The 520 ST  

In 1985 Atari Corporation introduced its new 16-bit computer system. Called the 520ST. 520 being the memory size and ST for Sixteen/Thirty Two bit processor. The Atari ST originally had its OS delivered on floppy disk since the OS ROM's were not ready for shipping. The 520ST represents a major step forward in computer design and OS design. However many rough spots do show through and this most likely is a result of the machine being rushed market to gain a lead on the soon to be release Amiga computer system which was bought by Commodore and the money that Atari had been supplying to Amiga for development to use the technology in the Atari 1850XL computer before the Tramiels bought Atari was paid back.

The ST computer utilized the Digital Research GEM interface for a graphics environment. (As an interesting note, Apple Computer sued Digital Research for the GEM "Look & Feel" on the PC version and Digital Research was forced to change it, how Apple never sued Atari or Digital for the version used on the Atari ST's. Perhaps Apple felt that the Atari ST's were not going to be a enough of a threat to merit a lawsuit.)

See "Prototypes" in the 16/32 Computers menu for information on the 130ST.

The Atari 260ST

The Atari 260ST, a 256K version of the Atari 520ST released in the US in full production by the summer of 1985. (User groups, dealers and press received pre-release versions of the Atari 520ST's in April of 1985... some also had RF modulators installed.)


The 260ST was designed for the European market, allowing consumers a lower cost version that they could afford. Cost of computers in the UK & Europe were much higher then in the US and a version of the Atari ST with 256K of memory to reduce costs would help Atari penetrate the vast consumer bases overseas.

Released in 1986 this particular system was short lived as its cost may have been lower due to its reduced memory size, so was its usefulness as most useful software had no room to run with so little memory.

The Atari 260STFM

The Atari 260STFM was originally introduced in the United States but was instead sold in the European market in limited numbers. The smaller amount of RAM meant a lower price for consumers in European countries on a tight budget. 256K or RAM, built in 720K floppy drive (f designator) and a built in RF Modulator for us on standard Television sets (m designator) allowed further acceptance for those who could not purchase a monitor but instead opted to use an already existing television set in the home.

The other added feature was an internal power supply so the large power "brick" from the original 520ST computer was no longer needed, the system was completely self contained. The 260STFM was originally going to be called the Atari 260STD, however a quick review of the acronym revealed that STD would not be a wise choice. The unit was the prototype sample shown at several Atari shows.

The unit was the prototype sample shown at several Atari shows.

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