Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

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Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

No BUS expansion slot
39
26%
Keyboard design
9
6%
Usage of FAT (MS DOS) filesystem
1
1%
TOS
1
1%
ACSI port
19
13%
Video subsystem
42
28%
YM chip for audio
20
14%
Other
17
11%
 
Total votes: 148

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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by wongck »

SofiST wrote: I made myself simple D-A converter for parallel port before STE era. It was only 1 chip and 8 resistors.
yeah I remembered that.... and IIRC one mod player supported that or something like that.
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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by SofiST »

Here is how 50066 Hz is got: System clock in STE is 8.010613 MHz . Dividing it by 160 gives exactly 50066.33 Hz .
It seems that using external freq. on STE is practically impossible without adding some complex logic too.

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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by abadambrown »

Atari ST's design makes things nice tough when you want to use mass storage on your ST. I already voted ACSI port. The Atari ST uses is very standard ports for using everywhere, so why do not use for drives? I'm dam sure that someone has an answer for that question, but in all reality it won't change things.

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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by SofiST »

abadambrown wrote:Atari ST's design makes things nice tough when you want to use mass storage on your ST. I already voted ACSI port. The Atari ST uses is very standard ports for using everywhere, so why do not use for drives? I'm dam sure that someone has an answer for that question, but in all reality it won't change things.
I guess that answer is simple: when ST was designed there was no established SCSI, IDE existed not at all. ACSI is basically same as SASI, what existed then (around 1984).
I don't know exactly how much ACSI differs from SASI, but command set should be same - it is actually very reduced SCSI, level 1 command set. Plus, SCSI was never cheap to implement, so Atari made ACSI simpler. I don't think that ACSI design self is bad, And it is in fact very fast (2MB/sec peak rate). The problem was more likely that there was not enough device made for it, from Atari self in first place.

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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by wongck »

SofiST wrote:I guess that answer is simple: when ST was designed there was no established SCSI, IDE existed not at all. ACSI is basically same as SASI, what existed then (around 1984).
Yes, this is very true.
They even had the CD-ROM player when the standard was not mature yet.
Atari was ahead at that time, and I cannot blame them for not having a crystal ball to see what become standard and what not.
(for example TT VGA... :roll: )
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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by jvas »

Also both the drawbacks of the sound and video subsystem (and almost every other parts of the system) can be overcome by a well designed expansion bus:
- video cards
- sound cards
- accelerators
- SCSI cards
etc...

That is the area, where the PC was/is strong.

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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by Desty »

jvas wrote:Also both the drawbacks of the sound and video subsystem (and almost every other parts of the system) can be overcome by a well designed expansion bus:
- video cards
- sound cards
- accelerators
- SCSI cards
etc...

That is the area, where the PC was/is strong.
The Amiga also seemed more upgradable in that sense than the ST line, especially later on. Or maybe just a bigger market led to more addons being released and sold?
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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by SofiST »

Yes. This is what I meant. Well designed expansion bus allows to attach practically everything. RAM, ROM (TOS) expansion, upgrade. Video,mass storage, networking, USB adapters etc.
As it is with ST, designers must use ACSI port or cartridge port. For some adapters parallel port is good too. On ACSI no 5V power. It is not simple to convert ACSI/SCSI commands to some other, as IDE(ATA) commands. Cartridge port is very limited. And no way to solve RAM/ROM expansion without opening machines.

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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by maaarcooose »

Hi all,

I've not had many posts here, but I thought it about time for me to chip in.

I have always thought and still do think the biggest flaw was the keyboard. Not the layout, I've used a few different ones in my time and it wasn't a terrible layout, just that the actual quality of the keys was shockingly bad. I am basing this on experience of STFM and maybe my opinion will be changed when I get the MegaST.

Cheap keyboards seem to have become the norm with pretty much every PC available now and only a few actually cut the mustard for long time typing. I'm not going to say how much I loved the Type M IBM keyboards because they were nice, but who can stand the clickyness these days. Less noise is better.
Maybe these days the keyboards in laptops get more attention, and they are getting much better.

There was no excuse for the crap keyboard feel. The BBC Micro keyboard was from around the same type and vastly superior. All over there were plenty of terminal manufacturers making better keyboards.
Without a decent keyboard, Atari basically removed a large target audience. People who just wanted a computer to do word processing on. At the time, you either bought a computer to play with which doesn't require a superb keyboard or to do WP or both.
No one bought a Spectrum or a ZX81 for WP in any form, simply because the keyboards weren't up to typing on.

So think about it, you're a parent in a shop looking to buy a computer (and yes it was pretty much always the parent dong the buying at the time). You want something the kids can play with and you probably want to be able to do word processing on it. The main thing you are looking for is a decent keyboard to type on. You walk around all the computers and try the keyboards. The ST one feels horrible so you go past it.

It always amazed me, seeing how limited they were, how many people bought those green screen, Amstrad word processor machines. Simple, you could type on them.
http://www.photographersdirect.com/buye ... id=1545739
Everything about them from a tech viewpoint says, why would you buy it? 3" disks, green screen only. At the time there were loads of these things in circulation, but they came with a printer and a usable keyboard.
Also you have to think that maybe the angled function keys on the ST made people think twice too.

When in comes down to it, people's main impression of a computer is how the interface works. Everyone know these days that a particular keyboard and 22" TFT screen in not a PC or Windows, but at the time the ST came out the desktop software, keyboard and screen of pretty much every computer was a package that you didn't separate.

These days you can use an ST and the keyboard is part of it's quirkyness. Not so when they were released.

!m!

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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by SofiST »

Interesting. I guess that keyboard 'feeling' is very subjective. If someone worked for longer time on some high quality keyboard may really feel ST keyboard as bad. But likely, majority is not such. Many people had some Sinclair or Commodore before Atari, which for sure have no top quality kb.

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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by rocket-dog »

I bought a Joyce for WP. And I loved. Super little machine. Further the BASIC was good, it had Logo (love Logo,) and it gave me a CPM machine even if very limited one.

Having worked in IT I too have used lots of different keyboards over the years. To be honest I don't find the STe or STfm to be that bad, certainly not enough to put off a 1980s parent for WP (unless she :wink: was a professional typist.) The keyboard on my Mega is much better sprung and makes a wonderful WP. Of course this is all subjective.

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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by nativ »

The ST's keyboard is great ! And has that sound as if you are picking letters from a bag whilst playing scrabble!

Spectrum +3 before keyboard was ok.

Mega's Key is nice and solid
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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by wongck »

The ST keyboard is one of those things that makes it "different" from the PC.... and that's the way I liked it :thumbs:
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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by Shredder11 »

@nativ and wongck

You guys are spot on!

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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by nativ »

Not too mention the iconic key click or ping sound from the computer as you type!
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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by Desty »

nativ wrote:The ST's keyboard is great ! And has that sound as if you are picking letters from a bag whilst playing scrabble!
Haha, it does sound exactly like that! :)

The keyclick sound... well, if the volume isn't too high, it can be comforting. If the volume is stuck on loud like my yellowed old mono monitor, it gets a little grating...
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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by Dal »

The disabling of the key click sound is the second thing I configure (after setting med res) when I'm using my machine for desktop stuff.
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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by martyg »

Dal wrote:Yes quite bizarre really, due to the hostile Tramiel takeover and Atari's reluctance to develop the 'lorraine' chipset (designed by a then Atari-employee),we ended up with what would have been Atari's home computer being released by 'Commodire'...
Hostile takeover? There was no hostile takeover.

And I'm not sure what you mean by "reluctance to develop the lorraine chipset".
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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by wongck »

Warner sold it willingly, no?
Hostile part may be the "Storm trooper" :lol: and trimming down or "right sizing".
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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by Scottinnh »

Biggest flaw was ignoring the efforts of the Yost/Hudson group. To think how close they were to launching 3D Studio on the ST... But what killed it was lack of a FPU. You can't take your developers for granted unless you are Microsoft... Even they can't do that anymore.
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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by nativ »

Desty wrote:
jvas wrote:Also both the drawbacks of the sound and video subsystem (and almost every other parts of the system) can be overcome by a well designed expansion bus:
- video cards
- sound cards
- accelerators
- SCSI cards
etc...

That is the area, where the PC was/is strong.
The Amiga also seemed more upgradable in that sense than the ST line, especially later on. Or maybe just a bigger market led to more addons being released and sold?
The Atari was upgradable later too! and 4mb is enough for most users! I was having to learn about the 640k limit on PCee in 1994! talk about dragging it out!

It would have been nice to get a full featured 3d studio. . . we did Neon and the rest!

I still wonder whether a 'pcspeed' type upgrade board could be made of the Rasberry Pi / the Firebee or similar? ;)

Audio wise the STe caught up 8 channel PCM audio and a control system! A 16 bit creative soundblaster came in at around £150 @ the time not to mention more sound means more storage!

And even for pro-music apps an akai sampler has 3millisecond response over midi!!!?!

It is a big shame the Atari+ harddrive setup didn't find a wider audience! I know I loved it when I got one!

Mac's suffer from having inumerable stylings which all tend to be incompatible with each other!
Pcee's are just a mess! and most look as if they're still in the packing box! :)

I don't think a vast majority of 'computer' users if they can be called that today use the computers they have for DVDs and torrents. . . or really poor web based Kids games??! what a waste!

:)
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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by wongck »

nativ wrote:Mac's suffer from having inumerable stylings which all tend to be incompatible with each other!
They have at least some tools for migrating from 68000 to PowerPC and PowerPC to Intel.
And have emulators to run the previous architecture CPU on the newer CPU albeit slow.
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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by nativ »

@ WongCK
Yeah I guess. . but that list 68k / PpC / Intel kinda sounds like everything! :lol:

Keeping things heavily on the OS rather than hardware helps that. where as the Ataris are more similar to each other?

:)
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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by ThorN »

I liked, like and will always like the Atari ST as it is. I always will remember the advantages of the ST.

- best value for price around
- Midi (maze)
- great games
- SM 124 best monitor at that time
- SC 1224 a great color monitor
- Sound Ship: Incredible what music people create out of it
- etc

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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Post by wongck »

I guess if the FireBee can go the way of migrating users like Apple did with 68000 to PowerPC, then it will be great.
Keeping compatibility plus new apps.
Means also keeping what ThorN likes as well.
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