By Frank Hayes
ST--the final fontier. Maybe that's how you felt the first time you turned on your Atari ST. Heres one of the most amazing personal computers money can buy, fast and powerful, with lots of memory and spectacular graphics. But what can it do? How can you play with all that power--or put it to work for you?
It all depends on what you want your ST to do. There's a whole universe of software and hardware out there, just waiting to unleash the potential of your ST.
That's what this special START Buyer's Guide is all about. We've collected the best programs and peripherals we could find for the ST, and organized them all so it's easy for you to find exactly what you need.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO?
Want to write a letter? Just pop a word processor in the disk drive, click on the program icon, and you're ready to go. You'll find a comparison of ST word processors--along with desktop publishing programs that can let you run a publishing empire from your desktop starting on page 20.
Of course, to print that letter, you'll need a printer--and with the number of printers available for computers, it may not be easy to find one that will work with your ST. Relax--to find out everything you need to know, turn to page 83.
Or maybe you'd like to draw a picture, or create an animated cartoon. Graphic arts software starts on page 28. (Don't forget that some graphics programs specifically require either a color or monochrome monitor. You'll find monitors on page 78.)
If music is your life, the ST is the perfect computer for you--it has a builtin MIDI port to connect synthesizers, drum machines, and other MlDI-compatible music machines. For music software and hardware for the ST, turn to page 65.
If business is your game, turn to page 43 for our survey of business software. And if games are your game, try page 12, where you'll find ST entertainment software of all kinds.
Want to communicate with other computers? Then telecommunications is what you need. Modems, telecom programs, and online services start on page 53. Want to let your ST teach you? Education is your goal, and those programs begin on page 58.
Maybe you've already decided you need another disk drive, or a hard disk. You'll find them beginning on page 77, along with many other peripherals to connect to your ST.
Do you want to program--to get all the ST's power under your own control? Turn to our Programming Tools section on page 35. And if you just want to find out more about the ST, check out Books on page 89.
THE ST, INSIDE AND OUT
Or maybe you're still trying to decide whether the ST is the computer for you--and which ST is the one for you. What does the ST have to offer? And what exactly does "Power Without the Price" really mean?
There are really three different STs. All three run the same software of course, and come in the same basic configuration: a computer with one disk dnve, a monitor, a mouse, and all the connections you need to add a printer, a second disk drive, a modem, a hard disk, and even a music synthesizer.
That's important for two reasons. First, because the standard ST comes complete--with a monitor, disk drive, and mouse included--it's ready to use for many things as soon as you set it up. You can play games, draw pictures, or start calculating your business's future with a spreadsheet for your ST right out of the box--all you need is the software that can make it happen.
Second, since the ST has all the connections built in, you won't have any trouble--or unpleasant surprises when you want to add peripherals such as a printer, disk drive, hard disk, modem, or MIDI synthesizer. Unlike some computers, the ST doesn't require you to add special interfaces that add to the cost.
All three STs come with the same electronic "brain"--a 68000 processor, far more powerful than earlier generations of CPUs. And all three come with the same astonishing graphics--320 by 200 in low resolution, 640 by 200 in medium, and 640 by 400 in monochrome--with up to 512 colors. Best of all, every ST comes with a low price that brings that power to people who could never have afforded it before.
The 520 ST comes with 512 K of memory and a single-sided disk drive--that's enough to run most software with plenty of room to spare. A 520 ST with a monochrome monitor has a suggested retail price of $799.95; with a color monitor, it's $999.95. (Remember, these are list prices; many dealers offer special deals at lower prices.)
A 1040 ST has twice as much memory as a 520 ST, and it comes with a double-sided disk drive--with that much room inside, a 1040 ST can run virtually any software published for the ST. A monochrome system is $899.95; a color system is $1099.95.
Finally, there are the new Mega ST computers, with up to four megabytes of memory--that's 4,096 K, or eight times the memory in a 520 ST. The final price for the Mega ST 4 wasn't set at press time; it's expected to be substantially more expensive than a 520 and 1040 ST, but far less expensive than any other four-meg computer available today.
For more information on Atari's ST line of computers, circle 102 on the Reader Service Card.
GETTING A GOOD START
Tapping the power of the ST is easier than with almost any other computer. But getting the most from your machine takes something special--it takes START. START, The ST Quarterly, is the #1 guide to the Atari ST. Every issue has news and reviews, tricks and tips, columns and--most of all--programs that will help you use your ST to the fullest.
Each quarterly issue also features a START Disk. It's filled with ready-to-run programs--everything from games, demonstrations and utilities to regular updates for ST Writer (the popular public-domain word processor for the ST).
START is available at newsstands, bookstores, and computer stores, but the best way to get every issue is to subscribe. A year of START--four quarterly issues including START Disks, plus next year's special Buyer's Guide issue--is only $39.95. That saves you more than $20 off what you'd pay at the newsstand.
Or you can subscribe to both START and Antic, The Atari Resource--with its monthly coverage of the ST--for just $59.95, and save $50 off the newsstand price!
To subscribe, just fill out the subscription card in this magazine and mail it in. Or call toll-free (800) 234-7001, and charge it to your Visa or MasterCard, and we'll start your subscription on its way to you.