Advertisement for the 1040STF (UK 1986)
The launch of the Atari ST heralded a new era for home
computer games, business software and cost effective DTP
and music creation. Among the thousands of software
packages written for the ST, a number of titles stand out
from the crowd, here are just a few...
Atari pushed the Atari
platform into the DTP arena with various package deals,
with the added incentive of its own low-cost laser
printer. The ST was well equipped for cost-effective
publishing solutions, and pioneering packages such as
Fleet Street Publisher (Mirrorsoft -1986) and Publishing
Partner (Soft-Logic 1986 - became PageStream) started the
ball rolling. As the market began to mature,
PageStream, DeskSet and Calamus rivalled the more
expensive packages available on the Apple and PC platform.
Calamus became increasingly more powerful, and is even
available on the PC today (and the Atari version is still
Atari was one of the first
computer companies to adopt the MIDI (Musical Instrument
Digital Interface) standard and implement it into the
hardware of the ST architecture. This forward
thinking enabled Atari to spearhead a comfortable position
in the professional music market, as music creation became
increasingly more dependant on the ability of the computer
to arrange and manipulate compositions and control
external musical hardware.
The most notable software
which helped the ST gain such popularity with recording
studios and groups such as Fleetwood Mac among others,
were titles such as Steinberg Pro-24, Cubase and Notator.
The ST is still used today as a stable and capable MIDI
controller, and the Falcon030 is much prized by the few
musicians who use it within a studio environment.
Cubase matured to be one of the most popular Windows based
sequencing packages, now called Cubase VST.
With its larger picture area
and rock steady display, the SM124 monochrome monitor,
rivalled the Apple Macintosh display in the mid eighties.
It was also the monitor of choice for DTP, Music and Word
Processing applications. And when it came to word
processing, the ST had everything form Microsoft Write to
Word Perfect. Although some of the more popular
Apple/PC packages became less well supported in
terms of updates, ST specific WP's such as Word Flair and
Papyrus were extremely strong examples of professional WP
software and could match anything available on the other
platforms of the time.
Forth, Lisp, C, Fortran, Logo,
Assembler, Basic.... The list goes on! If you wanted
to program on the Atari ST, you had no excuses. Most
languages were full implementations, and in some cases
exceeded anything available for the Amiga/PC/Apple
platforms. The open architecture of the ST makes
programming the Motorola 68000 and the Atari support chips
a much easier task. Some honourable mentions must go
to GFA Basic, STOS and the incredible DevPac-ST Assembly
With the launch of the ST came
the inevitable slew of games software - gone were the
"blocky" graphics which we came to love on the 8-Bit
computers, the detail and definition of the new ST games
had people drooling! Some of the most playable games
software was written during the ST's heyday, and perhaps
I'm just being nostalgic here, but I think they are still
as playable as they were over 10 years ago.