The ideal computer and how ST was close to it ?

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Fuji Shaped Bastard
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The ideal computer and how ST was close to it ?

Postby AtariZoll » Sun Dec 18, 2016 10:12 am

Got idea about this while looking some other thread, in some distance galaxy (actually just other forum :D ) :

The ideal computer should be/have:

Affordable price for average Earthling
Quality components, assembling
Having later CPU technology for speed, and same stays for other main components
Easily connectable with standard peripherals
Easily upgradeable
Allowing installation of popular OS-es

That would be what I can think for some 21st Century machine.

In 1985 it was probably little different:

Affordable price ...
Quality components, assembling
Having later CPU technology for speed, and ...
Easily upgradeable
Easily connectable to TVs
Equipped with some GUI OS

In 1985 we did not have standard(s) for computer monitors, and many other peripherals, so could not blame Atari for using special video connector.
TV output was best what I seen in that price range - considering video quality.
What we could discuss is OS and upgradeability. Indeed, TOS was not some inventive OS - mostly based on DR DOS and then new GUI GEM. With some level of PC compatibility in mind (or just to make it easier for developers ?) . Still, it was pretty good, and fast solution.
By me the weakest part was upgradeability: inside machine (talking about ST) was nothing supporting it. No even RAM sockets. On the outside there was cartridge port and DMA port. Ad there was Atari's idea that they will supply people with all necessary peripherals. What happened partially.
So, we had laser printer, mass storage, CD ... Some independent manufacturers were better than Atari - ICD.
But doing something like ROM replacement or expansion or video upgrade was possible only with opening machine and mostly soldering. In other words, some general expansion port was missing. They added it in Mega ST, Mega STE, TT, Falcon, but it was different (only TT and Mega STE had same VME).
So, my conclusion is that Atari did very good job with ST. But that concept was already sentenced to not much long lifetime. Some expansion port would make it little longer, at some extra cost - question is would it make sales better or worse, at beginning. What was bad happened later. Like they lost clear vision of how to go further.
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Fuji Shaped Bastard
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Re: The ideal computer and how ST was close to it ?

Postby DarkLord » Sun Dec 18, 2016 8:02 pm

For the time (1986/1987) when I purchased my first 520ST, it was perfect. The
price/performance/features ratio couldn't be matched by anything else at that
time, IMHO (this is from a USA perspective, I should note).

The ST's heyday, 1985'ish through 1990, was the best computing years of my

Sure, I"ve got a fast laptop now, running an OS that I can actually admire and
respect (Linux), but somehow, it's not the same....

So yeah, for me, the ST was as close to an "ideal" computer as could be. :)
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Re: The ideal computer and how ST was close to it ?

Postby EmpireAndrew » Sun Dec 18, 2016 10:56 pm

Maybe it's the fact it was my first computer, and maybe I have rose tinted spectacles, but...

I picked the ST over the Amiga when given the choice as I felt it was a better all round computer, as in when looking at more than just games.
Even at 14 I wanted to do more than just play games, something the Amiga was better at in many cases (early ports aside).

The RRP on the Amiga was £100 (33%) more than the ST at the time and I felt it wasn't worth it for features that were mainly of benefit for games only, especially as I got a faster processor (of more use in general computing) and a nicer looking OS (that blue and orange workbench with it's chunky windows and font remains to this day the most hideous desktop in the history of man, and what's with the obnoxiously large icons?) ) with instant boot from ROM, even if it was only single tasking (not that big a deal at the time as the machines didn't have enough memory for meaningful multi tasking and the Amiga seemed downright unstable although it improved over the years as I understand it).
I also got direct PC floppy compatibility, cheaper simm based memory upgrades to a whopping 4MB, and most importantly the 640x480 high res mode which was frankly needed for doing work. The rock steady high refresh rate vs the Amiga's headache inducing interlaced "high res" mode was a no-brainer.
I learnt to program on the thing in C and a little assembler, I did all my word processing and desktop publishing, frankly I loved it. It was all the computer you could need, and only 300 quid.
The £100 saved over the Amiga 500 went on memory and some minor accessories. Later I added a small hard drive.
Finally a 14,400 baud modem.
Apart from the fact you're limited in connectivity speed for intern access, and web pages have become bloated javascript apps these days, I don't see the need for much more to be honest. Video and mp3 playback aside I suppose.

It was at least as good for doing work as my friends 286 PC's, and far, far better at games.

I have had more computers than I can remember, most are gone of course, but I still have a couple of the latest Macs, an 8 core i7 rig, another high end compact NUC, plus old machines, clamshell iBook, Newton, Powermac G3 tower, 030 based LC Mac, pentium 60 win 3.11 PC, Amiga 500 to name but a few, plus the Atari's in my sig.

My favourite is still the ST. Yes the TT is *way* faster and a better machine period. But back in the day it was an expensive machine and harder to justify. A £300/£400 ST was an amazing buy. The later priced-dropped to £!59 520 STFM was the cherry buy though.

If I had to go back to just my ST and my smartphone I'd be fine with that.
1977 VCS Heavy Sixxer (Boxed)
1990 Atari 1040STE, 4MB, UltraSatan, TOS 2.06, TT Touch -> Atari SC1435 Colour CRT Monitor
1991 Atari TT030, 2/16MB, Int 8GB Gigafile SCSI2CF, TOS 3.06, CaTTamaran Accelerator -> Atari TTM195 19" Mono CRT Monitor
1993 Atari Falcon030, 14MB, Int 4GB IDE2SD, TOS 4.04 -> Atari PTC1426 Color CRT Monitor
Amiga, Mac, DOS, Newton, SGI, Sun, NeXTStation and more!

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