ST - YOUR VIEWS
In the Editorial for Issue 18 I
invited readers to share their thoughts on how the ST would affect
the existing Atari community. Here is a selection from some of the
From Cpl John O'Halloran in BFPO
"I have been an Atari enthusiast
since 1982 when I bought my trusty old 800 and have slowly but surely
delved deeper into the mysteries of the machine. Whilst not professing
to be anything but a poor amateur I feel inclined to say that to
the best of my knowledge there is still not an 8-bit machine to
match the flexibility of my 800. My only disappointment has been
in the sound capabilities and I was looking forward to the ST just
to see the machine's capabilities in the sound department (Not much
better than the 8-bit! Ed.).
Unfortunately I cannot see myself
upgrading to an ST because, quite honestly, I believe it is going
to be a full blown business machine. If however a 260ST comes out
and Atari aim that more towards the home market, I may think again."
Paul Carfoot from Burton-on-Trent
expresses concern that Atari may find themselves in the same position
with the ST as they did with the 8-bit machine - lack of public
"AIthough the ST is available
through specialist dealers to those who already know, I have yet
to see an ST in any of the multiple stores where most new customers
do their shopping. Indeed I went into the computer department of
a large multiple chain to ask about the ST and the assistant had
never heard of it! Although Atari might have the edge now with an
advanced machine, it will not be long before the opposition catch
up and with companies such as Amstrad having a much higher profile
in the high street Atari might find themselves in trouble.
Will I buy an ST? Probably yes,
but I am being cautious to see how the market develops. I don't
want to be left with a business only machine although I don't think
that will happen."
Mike Doyle from Loughborough remains
to be convinced ....
" I agree very much with what
you say. The old 'pioneering' era of the early 400/800 days is past,
although I feel that, given continued support, the 130XE will fulfil
the needs of the average (and discerning!) home user for a long
time yet. I use my 130XE for membership and publicity records for
a drama group, word processing and home record keeping, as well
as all those marvellous games.
But what about the 520ST? I
bought my first 400 four years ago. What persuaded me to buy it
was one game - you guessed it, Star Raiders! I was mesmerised by
it, but I have yet to see any software for the ST which brings back
that feeling. I am not knocking the ST, its specification is great
but I want to see a machine like the rumoured 260ST at a price that
will make it a 'people's computer' and thus persuade software houses
to support it.
The ST's deserve to succeed
but I am waiting to see if the 260ST serves my needs. If the 260ST
or an equivalent machine does not arrive, Atari will be making a
big mistake, they have the opportunity to bridge the gap between
business and home users. The ST's will do both jobs but I will not
buy one until Atari can persuade me that they really want to get
ST's into the HOME and will provide or encourage the necessary software
support at the right price."
Chris Darkes, who wrote Grand
Prix published in issue 18, is already commltted ....
"Yes, I have bought one. I bought
it for the 80 column display and GEM environment and of course to
have the powerful 68000 processor to play around with. I intend
to write games, home finance and a few business programs for my
I also saw the mass of business
software at the PCW show and very little of the things that will
show the real power of the superb machine as would good arcade games.
Let's face it, computers are used for business and the ST will be
ideally suited but I will use mine 90% of the time for games. Although
my ST will be doing some business, the main aim is to play and write
games. I bought it out of my own pocket with the knowledge that
the Atari 800 has served me well for five years and is good for
another two. If the ST does likewise I shall be very happy. I think
that the business fraternity will be surprised how many people have
already purchased and will purchase an ST to have, at home, a powerful
personal computer to play games."
Allan Palmer from Basingstoke
commented more generally ....
"You made some interesting comments
on the arrival of the ST series in your editorial. I must admit
that I've felt slightly worried that the new ATARI might be moving
away from the infamous range of 8-bit micros which the 400 and 800
started in 1979/80, however, with a wide base in the US and elsewhere
and the range of software available, I would be surprised if the
8-bit range didn't remain viable for a while longer.
From what I've seen, I'm impressed
by the ST's but I imagine it will be a while before I acquire one.
The main difference between the launches of the ST and the 400/800
in the UK is that when the 400/800 was launched in this country,
there was already a wide range of software available due to the
UK launch being at least a year after the U.S. This time, there
is a whole different ball game...."
From Steve Pedler, who wrote the
excellent series on Display Lists for PAGE 6 ....
"Let me say first of all that I
would love to own one, and if I had the means would buy one like
a shot! I bought my Atari 800 in October 1983 and the only thing
I have regretted is that I didn't buy it earlier. In particular,
I would have liked to have owned an Atari in 1980 or 1981 when everything
about it was new, when by simply playing around you could discover
something that nobody else had yet found. The ST is at the same
stage now, and I would dearly love to be in on the ground floor
when users begin to get to grips with the machine. There is, however,
another side to this. For the past few months I have felt that I
am really beginning to know the 800, my decision to learn 6502 assembly
language stems from this. If I now switched to the ST, I doubt that
I would ever become as expert with the 8-bit machines as I would
If I decide to stay with the 800
(at least for another year or two) what are the prospects that Atari
(and more importantly, perhaps, the third party software houses)
will continue to support these machines? Although I have occasional
doubts, reason tells me that such prospects are good. For one thing,
there are many, many Atari owners, both in the U.K. and worldwide
and hopefully there will be considerably more in 1986. Secondly,
there will, I think, continue to be significant market for 8-bit
hardware, at least for another 5 -10 years. Not everyone can afford
an ST or its equivalent. 8-bit machines are cheaper, easier to understand
and at present are far more attractive to the dedicated video games
player. Clearly, the market will slim down. In two years from now,
I believe that there will only be 2 or 3 manufacturers of 8-bit
systems (Atari, Commodore and, maybe, Amstrad) so I don't think
that owners of 8-bit Ataris have any cause for concern for the next
few years. The market for hardware and software is simply too big
to be ignored."
And what about the Editor's view
after having had a 520ST for several months? Well, I have hardly
scratched the surface, but I am astonished by the variety and quality
of the software already released. The ST will run business applications
extremely well although it does require the OS in ROM, but equally
it will run games of a quality that none of you have seen before.
Already there are games which show that the ST will be in a whole
league above the 8-bit machines and this is only early days. It
is an incredible machine. On the other hand it is expensive, too
expensive for the majority of 'non-dedicated' potential home computer
buyers and for those who want to program it is complex. Writing
good programs on the 8-bit machines is relatively easy (easy?) but
you will not find it so with the ST. One of the problems that the
ST faces is that the software it can run is so diverse, no one yet
knows what will be the most popular application. We shall see. In
the meantime PAGE 6 will continue to support Atari in all forms
according to our readers wishes.