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Atari ST, the misunderstood computer?

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I have been Atari ST owner for many years, i have owned Amiga too. Many people seems to have missunderstand what Atari ST was about.


I have seen so many clips on YouTube or threads in forums where people compare Amiga to Atari ST. Then they say, look, Amiga has better graphics, Amiga has better sound. Those people don't seems to have understand what Atari ST was about.


From the beginning Atari ST was built to battle MAC as a "serious computer", that's why ST used a similar GUI (GEM), so similar that Apple actually sued Atari for using it. ST also used a monochrome monitor for high resolution (no scanlines) and 70 Hz refresh rate that made Atari ST perfect for serious use. Besides that ST contained everything in ROM. Just boot the computer and everything is ready to run.


For gaming ST was considerably more limited then Amiga. While ST just used a simple frame buffer and software generated sprites Amiga contained Jay Miner's custom chips. The only area ST could battle Amiga in gaming was in pure vector games where ST had a bit faster processor, else Amiga was THE computer for gaming.


MAC was the computer for serious use while Amiga was the computer for games, graphics and demos while Atari ST was something in between. The serious computer that could be used for playing games as well. Not to say that demos and games couldn't be good on ST too off course but when Amiga capabilities was used to the full, ST didn't stand a chance.


So, when people just compare the computers for graphics and sound, it isn't a fair comparison because ST was the allround computer made to battle MAC from the beginning.


Many people who bought Atari ST was kind of surprised, including me. Atari was supposed to be about gaming, but not this time. In fact Amiga was way more similar to Atari 8bit then ST ever was thanks to one person, Jay Miner.


This is Atari ST when showing it's real strength. In this comparison, Amiga don't stand a chance.



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Even Amiga was from the beginning a computer that Commodore advertised as a all-purpose business machine, but soon Amiga became something else as we all know. In fact, the only computer that actually kept the serious business side and at the same time were a demo and games computer, was Atari ST.


If we take a look at Atari ST in the whole, it was a very competent allround computer for it's time that was supposed to rival MAC. ST was about "Power without the price" and what you got was a computer that could handle a high resolution display, in fact Atari ST hooked up to the SM 124 monochrome monitor was even better then the MAC display itself. Yet you could switch to a colour display any time and play games.


To understand how good Atari ST really was...


ST is still the tightest midi computer ever built, no modern PC or MAC even comes close to the performance of Atari ST.


Check this.


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Some great reading to be had here fella.


and as part of my return to doing game reviews, if it's okay with you, I'd like to share the first video produced after some 6 years lol.


I'm not You tube spamming with the latest content, well I am, amid I? sorry about that, I'm hoping to cover some great titles on the ST Machine and hopefully not main stream amongst other formats too like th A8 and Amiga


but here's the latest peace offering :).


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I was reading through my tweets today and seen a person had put up a collection of magazine game advertisements from that great publisher Gremlin Graphics, expecting to see the usual Lotus Espirits totems and such, there was a four panelled on with games coming out circa 1988 across the Spectrum (Released) C64(released) Atari ST(unreleased) ???? , a game I'd never heard of, let alone seen it was in production and from Gremlin Graphics called "Hercules: Slayer of the Damned" .so I took the liberty of downloading and cropped this game advertisement and have posted a preview below. What happens to this game? Why wasn't it finished? Did it turn into Pegasus? It Clearly states from the advert that it was been released on the Atari ST, not even the Amiga was getting it? Who knows what happened?




I've also include a link to Lemon64 on their thoughts and review of the game plus a video play through to see what we could of had on the ST, my only conclusion is that they were working on Lotus and the few other exclusives on the ST to be bothered doing an 8-bit game port over, but I've never heard of this game and would have loved to have given it a go.


Lemon64 review : http://www.lemon64.com/?mainurl=http%3A//www.lemon64.com/games/details.php%3FID%3D1186


Hercules Slayer of the Damned gameplay c64 version.



Hope this is one is a new one for ya :)

Edited by Greyfox
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A lot of good info here.  Thank you!


I hope no one minds me mentioning this (and I may have mentioned it already, forgetful SOB that I am) ...but one of the really great things about the ST is that you can create working floppy disks from a PC with a floppy drive.  Download a disk image, create a disk, and BOOM, you can run the software on a real Atari ST.  You don't even need to find DD disks...HD works fine.  Just tape over the hole on the disk to "fool" your PC into thinking it's DD.

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I owned a 1040 for a short while and regret ridding it but had the Falcon to mostly make up for it - until you run into a ton of incompatibility problems for whatever the reason may be. Never got a solid gaming vibe from it going from the 800 and the Falcon trumped the ST so I thought but was definitely a much more expensive machine.


Someday I'll get an STe. I remember in the early 90's around the Jaguar launch, I wrote Atari in hopes to buy a new ST but received a letter stating they had discontinued sales of their computers. I don't remember if they pointed me in any other Atari retailers who may have had stock but it didn't matter, the Falcon was always on my radar for what I wanted anyways since it was to be a multimedia machine with CD-ROM attachments and such.

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Another cracking interview, again really enjoyed it, and amazing again digging out a lost ST game, as regards to getting code extracted from the disks, the guy behind Atari Mania have a team to recover such stuff, I think the best person and man for the job I suggest either pass this on to Rich to ask is Marakatti from Atarimania on how to go about the extraction work or better still, send on the stuff to him?, secondly my good friend Galahad over at EAB could do the Amiga version as he was responsible for the after 20 years release of the system 3's "Putty" from their master disks, as they couldn't read from them, but he managed it.


So again many thanks Ross for this brilliant interview, would of loved to have included this stuff in ST gamer magazine.



Edited by Greyfox
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Ahh that's a pity :( , but What about the lost ST game, Galahad is the go to man for Amiga stuff, Ask him to get in contact with Marakatti over at the Atari a Mania forum or site or over at Atari-Fourms. And as far as I know Ian Steward is easily contactible on Facebook and the likes , I'm sure he'd allow it as a gift to the communities etc. or maybe not, but it would be cool none the less.

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I don't know if this is the proper place to mention my own feeling....but here goes.


At the heydey of Amiga/ST computers, I was sadly not involved in either.  I was in college at the time, and had just upgraded from an Atari 8-bit to a PC.  It wasn't until I started collecting that I finally got an ST.  And I will say it was impressive at first.  But one thing I noticed almost immediately is that gaming was very similar to (but more limited in some ways -- control for example) to the Sega Genesis/SNES consoles.  So as a collector, I kind of lost interest too quickly in the ST.  Genesis gaming is easier has more choices. 


I guess the point of my post is kind of an exploration of why the ST just doesn't hold a huge interest to me personally.  No nostalgia since I didn't own one at the time, and just so-so collecting, since there are other systems that have the same games.  I've gone back and forth about selling the ST stuff I have, and I think that will happen very soon. 


The PC became the de-facto standard for computing, but that's a much bigger topic. 

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"I believe people are smart, not dumb. If you can give people Rolls Royces, for the price of Volkswagens, i'm sure they will buy them.."



Jack Tramiel interviewed at the CeBIT exhibition in Hanover, early'88 when asked about ST manufacturing.


Hardware or price points was never really an issue for them. The problem that Jack didn't really foresee was the lack of software/developers. It's nice to have an equal or even better in some cases car but if you can't buy the fuel needed to run the damn thing, then what's the point? ;-) I'm not saying the ST didn't have it's fair share of software just it obviously still wasn't anywhere near that of others when it came to the endless options.


One thing can certainly be said, misunderstood or not, the price of these machines continue to increase in price once again, especially the STe. Currently a used unit on eBay that is in ok condition and sitting at $405 with like 4 days to go.... bonkers pricing. Then again, I guess some older computers from the early 90s are getting higher in price as well since most of them have been tossed but still, nothing really like the Ataris.

Edited by Clint Thompson
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Oh, in Germany, the ST was a very successful machine, used in schools, universities and offices. For example the historical faculty of the university of Mainz (btw. my alma mater) had a ST-Network until the late Nineties. My only personal encounter with a Falcon030 happened there. There wasn't the slightest hint of missunderstanding.

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The problem of Amiga/ST was the fact, that CBM and Atari haven't recognized the winds of change. As in 8Bit-times they haven't improved the hardware over the years or they hadn't done in in time. There was no need to improve the C64, so they thought the same for ST and Amiga. For example the Falcon was almost two years too late.


CBM hadn't realized, that the Amiga was an Entertainment machine. They wanted a business machine. The A1000 was too expensive for the consumer-market and there was not enough software to be successfull in the business-sector. They saw no use or need to support software developers for office software. So these developers went to Apple and Mac. CBM also had financial problems in 1985/86. Not very auspicious for the introduction of a new machine.


Both had underestimated the consoles as contenders. The C64GS and the Atari XEGS are good examples for that failure.


Even the pre-Windows-PC was not really realized as a danger: "Our GUI-machines are much better than that DOS-CLI-fuss! Nuff' said!"

Now they are older and wiser.


The neckbreaking point for CBM was the Amiga 600, technically a real nonsense with the smell of mothballs. They produced a huge number of them. In favour of the A600 the development of other models was reduced. All done by Bill Sydnes, who was called the human bus error! CBM Germany wanted to sell 200 000 A600 in three months. Imagine that. Even in "Amigaland" Germany these were crazy numbers. And as mentioned above the Falcon was a late bird, but technically spoken brilliant. Same about Amiga 1200.


The QL had had another problem. It was a UK-only machine. In Germany was little to read about that machine. Oh, there was a german version with black-red-gold-tricolour and QWERTZ-keyboard, but the written news weren't overwhelming, advertisement nonexistent. Imo even the european market as a whole was not enough to withstand the ST.

Edited by TeddyGermany
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