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______ ______ / \ / \ /________\ /________\ | ______ | | ______ | ||Mega || ||Falcon|| ||STe/TT|| _||ST/STe|| ||______|| | ||______|| /|________|\ | |________| /____________\ / |_/|\_ _--_ | / _____________ _|____________| | |/////////////| | \|/////////////| \ ____________ _ |_____________|\ |/////////// | \ | /////////___| | |LLLLLLLL LLL| _ |LLLLLLLLL LLL| _ |LLLLLLLL LLL||'| |LLLLLLLLL LLL||'| |_[____]_____| - |_[_____]_____| - About the Atari 16/32-bit Computers (ST,STe,Mega,Mega STe,Falcon030,Stacy,TT) The Older ST(fm) Series: The Atari ST and Mega computer systems are based on the Motorola 68000 microprocessor, 32-bit internal, 16-bit external. The operating system is built in TOS (The Operating System) with GEM (Graphics Environment Manager) Desktop. The system clock runs at the speed of 8MHz. The computers come in many different versions. The 520STfm comes with 512k and can be expanded to 1 Meg by soldering in extra RAM. The Mega ST comes with either 2 or 4 megs of RAM. It also has room to add additional hardware internally if needed. All of these computers have a built-in 3.5" 720k double sided, double density, floppy disk drive. Even though it says "720k" it can be pushed to format about 1 Meg. The STs hard disk interface is DMA and can only handle Atari hard drives or hard drives made especially for the ST. The ST computers have three separate video outputs; an RF modulator for normal TVs, composite and RGB color monitor outputs, and an extra-high-resolution monochrome display output. The Atari RGB color monitors are made especially for the ST to give very sharp output. The Atari monochrome monitors are excellent and well known for use with word processing, music, and desktop publishing. The ST computers have standard interfaces allowing you to hook up different types of equipment to it. The RS-232 serial communications port enables you to connect modems of any brand, digitizing tablets, plotters, printers and any other RS-232 standard equipment. The Centronics parallel printer port enables you to connect all types of printers to it and does not restrict Atari only printers. One of the most unique things that the Atari ST computers have that no other computer on the market has is built-in MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) ports. This enables the ST to be connected to musical instruments, such as electronic synthesizers, etc. Musicians from all over the world are using STs specifically because it was made with music in mind. All STs have cartridge slots on the left side or back of the computer. This slot is being used to hook up hardware or even help emulate computers such as the Macintosh with the Spectre GCR. Underneath the keyboard or behind the keyboard are joystick/mouse ports. These ports are used to either control the desktop with a mouse or play games with joysticks. The STs keyboard is a standard QWERTY keyboard with a numerical keypad and 10 Function keys. The 10 Function keys are used by ST programs or even IBM programs when an IBM computer emulator is used. The Mega ST computers have a detached keyboard, a box housing the CPU with a built in 3.5" disk drive, a battery-powered real-time clock calendar, and a blitter chip for high speed animation. The Mega ST computers were designed as "open architecture" which in the future might be able to handle such chips as the Motorola 68020 and the 68881 math co-processor. Atari's hard drives and removable tape drives fit comfortably on top of the CPU box (which is also a monitor stand). 1040 STe Line: The 1040 STe computers are the current low end Atari machines, an "enhanced" version of the 520STfm and older models. The 1040STe has 4,096 colors as suppose to 512 colors. It has an 8-bit digital stereo sound chip which makes very high quality sound. It contains a blitter chip, a hardware-based smooth scrolling addition (for game programmers to make some real hot games), two analog joystick ports (can be split into 4 more joysticks or padles to allow 6 total or be used for high-tech mice or robotics), and features easy to add SIMM memory upgrades. The 1040 STe can be expanded to 4 Megs currently but some have claimed to expand it to 16 Megs. It also has a new TOS and GEM desktop. The ST has been redesigned to the STe so that it can compete and be expanded for years to come. The 1040STe can be found for around $400 in the 1 Meg form and about $600 in the expanded 4 Meg Ram form. This is a pretty amazing price for atleast its time and many who have used the STe with a TV set claims that its RF-Modulator is so good that you don't really need a monitor. Remember, this includes a disk drive, a modem port, a printer port, a MIDI port, and 1 Meg of memory. An 8-bit computer system could not be put together similar to this for under $650. The 1040 STe, with double the memory of its closest competitor, may be a champ in the present home computer boom. The 520STfm is no longer being manufactured, however it is has the best compatibility with older software. In order for Atari to keep up with technology, it had to change certain things within the 1040 STe computer. These changes has made many entertainment titles incompatible with it atleast until the programmers rewrite the software title to make it compatible. The MegaST production line has been terminated due to a new and improved similar computer system called the "Mega STe". Stacy: All of these computer systems are very powerful and the users of this SIG seem very happy with them. But one computer system that hasn't been mentioned that deserves acknowledgment is the Atari Stacy portable computer. The Stacy, is an ST portable that you can take on the road with you. It is presently mainly being used by musicians who love to work with the ST but need the portability of it when they travel. It is also used by Macintosh computer users, surprisingly enough as a Macintosh portable. The Stacy, with David Small's Spectre GCR Macintosh emulator plugged into the cartridge slot acts like a regular Macintosh. The reasons Macintosh users look at the Stacy as a possible portable for them is because many say it is better than the current portable Macintosh on the market. It is also about 2x less expensive with the emulator. MegaSTe: Now, on to the Mega STe. The Mega STe has a new computer body similar to that of the TT but has a grey color rather than off-white. It has a pair of serial ports and a local area network (Appletalk compatible) port. There is a VME bus cart slot accessible through a panel on the back of the machine which will allow for an additional serial port card. It also has 2 Megs of RAM, and a switchable 16/8 Mhz acceleration with or without RAM cache, and an internal 50 megabyte hard drive. The desktop is totally different from that of the 520STfm and 1040STe for it is much better and more professional looking (not to say the old ST desktop isn't). It also has just about everything else that the 1040 STe has including stereo sound for the new 15" SC1435 color monitors that are being produed for it. The newer MegaSTe's are shipping with 1.44 meg floppy drives, whereas the the older MegaSTe's can be upgraded with a minimum of trouble. Falcon030: Atari's Falcon030 is a brand new product, not available in mass quantities yet. It's style is almost exactly that of the 1040STe. The only difference is that it has really dark gray keys, and Atari's name is in rainbow colors. It comes with 1, 4, or 14 megs of memory, a 1.44 megabyte 3.5" high density floppy drive, and an optional internal 84 meg IDE hard drive (that is only 2.5"!). Inside the machine, is a 16 mHz 68030, Motorola's 32 bit chip (the 68040 is also 32bit, and even better than the 68030). It has a BLiTTER like in the STe's, however this BLiTTER is 16 mHz. It also has a chip from Motorola called the DSP chip (short for Digital Signal Processor). This chip is used to add effects to sound, compress images, act as a modem, or do any other kind of signal processing. It runs at a full 32 mHz! It also has a port on the back of the computer for such uses as a connector to a modular jack, so the DSP can act as a modem. In terms of video, the Falcon can do almost anything you throw at it. There are programs such as FalconScreen that will allow resolutions greater than 800x600 with 256 colors! There are many modes available through the new desktop. It allows for 40 or 80 column modes (320 or 640 lines across), and 200 or 400 lines down. On a ST Monitor, the 400 line mode is interlaced, and on a VGA, it is accually 240/480. In terms of sound quality, the Falcon can beat any CD Player. Also new is the desktop with 16 color icons, and 3D buttons. It includes a MultiTasking program called MultiTOS also. You can find a Falcon for $799 for 1 meg and no hard drive, $1299 for a 4 meg and 84 meg hard drive, and $1899 for a 14 meg and 84 meg hard drive. TT030: Atari's TT030 is the company's new high end machine, similiar in body style as the MegaSTe, with a slightly lighter color. The TT030s consist of a 68030 running at 32 Mhz with cache, 68882 math coprocessor, and a new desktop (Tos 3.06) similiar to Tos 2.06 but taking advantage of the TT's new resources. The TT also includes 2 new graphics modes in addition to the 3 normal ST resolutions. These are a 640x480 in 16 colors out of 4096, and a 320x480 in 256 colors out of 4096 mode. A LAN port and VME slot are also standard equipment. The newer TT's are shipping with 1.44 meg drives, whereas the older models can be upgraded. The TT memory can be expanded to over 16 Megs of TT fast Ram. There is also a beautiful 19 inch monochrome monitor out for the TT that makes it an excellent choice for high end DTP and CAD applications. MIDI The Atari ST computer systems have found several "niche" markets or are used specifically to do a certain task. The main "niche" is in the music industry. At one point in time, the Macintosh computer system was used to meet the needs of many musicians, but now the Atari ST seems to be taking over this market rapidly. Ever since the January, 1985 Comsumer Electronics show, musicians have been talking about the possibilities of the new machine with MIDI ports actually built into it! The built-in MIDI ports inspired many programmers to write software to take advantage of it and take advantage of the music capability within the ST. The ST now has the most and probably the best musical software for it today. If you are a musician, any computer owner, not just Atari owners will tell you that the ST is the best for you. Why? Because of several factors. The first and probably most important factor to you is the price of the ST. It is affordable to you, as a part-time musician or even a beginner musician. You don't have to spend 3x the amount of money on another computer system that this computer system can do better. Professional musicians who have some extra cash to spend are also buying the ST because it is soon becomming a standard computer to use with their equipment. The computer is also being supported not only by many 3rd party software and hardware manufacturers but also by Atari itself. No other computer company has practically released a portable computer for musicians alone. Atari has also created the "Hotz Box" with Jimmy Hotz to help continue to show musicians that they are worth the effort. There is so much music software for the Atari ST that there is just not enough room to mention all of them. In attempt to not be favorites without realizing what I am favoring, you should go to the MIDI section of the Atari SIG for more information on software provided by people who are more knowledgable in that area. Desktop Publishing The next "niche" that Atari is breaking into is the desktop publishing market. Atari has shown great interest in this market by introducing desktop publishing systems consisting of the Mega STe computers and SLM804 laser printer. Atari is continuing this interest by producing a newer and better laser printer. The reason many desktop publishers like using the ST as a desktop publishing system is because it does the job, it is very comfortable to use and the system itself is very affordable. Even though this may not be a very large market, everyone has newsletters to make, resumes to write, and pictures to create. A high-end desktop publishing system that would cost above $10,000 on other computer systems, costs less than $6,000 on an Atari. The most popular desktop publishing software for the ST are: Calamas Desktop Publisher ST ISD Marketing Inc. Timeworks Inc. 2651 John St., 444 Lake Cook Road Unit 3, Markham, Ontario Deerfield, IL 60015 L3R2W5 (416) 479-1880 (708) 948-9200 Fleet Street Publisher PageStream MichTron Soft-Logik Publishing Corp. 3201 Drummond Plaza 11131 S. Towne Square, Suite F Newark, DE 19711 St. Louis, MO 63123 (302) 454-7946 (314) 894-8608 Desktop Video A niche that Atari is attempting to gain more of a market in, especially with the release of the 1040 STe is the Desktop Video market. Although, the Amiga computers are well known for their production of video graphics, the STs and especially the STes can hold their own. There are many Atari users who use their ST for video production mainly because its screen doesn't jump around when producing high-quality graphics like other computers. They can easily connect "Video Key" to their ST from Practical Solutions and video record anything they wish on to their VCR or video studio. The only draw-back that the present STs have is when genlocking to an external video signal, it needs a hardware unit for high-quality output called "JRI Genlock" made by John Russell Innovations and has a whopping price tag of $650.00. However, the newer STe computers are said to be more friendly to genlocking and devices for it should not nearly cost as much as it does for the STs. Some of the software and hardware well known for Desktop Video are: JRI Genlock Vidi-ST John Russell Innovations Computer Games Plus P.O. Box 5277 Box 6144 Pittsburg, CA 94565 Orange, CA 92667 (415) 458-9577 (714) 639-8189 Videotext TV Titles 2.0 Water Fountain Software J.P. Deziel 13 E.17th St. R.R. 1 3rd Floor Box 6 New York, NY 10003 Chelsea, Quebec J0X1N0 (212) 929-6204 (819) 827-0551 Emulation Another "niche" which isn't really a niche but since we are going in order of what the ST is noted for, this is certainly one of them. The ST is great at emulating computers. It can emulate the Macintosh, the IBM PC/XT, and many of its major competitors except for Amiga, but I guess that's because there seems little reason to. It can also emulate old 8-bit computer systems such as the Atari 8-bits, Commodore 8-bits, and even the Apple IIs. But many of these 8-bit emulators often are restricted in emulation and cannot fully emulate them due to the difference in speed. Kevin Steele is a technical writer and has written an article about how the ST can be used to emulate the Macintosh and IBM PC. He has been kind enough to provide us with this information on some of the various emulators around: ======== Emulators and the ST: An Operating System For Every Occasion by Kevin Steele The Atari ST has been called the "Chameleon Computer," and with good reason. The ST can emulate a number of different systems, including CPM computers, Atari 8-bit computers, and most importantly, even IBM and Apple Macin ps to guard against computer obsolescence, a major problem with owning an "off-b There are several IBM emulators available for the ST, but the most popular seems to be the SuperCharger, built by a German company known as Beta Sy and a 10Mhz V30 CPU. This unit emulates a "Turbo XT," and offers the unique abil e to run while the ST is turned off. There are two Macintosh emulators available, although only one is available in the US. This emulator is the Spectre GCR, which stands head and shoulders above the other emulator, Aladdin, which is only sold in Europe. The Spectre GCR is a cartridge which plugs into the ST, and which uses actual Macintosh ROMs to offer almost perfect compatability with the Macint n, it offers a screen size that is 30% larger than the standard Mac screen (640x400 vs. 512x342). Each of these emulators cannot pretend to maintain 100% compatability with even claiming an amazing 98% compatability ratio. While these emulators cannot replace these computers, they can be used in situations where another computer would be handy. Emulators offer the ST owner specific piece of software not yet available for the Atari ST. ========= The 8-bit emulators are either public domain or shareware. The following are a list of emulators for the ST available in the United States but don't be surprised if a few more show up within the year. Please also remember that each emulator has its strength and weakness and you may want to either read reviews for it or ask around to see which is the best for you. PC Speed SuperCharger Talon Technologies Talon Technologies 243 N. Highway 243 N. Highway 101 #11 101 #11 Solana Beach, CA 92075 Solana Beach, CA 92075 (619) 792-6511 (619) 792-6511 Spectre GCR Gadgets by Small Inc. 40 W. Littleton Blvd. #210 Littleton, CO 80120 (303) 791-6098 Education As the Apple II computers are leaving the education scene, Atari computers are moving in. It's true. In the Cleveland Public High Schools, Atari ST computers are used to teach students and are networked together. They don't only have a couple but entire rooms full and that is because Atari computers are great computers in the education scene. The Cleveland Public schools aren't the only schools using Atari computers, Bob Coulter, a teacher at West Geauga Middle School has interested not only other teachers on what Ataris can do but has interested the school into purchasing more STs for their students to use. Thanks goes to Bob Coulter for writing an article on how the ST can be used in education. ======== ST in Education by Bob Coulter A revolution is now occuring in the area of education and computers. Throughout the United States schools are in the process of upgrading their computer systems to 16 bit machines. The 8 bit machines are a dying breed and everyone knows it, including Apple. If Atari ever wants to make a move in education, now is the time. The ST is an excellent choice for school computer labs because it's versatile, powerful, and above all affordable. The purpose and goal of computer labs is to teach our students such programs as word processing, spreadsheets, data bases, desktop publishing, graphics, and other productive 16 bit programs. We need to teach them what they are going to be using and in need of in the outside world. All of these programs are readily available for the ST and at a more reasonable price than the IBM counterparts. Then too, if a school really wants to run IBM or even Mac software, the ST can be made to emulate these at a far lower-price than by actuallypurchasing suchcomputers. Yes, the ST is an excellent choice for education. The ST can perform above any standards set by a school system for their computer labs. It's a system that all schools should investigate before making any commitment. They would really be impressed with the ST and what it can do for education. ======= Wordprocessing As you can tell, we are leaving the "niche" scene and into just what the ST can do pretty well in. The Atari ST was never designed to be a game computer unlike other systems, and that is why the ST isn't mainly noted for games. It is really noted as a professional system with its desktop publishing and its word processors. Although Word Writer by Timeworks seems like the most popular of all the wordprocessors for ST owners, the ST has many more to choose from, each with their own special features. Some of the most popular wordprocessors are of the following: Word Writer 1st Word Plus Script Timeworks, Inc. 1st Word Plus Megamax Application Systems 444 Lake Cook Road P.O. Box 15008 1200 E. Collins #214 Deerfield, IL 60015 Portland, ME 04101 Richardson, TX 75081 (708) 948-9200 (207) 874-0702 (214) 699-7400 Tempus II Wordflair MichTron Goldleaf Publishing Inc. 3201 Drummond Plaza 700 Larkspur Landing Circle Newark, DE 19711 Larkspur, CA 94939 (302) 454-7946 (415) 461-4552 Word Perfect WordPerfect Corp. 1555 N. Technology Way Orem, UT 84057 (801) 225-5000 Entertainment The ST is known in many European countries as not only a great professional computer but also a great entertainment computer. When we hear the name "Atari" in the United States, we think of games and even though that's not the entire story behind what the ST can do, like it or not, that sure is part of it. There are many entertainment software titles on the market for the ST and many of them are very good. We can't possibly name them all and we aren't even going to try. But just ask around and you'll find out that there is most likely a game that you'll love playing on the ST. Atari ST and TT computers are very powerful and both promise great success. Atari Corporation is showing greater support for the machines here in the United States and with that support, there is new life.