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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Desty
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Postby Desty » Sun Mar 25, 2007 12:34 am

Heh, I know how it is FatRakoon! My girlfriend gets pissy when I stay up late on stuff, but I can argue my way around it if it's an assignment or something, or if she falls asleep beside me while I'm coding.

Congrats on tying the knot... I considered doing it too but I was never too pushed about it and my sis (who had a very short marriage and has to spend about 6 years going through a divorce even though her ex has left the country... good old Irish legal system) told me nothing good would come of it, only hassle, so that sealed it for the moment.

Even if I did it, though, I wouldn't go near a church or splash out on that massively expensive party stuff... a) not religious, b) no money and c) it seems so tacky ;)
I'd just bring my family/mates out for a Chinese and some drinks.

WRT the cold coffee: I'm constantly putting on the kettle for coffee or an earl grey, then putting it on again 20 minutes later because I forgot about it. No wonder the power bill is so high...
tá'n poc ar buile!

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Postby Mug UK » Sun Mar 25, 2007 12:55 am

Congrats FatRakoon - sounds like you've found yourself the ultimate GF to Wife conversion v1.0 :)
My main site: http://www.mug-uk.co.uk - slowly digging up the bits from my past (and re-working a few): Atari ST, Sega 8-bit (game hacks) and NDS (Music ripping guide).

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Postby exxos » Sun Mar 25, 2007 1:04 am

I am up late, the gf dont care, she normally nods off about 9pm :D

chris

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Postby FatRakoon » Sun Mar 25, 2007 12:42 pm

muguk wrote:Congrats FatRakoon - sounds like you've found yourself the ultimate GF to Wife conversion v1.0 :)


LOL

You remembered that ?

ROLF

Hopefully MotherInLaw 1.0 will STFA
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Postby earx » Mon Mar 26, 2007 1:45 pm

okay, i'm late.. but i'd still like to respond:

to me, for its price and especially considering the ST was ready after 6 (!) months.. it has basically no weak parts. most st's are also well fabricated and therefore very reliable.. if you count out those crappy disk drives from the early models, that is.

if i were to choose a weak part, i'd indeed have to say the audio. but it's midi interface made it -the- music machine, for the price of an uart hahahah.. nopes, the st designers were clever guys, no doubt.

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Postby Noelio » Mon Apr 09, 2007 1:50 am

I voted "Other".
As the design for the *business unit* behind the product was a major flaw.
It was cause for Atari ignoring the logical advice of focus groups(if it actually formed any at all), customers industry publications. Marketing was left to NAMM, CES coverage and word of mouth -pretty much. Terrible negotiating skills in the loss of the Amiga line.

As a musician, I became familiar to the ST line and as an already loyal sufferer of Atariism, I was naturally attracted to the Fuji symbol! :)
But the major market that they ignored was outside of that scope.
Hi I'm Noel and I've had Atariism for 25+ years. Yes I have considered a mortgage for a NIB Atari Falcon. Yes Atari affects my sex life, positively if I win an ebay auction.

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Postby Noelio » Mon Apr 09, 2007 1:55 am

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 ;)


I would have to agree there, as well as "OTHER".
If you follow the money trail, always, obscured answers become apparent.
The ACSI port was to become a gateway to mass storage, so was there ever the intention for Tramiel to get into mass storage? Think JTS. They might as well have called it 'Jack Tramiel Storage limited. But instead, in the computer company I used to work, we used to call them 'JunkTrashShit'. The slim drives would have been perfect in a ST! :)
Hi I'm Noel and I've had Atariism for 25+ years. Yes I have considered a mortgage for a NIB Atari Falcon. Yes Atari affects my sex life, positively if I win an ebay auction.

ppera

Postby ppera » Mon Apr 09, 2007 11:25 am

I don't think that ACSI port was mistake. or badly designed.
We must keep in mind that it was year 1985, and hard disks were rare, exotic. There were no standards, and especially were no IDE disks.

ACSI failed by me not because of bad design, but bad support from Atari - they produced not much and not too good devices for it.

Or. later, in 90-es, ACSI failed because of simple reason: IDE became dominant in home computers, and ACSI was hard interfaceable with them (and is still). It was simpler to add IDE port to new machines as Falcon.

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Postby ijor » Tue Apr 10, 2007 5:06 pm

ppera wrote:I don't think that ACSI port was mistake. or badly designed. We must keep in mind that it was year 1985, and hard disks were rare, exotic. There were no standards, and especially were no IDE disks.


I don't know where people get the idea that there were no standards. SCSI was a standard already then, not a formal ISO/ANSI standard as it become later, but certainly a standard. Why you think ACSI is based in SCSI? Why you think the first Atari brand host adapters included and ACSI to SCSI converter and a SCSI controller?

I do agree however that it is difficult to blame Atari for that decision. SCSI would have been more expensive. And Atari probably wanted intentionally a propietary interface.

In retrospective (yes, it is a lot easier to judge 20 years later), the mistake about the hard disk port was perhaps to have one at all. Instead of a hard disk port I would implement an external bus expansion port. The cost of the host adapters wouldn't increase significantly if at all. With the big benefit that you could make all sort of plug-in interfaces. Not just hard disks.

ppera

Postby ppera » Wed Apr 11, 2007 7:41 am

ijor wrote:I don't know where people get the idea that there were no standards. SCSI was a standard already then, not a formal ISO/ANSI standard as it become later, but certainly a standard. Why you think ACSI is based in SCSI? Why you think the first Atari brand host adapters included and ACSI to SCSI converter and a SCSI controller?


I talked generally - SCSI hade some specs, but we can hardly call it 'standard'. ACSI has almost same protocol as SCSI: first giving command code, then 5 bytes of parameters. And command codes are practically same as by SCSI - just 3 upper bits are stripped. All this is nice visible in Atari ST ProfiBuch.
Right, Atari made some MFM drives with ACSI-MFM translation. But it was probably just because of big prices of SCSI disks. And MFM is in fact more similar to IDE than SCSI. Interesting... But IDE was not in sight then...
We need to keep in mind price factor too - people then was willing to pay lot of money for hard drive - it was new and exciting. As priced started to drop such complex solutions as Megadrive 30 (if remember correct name) became too expensive (especially considering performances).

ijor wrote:In retrospective (yes, it is a lot easier to judge 20 years later), the mistake about the hard disk port was perhaps to have one at all. Instead of a hard disk port I would implement an external bus expansion port. The cost of the host adapters wouldn't increase significantly if at all. With the big benefit that you could make all sort of plug-in interfaces. Not just hard disks.

Right.

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Postby Cyprian » Wed Apr 11, 2007 11:25 am

ACSI and SCSI are based on SASI - 6 byte commands were directly implemented in Atari.

SCSI was standardized in 1986 - 2 years after ACSI, and SASI was renamed to SCSI level 1.

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Postby ijor » Wed Apr 11, 2007 4:19 pm

Cyprian_K wrote:SCSI was standardized in 1986 - 2 years after ACSI


No. 1986 was the year when the standard was officially and formally adopted by ANSI. The draft was submitted to the ANSI commitee in 1984. And long before that it was already an informal de-facto standard, with many devices available in the market.

ACSI and SCSI are based on SASI


SASI was the former term form SCSI. For several years it was actually called SASI/SCSI. So saying ACSI is based on SASI is in essence the same as it it based on SCSI.

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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Postby Lando_C » Wed May 14, 2008 5:39 pm

I voted for "no bus expansion"

look at the apple II and the IBM PC. why did they become so long lived ? because they could be upgraded and it was easy for other manufacturers to make add-on hardware for them.

If apple had made the macintosh expandable the pc would not have been the standard today. had Atari made the ST with a box case, external keyboard and expansion ports, it would have been a macintosh killer for real. but.. hindsight hindsight.

MIDI was the one thing that made the ST stand out.
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ppera

Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Postby ppera » Wed May 14, 2008 5:57 pm

Lando_C wrote:I voted for "no bus expansion"....

Very wise :cheers:

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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Postby earx » Thu May 15, 2008 11:49 am

1) YM (should have been at least an FM variant)
2) ACSI (should have been SCSI)
3) joystickport

TOS was fine, it's not like a plain ST was powerful enough to run a full fledged Unix+xwindows, anyway.

i'd like to stress that the st design philosphy was great: off-the-shelf components hooked up in a logical way. if they had continued on that path instead of making custom stuff.. they might have lasted longer.

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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Postby madcrow » Thu May 15, 2008 12:22 pm

I'd have to say the sound was the weak bit. Not only did the YM chip not compare with the Amiga's sound system, it couldn't even compare with the SID or the POKEY...

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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Postby bullis1 » Thu May 15, 2008 12:54 pm

madcrow wrote:I'd have to say the sound was the weak bit. Not only did the YM chip not compare with the Amiga's sound system, it couldn't even compare with the SID or the POKEY...


While this has been mentioned before, it's worth saying again anyway: The YM2149 may not have been able to compete at the time, people figured out more and more about the chip as time went on. It was too late to save people's opinions of the machine in the 80s, but the 90s saw some very good tunes. Nowadays with modern trackers and tools I'd have to say that the YM2149 outputs some of the best chip music. Now the POKEY seems really lame sounding in comparison. SID is still the king I suppose but even the YM2149 is able to emulate that now (not as good but it still adds flavour to your tunes!).
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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Postby ppera » Thu May 15, 2008 4:30 pm

earx wrote:1) YM (should have been at least an FM variant)
2) ACSI (should have been SCSI)
3) joystickport


SCSI was not standardized yet in 1985. Plus, it was very expensive in those days. Atari did some simplified, early SCSI (called SASI), what was pretty good for 80-es. I think that it failed because Atari launched not enough good hard disk kits for it.
In any case, later machines as TT and Falcon had SCSI port.

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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Postby beastie » Sat May 17, 2008 4:42 pm

Ok... And I voted for keyboard design. The best keyboard from the 80's was in C64 and C16 for me :-) But it was looking oldish and in some ways rustical ;-) But it was very comfortable at the same time. Still, Amiga 500 has much better keyboard than the Atari ST. The keys are somehow to soft in ST/STE... You can't be sure you pushed it enough deeply or not.

But, the keyboard I've with my Falcon is from Mega STE (my Falcon is in tower case and has external keyboard) and it's very good for me. I know, that the keyboard in the original Falcon case works much better than in any ST/STE, so why they make such a soft keyboard in ST/STE??

I've heard there are some keys replacements or something? Did you hear about that?

PS. The worst keyboards I've touched - ZX80 and Atari 400.

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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Postby Desty » Sat May 17, 2008 9:23 pm

The keys did feel a little mushy on the ST, but they worked really well, and typing was always comfortable for me. In comparison, my Macbook's keys sometimes miss a stroke, and my sister's PC laptop keyboard is knackered after about 1.5 years.
tá'n poc ar buile!

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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Postby Rat boy » Sun May 18, 2008 5:37 am

To illict some form of semblance..

There are many suggestions regarding the sound chip as being a bad thing...but this was in many cases a good thing, and one of the main points of the Atari v Amiga argument..simply Amiga didn't have MIDI, otherwise it (Atari ST) was dead in the water.

This BUS thing seems to be mooted about....errr. whats them MIDI ports for then..? or more importently, that I/F next to them, labelled BUS connection? I programmed dongles on that port in the day...so whats it for again??

Love all these PCI/IDE references! So, Atari invent standards that haven't been invented yet? The PC environment went that way and when folks moan about lack of the BUS.. admittedly, the customisable bus was available on the beeb etc, but was the ST designed to be upgradedor used in education? or be used in a direct compitition against Amiga, which it lost badly.

And the very meaning of SCSI is for CHEAP hard disks to be arranged via a controller, so Atari were WAY ahead of the game implementing the DMA standard that can interface to it, you show me a server that DOESN'T use RAID to this day!

Pretty spooky that we all use PC's with a HD that have the OS and all the data on a single drive to date....when the future was/is RAID..ie what Atati purported to 20 years ago....

Atari 'vs' xx = at the time...Amiga 'hit the hardware', and Atari needed 'tickling and fetling' for same effect..

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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Postby simbo » Mon May 19, 2008 12:44 am

my amega A500 in 1985 had midi as a plug in board and 4MB ram {1.44mb ram boot disk}
it worked well
however it was software vendors like steinberg that ruled and atari and tos on 68000 there home
till the pc kindof merged with it in software terms
as cross compilation and several ground up rewrites allowed diverse builds to be made of most software
and also further embeded and rights leases from vendors to the o/s makers allowed for a market to pay development
amega kindof got drowned out becouse software and hardware didnt come together for it
well at the same time anyway..
would be nice to check it out now
but mine went in the bin after a beer night....!

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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Postby ppera » Mon May 19, 2008 8:46 am

simbo wrote:my amega A500 in 1985 had midi as a plug in board and 4MB ram {1.44mb ram boot disk}..


I don't know about amega, but Amiga 500 was launched in 1987. in 1985 it was Amiga 1000 :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Postby thorsten_guenther » Mon May 19, 2008 9:27 am

beastie wrote:I've heard there are some keys replacements or something? Did you hear about that?


Yes, there were (and still are at Best Electronics under the name "TT" Touch "The Best"). In Germany, there were not only replacement silicone contacts available, but also new key caps as the RTS Tastatur - I have made a photo available: http://www.dilgar.de/rtstastatur.jpg. Note the white hard plastic stripes below the key caps - stopping the pressed key caps approx. 1.5 mm earlier than they normally would, to make typing even more comfortable. There even was a set of red/orange/yellow coloured key caps for special keys by the same company.

BTW, voted "expansion bus".

Thorsten

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Re: Biggest flaw in Atari ST's design

Postby earx » Tue May 20, 2008 9:52 am

an a500 in 1985 rotfl. with 1.44 MB RAM (?!) boot disk. what the fup is that? bootable ram? you had flash in 1985 too? ;))

someone wrote about the spongy ST keyboard. idd, many 8 bit machine keyboards felt a bit tougher. but it didn't withhold programmers to make a few million strokes ;)

SCSI could have been added. after all, it came standard on amega in 1985 ;) (i just can't stop, sorry).


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