramiel would shut the company down, the 520ST shipped during spring 1985 to the press and developers and then in early July 1985 for general retail sales, saving the company. The machine had gone from concept to store shelves in a little under a year. Atari had originally intended to release versions with 128 KB and 256 KB of RAM as the 130ST and 260ST respectively. However, with the OS loaded from floppy into RAM, there would be little or no room left over for applications to run. The 260ST did make its way into Europe on a limited basis.

The ST could support a monochrome or color monitor. The former was less expensive, and had a higher resolution with its 640×400. Due to its flicker-free operation at 72 Hz, the monochrome monitor was better suited to business applications. The hardware supported two different color resolutions, 320×200 with 16 out of 512 colors, or 640×200 with 4 out of 512 colors. Color was required by majority of games.

Early models shipped with TOS on disk, but were designed with ROM
Read-only memory
Read-only memory is a class of storage medium used in computers and other electronic devices. Data stored in ROM cannot be modified, or can be modified only slowly or with difficulty, so it is mainly used to distribute firmware .In its strictest sense, ROM refers only...

 sockets to make for 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 to upgrade older machines. By late 1985 the machines were also upgraded with the addition of an RF modulator
RF modulator
An RF modulator is a device that takes a baseband input signal and outputs a radio frequency-modulated signal....

 (for TV display), a version known as the 520STM.

Atari had 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 also included within the ROMs. These fonts also featured two additions:


  • The standard 8x8 pixel graphical character set for the ST (the main in-ROM "font" for GEM, and text-mode TOS operations in color modes) contains, following all the standard numbers, letters, symbols and accented characters, four unusual characters. These can be placed together in a square, forming a basic but recognisable facsimile of the face of J. R. "Bob" Dobbs, the figurehead of the Church of the Subgenius
    Church of the SubGenius
    The Church of the SubGenius is a "parody religion" organization that satirizes religion, conspiracy theories, unidentified flying objects, and popular culture. Originally based in Dallas, Texas, the Church of the SubGenius gained prominence in the 1980s and 1990s and maintains an active presence on...

    .
  • Jack Tramiel chose to include the Hebrew alphabet
    Hebrew alphabet
    The Hebrew alphabet , known variously by scholars as the Jewish script, square script, block script, or more historically, the Assyrian script, is used in the writing of the Hebrew language, as well as other Jewish languages, most notably Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic. There have been two...

     with ST's ROM character set because of his Jewish heritage.


On the plus side, the ST was less expensive than most machines, including the Macintosh Plus, and tended to be faster than most (external link: price comparison). 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
Digital Equipment Corporation
Digital Equipment Corporation was a major American company in the computer industry and a leading vendor of computer systems, software and peripherals from the 1960s to the 1990s...

 VT220
VT220
The VT220 was a terminal produced by Digital Equipment Corporation from 1983 to 1987.-Hardware:The VT220 improved on the earlier VT100 series of terminals with a redesigned keyboard, much smaller physical packaging, and a much faster microprocessor...

 terminal, which was commonly needed by offices with central computers.

Original housing



The original 520ST case design was created by Ira Velinski — Atari's chief Industrial Designer. The ST was basically wedge shaped, featuring bold angular lines and a series of grilles cut into the rear for airflow. The keyboard had soft tactile feedback and rhomboid-shaped function keys across the top. The 520ST was an all-in-one unit, similar to earlier home computers like the Commodore 64
Commodore 64
The Commodore 64 is an 8-bit home computer introduced by Commodore International in January 1982.Volume production started in the spring of 1982, with machines being released on to the market in August at a price of US$595...

. By the time the 520ST reached the market, however, consumers demanded a keyboard with cursor keys and a numeric keypad. For this reason, the 520ST ended up significantly larger than previous popular all-in-one machines like the Commodore 64.

The 520ST used an external "brick" power supply, floppy disk, monitor and mouse. Even basic system setups thus suffered from cable spaghetti, a problem future versions would address to one degree or another. Early 520ST owners became accustomed to the "Atari Twist" and the "Atari Drop" service procedures. The "Atari Twist" seemed to help discharge built-up static electricity (Atari soldered-down the metal shielding to fix the problem) while the "Atari Drop" appeared to help re-seat chips which may have become partially unseated over time.

Port connections


The 520ST featured a large number of ports mounted at the rear of the machine. The basic port layout would remain largely unchanged over the machine's history.
  • Standard ports:
    • RS-232
      RS-232
      In telecommunications, RS-232 is the traditional name for a series of standards for serial binary single-ended data and control signals connecting between a DTE and a DCE . It is commonly used in computer serial ports...

      c serial port (DB25
      D-subminiature
      The D-subminiature or D-sub is a common type of electrical connector. They are named for their characteristic D-shaped metal shield. When they were introduced, D-subs were among the smaller connectors used on computer systems....

       male)
    • Centronics printer port (DB25
      D-subminiature
      The D-subminiature or D-sub is a common type of electrical connector. They are named for their characteristic D-shaped metal shield. When they were introduced, D-subs were among the smaller connectors used on computer systems....

       female)
    • joystick
      Joystick
      A joystick is an input device consisting of a stick that pivots on a base and reports its angle or direction to the device it is controlling. Joysticks, also known as 'control columns', are the principal control in the cockpit of many civilian and military aircraft, either as a center stick or...

      /mouse ports (DE-9
      D-subminiature
      The D-subminiature or D-sub is a common type of electrical connector. They are named for their characteristic D-shaped metal shield. When they were introduced, D-subs were among the smaller connectors used on computer systems....

       male)
    • 2 MIDI ports (5-pin DIN
      DIN connector
      A DIN connector is a connector that was originally standardized by the , the German national standards organization. There are DIN standards for a large number of different connectors, therefore the term "DIN connector" alone does not unambiguously identify any particular type of connector unless...

      )

  • ST-specific ports:
    • Monitor port (13-pin DIN
      DIN connector
      A DIN connector is a connector that was originally standardized by the , the German national standards organization. There are DIN standards for a large number of different connectors, therefore the term "DIN connector" alone does not unambiguously identify any particular type of connector unless...

      )
    • ACSI (similar to SCSI
      SCSI
      Small Computer System Interface is a set of standards for physically connecting and transferring data between computers and peripheral devices. The SCSI standards define commands, protocols, and electrical and optical interfaces. SCSI is most commonly used for hard disks and tape drives, but it...

      ) DMA port (for hard disks and laser printers)
    • Floppy port
    • ST cartridge port (for 128 KB ROM cartridge
      ROM cartridge
      A ROM cartridge, sometimes referred to as a cart, is a removable enclosure containing read-only memory devices designed to be connected to a computer or games console....

      s)


Because of its bi-directional design, the Centronics printer port could be used for joystick input, and several games made use of available adaptors that plugged into the printer socket, providing two additional 9-pin joystick ports.

Atari initially used single-sided disk drives
Floppy disk
A floppy disk is a disk storage medium composed of a disk of thin and flexible magnetic storage medium, sealed in a rectangular plastic carrier lined with fabric that removes dust particles...

 that could store up to 360 KB. Later drives were double-sided versions that stored 720 KB. Due to the early sales of so many of the single-sided drives, almost all software would ship on two single-sided disks instead of a single double-sided one, for fear of alienating early adopters. ST magazines wishing to cater to the entire audience while still supplying a large amount of material on a single cover disc had to adopt innovative custom formats to work around this problem. Another sticking point was that, while the Atari double-sided drive could read IBM-formatted disks, IBM PCs could not read Atari disks. This was a formatting issue that was later resolved by third-party software formatters and TOS upgrades (1.44 and higher).

STF and STFM models



Atari later upgraded the basic design in 1986 with the 1040STF (also written STF). The machine was 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. However, the joystick/mouse ports, formerly on the right side of the machine where the disk now sat, had to be moved to an awkward location in a cramped 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. 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
Atari 8-bit family
The Atari 8-bit family is a series of 8-bit home computers manufactured from 1979 to 1992. All are based on the MOS Technology 6502 CPU and were the first home computers designed with custom coprocessor chips...

 of computers. A limited number of 1040STFs shipped with a single-sided floppy drive.

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 lacked the 'M' modulator that allowed a TV to be used and would only work with a monitor.

Mega models


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. First debuted at Comdex, 1986, it was received favorably. Renamed the Mega, this new machine included a high-quality detached keyboard, a stronger case to support the weight of a monitor, and an internal bus expansion connector. The upcoming SLM804 laser printer
Laser printer
A laser printer is a common type of computer printer that rapidly produces high quality text and graphics on plain paper. As with digital photocopiers and multifunction printers , laser printers employ a xerographic printing process, but differ from analog photocopiers in that the image is produced...

 would not come with a processor or memory, reducing costs. It would attach to the Mega through the ST DMA port and have the Mega computer render the pages. 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
Blitter
In a computer system, a blitter is a circuit, sometimes as a coprocessor or a logic block on a microprocessor, that is dedicated to the rapid movement and modification of data within that computer's memory...

 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 could use the blitter seamlessly since GEM API
Application programming interface
An application programming interface is a source code based specification intended to be used as an interface by software components to communicate with each other...

 was a higher-level interface to TOS.

Later models


For about the first four years, no major design changes in the ST platform
Platform (computing)
A computing platform includes some sort of hardware architecture and a software framework , where the combination allows software, particularly application software, to run...

 took place, as Atari focused on manufacturing problems and distribution.

STE models


In late 1989, Atari
Atari
Atari is a corporate and brand name owned by several entities since its inception in 1972. It is currently owned by Atari Interactive, a wholly owned subsidiary of the French publisher Atari, SA . The original Atari, Inc. was founded in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney. It was a pioneer in...

 released the 520STE and 1040STE (also written STE), enhanced version of the ST with improvements to the multimedia hardware and operating system. It featured an increased color palette of 4096 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
Genlock
Genlock is a common technique where the video output of one source, or a specific reference signal from a signal generator, is used to synchronize other television picture sources together. The aim in video and digital audio applications is to ensure the coincidence of signals in time at a...

 support, and a graphics co-processor chip called Blitter
Blitter
In a computer system, a blitter is a circuit, sometimes as a coprocessor or a logic block on a microprocessor, that is dedicated to the rapid movement and modification of data within that computer's memory...

, which could quickly move large blocks of data (most particularly, graphics sprites) around in RAM. It also included a new 2-channels digital sound chip that could play 8-bit stereo samples in hardware at up to 50 kHz. Two enhanced joystick ports (EJP) were added (two normal joysticks could be plugged into each port with an adaptor), 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
Atari Jaguar
The Atari Jaguar is a video game console that was released by Atari Corporation in 1993. It was the last to be marketed under the Atari brand until the release of the Atari Flashback in 2004. It was designed to surpass the Mega Drive/Genesis, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and the Panasonic...

 console, and are compatible. RAM was now much more simply upgradable via SIMM
SIMM
A SIMM, or single in-line memory module, is a type of memory module containing random access memory used in computers from the early 1980s to the late 1990s. It differs from a dual in-line memory module , the most predominant form of memory module today, in that the contacts on a SIMM are redundant...

s. Despite all of this, it still ran at 8 MHz.

The STE models initially had software and hardware conflicts resulting in some applications
Application software
Application software, also known as an application or an "app", is computer software designed to help the user to perform specific tasks. Examples include enterprise software, accounting software, office suites, graphics software and media players. Many application programs deal principally with...

 and games
Personal computer game
A PC game, also known as a computer game, is a video game played on a personal computer, rather than on a video game console or arcade machine...

 written for the ST line being unstable or even completely unusable, primarily caused by programming direct hardware calls which bypassed the operating system. Sometimes incompatibility could be solved by expanding the RAM. Furthermore, even having a joystick plugged in would sometimes cause strange behaviour with a few applications (such as the WYSIWYG
WYSIWYG
WYSIWYG is an acronym for What You See Is What You Get. The term is used in computing to describe a system in which content displayed onscreen during editing appears in a form closely corresponding to its appearance when printed or displayed as a finished product...

 word-processor application First Word Plus).

The STE was the first Atari with PCM audio, which was probably one of the most attractive features of the machine. It has the ability to play back 8-bit (signed) samples using the SDMA at the following frequencies: 6258 Hz, 12517 Hz, 25033 Hz and 50066 Hz, which also means that it was the first computer with built-in sampling frequencies above audio CDs, although, the resolution was still only 8 bit. The channels are arranged as either a mono track or a track of LRLRLRLR... bytes.

Very little use was made of the extra features of the STE: STE-enhanced and STE-only software were rare, generally being limited to serious art-, CAD-, or music applications, with very few games taking advantage of the hardware, since it was found on so few machines.

The last STE machine — the Mega STE
Atari MEGA STE
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...

 — was 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
Motorola 68881
The Motorola 68881 and Motorola 68882 were floating-point coprocessor chips that were used in some computer systems in conjunction with the 68020 or 68030 CPUs. The addition of one of these chips added substantial cost to the computer, but added a floating point unit that could rapidly perform...

 FPU
Floating point unit
A floating-point unit is a part of a computer system specially designed to carry out operations on floating point numbers. Typical operations are addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and square root...

, built-in 3½" floppy disk drive, VME
VMEbus
VMEbus is a computer bus standard, originally developed for the Motorola 68000 line of CPUs, but later widely used for many applications and standardized by the IEC as ANSI/IEEE 1014-1987. It is physically based on Eurocard sizes, mechanicals and connectors , but uses its own signalling system,...

 expansion slot, a network port (very similar to that used by Apple's LocalTalk
LocalTalk
LocalTalk is a particular implementation of the physical layer of the AppleTalk networking system from Apple Computer. LocalTalk specifies a system of shielded twisted pair cabling, plugged into self-terminating transceivers, running at a rate of 230.4 kbit/s...

) 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.

Atari TT



In 1990, Atari released the high-end workstation-oriented Atari TT030, based on a 32 MHz Motorola 68030
Motorola 68030
The Motorola 68030 is a 32-bit microprocessor in Motorola's 68000 family. It was released in 1987. The 68030 was the successor to the Motorola 68020, and was followed by the Motorola 68040. In keeping with general Motorola naming, this CPU is often referred to as the 030 .The 68030 features on-chip...

 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.

Atari Falcon



The final ST computer was 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
Motorola 56000
The Motorola DSP56000 is a family of digital signal processor chips produced by Motorola Semiconductor starting in the 1980s and is still being produced in more advanced models in the 2000s. The 56k series was quite popular for a time in a number of computers, including the NeXT, Atari Falcon,...

 audio digital signal processor
Digital signal processor
A digital signal processor is a specialized microprocessor with an architecture optimized for the fast operational needs of digital signal processing.-Typical characteristics:...

. 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 was capable of using 32-bit memory, the Falcon used a 16-bit bus which affected 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 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 canceled by Atari the following year. In Europe, C-Lab licenced 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).

Aftermath


In 1993, Atari cancelled development on the ST computers to focus on the Jaguar
Atari Jaguar
The Atari Jaguar is a video game console that was released by Atari Corporation in 1993. It was the last to be marketed under the Atari brand until the release of the Atari Flashback in 2004. It was designed to surpass the Mega Drive/Genesis, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and the Panasonic...

.

Following the exit of Atari from the computer market, Medusa Computer Systems manufactured some powerful 3rd-party Atari Falcon/TT-compatible machines that used 68040
Motorola 68040
The Motorola 68040 is a microprocessor from Motorola, released in 1990. It is the successor to the 68030 and is followed by the 68060. There was no 68050. In keeping with general Motorola naming, the 68040 is often referred to as simply the '040 ....

 and 68060
Motorola 68060
The Motorola 68060 is a 32-bit microprocessor from Motorola released in 1994. It is the successor to the Motorola 68040 and is the highest performing member of the 680x0 family. Two derivatives were produced, the 68LC060 and the 68EC060....

 processors, based on multimedia (particularly audio, but also video), CAD, and office uses.

Despite the lack of a hardware supplier, there is a small active community dedicated to keeping the ST platform alive. There have been advancements in the operating system, software emulators (for Windows, Mac & Linux), and some hardware developments. There are accelerator cards, such as the CT60 & CT63, which is a 68060 based accelerator card for the Falcon, and there is the Atari Coldfire Project
Atari Coldfire Project
The Atari Coldfire Project or is a volunteer project that aims to create a modern Atari computer clone.- Reason for the project :...

, which aims at developing an Atari-clone based on the Coldfire processor. Milan Computer of Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 also made 68040 and 68060-based Atari clones that can run either Atari TOS 4.5 or Milan Computer's MultiOS operating system.

Music / Sound


The ST was the first home computer
Home computer
Home computers were a class of microcomputers entering the market in 1977, and becoming increasingly 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...

 with 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
Logic Pro
Logic Pro is a hybrid 32 / 64 bit digital audio workstation and MIDI sequencer software application for the Mac OS X platform. Originally created by German software developer Emagic, Logic Pro became an Apple product when Apple bought Emagic in 2002...

 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, contained a "Multi-Program Environment" that allowed 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 combined the sample playing abilities of a tracker with conventional music notation (which was usually only found in MIDI software) was called Quartet (after its 4-note polyphonic tracker, which displayed one monophonic stave at a time on colour 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
Replay Professional
Replay Professional was a sound sampling product for the Atari ST. This was released in 1988.It included a suite of offline DSP functions , MIDI sequencing and a drum machine....

 product featured a sound sampler that cleverly used the ST cartridge port to read in parallel from the cartridge port from the ADC
Analog-to-digital converter
An analog-to-digital converter is a device that converts a continuous quantity to a discrete time digital representation. An ADC may also provide an isolated measurement...

. For output of digital sound, it used the on-board frequency output, set it to 128 kHz (inaudible) and then modulated the amplitude of that.

Another program that had good success on the ST platform was MasterTracks Pro
MasterTracks Pro (software)
Master Tracks Pro is music-sequencer software for Windows or Mac OS, to author and/or edit MIDI data. David Kusek et. al...

 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
GVOX
Gvox is a music-software company best known for notation software. During its long and turbulent history, it developed and acquired ground-breaking products. Typically, these programs are designed by musicians for musicians.- History:...

 bought out Passport, and continues the program for Windows
Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Windows is a series of operating systems produced by Microsoft.Microsoft introduced an operating environment named Windows on November 20, 1985 as an add-on to MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces . Microsoft Windows came to dominate the world's personal...

 and Mac OS
Mac OS
Mac OS is a series of graphical user interface-based operating systems developed by Apple Inc. for their Macintosh line of computer systems. The Macintosh user experience is credited with popularizing the graphical user interface...

 along with the other Passport product, the notation program Encore
Encore (software)
Encore is a scorewriter program for Microsoft Windows and Macintosh, originally created in the 1990s by the US company Passport. Presently Encore is distributed and developed by GVOX.MusicTime Deluxe is the 'essentials' version of Encore.- Ease of use :...

.

In addition to the sound-sampling functionalities, the availability of software packages with MIDI support for music composition and efficient sound analysis contributed to make the Atari ST a forerunner of later computer-based all-in-one studios.

The ST's low cost, built-in MIDI ports, and fast, low-latency response times made it a favorite with musicians:
  • Atari Teenage Riot
    Atari Teenage Riot
    'Atari Teenage Riot' is a German digital hardcore group formed in Berlin in 1992. The name was taken from a Portuguese Joe song 'Teenage Riot' from the 'Teen-age Riot' album, with the word 'Atari' added as an Atari ST computer was used to create compositions...

     named itself after the brand and programmed most of their music on an Atari ST. Including the entire album Is This Hyperreal? (June, 2011).
  • The Fatboy Slim
    Fatboy Slim
    Norman Quentin Cook better known by his former stage name Fatboy Slim, is a British DJ, electronic dance music musician, and record producer. He is a pioneer of the big beat genre that achieved mainstream popularity in the 1990s...

     album You've Come A Long Way, Baby has an Atari ST in the large foldout picture of Fatboy Slim's studio.
  • Highly acclaimed electronic music
    Electronic music
    Electronic music is music that employs electronic musical instruments and electronic music technology in its production. In general a distinction can be made between sound produced using electromechanical means and that produced using electronic technology. Examples of electromechanical sound...

     artists Mike Paradinas
    Mike Paradinas
    Michael Paradinas , who works primarily under the name μ-Ziq in addition to a large number of aliases, is a British musician in the field of electronic music.-History:...

     and Luke Vibert
    Luke Vibert
    Luke Vibert is a British recording artist and producer known for his work in many subgenres of electronic music. Vibert began his musical career as a member of the Hate Brothers, only later branching out into his own compositions...

     started out writing music on Atari STs.
  • Mike Oldfield
    Mike Oldfield
    Michael Gordon Oldfield is an English multi-instrumentalist musician and composer, working a style that blends progressive rock, folk, ethnic or world music, classical music, electronic music, New Age, and more recently, dance. His music is often elaborate and complex in nature...

    's album Earth Moving
    Earth Moving
    Earth Moving is the 12th record album by Mike Oldfield, released in 1989.- Album analysis :Oldfield used several vocalists on the album, including his then girlfriend, Anita Hegerland. The album's music was performed mainly with synthesizers...

    s album notes state that it was recorded using an Atari ST and C-Lab MIDI software.
  • In the Paris performance of Jean-Michel Jarré
    Jean Michel Jarre
    Jean Michel André Jarre is a French composer, performer and music producer. He is a pioneer in the electronic, ambient and New Age genres, and known as an organiser of outdoor spectacles of his music featuring lights, laser displays, and fireworks.Jarre was raised in Lyon by his mother and...

    's album Waiting for Cousteau, musicians have attached Atari ST machines with unidentified MIDI software to their keyboards, as could be seen in the TV live show and video recordings.
  • White Town
    White Town
    White Town is a musical act from the United Kingdom, and is the work of one man, Jyoti Prakash Mishra.-Career:Mishra was born in Rourkela, Orissa, India on 30 July 1966 and has lived in England since the age of three...

    's "Your Woman
    Your Woman
    "Your Woman" is a single released in 1997 by British one-man band White Town, also known as Jyoti Mishra. It features a muted trumpet line taken from "My Woman" by Al Bowlly and it reached number one in the UK Singles Chart in 1997. It also hit number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100...

    ", which reached #1 in the UK singles charts, was created using an Atari ST.
  • All the drums MIDI files for The Berzerker
    The Berzerker
    The Berzerker was an extreme metal band from Melbourne, Australia and was formed in 1995. The band's music, heavily influenced by older death metal and grindcore, can be characterized as a fusion of these with speedcore, and gabber...

    's eponymous debut album were written on an Atari.

Applications



Also popular on the ST was professional desktop publishing
Desktop publishing
Desktop publishing is the creation of documents using page layout software on a personal computer.The term has been used for publishing at all levels, from small-circulation documents such as local newsletters to books, magazines and newspapers...

 software, such as PageStream
PageStream
PageStream is a desktop publishing software package by Grasshopper LLC , currently available for a variety of operating systems, including Windows, Linux, Macintosh, and Amiga...

 and Calamus
Calamus (DTP)
Calamus is a desktop publishing application, built for Atari computer. The first version was released on July 1st, 1987 by the former German software company DMC GmbH...

; office tools such as word processors (WordPerfect
WordPerfect
WordPerfect is a word processing application, now owned by Corel.Bruce Bastian, a Brigham Young University graduate student, and BYU computer science professor Dr. Alan Ashton joined forces to design a word processing system for the city of Orem's Data General Corp. minicomputer system in 1979...

, Microsoft Write, AtariWorks, WordWriter ST, First Word [shipped with the machine] and its Plus continuation, and others); spreadsheets (3D-Calc
3D-Calc
3D-Calc is a 3-dimensional spreadsheet program for the Atari ST computer.The first version of the program was released in April 1989 and was distributed by ISTARI bvba, Ghent, Belgium. The spreadsheet was 3-dimensional since it contained 13 pages of 2048 rows and 256 columns...

, 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, Informer II, DB Master One, SBT Database Accounting Library (dLedger, dInvoice, dOrder, dPurchases, and dPayables), Superbase Personal, Superbase Professional, Tracker ST, 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
NeoChrome
NeoChrome was an early bitmap graphics editor for the Atari ST computer family. It was written by Dave Staugas, a system programmer at Atari and co-author of the ST's operating system....

, Degas & Degas Elite
DEGAS (software)
DEGAS and DEGAS Elite are bitmap graphics editors created by Tom Hudson for BatteriesIncluded.- File formats :- External links :* - See also :* NeoChrome* List of raster graphics editors...

, Canvas, Deluxe Paint
Deluxe Paint
Deluxe Paint is a bitmap graphics editor series originally created by Dan Silva for Electronic Arts .The original version was created for the Commodore Amiga and was released in November 1985...

, and Cyber Paint (which author Jim Kent
Jim Kent
William James Kent is an American research scientist and computer programmer. He has been a contributor to genome database projects and the 2003 winner of the Benjamin Franklin Award .- Early life :...

 would later evolve into Autodesk Animator
Autodesk Animator
Autodesk Animator was a 2D animation and painting program created in 1989 by Yost Group for Autodesk and ran on a PC under MS-DOS....

) featured advanced features such as 3D design and animation. One paint program, Spectrum 512, used 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 — the STE never had a Spectrum4096, but other more minor applications filled this speciality niche, one even going so far as to program the shifter chip to palette shift at a rate enabling a display of 19200 colours).

3D computer graphics
3D computer graphics
3D computer graphics are graphics that use a three-dimensional representation of geometric data that is stored in the computer for the purposes of performing calculations and rendering 2D images...

 applications (like Cyber Studio
Cyber Studio
Cyber Studio CAD-3D is a 3D-modeling and animation package developed by Tom Hudson for the Atari ST computer platform and published by Antic....

s CAD-3D, which author Tom Hudson would later develop into Autodesk
Autodesk
Autodesk, Inc. is an American multinational corporation that focuses on 3D design software for use in the architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, media and entertainment industries. The company was founded in 1982 by John Walker, a coauthor of the first versions of the company's...

 3D Studio), brought 3D modelling, sculpting, scripting, and most important, computer animation
Computer animation
Computer animation is the process used for generating animated images by using computer graphics. The more general term computer generated imagery encompasses both static scenes and dynamic images, while computer animation only refers to moving images....

 (using delta-compression
Delta encoding
Delta encoding is a way of storing or transmitting data in the form of differences between sequential data rather than complete files; more generally this is known as data differencing...

) to the desktop. Video-capture and -editing applications using special video-capture 'dongles' connected using the cartridge port — low frame rate, mainly silent and monochrome, but progressing to sound and basic colour (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.

Software development


The Atari ST had a wide variety of languages and tools for development. 68000 assemblers (MadMac from Atari Corp, HiSoft Systems's Devpac, TurboAss, GFA-Assembler), Pascal (OSS Personal Pascal, Maxon Pascal, PurePascal), Modula-2
Modula-2
Modula-2 is a computer programming language designed and developed between 1977 and 1980 by Niklaus Wirth at ETH Zurich as a revision of Pascal to serve as the sole programming language for the operating system and application software for the personal workstation Lilith...

, C compilers (like Turbo C (Borland)
Turbo C
Turbo C is an Integrated Development Environment and compiler for the C programming language from Borland. First introduced in 1987, it was noted for its integrated development environment, small size, extremely fast compile speed, comprehensive manuals and low price.In May 1990, Borland replaced...

, Alcyon C, Lattice C
Lattice C
Lattice C was the first C compiler for MS-DOS on the IBM PC, in 1982. It was ported to many other platforms, such as mainframes , minicomputers , workstations , OS/2, the Commodore Amiga, Atari ST and the Sinclair QL.The compiler was subsequently repackaged by Microsoft under a distribution...

, Megamax C
Megamax C
Megamax C was a K&R implementation of C for the Atari ST, Apple IIGS and Macintosh computers. The package included a one-pass compiler, resource construction kit and documentation...

, Mark Williams C, GNU C
GNU Compiler Collection
The GNU Compiler Collection is a compiler system produced by the GNU Project supporting various programming languages. GCC is a key component of the GNU toolchain...

, Aztec C, AHCC (A Home Cooked C), LISP
Lisp
A lisp is a speech impediment, historically also known as sigmatism. Stereotypically, people with a lisp are unable to pronounce sibilants , and replace them with interdentals , though there are actually several kinds of lisp...

, Prolog
Prolog
Prolog is a general purpose logic programming language associated with artificial intelligence and computational linguistics.Prolog has its roots in first-order logic, a formal logic, and unlike many other programming languages, Prolog is declarative: the program logic is expressed in terms of...

, Logo, and many others.

The initial development kit from Atari included a computer and manuals. At $5,000, this discouraged many from developing software for the ST. Later, the Atari Developer's Kit consisted of software and manuals (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 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 GFA BASIC
GFA BASIC
GFA BASIC is a dialect of the BASIC programming language, by Frank Ostrowski. The first version was finished in 1986. In the mid and late 80s, it became very popular for the Atari ST homecomputer range . Later, ports for the Commodore Amiga, DOS and Windows were marketed...

, FaST BASIC (notable for being one of the few programs to actually be supplied as a ROM cartridge instead of on disc), and the relatively famous STOS, which then inspired and led to the creation of AMOS on the Amiga, and 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 an innumerable 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.

Even novelty tools such as SEUCK
Shoot'Em-Up Construction Kit
Shoot'Em-Up Construction Kit was a "construction kit" for the Commodore 64, Amiga and Atari ST created by Sensible Software and published by Outlaw in 1987. It allowed the user to make simple shoot 'em ups by drawing sprites and backgrounds and editing attack patterns...

 were available.

Games


The ST enjoyed success in gaming due to low cost, fast performance and colorful graphics.

Notable individuals who developed games on the ST include Peter Molyneux
Peter Molyneux
Peter Douglas Molyneux OBE is an English computer game designer and game programmer. He created the God games Dungeon Keeper, Populous, and Black & White, among others, as well as business simulation games such as Theme Park and more recently, the RPG series Fable.Despite the success of his games,...

, Doug Bell
Doug Bell
Douglas Andrew Bell is a computer game developer active in the industry from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s.He is best known for his role as the lead designer and programmer for the classic Dungeon Master series of computer games from San Diego studio FTL Games...

, Jeff Minter
Jeff Minter
Jeff 'Yak' Minter is a British computer/video game designer and programmer. He is the founder of software house Llamasoft and his recent works include Neon , a non-game music visualization program that has been built into the Xbox 360 console, and the video games Space Giraffe , and Space Invaders...

, Jez San
Jez San
Jeremy 'Jez' San OBE is an English game programmer and entrepreneur who founded Argonaut Software as a teenager in the 1980s. He is also a writer and helped design the Super FX chip for the Super NES.-Biography:...

, and David Braben
David Braben
David John Braben is a British computer programmer, best known for co-writing Elite, a hugely popular and influential space trading computer game, in the early 1980s.-Life and work:...

. The first real-time 3D role-playing computer game, Dungeon Master, was first developed and released on the ST, and was the best-selling software ever produced for the platform. Simulation games like Falcon
Falcon (computer game)
The Falcon line of computer games is a series of simulations of the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft. The games were developed and published by Spectrum HoloByte...

 and Flight Simulator II made use of the enhanced graphics found in the ST machines, as did many arcade ports. One game, MIDI Maze
MIDI Maze
MIDI Maze is an early first person shooter maze video game for the Atari ST developed by Xanth Software F/X, published by Hybrid Arts, and released around 1987. It owes a significant debt to what may be the first of its genre, Maze War...

, used the MIDI ports to connect up to 16 machines for interactive networked play, this is sometimes said to have inspired modern LAN
Local area network
A local area network is a computer network that interconnects computers in a limited area such as a home, school, computer laboratory, or office building...

 games which became popular in the early 90s. Games simultaneously released on the Amiga that had identical graphics and sound were often accused by computer game magazines of simply being ST ports.
See List of Atari ST games and :Category:Atari ST games.

Utilities / Misc


Utility software was available to drive hardware add-ons such as video digitisers. Office Productivity and graphics software was also bundled with the ST (HyperPaint II by Dimitri Koveos, HyperDraw by David Farmborough, 3D-Calc
3D-Calc
3D-Calc is a 3-dimensional spreadsheet program for the Atari ST computer.The first version of the program was released in April 1989 and was distributed by ISTARI bvba, Ghent, Belgium. The spreadsheet was 3-dimensional since it contained 13 pages of 2048 rows and 256 columns...

 spreadsheet by Frank Schoonjans, and several others commissioned by Bob Katz, later of Electronic Arts
Electronic Arts
Electronic Arts, Inc. is a major American developer, marketer, publisher and distributor of video games. Founded and incorporated on May 28, 1982 by Trip Hawkins, the company was a pioneer of the early home computer games industry and was notable for promoting the designers and programmers...

).

There was a thriving output of public domain
Public domain
Works are in the public domain if the intellectual property rights have expired, if the intellectual property rights are forfeited, or if they are not covered by intellectual property rights at all...

 and shareware
Shareware
The term shareware is a proprietary software that is provided to users without payment on a trial basis and is often limited by any combination of functionality, availability, or convenience. Shareware is often offered as a download from an Internet website or as a compact disc included with a...

 software which was distributed by, in the days long before public internet access, public domain software libraries that advertised in magazines and on popular dial-up bulletin board system
Bulletin board system
A Bulletin Board System, or BBS, is a computer system running software that allows users to connect and log in to the system using a terminal program. Once logged in, a user can perform functions such as uploading and downloading software and data, reading news and bulletins, and exchanging...

s.

Remarkably, a modest core fanbase for the system, supporting a dwindling number of good quality print magazines, survived to the mid-'90s and the birth of the modern, publicly-accessible Internet as we know it. Despite the limited graphics, memory, and temporary hard-storage capabilities of the system, several email, FTP, telnet, IRC, and even full-blown graphical World Wide Web browser applications are available and usable on the ST.

There were also DOS emulators released in the late 80s. PC-Ditto came in two versions, software-only-, and a hardware version that plugged into the cartridge slot or kludged internally. After running the PC-Ditto software, you had to insert a DOS boot disk to load the system. Both allowed you to run DOS programs in CGA
Color Graphics Adapter
The Color Graphics Adapter , originally also called the Color/Graphics Adapter or IBM Color/Graphics Monitor Adapter, introduced in 1981, was IBM's first color graphics card, and the first color computer display standard for the IBM PC....

 mode, though much more slowly than on an IBM PC
IBM PC
The IBM Personal Computer, commonly known as the IBM PC, is the original version and progenitor of the IBM PC compatible hardware platform. It is IBM model number 5150, and was introduced on August 12, 1981...

. Other options were the PC-Speed (NEC V30), AT-Speed (Intel 80286
Intel 80286
The Intel 80286 , introduced on 1 February 1982, was a 16-bit x86 microprocessor with 134,000 transistors. Like its contemporary simpler cousin, the 80186, it could correctly execute most software written for the earlier Intel 8086 and 8088...

) and ATonce-386SX (Intel 80386sx) hardware emulator boards.

Technical specifications


All STs were made up of both custom and commercial chips:
  • Custom chips
    • ST Shifter "Video shift register chip"—Enabled bitmap graphics using 32 KB of contiguous memory for all resolutions. Screen address had to be a multiple of 256.
    • ST GLU "Generalized Logic Unit"—Control logic for the system used to connect the ST's chips. Not part of the data path, but needed to bridge chips with each other.
    • ST MMU "Memory Management Unit
      Memory management unit
      A memory management unit , sometimes called paged memory management unit , is a computer hardware component responsible for handling accesses to memory requested by the CPU...

      "—Enabled physical memory access up to 4 MB. Maps out the memory space in the ST.
    • ST DMA "Direct Memory Access
      Direct memory access
      Direct memory access is a feature of modern computers that allows certain hardware subsystems within the computer to access system memory independently of the central processing unit ....

      "—Used for floppy and hard drive data transfers. Can directly access main memory in the ST.
  • Support chips
    • MC6850P ACIA "Asynchronous Common Interface Adapter"—Enabled the ST to directly communicate with MIDI devices and keyboard (2 chips used). 31.25 kBaud for MIDI, 7812.5 bit/s for keyboard.
    • MC68901 MFP "Multi Function Peripheral"—Used for interrupt generation/control, serial and misc. control input signals. Atari TT030 had 2 MFP chips.
    • WD-1772-PH "Western Digital Floppy Disk Controller"—Floppy controller chip.
    • YM2149F PSG
      General Instrument AY-3-8910
      The AY-3-8910 is a 3-voice Programmable Sound Generator designed by General Instrument, initially for use with their 16-bit CP1610 or one of the PIC1650 series of 8-bit microcomputers...

       "Programmable Sound Generator
      Programmable sound generator
      A Programmable Sound Generator is a sound chip that generates sound waves by synthesizing multiple basic waveforms, and often some kind of noise generator, and combining and mixing these waveforms into a complex waveform, then shaping the amplitude of the resulting waveform using...

      "—Provided 3-voice sound synthesis, also used for floppy signalling, serial control output and printer parallel port.
    • HD6301V1 "Hitachi keyboard processor"—Used for keyboard scanning and mouse/joystick ports.

ST/STF/STM/STFM


As originally released in the 520ST:
  • CPU: Motorola 68000
    Motorola 68000
    The Motorola 68000 is a 16/32-bit CISC microprocessor core designed and marketed by Freescale Semiconductor...

     16-/32-Bit CPU @ 8 MHz. 16 bit data/32 bit internal/24-bit address.
    • RAM: 512 KB or 1 Megabyte
      Megabyte
      The megabyte is a multiple of the unit byte for digital information storage or transmission with two different values depending on context: bytes generally for computer memory; and one million bytes generally for computer storage. The IEEE Standards Board has decided that "Mega will mean 1 000...

    • Display modes (60 Hz NTSC, 50 Hz PAL, 71.2 Hz monochrome):
      • Low resolution - 320×200 (16 color), palette of 512 colors
      • Medium resolution - 640×200 (4 color), palette of 512 colors
      • High resolution - 640×400 (mono), monochrome
    • Sound: Yamaha YM2149 3-voice squarewave plus 1-voice white noise mono Programmable Sound Generator
      Programmable sound generator
      A Programmable Sound Generator is a sound chip that generates sound waves by synthesizing multiple basic waveforms, and often some kind of noise generator, and combining and mixing these waveforms into a complex waveform, then shaping the amplitude of the resulting waveform using...

    • Drive: Single-sided 3½" floppy disk
      Floppy disk
      A floppy disk is a disk storage medium composed of a disk of thin and flexible magnetic storage medium, sealed in a rectangular plastic carrier lined with fabric that removes dust particles...

       drive, 360 KB capacity when formatted to standard 9 sector, 80 track layout.
    • Ports: TV out (on ST-M and ST-FM models, NTSC or PAL standard RF modulated), MIDI in/out (with 'out-thru'), RS-232
      RS-232
      In telecommunications, RS-232 is the traditional name for a series of standards for serial binary single-ended data and control signals connecting between a DTE and a DCE . It is commonly used in computer serial ports...

       serial, Centronics
      Centronics
      Centronics Data Computer Corporation was a pioneering American manufacturer of computer printers, now remembered primarily for the parallel interface that bears its name.-The beginning:Centronics began as a division of Wang Laboratories...

       parallel (printer), monitor (RGB or Composite Video colour and mono
      Monochrome
      Monochrome describes paintings, drawings, design, or photographs in one color or shades of one color. A monochromatic object or image has colors in shades of limited colors or hues. Images using only shades of grey are called grayscale or black-and-white...

      , 13-pin DIN
      DIN connector
      A DIN connector is a connector that was originally standardized by the , the German national standards organization. There are DIN standards for a large number of different connectors, therefore the term "DIN connector" alone does not unambiguously identify any particular type of connector unless...

      ), extra disk drive port (15-pin DIN
      DIN connector
      A DIN connector is a connector that was originally standardized by the , the German national standards organization. There are DIN standards for a large number of different connectors, therefore the term "DIN connector" alone does not unambiguously identify any particular type of connector unless...

      ), DMA
      Direct memory access
      Direct memory access is a feature of modern computers that allows certain hardware subsystems within the computer to access system memory independently of the central processing unit ....

       port (ACSI port, Atari Computer System Interface) for hard disk
      Hard disk
      A hard disk drive is a non-volatile, random access digital magnetic data storage device. It features rotating rigid platters on a motor-driven spindle within a protective enclosure. Data is magnetically read from and written to the platter by read/write heads that float on a film of air above the...

      s and Atari Laser Printer (sharing RAM with computer system), joystick and mouse ports (9-pin MSX standard)
    • Operating System
      Operating system
      An operating system is a set of programs that manage computer hardware resources and provide common services for application software. The operating system is the most important type of system software in a computer system...

      : TOS
      Atari TOS
      TOS is the operating system of the Atari ST range of computers. This range includes the 520 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...

       v1.00 (The Operating System) with the Graphical Environment Manager
      Graphical Environment Manager
      GEM was a windowing system created by Digital Research, Inc. for use with the CP/M operating system on the Intel 8088 and Motorola 68000 microprocessors...

       (GEM) WIMP (Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointer) GUI


    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
    Amiga 1000
    The A1000, or Commodore Amiga 1000, was Commodore's initial Amiga personal computer, introduced on July 23, 1985 at the Lincoln Center in New York City....

     had) This early version of TOS was bootstrapped from a very small core boot ROM, but this was quickly replaced with (expanded capacity) ROM
    Read-only memory
    Read-only memory is a class of storage medium used in computers and other electronic devices. Data stored in ROM cannot be modified, or can be modified only slowly or with difficulty, so it is mainly used to distribute firmware .In its strictest sense, ROM refers only...

     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
    RF modulator
    An RF modulator is a device that takes a baseband input signal and outputs a radio frequency-modulated signal....

     that allowed the machine to be hooked to a colour 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
    Double-sided disk
    In computer science, a double-sided disk is a disk of which both sides are used to store data.Early floppy disks only used one surface for recording. The term "single sided disk" was not common until the introduction of double-sided disks, which offered double the capacity in the same physical size...

     drive instead of a single-sided one.

    STE


    As originally released in the 520STE/1040STE:
    • All of the features of the 520STFM/1040STFM
    • Extended palette of 4,096 available colours to choose from
    • BLiTTER
      Blitter
      In a computer system, a blitter is a circuit, sometimes as a coprocessor or a logic block on a microprocessor, that is dedicated to the rapid movement and modification of data within that computer's memory...

       chip for copy/fill/clear large data blocks in memory (fill rate 4 MB/s)
    • Hardware-support for horizontal and vertical fine scrolling and split screen (using the Shifter video chip)
    • DMA sound chip
      Sound chip
      A sound chip is an integrated circuit designed to produce sound . It might be doing this through digital, analog or mixed-mode electronics...

       with 2-channels stereo 8-bit PCM sound at 6.25/12.5/25/50 kHz and stereo RCA audio-out jacks (using enhancements to the Shifter video chip to support audio shifting)
    • National LMC 1992 audio controller chip, allowing adjustable left/right/master volume and bass and treble EQ via a "Microwire" (3-bit serial) interface
    • Memory: 30-pin SIMM
      SIMM
      A SIMM, or single in-line memory module, is a type of memory module containing random access memory used in computers from the early 1980s to the late 1990s. It differs from a dual in-line memory module , the most predominant form of memory module today, in that the contacts on a SIMM are redundant...

       memory slots (SIPP
      SIPP memory
      A SIPP or single in-line pin package was a type of random access memory.It consisted of a small printed circuit board upon which were mounted a number of memory chips. It had 30 pins along one edge which mated with matching holes in the motherboard of the computer.This type of memory was used in...

       packages in earliest versions) allowing upgrades up to 4 MB Allowable memory sizes including only 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, 2.5 and 4.0 MB due to configuration restraints (however, 2.5 MB is not officially supported and has compatibility problems). Later 3rd-party upgrade kits allow a maximum of 14MB w/Magnum-ST, bypassing the stock MMU
      Memory management unit
      A memory management unit , sometimes called paged memory management unit , is a computer hardware component responsible for handling accesses to memory requested by the CPU...

       with a replacement unit and the additional chips on a separate board fitting over it.
    • Ability to synchronise the video-timings with an external device so that a video Genlock
      Genlock
      Genlock is a common technique where the video output of one source, or a specific reference signal from a signal generator, is used to synchronize other television picture sources together. The aim in video and digital audio applications is to ensure the coincidence of signals in time at a...

       device can be used without having to make any modifications to computer's hardware
    • Analogue joypad ports (2), with support for devices such as paddles and light pens in addition to joysticks/joypads. The Atari Jaguar
      Atari Jaguar
      The Atari Jaguar is a video game console that was released by Atari Corporation in 1993. It was the last to be marketed under the Atari brand until the release of the Atari Flashback in 2004. It was designed to surpass the Mega Drive/Genesis, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and the Panasonic...

       joypads and Power Pad joypads (gray version of Jaguar joypads marketed for the STE and Falcon
      Atari Falcon
      The Atari Falcon030 Computer System was Atari Corporation's final computer product. Codenamed Sparrow, the machine was 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.-History:The...

      ) can be used without an adapter. Two standard Atari-style digital joysticks could be plugged into each analogue port with an adapter.
    • TOS
      Atari TOS
      TOS is the operating system of the Atari ST range of computers. This range includes the 520 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...

       1.06 (also known as TOS 1.6) or TOS 1.62 (which fixed some major backwards-compatibility bugs in TOS 1.6) in two socketed 128 KB ROM chips.
    • Socketed PLCC
      Plastic leaded chip carrier
      A plastic leaded chip carrier is a chip carrier with a equiangular plastic housing. It is a reduced cost evolution of the ceramic leadless chip carrier ....

       68000 CPU

    Models


    The members of the ST family are listed below, in rough chronological order:
    520ST: Original model with 512 kB RAM, external power supply, no floppy disk drive. The early models had only a bootstrap ROM and TOS had to be loaded from disk.
    130ST: intended to be a 128 kB variant. Announced at the 1985 CES alongside the 520ST but never produced.
    520ST+: early 520STs with 1 MB of RAM, but without floppy disk
    260ST: originally intended to be a 256 kB variant, but actually sold in small quantities in Europe with 512 KB. Used after the release of the 520ST+ to differentiate the cheaper 512 KB models from the 1 MB models
    520STM: a 520ST with a built-in modulator for TV output, 512 kB RAM.
    520STFM: a 520STM with a newly redesigned motherboard in a larger case with a built-in floppy disk drive (in some cases a single sided drive only), 512 kB RAM.
    1040STF: a 520STFM with 1 MB of RAM and a built-in double-sided floppy disk, but without RF modulator
    1040STFM: a 520STFM with 1 MB of RAM and a built-in double-sided floppy disk with RF modulator
    Mega ST (MEGA 1, MEGA 2, MEGA 4): redesigned motherboard with 1, 2 or 4 MB of RAM, respectively, in a much improved "pizza box
    Pizza box form factor
    In computing, a pizza box is a style of case for computers or network switches. Cases of this type tend to be wide and flat, normally one or two rack units in height, thus resembling pizza delivery boxes....

    " case with a detached keyboard. All MEGA mainboard have a PLCC socket for the Blitter chip and some early models did not include the BLiTTER chip. Included a real-time clock and internal expansion connector. Some early MEGA 2 had a MEGA 4 mainboard with half of the mem chip places unpopulated and these MEGA 2 can be upgraded by adding the additional DRAM chips and some resistors for the control lines. The MEGA 1 mainboards had a redesigned mem chip area and could not be upgraded in this way as there are only mem chip places for the 1 MByte DRAM chips.
    520STE and 1040STE: a 520STFM/1040STFM with enhanced sound, the BLiTTER chip, and a 4096-color palette, in the older 1040 style all-in-one case
    4160STE: as 1040STE but with 4 MB of RAM. Never officially released except a small quantity of development units. Labels were sent out to dealers to affix to machines that had been upgraded to 4MB.
    Mega STE
    Atari MEGA STE
    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...

    : same hardware as 1040STE except for a faster 16 MHz processor, an onboard SCSI controller, additional faster RS232 port, VME expansion port, in the TT case
    STacy
    STacy
    The STacy was a portable version of the Atari ST. It was designed to operate on 12 standard C cell alkaline batteries for portability, but when it was discovered that the batteries only gave about 15 minutes of operating time, Atari glued the lid of the battery compartment shut, compelling users to...

    : a portable
    Portable computer
    A portable computer is a computer that is designed to be moved from one place to another and includes a display and keyboard. Portable computers, by their nature, are generally microcomputers. Portable computers, because of their size, are also commonly known as 'Lunchbox' or 'Luggable' computers...

     (but definitely not laptop
    Laptop
    A laptop, also called a notebook, is a personal computer for mobile use. A laptop integrates most of the typical components of a desktop computer, including a display, a keyboard, a pointing device and speakers into a single unit...

    ) version of the ST. Originally designed to operate on 12 standard C cell
    C battery
    The C battery is a standard size of battery typically used in medium-drain applications such as toys and musical instruments.As of 2007, C batteries accounted for 4% of alkaline primary battery sales in the US...

     flashlight batteries for portability, when Atari finally realized how quickly the machine would use up a set of batteries (especially when rechargeable batteries of the time supplied insufficient power compared to the intended alkalines), they simply glued the lid of the battery compartment shut, and soon discontinued the machine.
    ST BOOK
    ST BOOK
    The ST BOOK is a portable computer released in 1991 by Atari. It was based on the Atari STE. The ST BOOK was vastly more portable than the previous Atari portable, the STacy, but it sacrificed several features in order to achieve this - notably the backlight, and internal floppy disc drive...

    : a later portable ST, more portable than the STacy, but sacrificing several features in order to achieve this — notably the backlight, and internal floppy disk drive. Files were meant to be stored on a small amount (one megabyte) of internal flash memory
    Flash memory
    Flash memory is a non-volatile computer storage chip that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed. It was developed from EEPROM and must be erased in fairly large blocks before these can be rewritten with new data...

     'on the road' and transferred using serial or parallel links, memory flashcards or external (and externally powered) floppy disk to a desktop ST once back indoors. The screen is highly reflective for the time, but still hard to use indoors or in low light, it is fixed to the 640×400 1-bit mono mode, and no external video port was provided. For its limitations, it gained some popularity, particularly amongst musicians.

    Related systems

    • Atari TT030—new machine based on the Motorola 68030
      Motorola 68030
      The Motorola 68030 is a 32-bit microprocessor in Motorola's 68000 family. It was released in 1987. The 68030 was the successor to the Motorola 68020, and was followed by the Motorola 68040. In keeping with general Motorola naming, this CPU is often referred to as the 030 .The 68030 features on-chip...

       processor running at 32 MHz, in yet another new case design with a detached keyboard. Capable of high screen resolutions with better colour palettes and addressing more memory, with optional onboard hard drive (slotting onto the base as a second, smaller box). Popular with CAD and DTP communities of the time for its sheer graphical capability (its high resolution only recently having become a common size on modern PCs) and processing speed.
    • Atari Falcon 030
      Atari Falcon
      The Atari Falcon030 Computer System was Atari Corporation's final computer product. Codenamed Sparrow, the machine was 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.-History:The...

      —another 68030 based (albeit only 16 MHz) machine like the TT, but in the STE-style case (yet again) with further upgrades to the graphics and sound, a Motorola 56000
      Motorola 56000
      The Motorola DSP56000 is a family of digital signal processor chips produced by Motorola Semiconductor starting in the 1980s and is still being produced in more advanced models in the 2000s. The 56k series was quite popular for a time in a number of computers, including the NeXT, Atari Falcon,...

       DSP
      Digital signal processor
      A digital signal processor is a specialized microprocessor with an architecture optimized for the fast operational needs of digital signal processing.-Typical characteristics:...

       for CD-quality sound recording and processing, multitasking OS (on disk) and a LocalTalk
      LocalTalk
      LocalTalk is a particular implementation of the physical layer of the AppleTalk networking system from Apple Computer. LocalTalk specifies a system of shielded twisted pair cabling, plugged into self-terminating transceivers, running at a rate of 230.4 kbit/s...

       port for networking. Last computer made by Atari.

    • Atari ABAQ, or Atari Transputer Workstation
      Atari Transputer Workstation
      The Atari Transputer Workstation was a workstation class computer released by Atari Corporation in the late 1980s. Based on the INMOS transputer, the machine was considerably more powerful than anything available on the market at the time...

      —A standalone machine developed in conjunction with Perihelion Hardware, containing modified ST hardware and up to 17 transputers capable of massively parallel
      Massively parallel
      Massively parallel is a description which appears in computer science, life sciences, medical diagnostics, and other fields.A massively parallel computer is a distributed memory computer system which consists of many individual nodes, each of which is essentially an independent computer in itself,...

       operations for tasks such as ray tracing.


    There were also some unreleased prototypes: Falcon 040 (based on a Motorola 68040
    Motorola 68040
    The Motorola 68040 is a microprocessor from Motorola, released in 1990. It is the successor to the 68030 and is followed by the 68060. There was no 68050. In keeping with general Motorola naming, the 68040 is often referred to as simply the '040 ....

    , new case and slots), ST Pad (A4 (Letter paper) sized pen-operated portable ST computer, handheld and with an unlit monochrome LCD screen derived from the ST Book, forerunner of modern tablet PCs), and the STylus (Apple Newton-style palmtop).

    Clones

    • GE-Soft Eagle, TT clone but with 32 MHz system bus Article in SOS, June 1995
    • Medusa 040, Medusa 060, Hades 040, Hades 060—3rd-party Falcon/TT compatible machines manufactured by Medusa Computer Systems http://www.medusacomputer.com/.
    • Milan Computersystems GbR MILAN I, MILAN II :de:Milan (Computer)
    • The Atari Coldfire Project
      Atari Coldfire Project
      The Atari Coldfire Project or is a volunteer project that aims to create a modern Atari computer clone.- Reason for the project :...

       aims to create a follow up to the Falcon by utilising a Freescale Coldfire
      Freescale ColdFire
      The Freescale ColdFire is a microprocessor that derives from the Motorola 68000 family architecture, manufactured for embedded systems development by Freescale Semiconductor .-Instruction set:...

       cpu.
    • Experiment-s
      Experiment-s
      Experiment-S is a recreation of the old Atari ST / Mega ST home computer using fpga technology.The two main boards being prototyped at the moment are:- Suska-III-C :...

       is an FPGA implementation of an Atari Falcon that is currently being prototyped.

    Peripherals

    • SF354 - Single-sided double-density 3½ floppy drive (360 KB) with external power supply
    • SF314 - Double-sided double-density 3½ floppy drive (720 KB) with external power supply
    • PS3000 - Combined 12" Colour Monitor and 360k 3.5 Floppy Drive (SF354). Speaker. Manufactured by JVC in limited quantity (~1000), only a few working models remain.
    • SM124 - Monochrome monitor, 12" screen, 640×400 pixels, 70 Hz refresh
    • SM147 - Monochrome monitor, 14" screen, no speaker, replacement for SM124
    • SC1224 - Color monitor, 12" screen, 640×200 pixels plus speaker
    • SC1425 - Color monitor, 14" screen, One speaker on the left of screen, a jack to plug ear-listeners
    • SC1435 - Color monitor, 14" screen, stereo speakers, replacement for SC1224 (rebadged Magnavox 1CM135)
    • SM195 - Monochrome monitor, 19" screen for TT030. 1280×960 pixels. 70 Hz refresh
    • SH204 - External hard drive, 20 MB MFM drive, "shoe box" case made of metal
    • SH205 - External hard drive, Mega ST matching case, 20 MB MFM 3,5" (Tandon TM262) or 5,25" (Segate ST225) drive with ST506 interface (became later the Megafile 20)
    • Megafile 20, 30, 60 - External hard drive, Mega ST matching case, ACSI bus; Megafile 30 and 60 had a 5,25" RLL (often a Seagate ST238R 30 MByte or Seagate ST277R 60 MByte drive) with ST506 interface
    • Megafile 44 - Removable cartridge drive, ACSI bus, Mega ST matching case
    • SLM804 - Laser printer, connected through ACSI DMA port, used ST's memory and processor to build pages for printing
    • SLM605 - Laser printer, connected through ACSI DMA port, smaller than SLM805

    Magazines

    • STart Magazine
      STart Magazine
      STart Magazine was a spin-off computer magazine started by ANTIC magazine. Unlike ANTIC, STart focused on Atari's new ST computer line. The magazine lasted 42 issues, from 1986 to 1991, actually outliving its parent. It originally started from Atari ST specific sections in ANTIC magazine, later...

    • Atari ST User
      Atari ST User
      Atari ST User was a British computer magazine aimed at users of the Atari ST range. It started life as a pull-out section in Atari User magazine...

    • ST-Log
    • ST Action
      ST Action
      ST Action was a video game magazine published in the UK during the late 1980s and early 1990s that covered the Atari ST, platform. Some coverage was also given to the Atari Lynx and Atari Jaguar in the later stages of its life, although this was limited to the news section.ST Action was launched in...

    • ST Format
      ST Format
      ST Format was a computer magazine in the UK covering the Atari ST during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Like other members of the Future Publishing Format stable - PC Format and Amiga Format, for instance, it combined software and hardware reviews with columnists, letters pages and a cover...

    • COMPUTE!
      COMPUTE!
      Compute! was an American computer magazine that was published from 1979 to 1994, though it can trace its origin to 1978 in Len Lindsay's PET Gazette, one of the first magazines for the Commodore PET computer. In its 1980s heyday Compute! covered all major platforms, and several single-platform...

    • Page 6
      Page 6
      Page 6 was an independent British publication aimed at users of Atari home computers. It was published between 1982 and 1998...


    External links