Atari ST

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An Atari ST showcasing the trademark GEM interface with solid green background

The Atari ST was a microcomputer developed by Atari Corporation in the mid 1980's. It was announced in January of 1985, and released in June of that year. It runs on the Motorola 68000 CPU. "ST" stands for sixteen/thirty-two, in reference to the 16-bit external bus and 32-bit internals of the 68000 chip. It ran Digital Research's GEM (Graphical Environment Manager) on Atari's proprietary TOS (The Operating System).

The computer primarily competed with the Macintosh and the Amiga in most markets. At the time, Macs were solely monochrome, and Amigas were solely color. The ST straddled the two worlds, offering separate color and monochrome screens, auto-detected by the computer's display circuitry. The monochrome screen was excellent and high-resolution for the era, providing credible competition for the Macintosh at a much lower price point. It gained a strong foothold in the business and CAD fields.

It was one of the only home computers to ever include MIDI in/out ports as standard equipment, which prompted the development of a wide variety of music composition programs. STs became very popular in the music industry, and some are still being used in production today.[1]

One popular game, MIDI Maze, used the ports as an early networking device, allowing multi-machine multiplayer in a simplistic, but vaguely Doom-like game. ST owners had "LAN parties" long before Ethernet became ubiquitous.

It was a reasonably competent gaming computer; the color graphics weren't exciting, but the simple architecture and relatively quick CPU gave it a fair bit of muscle. It came nowhere near the overall power of the Amiga, but was perfectly straightforward to program, where dealing with the Amiga's multiple independent co-processors was famously difficult.

Some of the most notable Atari ST games were Dungeon Master, Oids, Sundog, and Star Glider, as well as the aforementioned MIDI Maze.


Name Operating System(s) Latest Version Recommended
Hatari Multi-Platform 1.9.0
Steem Engine Multi-Platform 3.2
SainT Windows 2.40
Steem SSE Windows, Linux 3.7.3 ?