On July 2, 1984 Warner
Communications sold its Consumer Electronics Division and its Home Computer
Division to Tramiel Technologies, Ltd. From that day on, Atari's immediate new
image and product line would be computers. Using Atari's highly visible name,
the Tramiels set out to produce a sell an all new line of computer systems.
These systems were originally based on the National Semiconductor 32032 chip.
The N32032 supply in quantities and cost range were in doubt, so the MC68000 was
Of the Home Computer Division employees, only those with Operating System skills
and 68000 skills were retained, nearly all other engineers were let go. Atari's
Industrial design team was also let go and in a matter of months, all key
positions were filled by former Commodore employees loyal to Jack Tramiel.
The new Atari Computer division set out to produce a low cost computer system
for the masses with power and performance, without a hefty price tag, so became
Atari's new slogan: "Power without the Price".
However in a rush to put out the new system and get a market share before
Commodore's newly acquire Amiga system was to be released, certain corners were
cut on the new "ST" systems. The OS was not as refined as it could've been and
also it was not in ROM, but instead on supplied diskettes. This issue was
quickly rectified a few months later. Newer systems came out such as the worlds
first 1MB personal computer: the Atari 1040ST, later improvements included the
1040STf with built in disk drive and RF modulator to connect it to a television
A big improvement model came in the form of the Mega ST system with its pizza
box design, detachable keyboard which everyone demanded, a Mega-Bus expansion
slot for video, networking and memory expansion. Stackable hard drives were also
made available. A new laser printer was also introduced along with the Mega ST
called the SLM804. A Mega ST with laser printer and desktop publishing software
actually cost as much as the laser printers alone from IBM and Apple.
Major improvements came with the Mega STE line with its new stylish case design,
LAN port, use of SCSI hard drives, VME expansion and more importantly the
Blitter chip graphics processor which had been promised since the ST's were
first released giving the ST line faster graphics updates, more colors and range
The ST went outbound with the release of the STacy laptop, this 15lb behemoth
was a blessing from ST users and more importantly... musicians who had taken an
almost cult following to the ST line of computers because it was the only
computer to offer built-in MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) ports and
ease of use with its graphically OS based on CP/M 68K using Digital Research,
Inc's GEM (Graphic Environment Manager) for its graphic front end.
The long rumoured and delayed Atari TT030 made its debut, a power house system
originally intended to run Atari's UNIX system V version 4.0, this workstation
packed a punch with a 32mhz 68030, Blitter, SCSI, Local-talk(tm) LAN port, 3
serial ports and much much more. However, problems with the system forced a
limited UNIX version release and the more mainstream release using Atari's
latest version of TOS (The Operating System).
In 1991 Atari had shown two remarkable systems designed to showcase Atari
technology. They were called the Atari STbook and the Atari STPad "STylus", one
was an Atari laptop which weighed in at only 5lbs. A truly remarkable feat
especially when you take into account only a year before Apple released its
Macintosh Portable which weighed almost as much as the previous 15lb STacy
laptop. The STBook was released in limited numbers (approx 1,000) and most were
in Europe. The second product was even more incredible, the STPad was a pen
based tablet computer based on Atari ST technology. Only 1 known fully assembled
prototype is known to exist and is part of the Atari Historical Society museum.
A mock-up case of another is in the possession of a European collector.
Atari final product, the Atari Falcon030 was Atari's last shining ST star, with
even better graphics then all previous systems, built in Motorola DSP (Digital
Signal Processor), direct audio-to-hard drive recording, plus Atari Works office
suite on its built in IDE hard disk, the Falcon was a wonderful system. Its only
shortcoming was that it was packaged into the old Atari 1040ST casing instead of
a detachable keyboard design. Such a design was in the works called the
MicroFalcon, also a larger Pizza-box version called the Falcon040 was in the
works, but these were cancelled as all work was directed towards Atari's last
and greatest product, the Atari Jaguar 64 Interactive Multimedia system.
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