Atari ST: Accidental Musical Workhorse

Atari STIt became the music sequencing tool of choice for countless musicians, almost completely by chance. The Atari ST, Atari’s 16-bit successor to their long running 8-bit computer range, was launched almost 32 years ago, and Dr. Steve “Heartbleed” Bagley shows us his own extensive collection!


source: Computerphile on YouTube

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msausretrogamerMs. ausretrogamer
Co-founder, editor and writer at ausretrogamer – The Australian Retro Gamer E-Zine. Lover of science fiction, fashion, books, movies and TV. Player of games, old and new.

Follow Ms. ausretrogamer on Twitter

 

 

Atari ST Gaming: The AtariCrypt Magazine

Atari ST fans rejoice! We finally have an exclusive magazine we can all drool over (and tease our Amiga friends with)!

The ST Army Of Two, Steve Gregory & Darren Doyle (aka: Ataricrypt) have joined forces to bring us a very special Christmas gift for 2016: the ‘AtariCrypt Collection Volume One‘ magazine – packed with 70 pages of awesomely curated Atari ST content!

This “FREE” digital magazine can be downloaded from the AtariCrypt site. Although the mag is free, there is the (voluntary) option to reward Steve and Darren for their hard work in bringing us this brill mag!

source: AtariCrypt

 

Press Play On Tape: STart Me Up

PPOT_13_HDRFinally, the great Atari 16-bit computer gets its time to shine on the PRESS PLAY ON TAPE podcast! With Maximum Power Up’s podcaster, Paul Monaghan as the special guest, Daz is outnumbered and admits defeat in the 16-bit computer battle. The cast looks back fondly at the ST and its many great games, from exclusives like Oids, to awesome arcade conversions like R-Type and the ultimate adventure RPG, Dungeon Master.

Rainbow Arts was chosen as the publisher of choice, with The Great Giana Sisters and Turrican getting lots of love from the lads. This month also saw a record number of responses for the audience question, which goes to show that there is plenty of love for Atari’s Sixteen/Thirty-two computer! So grab your Amiga mates and STart me up!

PRESS PLAY ON TAPE podcasts are available on iTunes and Podbean

 

The Lovely Atari STacy

STacy_HDRThe Atari STacy! What the? If Atari were good at one thing, it was naming their computer range, hence the STacy being a play on their Atari ST range and a cool woman’s name.

Who didn’t want a portable ST back in 1989 that weighed almost 7kg! Well, if we had arms like Arnie Schwarzenegger and a matching bank balance (The Atari STacy was not cheap – it retailed for a cool $3,000AUD!), we probably would have forked-out our hard earned cash for one. It definitely would have been a wise investment, as there were less than 35,000 units sold, making this portable Atari computer a very rare commodity.

The STacy came in four models, with the STacy 4 (4MB RAM version) being the top of the line. For those technically minded, here are the all-important Atari STacy specifications:

  • Operating system: Atari TOS 1.04
  • CPU: Motorola 68HC000 (at 8 MHz)
  • Memory RAM: 1 MB (4×220 bytes) (expandable to 4 MB)
  • ROM: 192 KB
  • Storage: 3.5″ floppy drive, 3.5″ SCSI 20MB-40MB harddrive Conner Peripherals Inc.
  • Display: 10.4″ EPSON LCD passive matrix backlight
  • Graphics: 320×200 (16), 640×200 (4), 640×400 (2)
  • Sound: Yamaha YM-2149, three channels, 8 octaves
  • Input: 95 keys, QWERTY, 2 Joystick ports, RS 232C, Centronics, external Floppy, ROM-Cartridge, DMA for Printer/HD, MIDI In/Out, Monitor
  • Power: NiCad pack, 12 standard C cell alkaline batteries, DC18V 2.0A 36W AC Adaptor
  • Dimensions: 13.3 x 15 x 13.3 inches
  • Weight: 7kg/15.2 lb

Open me up, Stacy!
STacy_Open

You turn me on Stacy!
STacy_On

Lovely keyboard you have there Stacy
STacy_Keyboard

A lovely rear-end
STacy_rear_end

Power up!
STacy_left

Insert joysticks and floppies on this side!
STacy_right

image source: eBay

 

Press Play On Tape: Amiga vs Atari ST

PPOT_ep2_headerBefore the 16-bit Sega and Nintendo console war era, there was the 16-bit computing war in the late 80s between Commodore’s Amiga and Atari’s ST. The war between these two titans was being waged in schoolyards across the world – you were either a diehard Amiga fan or an ST whiz kid.

In episode two of PRESS PLAY ON TAPE, hosts Daz & yours truly, Alex Boz, together with special guest, Matt Cawley, go toe to toe on which computer was best. It’s Amiga vs ST – a battle for the ages! As nostalgic 16-bit blows are traded, we even find time to reflect on the once mighty publisher, Epyx. As Professor Elvin Atombender famously said, “Stay awhile, staaaay FOREVER!”.

press_play_on_tape_podbean_header

If you like PRESS PLAY ON TAPE on Facebook, you will enter the wonderful world of 8 and 16-bit computing awesomeness – with plenty of discussions and lots of photos to tingle your nostalgic senses! You can listen and subscribe to the PRESS PLAY ON TAPE podcast on Podbean or iTunes.

 

My Atari Story: Matt Lacey

Why I Still Love Atari Computers

These days the Atari name is almost nowhere to be seen: the company is not the company it was when it was great. It’s not much more than simply the owner of some IP that enjoyed a golden age thirty years ago. But what a golden age it was.

Where It Started For Me

I was lucky as a kid because my dad was a computer guy. He was a programmer in the punch card era, and quickly became an Atari fan with the launch of their formidable 8-bit machines at the end of the seventies. I had an 800 in my bedroom when I was young, after my dad upgraded to an ST. That same machine is still alive and kicking to this day. Aside from a few LOGO procedures, I didn’t do anything with that computer except play games. One of those games was Star Raiders which I consider to be an incredible technical achievement for the time, and is still tremendously enjoyable 35 years after its release. It’s also still brutally difficult, and if you’ve never played it, I implore you to do so. If you ever liked Wing Commander, TIE Fighter or games of their ilk, then you’ll be right at home with Star Raiders.

The motherboard from an Atari 800XL that I'm attempting to restore

The motherboard from an Atari 800XL that I’m attempting to restore

During the 16-bit Atari vs. Amiga wars of the 80s, circumstances dictated that I was firmly in the Atari camp. Although technically the ST could never really match the A500 for power, it does get credit for being available considerably earlier, and the MIDI ports were great for musicians. I’ll never forget jumping out of my chair when I fired up a game called Chopper-X and my still-connected keyboard suddenly started blasting the music at full volume right behind me.

It was on the ST that I first played Monkey Island and Loom (games that I still play regularly) which kicked off a lifelong love affair with LucasArts’ graphic adventures. It was also the first machine I ever wrote code on, some primitive BASIC it may have been, but that pretty much set the direction for my life.

Today

Perhaps it’s nostalgia talking, but computers today simply have no charm. There’s little fun to be found using them, they’re merely tools for a job, and tools that annoy more often than they delight. Macs and a few high-end PC laptops aside, they’re generally made of nasty, cheap plastic, and none of them seem like they’re built to last. As computers have become commodity items they have also fallen prey to the talons of planned obsolescence in a big way.

For me, all old computers are a joy to use (yes I’d even like to own a few Amigas these days); they have their own quirks and oddities, but they don’t feel sterile and they’ll certainly never chastise you for disconnecting a device unsafely. Granted, disconnecting a device in use is likely to trash your data, but I’d rather learn once and be treated as an intelligent being than deal with dialog boxes displaying mundane lines such as ‘You shut down your computer because of a problem’. No, you think? (for the record, this was my Mac, last week, after I had to forcefully shut it down because it wouldn’t wake up from sleep mode).

This is my all-time favourite computer

This is my all-time favourite computer

Last year I purchased my dream computer: An Atari Falcon 030. This ill-fated and little-known machine was the successor to the ST, released in 1992. Unfortunately the plug was pulled in 1993 so that the company could focus on the Jaguar. On the outside it looks pretty much the same as an ST but with a different logo and darker keycaps, but on the inside it’s a solid performer, supporting a true colour display and capable of recording audio direct to hard disk thanks to a Digital Signal Processor running alongside the CPU. Today people still covet these machines and you can even get new hardware for them. Lotharek produces a few items including the NetUSBee which makes transferring files on and off of the machine far easier than in the past, and there’s some cheap IDE DOMs available which make for easy, silent replacements for aging IDE hard drives.

Yes – it feels a little clunky and awkward compared to modern machines, but it’s fun to use and explore. There’s a few people developing games specifically for the Falcon still, and I’m looking to join their ranks; I have some sprites and things moving around but free time is hard to come by. Either way, I’ll keep at it when I can because it’s enjoyable and a good way to sharpen the programming skills.

Debugging sprite routines. Note the NetUSBee sticking out of the cartridge port

Debugging sprite routines. Note the NetUSBee sticking out of the cartridge port

Go Buy One!

There’s still a strong and very active community surrounding Atari computers and consoles with several great forums and #atariscne on IRCNET is a great way to get help with code, so there’s never been a better time to get involved. The machines are relatively cheap (Falcons and TTs aside), though slightly tricky to get hold of in Australia compared to Europe and the US. There seems to be more and more hardware extensions appearing all the time which makes using them better than it’s ever been. And don’t forget to buy that Star Raiders cart while you’re at it if you spring for an 8-bit.

ILoveAtari

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MattLaceyMatt Lacey
Co-Founder of SPKeasey and ProxInsight. Salesforce & ForceDotCom MVP. Code addict. Fan of science, snowboarding & beer. Learning M68k ASM for kicks. A proud Atarian.

Follow Matt on Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Games Charts: November 1990

Top5_Title

There is no denying that there were some awesome games released towards the end of 1990. The below charts are testament to these great games that still endure till this day (Ed: well, some of them anyway).

So, take out those Amiga Operation Stealth diskettes and blow into that dusty Super Mario Bros. cartridge for some unabashed retro gaming experience. Nostalgia rules y’all!

  1) Golden Axe (Sega)
2) Chase HQ (Sega / Taito)
3) Operation Wolf (Sega / Taito)
4) Battle Out Run (Sega)
5) Double Dragon (Sega / Technos)

 

  1) Super Mario Bros 2 (Nintendo)
2) Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (Nintendo)
3) The Legend Of Zelda (Nintendo)
4) Super Mario Bros (Nintendo)
5) Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest (Konami)

 

Amiga_108 1) Corporation (Core Design)
2) Shadow Of The Beast 2 (Psygnosis)
3) Operation Stealth (US Gold / Delphine)
4) Shadow Warriors (Ocean)
5) Wings (Mirrorsoft / Cinemaware)

 

atari_st 1) F-19 Stealth Fighter (Microprose)
2) Their Finest Hours (US Gold / Lucasfilm)
3) Shadow Warriors (Ocean)
4) Operation Stealth (US Gold / Delphine)
5) Midnight Resistance (Ocean)