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View Full Version : If you are really honest, how bad do you really think the Atari ST was?



Harrison
5th March 2009, 12:28
I don't think the ST vs Amiga arguments and discussions will every be completely over until the last person dies who lived in the 16-bit era of the 80's and 90's.

However it has now been years since the Amiga and ST were commercial products and were competing against each other for sales, and against each other in terms of their communities.

But now that both platforms are retro and we are all a bit wiser and a bit older, can you be honest and say what you really think of the Atari ST compared to the Amiga?

We all know the history behind the two platforms. The fact that the Amiga was originally going to be Atari's 16-bit computer, but got bought out from under them at the last minute by Commodore. And we know that the ST's hardware was quickly put together from off the shelf parts, making the hardware physically not as powerful as the Amiga's. However even with the differences the ST could still hold its own as a gaming platform and for productivity work.

So what do you think of the Atari ST?

Buleste
5th March 2009, 12:33
Never Owned one. Never used one. Tried an emulated one and hated GEM. Always got pissed off the ST games were cheaper than Amiga games.

Puni/Void
5th March 2009, 12:35
I don't have much experience with the Atari ST, so I can't really write a long comment here. From what I've seen though, the OS looks and feels a lot worse than the Amiga Workbench.

woody.cool
5th March 2009, 13:04
It was kind of OK, but inferior in many ways.

I have an Atari 520STfm and an Atari 1040STf sitting at home .... I still 'sometimes' play on them, but much prefer the Amiga.

Tiago
5th March 2009, 13:12
It was good, but.... Amiga was/is better!

v85rawdeal
5th March 2009, 18:48
I loved it... it just didn't love me back!

TiredOfLife
5th March 2009, 23:16
They STs weren't exactly robust.
A few mates had them and they seemed to be very flakey.
Games locking up on a regular basis, parts breaking and the like.
All though they all claimed the machines were fine until I walked into the room.
Maybe the machines sensed my hatred and it unnerved them. :D

rayzorblue
5th March 2009, 23:21
Only ever used an ST at school in music and I didn't like it much so I went back to the drum machine lol (needless to say I failed GCSE Music).

Demon Cleaner
6th March 2009, 01:22
I still have a 1040ST but never used it. Got it from a friend some years ago. I think it was Ok.

Bloodwych
6th March 2009, 19:18
Nice to see the forum up and running again! :D

I have very fond memories of the Atari ST, because I was fortunate to own one pretty much from the release of the 520STFM (single sided drive LOL) up until I ditched it for the Amiga Batman pack.

The ST was a fantastic leap from a Spectrum +2. The games just blew me away back then - Super Sprint, Barbarian and Star Wars being my first ever 16-bit games experience. The load times of course were a big factor - just having a computer with a disk drive and 512MB RAM seemed like a dream in 1986.

Defender of the Crown blew me away and even Plutos and Time Bandit seemed awesome compared to the 8bit computers. I bought the flight sim Falcon and played that for ages - loved the realism it offered at the time.

Can't get away from the fact that the ST was just a jacked up 8bit machine with worse sound and scrolling than a C64. It had next gen features, but still had an 8bit design philosophy. The games played just as well as the 8bit ones, for example gauntlet was great and OIDS, but with vastly superior graphics so it had its place.

The Amiga however was a true next gen step. It had next gen graphics; next gen sound; next gen smooth scrolling - it was a true step forward when the ST was a incremental one.

Having said that, the ST Amiga era wouldn't have been the same unless both of the machines existed. The ST had a great demo scene and looking in those brilliant range of mags that existed at the time and comparing versions (the Amiga ones looking better ;) ) was fantastic.

They both had a different feel about them and added to the ambiance of the 16bit era. I'm glad the ST existed - it made the Amiga seem that little more special.

Graham Humphrey
6th March 2009, 22:06
512MB RAM seemed like a dream in 1986.

That's because it was ;)

toomanymikes
18th March 2009, 20:23
It did have cool f keys I suppose...

Harrison
18th March 2009, 23:53
I actually quite liked the ST keyboard overall. It had quite a soft feel and quite quiet. Quite a contrast to Amiga keyboards which have quite a hard travel and a bit noisy to type on. However I now use Microsoft keyboards which feel nearly the same as Amiga keyboards to type on and are just as noisy too. So I must prefer the Commodore approach... but that is really the first time I've actually thought about it.

woody.cool
2nd April 2009, 15:43
Dare I mention it, but I've recently acquired some ST hardware! :tomato:
One thing that sticks out with me, is how shit the in built OS is.

On top of this, the STFM has horrible sound, using the same chip as the Spectrum did :sick:
The STE is an improvement though, but at absolute best, it's equivalent to an early A500.

Harrison
2nd April 2009, 16:20
Yep, the STs GEM desktop OS is horrible on the ST. I was used to the Acorn Arch's Risc OS before getting my original Atari STFM back in 1987 and the first time I used GEM it felt very limited compared to the Arch.

As mentioned by an ST fan elsewhere on the forum, the ST's OS has come along since then. The official GEM OS never really got that much better other than adding support for more drives, coloured folders etc. It was after market homebrew development that eventually brought multitasking OSs and different Desktop environments to the ST. However this are not official, and it is a bit like running Linux, or something else on an Amiga. It's still not the actual system's OS. Which in the ST's case wasn't good.

Did you know that GEM OS was actually a PC OS that run on top of DOS? It was selected by Atari for the ST at the last moment as they didn't have an OS for it.

As for the sound. Yes it was 3 channel mono on the original STFM. However it could do more than the Sprectrum. You could play samples easily for example. And it had great sound for chip tunes. These tend to spund clearer and crisper than chip tunes on the Amiga due to the Amiga's sound being more suited to sampled sound playback. However the sound isn't any match for the Amiga. (ST fans always like to point out the MIDI ports, but lets face it. These are ports to control external expensive music equipment to make music, and these capacities are not standard without the extra hardware plugged in).

The STE did make a big improvement, but it was clear Atari would finally trying to improve the ST to make it level with the Amiga. 4 channel stereo sound, and simm sockets for up to 4 meg of ran on the motherboard. Plus an upgrade to the custom chipset with a built in blitter. But the STE was too little, too late. The STFM already had the majority share so games had to continue to be developed for both, so STE sound and other advantages were never taken advantage of as much as they should have been.

woody.cool
2nd April 2009, 16:29
Did you know that GEM OS was actually a PC OS that run on top of DOS?
Yep, I was alrady aware of this.
I had an old PC that I acquired .... it had GEM as the GUI on it.
It promptly got removed in favour for getting some extra RAM chucked in it and Windows 3.11 installed on the Hard Drive.


The STE did make a big improvement, but it was clear Atari would finally trying to improve the ST to make it level with the Amiga. 4 channel stereo sound, and simm sockets for up to 4 meg of ran on the motherboard. Plus an upgrade to the custom chipset with a built in blitter. But the STE was too little, too late. The STFM already had the majority share so games had to continue to be developed for both, so STE sound and other advantages were never taken advantage of as much as they should have been.
I always feared that this was the case with the STE.
Like you say, too little, too late!

As far as I'm concerned, the ST (& STE) will never be as good as the Amiga, but the Atari machines still hold a warm nostalgic place in my heart (not quite as warm as the Amiga though)

Harrison
9th June 2009, 16:01
A bit of a shock to some, but I've also recently acquired some Atari hardware too! An Atari 520STFM, identical to the one I used to own years ago. Brings back some memories, but most of all it was quite a shock to actually use on for real again and realise how inferior they really are to the Amiga.

The one thing I do like about the ST is that it gives the feel of real retro computing. The system wasn't as cutting edge as the Amiga by a long way, but the chip tunes and borders around the screen displays all add to the retro feel from the 8-bit and early 16-bit era and it does create a nice warm feeling of nostalgia. Just not as warm as when using an Amiga! ;)

Still... it gives me chance to play around with the ST exclusive games, and to explore the ST demo scene in some more detail than I ever did before.

And I'm after more ST hardware now too! I'm looking for an 1040STE! I wanted one of these at the time when I was originally an ST owner, and it would be nice to get hold of one.

quackmore
10th June 2009, 00:14
OMG! This is the 9287349852739 argument of ST vs Amiga I've seen!

Here are the facts:

Atari ST (not STe or Transputer, etc):
Had superior DTP & professional music development (REAL music sequencing, not just 8-bit arcade)

Amiga 500:
Superior sound & graphics output by FAR!

There you go! Anymore upset about this issue is dumbb (notice the double b) LOL!

Harrison
10th June 2009, 03:07
This topic isn't about the vs arguments. It is asking if you, as an Amiga user, are really honest, how did the ST really compare and stack up against the Amiga? And we all know the truth. The Amiga was and always will be a long way ahead of the ST. Forget the software available for it in terms of DTP or MIDI, I'm talking the actual system hardware. The ST was quite a joke in this regard.

Dexther
10th June 2009, 07:15
In my humble opinion
Atari st was a good car.
But soppoeriva a video chip is not just adequate soundchip and I did not like that much in digitization.
For the games I saw miracles and also bad things
For the rest a mother for the amiga.
But the concept amiga was the development of the machines.
Therefore not entirely comparable since the Atari and Amiga base.

Shoonay
15th June 2009, 11:57
No idea, never had one ;)

But it was incredibly funny seeing constant complaints from Atari users at all those paper mags where they kept on nagging about "why the @#@#$ don't you review Atari games!" :biglol:
And that was since I got me very own precious A600 in 1993. :D

Fern
1st July 2009, 20:13
Built in midi ports, and a vast array of synth editor / sequencer software makes it a WIN. Limited sound and video abilities make it a fail. I suppose it depends what you want from the system :)

woody.cool
2nd July 2009, 09:09
In my opinion, the ST was an 'epic fail' .... the STE should have been the machine to arrive at that stage, in which case, the Amiga would have had some healthy competition.

toomanymikes
4th July 2009, 22:18
A bit of a shock to some, but I've also recently acquired some Atari hardware too! An Atari 520STFM, identical to the one I used to own years ago. Brings back some memories, but most of all it was quite a shock to actually use on for real again and realise how inferior they really are to the Amiga.

The one thing I do like about the ST is that it gives the feel of real retro computing. The system wasn't as cutting edge as the Amiga by a long way, but the chip tunes and borders around the screen displays all add to the retro feel from the 8-bit and early 16-bit era and it does create a nice warm feeling of nostalgia. Just not as warm as when using an Amiga! ;)

Still... it gives me chance to play around with the ST exclusive games, and to explore the ST demo scene in some more detail than I ever did before.

And I'm after more ST hardware now too! I'm looking for an 1040STE! I wanted one of these at the time when I was originally an ST owner, and it would be nice to get hold of one.

you gonna start a classic st site now too? ;):lol:

v85rawdeal
5th July 2009, 00:14
The Atari STE...

...One step up from an STD!!!

Cortona
5th July 2009, 20:47
In my opinion, the ST was an 'epic fail' .... the STE should have been the machine to arrive at that stage, in which case, the Amiga would have had some healthy competition.

Wasn't the ST rushed out in typical Jack Tramiel style? I'm sure he was desperate to beat the Amiga to market. Like other tyrants (yes, you, Steve Jobs) he would enforce impossible deadlines on his workforce and end up with a product first to market but not quite as good as it could have been.

Harrison
6th July 2009, 11:24
Yep. Atari lost their attempt to obtain the Amiga to Commodore, so they had to quickly design their own 16-bit computer to compete with Commodore.

The shortcomings of the ST were due to components needing to be off the shelf to save development time, and to get the system out quickly they didn't have the time to develop their own OS so they purchased the rather dire GEM desktop, which already existed as an OS for the PC.

In contrast the Amiga as we know was well designed from the ground up with custom hardware chips, and the OS was well designed specifically to take advantage of the custom chipset and hardware design. Making it a long way ahead of the ST.

Thunderhawk
10th July 2009, 16:36
i got an c64 then i got amiga 600 because i wanted monkey island 2 lechucks revenge, i never got atari st i liked the advert for it tho it had the song sun shine on the rain again, does anyone remember it

Harrison
10th July 2009, 16:53
I don't remember any ST adverts. Maybe you could find the advert on youtube?

v85rawdeal
11th July 2009, 18:24
The ad I remember had lost of computery looking icons whizzing around the screen and then flying into the disk drive slot on the ST... (Or maybe I just dreamed it...)

Harrison
13th July 2009, 13:46
That does sound familiar. Like screenshots and the atari logo flying into th drive?

Fern
16th January 2010, 00:59
Out of curiosity, I have recently acquired for the ST a Supercharger PC emulator box, perfect condition. I don't want or need it - does anyone know if it might be worth anything to collectors on eBay or whatever?

Harrison
16th January 2010, 01:02
I have no idea. Not keeping up with ST hardware at the time either I've never seen or heard of this device either. Is it a PC hardware emulator that connects to the ST cartridge port or something? And if so what type of PC does it emulate? XT, AT? 286?

I've recently obtained some STs again (STFM and STE) and would love to try out such hardware, but not if it would cost a lot.

Phantom
4th March 2010, 21:20
Tbh, I never had an Atari (apart from an Atari 2600 and Atari 130XE when I was really young). :)

But I'll not buy an Atari ever. :p

Harrison
21st June 2010, 23:02
Oh go on! You know you secretly want to own an ST and enjoy playing games and demos on it... ;) :lol:

krhtikos
31st July 2010, 16:46
Atari is basically more user friendly and intended not just for a gamer.
Starting back at 86 it already had a very good graphical OS without the use of extra disks and waiting time to load it.
As Amiga was build later on it had some extra chips as was expected to improve graphics , sound etc but when attention was turned to these features they lost a major factor. Speed and playability.

Upgrade wise , you got a packet that almost had it all cheaper than the Amiga and without the need for expansions and addons to get it to work properly. Direct PC compatibility was very easy using the 720k formatted disks. Just straight read from Dos or Windows.

Music composing abilities though the direct midi port and many musician and studio programs that are still used by some until today.
Word proccesing and many programming languages made it easy to use the ST beyond gaming. Yes Shadow of the Beast has better Graphics in the Amiga version but who really ever played it? It was mainly used as an ability Demo display.
Yes the Amiga has stereo sound (Ste models do too) but back then I had a B/W TV with mono sound anyway.
My two pennies worth.

Feel free to comment.

Harrison
26th January 2011, 17:17
A few historical facts wrong there. The Amiga was designed long before the ST. Atari first tried to buy the Amiga to release as their own 16bit machine (the Amiga was designed by the same person behind the 8-bit Ataris), but Commodore managed to out bid them and purchase it. The Atari ST was then Atari's last minute rush to get their own 16bit machine to market to compete with the Amiga. The Amiga was designed from the ground up to be the best gaming and productivity computer of its age, and was over 10 years ahead of the competition. The ST was built using off the shelf components and its OS, GEM, was a PC OS purchased by Atari at the last minute to give the new machine a GUI.

The ST's GEM is horrible in comparison to the Amiga. A lot of great programs were still released and it did do well thanks to its built in MIDI ports, and its high resolution screenmode for DTP. But its' hardware capacities were far weaker than the Amigas. Many early games released on both systems didn't look any different, and often Amiga versions could be worse. This was due to the games being written on the ST and badly ported to the Amiga. Once developers started writing directly for the Amiga the ST started to show its weaknesses. It could still hope its own and run games well, but with everything relying on the CPU it had to be coded to work around this, whereas the Amiga's custom chipset could take over most tasks and leave the CPU alone, giving developers a lot more power.

There will always be fans of both systems and both hold a place in the history of computing and gaming. But the Amiga was the better hardware by far. ;)

morcar
18th May 2011, 07:38
Although we all know the Amiga was better at everything I always liked the ST although I had an STE but there wasn't much difference. I loved the AY chip sound and I loved some of the games and apps on it. It was easy to use just like the Amiga. I also liked how the OS was on a chip and you didnt have to mess about with disks.

Harrison
18th May 2011, 10:31
I agree that having the OS fully on a chip so the system could boot without any disks was a very nice feature. However that did restrict it a bit because to upgrade anything OS related you needed to replace the chips. You could argue that to some extent that was also true for the Amiga because with each full OS upgrade a new kickstart rom was also needed, but Workbench was a lot more than GEM ever was. For me GEM always felt very restricted and limited in what you could do... and I even felt that right from the first time I used it as I had been used to the Acorn Archimedes RiscOS before getting an ST and that was miles ahead.

Tiago
17th August 2011, 10:00
Today, the only advantage i see is that in the ST you can use a a lot of PC floppy without any modification.
My STFM and STE use vulgar PC floppys without any problem.
But like Morcar said, we know Amiga was/is better but still i do like the ST a lot

Kin Hell
6th June 2012, 12:25
An old thread, but one I couldn't resist voting on. Any chance one gets to slag off this platform is a temptation I can't ever resist. (LOL rkauer)
I was gutted when the AGA Machines appeared with cheap Stereo sound & saw the Falcon appear with DSP if I recall correctly. Its been a while, but yeah, as an OS, it sucked more than someone trying to blow you through 40 feet of garden hose. Poor support (hence why the games were cheaper), but used widely as a cheap solution for semi-pro music editing.

My first choice should really have beeen "The Atari ST was complete crap!" I did answer "It was kind of OK, but inferior in many ways". I wish I'd chosen the first to boost the crap factor on the poll now. :lol:

Harrison
7th June 2012, 01:56
:lol:

The Falcon with its DSP audio processor was definitely an interesting addition... sadly never really utilised other than in a few audio apps and some demo productions. Although I seem to remember it's implementation had limitations that restricted its use. The STE was also an interesting update to the STFM, adding a bigger colour palette and stereo audio... basically to bring the ST up to the level of the Amiga A500... but much too late.

And yeah, why wasn't Paula updated for AGA? That baffled me too. 8 channel 16bit would have been a brilliant update. Even the Acorn Archimedes beat the Amiga in this area, although you can't argue that coders really did get the most out of the Amiga's audio over the years. Really did make ST games sound crap. ;)

Kin Hell
7th June 2012, 13:48
Yes Dave, but the thing with C= was cheapness when the AGA machines were released. Hence no upgrade to the sound, SCSI not included unless you had an A4KT & then perhaps the chipset itself should have been AAA at the time of AGA release. Considering what the coders did get out of thte Amiga 8Bit Stereo was quite stunnig to say the least. :yesyes:

rkauer
22nd June 2012, 02:20
It was only good to make people pulling the hair off.

Same multitask capabilities of a food blender, monochromatic windows (got a bit better in later POS, oops! TOS) and little more.

MIDI interface? The Amiga had lots of plug-and-go MIDI interfaces. LOL, even the C64 had MIDI interfaces.

High resolution... I will not compare apples and oranges, but high resolution at what speed? The same as a 386 running Myst?

protek
22nd June 2012, 14:54
I wanted an ST as a kid as my buddies had STs while I had a C64. I ended up getting an Amstrad PC1512 instead. While that may have been a wiser choice in the long run, it certainly didn't feel that back then with the CGA craphics and beeper. Only after I upgraded to 286 with VGA and Sound Blaster, I was able to give my friends' STs a run for their money. Unfortunately I overlooked the Amiga back then. Another friend had an A500 but back then it didn't appear any more impressive than the ST.

I later found an STE for 5 at a recycling center, got a SatanDisk for it and later swapped it for an A2000. I kinda miss that machine and have offered to buy it back but haven't been able to complete the deal. I've burned a set of TOS 2.06 ROMs in case I'll get my STE back. While it was technically inferior to the Amiga, it had few good features like integrated PSU and a hard disk controller, which unfortunately isn't very standard. At the moment, though, I'd be more interested in getting an Atari 800 XL or 130 XE than an ST.

Kin Hell
24th June 2012, 21:16
It was only good to make people pulling the hair off.

Same multitask capabilities of a food blender, monochromatic windows (got a bit better in later POS, oops! TOS) and little more.

MIDI interface? The Amiga had lots of plug-and-go MIDI interfaces. LOL, even the C64 had MIDI interfaces.

High resolution... I will not compare apples and oranges, but high resolution at what speed? The same as a 386 running Myst?

PMSL! :lol:

Good to see you still have the same Spirit RE: Atari m8. :thumbs:

rkauer
28th June 2012, 06:00
PMSL! :lol:

Good to see you still have the same Spirit RE: Atari m8. :thumbs:

What spirit?

I simply refuse to say the the name. I re-baptised it as Otari (as in portuguese/spanish otario = idiot)

Phantom
28th June 2012, 13:13
atari atari atari atari atari atari atari atari roxx!!!

:lol:

Kin Hell
28th June 2012, 14:22
PMSL! :lol:

Good to see you still have the same Spirit RE: Atari m8. :thumbs:

What spirit?

I simply refuse to say the the name. I re-baptised it as Otari (as in portuguese/spanish otario = idiot)

Not being able to speak Portuguese, I never realised how close that is. Nice one. :lol:


atari atari atari atari atari atari atari atari roxx!!!

:lol:

LMFAO!! :lol: