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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...

Desk Top Publishing:

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 supported).

Music Sequencing:

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.

Word Processing:

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 Code Editor.


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.



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