What could Atari have done better with the ST?

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Re: What could Atari have done better with the ST?

Postby joska » Tue Aug 25, 2015 11:51 am

AtariZoll wrote:Joska, you forgetting about what this thread is. I just gave example for something better than existing ACC system. So, really no need to talk here about Geneva etc - they came later, so really pointless. Especially when you are wrong about some simple features.


TOS AES is "almost there". Instead of inventing special cases for what is basically a GEM-capable TSR Atari should have made the AES capable of running several AES applications concurrently. They wouldn't have to wait for Geneva to do it for them, they should have done this themselves. And that's *my* suggestion for a more capable OS :)

AtariZoll wrote:I had TOS 1.00 when wrote that CopyACC, and used Malloc in middle of ACC to allocate RAM for RAMdisk, and of course used regular memfree by it's removal. So , ACC self can not be removed (that's TOS/AES design flaw), but allocated RAM by code in ACC can be simply removed by regular memfree.


See above for a description of the real problem.
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Re: What could Atari have done better with the ST?

Postby AtariZoll » Tue Aug 25, 2015 1:32 pm

OK. I think that so much was enough from all this allocation and ACC talk. Joska was wrong about possibility to free RAM allocated from ACC - it can be freed simply when is allocated while in Desktop. If do that in middle of some APP, then if will free it automatically when exit :D (what was my mistake). But RAMdisk is actually still there, as exit does not clear RAM, so will be there until some other APP start.
Normally, user does not do RAMdisk installs in middle of running some SW . I made later versions so, that can be run as PRG too. But we went really off topic. TOS is made as is in limited time, and question is would be in 192 KB ROM enough space for those advanced features.

So:

4. Short ROM space - only 192 KB, and additionally bad location choice, what resulted in not popular ROM area change. They should go on 256 KB from start, but that would need 8 EPROMs instead 6, and more space on mbo. Or just better coding - less C and more ASM :mrgreen:
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Re: What could Atari have done better with the ST?

Postby joska » Tue Aug 25, 2015 1:55 pm

AtariZoll wrote:OK. I think that so much was enough from all this allocation and ACC talk. Joska was wrong about possibility to free RAM allocated from ACC - it can be freed simply when is allocated while in Desktop.


Well, I took that from memory. Should have double-checked first. You *can* Malloc and Mfree memory from within an accessory, but there are pitfalls: If you change resolution with your RAM-disk active and you're using TOS > 2 your RAM-disk will be "lost". Memory will not be freed and when the acc restarts it will attempt to allocate RAM for the RAM-disk again.

It's a shame that Atari didn't realize how crippled the whole accessory thing was. You are right, 192kb is not much but when the STE came they really should have improved the AES a bit to allow concurrent AES applications. But by then it was probably to late anyway.
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Re: What could Atari have done better with the ST?

Postby calimero » Tue Aug 25, 2015 5:38 pm

I just wonder who "invented" ACCs?
DigitalResearch or it was exclusive to Atari GEMDOS?
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Re: What could Atari have done better with the ST?

Postby shoggoth » Tue Aug 25, 2015 5:50 pm

calimero wrote:I just wonder who "invented" ACCs?
DigitalResearch or it was exclusive to Atari GEMDOS?


PC GEM has accessories. It's an AES feature (sort of a hack), not part of GEMDOS.
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Re: What could Atari have done better with the ST?

Postby mfro » Tue Aug 25, 2015 6:06 pm

joska wrote:...You *can* Malloc and Mfree memory from within an accessory, but there are pitfalls: If you change resolution with your RAM-disk active and you're using TOS > 2 your RAM-disk will be "lost"...


It's normally safe to assume that you can allocate memory during accessory initial load, but even then there are pitfalls:

  • one has already been mentioned: different TOS versions handle screen resolution changes differently regarding memory allocations
  • the other is the introduction of GEM autostart applications. If you do not block AES process switches, it's entirely possible you allocate memory too late (when the autostart application is active with the results already discussed). This is especially dangerous since appl_init() (which is essential for an accessory) allocates memory itself.

I remember getting nearly crazy hunting for such bug in one of my applications. This whole accessory handling thing was everything but well-designed.

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Re: What could Atari have done better with the ST?

Postby qq1975b » Wed Aug 26, 2015 6:48 am

AtariZoll wrote:OK. I think that so much was enough from all this allocation and ACC talk. Joska was wrong about possibility to free RAM allocated from ACC - it can be freed simply when is allocated while in Desktop. If do that in middle of some APP, then if will free it automatically when exit :D (what was my mistake). But RAMdisk is actually still there, as exit does not clear RAM, so will be there until some other APP start.
Normally, user does not do RAMdisk installs in middle of running some SW . I made later versions so, that can be run as PRG too. But we went really off topic. TOS is made as is in limited time, and question is would be in 192 KB ROM enough space for those advanced features.

So:

4. Short ROM space - only 192 KB, and additionally bad location choice, what resulted in not popular ROM area change. They should go on 256 KB from start, but that would need 8 EPROMs instead 6, and more space on mbo. Or just better coding - less C and more ASM :mrgreen:


So, the big improvement should have been (TOS subject) 256KB vs 192KB and other location choice...but should more ROM capacity be necessary ? I mean...why 256 and not 512? was it very expensive at that time? Or useless because of RAM available or whatever? Why some machines (ST and Mega ST) have 6 rom socket instead of 2 since the beginning?

Why all the TOS improvements you said (TOS debate :) ) couldn't be done later? in 1.4 TOS at least? it was released on STfm's high sales point, wasn't it? I know TOS 1.00 was suffered release time restrictions but later....other revisions could have been done much better, couldn't they?

Sprite controller...(silence)...? I suppose not :lol:

Thank you. Very interesting debate (at least I understood the problemm on TOS debate :lol:).
Trying to learn...

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Re: What could Atari have done better with the ST?

Postby joska » Wed Aug 26, 2015 7:00 am

qq1975b wrote:So, the big improvement should have been (TOS subject) 256KB vs 192KB and other location choice...but should more ROM capacity be necessary ? I mean...why 256 and not 512? was it very expensive at that time? Or useless because of RAM available or whatever? Why some machines (ST and Mega ST) have 6 rom socket instead of 2 since the beginning?


Just guessing, but I believe that when the ST was designed the biggest commonly available ROM-size was 32kb. Hence six ROM sockets - 6x32 = 192kb. But why six and not eight? I don't know, probably for cost reasons.
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Re: What could Atari have done better with the ST?

Postby dhedberg » Wed Aug 26, 2015 7:12 am

joska wrote:
qq1975b wrote:So, the big improvement should have been (TOS subject) 256KB vs 192KB and other location choice...but should more ROM capacity be necessary ? I mean...why 256 and not 512? was it very expensive at that time? Or useless because of RAM available or whatever? Why some machines (ST and Mega ST) have 6 rom socket instead of 2 since the beginning?

Just guessing, but I believe that when the ST was designed the biggest commonly available ROM-size was 32kb. Hence six ROM sockets - 6x32 = 192kb. But why six and not eight? I don't know, probably for cost reasons.

That's correct. The reason for 6 sockets and not 8 was mainly due to lack of space on the 520ST motherboard as mentioned by Mike Fulton (ex-Atari employee) in one of his blog posts: http://www.fultonsoft.com/revisiting-ge ... st-part-6/
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Re: What could Atari have done better with the ST?

Postby AtariZoll » Wed Aug 26, 2015 7:20 am

I don't think that serious user has need to change resolution often - it's rather than he starts in medium or high and will stay in it whole day. Maybe will change to low at evening, to play little. So, that problem with ACCs and resolution change is really not relevant. My whole point was that way, how resident SW is loading with current ACC loading system is bad, not user friendly and flexible. Actually, whole idea about separated APP category as ACC was just bad. They should make system what allows keeping APP in RAM accessible for further usage. Partially done, as you can exit APP with TSR, so it remains in RAM, but without reenter it was good only for driver purposes, or background music and similar . Yes, it was very close to achieving what later APP switchers did in some way - and I say that it is not matter of just AES, but GEMDOS too - they should just add functions like Exit with Reenter opt. And Reenter to specific APP. AES should only take care about user interface for that.

Problem with 192KB was that it was set to location where was no space after 192KB ROM end - so they did not foresight need for larger TOS ROM space.
What resulted in changing whole TOS ROM location - what resulted in some incompatibilities - even in Atari SW - at least sold by Atari self .
I think that 256 KB was OK for TOS up to 3.xx, only Falcon has 512 KB .
In the beginning ROM chip prices were such, that 6 32 KB chips were cheaper than 2 128 KB ones. But ... they should swallow that 5 dollars and go on 2x128 KB at start, I think.
About TOS improvements: that's old story. SW development was always slower, especially if some big company stayed behind. New ideas, approacs were not popular in them. Surely it could be much better, or they should buy ASH :mrgreen: (ASH is who made Magic) .
It is not better really today with M$ in my opinion. They just release new Windows versions without any real improvement. Big talk - WIn 10 is so big improvement, that we skip number 9, blah, blah ... When you start it, you see nothing really new and useful - at least I did not. Just missed that shading of top Window bar :D Seems as desparated way really, when they do some cosmetic changes, and new is worse actually. Long live Ubuntu !
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Re: What could Atari have done better with the ST?

Postby calimero » Wed Aug 26, 2015 10:05 am

AtariZoll wrote: Surely it could be much better, or they should buy ASH :mrgreen: (ASH is who made Magic) .

It is really impressive what Adreas Kromke manage to do with MagiC - it gave completely new life to ST computers! Does anybody have link to interview with Adreas Kromke? I would really like to read how it was to build MagiC.

AtariZoll wrote: When you start it, you see nothing really new and useful - at least I did not. Just missed that shading of top Window bar :D

Now entire Windows 10 looks like C64 graphics :D
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Re: What could Atari have done better with the ST?

Postby AdamK » Wed Aug 26, 2015 11:46 am

Back to the topic: nothing. ST is perfect.
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Re: What could Atari have done better with the ST?

Postby Frank B » Wed Aug 26, 2015 2:04 pm

AdamK wrote:Back to the topic: nothing. ST is perfect.


The ST/STE and Falcon are indeed fine machines. So is the Amiga!

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Re: What could Atari have done better with the ST?

Postby Retrogamer_ST » Wed Aug 26, 2015 2:35 pm

AdamK wrote:Back to the topic: nothing. ST is perfect.


Is it?

Then we have to make up some complains.

- The first week that i bought my Atari ST, i cried myself to sleep. Function button nr 5 was 1 millimeter too big and the mouse felt cheesy. Not even that, i found the whole computer case 1 millimeter too big.

Then i thought...

WHY did Atari do this to me?

On Amiga the situation was very different, Amiga only had one single fault, the machine itself.

(just kidding) ;) :D

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Re: What could Atari have done better with the ST?

Postby troed » Wed Aug 26, 2015 3:10 pm

Retrogamer_ST wrote:- The first week that i bought my Atari ST, i cried myself to sleep.


You were kidding, but that's almost what I did. You see, when I grew up we didn't have a lot of money. I had friends who had (or rather, their parents had) computers - C64 mostly. Due to a one-off scholarship I managed to snag at school when I was 12 I was suddenly in the position to buy one of my own - and I went into nearest big city computer store. The only one, IIRC.

When I was there the dealer talked about this amazing new computer that had 512 colors and 512kb memory etc etc - and I did not know about different computers. In my mind this was "a computer" just as the ones my friends had - only somehow better.

I got home, plugged the computer into the TV, turned it on and ... stared at a completely green screen, where I was expecting to see some form of command prompt.

Somewhat hesitantly I started pressing a few keys, but nothing appeared on screen. I fell into a bit of a despair, wondering what this crap that I spent this gigantic sum of money on really was.

It took some time before I found out that I could plug this "mouse" thing into the computer, as well as inserting the "ST Language" into the disk drive.

True story. After several months of playing around with ST Basic, the only program I had, another dealer told me that he knew of one other Atari ST owner that I could contact. That person is today known as BlueSTar of SYNC.

/Troed

(I have vague memories of the dealer telling me I was the third person in Sweden to own an ST. I believed him then, but I find it extremely odd if it were true. How would he know - the nearest "big city" to me not being close to being in the top 20 in Sweden .. )

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Re: What could Atari have done better with the ST?

Postby Retrogamer_ST » Wed Aug 26, 2015 3:21 pm

troed wrote:You were kidding, but that's almost what I did. You see, when I grew up we didn't have a lot of money. I had friends who had (or rather, their parents had) computers - C64 mostly. Due to a one-off scholarship I managed to snag at school when I was 12 I was suddenly in the position to buy one of my own - and I went into nearest big city computer store. The only one, IIRC.

When I was there the dealer talked about this amazing new computer that had 512 colors and 512kb memory etc etc - and I did not know about different computers. In my mind this was "a computer" just as the ones my friends had - only somehow better.

I got home, plugged the computer into the TV, turned it on and ... stared at a completely green screen, where I was expecting to see some form of command prompt.

Somewhat hesitantly I started pressing a few keys, but nothing appeared on screen. I fell into a bit of a despair, wondering what this crap that I spent this gigantic sum of money on really was.

It took some time before I found out that I could plug this "mouse" thing into the computer, as well as inserting the "ST Language" into the disk drive.

True story. After several months of playing around with ST Basic, the only program I had, another dealer told me that he knew of one other Atari ST owner that I could contact. That person is today known as BlueSTar of SYNC.

/Troed

(I have vague memories of the dealer telling me I was the third person in Sweden to own an ST. I believed him then, but I find it extremely odd if it were true. How would he know - the nearest "big city" to me not being close to being in the top 20 in Sweden .. )


Thanks for sharing that story. :)

The only problem i had in the beginning was to get used to a completly new machine. I was expected something like Atari 800 XL in 16 bit format but this was something else and it took a while to get used. I'll guess that C64 owners who bought an Amiga was experience the same thing.

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Re: What could Atari have done better with the ST?

Postby AtariZoll » Wed Aug 26, 2015 4:42 pm

Well, I must say that latest 2 stories sound for me pretty unbelievable. Normally, people got informations about computers in magazines those years.
I knew pretty much about Atari ST before I bought it. Furthermore, seller allowed me to test it/play on it in shop as much I want.

I can not resist to react on post which says that Atari ST was perfect. Nothing is perfect. Especially new computer and it's OS. We forgot almost that in 1985-6 it was sold with OS on floppy, and that cost some 200KB RAM . Why they did new versions, STE ... ?
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Re: What could Atari have done better with the ST?

Postby shoggoth » Wed Aug 26, 2015 4:53 pm

AdamK wrote:Back to the topic: nothing. ST is perfect.


\o/

Amen.
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