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

ppera

Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Postby ppera » Thu Mar 01, 2007 7:56 pm

After 22 years everyone is smart. Where designers made biggest mistake?

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techie_alison
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Postby techie_alison » Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:02 pm

The biggest flaw for Atari (and ultimately the ST) was that they were financially inept and practically ignored it's designers.

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Postby MiggyMog » Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:48 pm

Your right Ali, it has to be the most frustrating thing when you read about the talanted people who worked there from the history files(alot of whom they unbelievably ditched!). If they had have listened to the people who were buying their machines there could still be an atari hardware company today producing hardware that was fun to use instead of hassle.

They were looking at how Sega,Nintendo etc were doing and decided to try and get into that to make some big profit instead of adding technology to what they had to keep their loyal fans.

They could have a carved a real niche with the MIDI/Music, they should have released a rack mounted supercharged,studio proof atari with bundled music Suite. People still use ST's for some experimental software you just can't get anywhere else but on an Atari.

The STE was way under spec for it's time, and no new case.

The Falcon was pretty good at the time but was too expensive & the exterior design was poor in comparisson to the competition at the time.
(I still want one if I could get it for <100>:(
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Postby keops » Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:11 pm

The crappy sound capabilities compared to the Amiga. I have always been jealous of those demos featuring kickass mods with excellent replay quality :)

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Postby MiggyMog » Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:22 pm

Still the ST's lack of capability gave it part of it's sole.

It amazed you when it done things it shouldn't (ULM DSOTS!)

With the Amiga you had mostly read the spec and Expected it to be good.
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Postby bripilot » Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:32 pm

I think that one thing that could have made a huge difference was the modular case like PC's and Amiga 2000's of the time. External Keyboards with expansion slots would have prompted MANY people to buy Atari when they went to Commodore or IBM instead.
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Postby bullis1 » Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:39 pm

I voted ACSI port. It makes things pretty tough when you want to use mass storage on your ST. The Atari ST uses standard ports for almost everything, so why not for drives? I'm sure someone has an answer for that question, but in all reality it won't change things and I don't really care ;)

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Postby CiH » Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:40 pm

The crappy sound capabilities compared to the Amiga. I have always been jealous of those demos featuring kickass mods with excellent replay quality


The use of the YM2149, which was a variant of the most common bog-standard soundchip used at the time, took off-the-shelfness in the ST's design to ridiculous lengths ;-)

It is ironic that the same soundchip gave birth to a distinctive and long-lived part of the Atari scene 8)
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Postby CiH » Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:42 pm

On the same topic, my thoughts on the Falcon.

Should have been made as the Microbox design from the start, none of this great overall concept crippled by penny-pinching measures STe cased malarky :lol:
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Postby karlm » Thu Mar 01, 2007 10:29 pm

CiH wrote:On the same topic, my thoughts on the Falcon.

Should have been made as the Microbox design from the start, none of this great overall concept crippled by penny-pinching measures STe cased malarky :lol:


still cost me aus$1800 when I bought mine new

:(

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Postby techie_alison » Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:21 pm

bullis1 wrote:I voted ACSI port. It makes things pretty tough when you want to use mass storage on your ST. The Atari ST uses standard ports for almost everything, so why not for drives? I'm sure someone has an answer for that question, but in all reality it won't change things and I don't really care ;)


When the ST was released back in the early 80's, SCSI hadn't even been fully established as a standard. So to say "why wasn't it standard?"

There was no firm established standard at the time. Hard disks for the small business had only just become available in the IBM PC XT. A whopping 10MB.

So to talk about hard disk standards is a bit irrelevant. There weren't any. It was another 5-6 years before IDE came along and it took that another 5 years to standardise itself.

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Postby tjlazer » Fri Mar 02, 2007 4:36 am

Disagree on the ACSI, actually it was a great added feature (compared to other computers like the Amiga that did not have anything!) ACSI was great, later on with an adaptor you had full blown SCSI! Try to do that with an Amiga 1000 or 500!!!
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Postby Paolo » Fri Mar 02, 2007 8:09 am

I voted for the graphics.
Even though the hires was great, the med and low were nothing spectacular. And there was already something VGA-ish floating around, but they choose EGA instead.

-disclaimer: as stated above, everyone is good at criticize, the day after.

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Postby manicx » Fri Mar 02, 2007 8:28 am

Okay, sound and graphics but we can vote only for one so I voted for the sound. Just check a C64 and you can understand why....
Image

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Postby Avanze » Fri Mar 02, 2007 9:22 am

YM audio are you kidding me? Actually the most annoying design flaw of the Atari was the location of the mouse/joystick ports being underneath. Very annoying as they would always pull out.

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Postby christos » Fri Mar 02, 2007 10:24 am

Avanze wrote:YM audio are you kidding me? Actually the most annoying design flaw of the Atari was the location of the mouse/joystick ports being underneath. Very annoying as they would always pull out.


I agree

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Postby Marakatti » Fri Mar 02, 2007 12:03 pm

Me too...

Broke too many joystickports...

Still some of the shortcomings can also be advantages. The MS-DOS 8+3 filesystem was maybe bad compared to Amiga's long filenames but at least it didn't take half a minute to load disk directory and it was at least for me a big advantage to be able to read PC-disks at work.

Sound might not be that good, but who would have imagined back then how creative ST-musicians are today. It's quite easy to make some trackertunes but it really needs lot of talent to produce great chipsounds.

When i bought my first ST, i wanted a good all around machine that is rock solid at serious stuff too. Amiga was no option (too much guru meditations), Mac costed far too much and PC's were bad for games those days.

Maybe the worst thing besides joystick/mouseports were lack of smooth scrolling which ruined many games...

I have seen or own machines that can run most operating systems that were on market since 1980's but i must say that since i've been most impressed in stuff that people managed to do on ST! It's just amazing to see what talented people can do without all those customchips and stuff like that. Shadow of the beast II on Amiga came close to that experience when i first saw it, but in my opinion it was just a help of the customchips that made it possible, not kind of expertise talent ST-coders have.

Nothing against Amiga here, i've used them many years too, even once tried to move fully on that platform, but no... it just didn't feel right...

But now i must go and pick my girlfriend and our little 4-days old daughter from hospital. It is our first day in full family at home :) One Atarian more ;)
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Postby tobe » Fri Mar 02, 2007 12:40 pm

I agree too, joystick ports.
Beside this my STE is just prefect, every cycles matching other cycles like a charm. Best computer ever. Nothing to discuss. PERFECT. I wrote all the names of those complaining. I'm going to send the list to Jack.

:D

(I'm not jealous of amiga sound system, I don't like mods, I love soundchips, sounds far better)
step 1: introduce bug, step 2: fix bug, step 3: goto step 1.

ppera

Postby ppera » Fri Mar 02, 2007 1:43 pm

I did put lack of expansion port on first place because I think that it is biggest flaw.
Now, when I think about many non-standard connections on ST lack of it and presence of ACSI port make perfect sense.
Atari planned to cover ST market self, with own hard disks and other peripherials. Partially succeeded - but almost everything lated, and was not too good deal considering price and performances.
As usual with popular machines there was many add-on manufacturer, and they were much faster than Atari company.

Unfortunatelly, as I see some consequences we must carry even today - I think in first place on mass storage. Atari ST stucked on SCSI, but it is now not for masses. I even read recently some article from 1992 that no sense to build IDE in ST, because SCSI is just little more expensive... Making ACSI - Flash card IF is not easy, and I still don't see that it is available.

I can't remember any mass-sold computer without BUS expansion port, except ST. Maybe some MAC versions were too ?

Of course they could find in 1985 some more advanced solution for sound...
I didn't have problems with mouse/joystick connectors on my STFM (with separated power supply).

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Postby RetroGamerUK » Fri Mar 02, 2007 2:05 pm

[rant]The biggest flaw: NO FLIPPIN IDE PORT.
Imagine if all STs had an internal 2.5" IDE port, we would all have them, and no doubt more software would have been produced that was by default hard drive installable (like the Amiga).
But oh no, we all have to spend ages searching the net for expensive backwards SCSI controllers and obsolete drives and in the end most games won't even run from them :roll:
Sure maybe now there has finally been something developed to close this gaping hole in the STs multimedia capabilities, but its a bit late if you ask me.
[/rant]

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Postby PaulB » Fri Mar 02, 2007 2:25 pm

I think the reason most st games were non hard drive installable is because they wanted you to rely on the floppies and their protections that came on the floppies. Similar to todays pc games where you have to keep the cd in the drive to start/play the game (which annoys the crap outta me). Games like Civilization which were hard drive installable were all to easy to copy, give to someone else and they could put the game on their hard drive.

@ ppera. If you get a yamaha scsi-ide convertor or acard scsi-ide convertor, then buy one of those ide to compact flash adapters it's easy and very cheap to have a compact flash drive. At least in a mega ste. For the rest (except falcon and tt) you'd have to still have an external scsi host such as link/link2 etc.

ppera

Postby ppera » Fri Mar 02, 2007 2:28 pm

RetroGamerUK wrote:[rant]The biggest flaw: NO FLIPPIN IDE PORT.
Imagine if all STs had an internal 2.5" IDE port, we would all have them, and no doubt more software would have been produced that was by default hard drive installable (like the Amiga)....


IDE port came later, in Falcon. In 1985 was not IDE.
However with BUS expansion adding IDE IF would be easy and cheap, because IDE IF is very simple. Even ROM replace would be very easy.

And some 'ranting' from me:
I think that Atari made not best IDE implementation (first was in ST-Book as I heard). They should swap Low/High bytes on connection to IDE bus. It would allow much faster reading of DOS hard disks and CD ROMs. As it is, drivers must swap bytes by SW, what is slow.
It is not theory - I made such hardware swap:

http://www.ppest.org/atari/idepc.htm

ppera

Postby ppera » Fri Mar 02, 2007 2:32 pm

PaulB wrote:@ ppera. If you get a yamaha scsi-ide convertor or acard scsi-ide convertor, then buy one of those ide to compact flash adapters it's easy and very cheap to have a compact flash drive. At least in a mega ste. For the rest (except falcon and tt) you'd have to still have an external scsi host such as link/link2 etc.


I have IDE IF in my Mega ST and STF. And have CF adapter, so I connected CF, and it worked fine. And I have IDE-Flash drive, what is similar to CF, just has standard 40 pin IDE con (Transcend in another thread) - even easier to attach. No more noisy and unreliable 2.5 inch crap :D

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Postby NiceGuyUK » Fri Mar 02, 2007 2:39 pm

Marakatti wrote:But now i must go and pick my girlfriend and our little 4-days old daughter from hospital. It is our first day in full family at home :) One Atarian more ;)


Congratulations to you both! :D
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Postby keili » Fri Mar 02, 2007 2:47 pm

Marakatti wrote:Me too...
But now i must go and pick my girlfriend and our little 4-days old daughter from hospital. It is our first day in full family at home :) One Atarian more ;)

Congrats, Marakatti :D . Prepare for some nights without sleep :wink: .
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