Classic Computer Magazine Archive START SPECIAL ISSUE NUMBER 1


Solving real business problems with ST software and hardware

By Gregg Pearlman and Frank Hayes

Computing takes software but the real world requires hardware.

Whether you want to print a page, read a program off disk, or see graphics on a screen, your computer's signals have to interface with the real world. That's where computer software leaves off, and hardware--peripherals and accessories--have to take up the slack.

Fortunately, the Atari ST comes complete with all the interfaces you need to connect a printer, a second disk dive, a hard disk and a monitor. Some computers require extra circuit cards for these things, but with the ST, you can simply plug them in and you're ready to go!


A printer lets you communicate with the non-computer world, printing out words and pictures for the benefit of those who otherwise can't see what you've created on your ST's screen. Whether you plan to write letters or novels, or print out greeting cards, newsletters, or full-scale architectural plans, you'll need a printer to put those things on paper.

Many different printers will work with the ST. For tips on printers and printer accessories that will get the most from your ST, see the nearby text box on "Printers: What to Look For."


An ST without a disk drive is like a car without wheels--it can't go very far. Every ST comes with at least one disk drive, but you can have as many as two double-sided drives on line at once--for nearly 1 1/2 megabytes of disk storage! As an added bonus, a double-sided ST drive can read disks created on IBM's newest computers, the PS/2 line.

Atari SF354 (single sided, $199.95) and SF314 (double sided, $299.95) Atari's drives are the standard for the ST, and come in single and double sided versions with external power supplies and cases that match your ST. Atari Corporation, 1196 Borregas Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94088. (408) 745-2367

C-Systems Megadrive (one drive, $229.00; two drives, $349.00) The Megadrives are double-sided drives that come with internal power supplies. The DF 1000 is a single disk drive; the DF 2000 has two double-sided drives in one case. C-Systems, Box 333, West Jordan, UT 84084. (801) 350-8855


Why use a 5 1/4 inch drive with your ST? Mostly because it lets your ST read industry-standard IBM PC floppy disks, so you can exchange data with IBM users. It's also a great help when you're using PC-Ditto, which lets you run IBM software on the ST.

IB Drive ($269.95) If you use an IBM PC at work and an Atari ST at home, this drive may be just what you're looking for. The IB Drive reads IBM disks with PC-Ditto, or transferring files from 5 1/4 inch disks to the ST's 3 1/2 inch disks. IB Computers, 1519 SW Marlow Avenue, Portland, OR 97225. (503) 297-8425

Microbyte A ($235) and B (quad density, $245) Microbyte's 5 1/4 inch drives are complete floppy systems made especially to plug into the ST and operate as a second disk drive. Microbyte A is a double-sided, double-density drive; Microbyte B is double sided and quad density. Paradox Enterprises, Inc., 150 South Camino Seco, Suite #113, Tucson, AZ 85710. (602) 721-2023

ST/PC Drive Cable ($39.95) If you already have an industry-standard 3 1/2 or 5 1/4 inch disk drive, here's a cable that lets you connect it to your ST. The ST/PC Drive Cable allows you to simply plug in an IBM compatible disk drive for use as drive B. You'll still need a power supply for the drive, though. E. Arthur Brown Company. 3404 Pawnee Drive, Alexandria, MN 56308. (612) 762-8847


A hard disk plugs into your ST and changes your life. Programs start up almost like magic, files load and save much faster than with regular disks, and there's plenty of space for storing large files. With up to 60 megabytes or more of disk space on line, big projects become much easier. A hard disk isn't one of the first things you're likely to add to your ST, but when it's time to get one, there's nothing like it.

Atari SH204 ($699.95) A 20-megabyte hard disk. Atari Corporation, 1196 Borregas Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94088. (408) 745-2367

Astra System HD+ ($995.00) A 20-megabyte hard disk with a 3 1/2 inch double-sided drive built in. Astra Systems, 2500 S. Fairview, Unit L, Santa Ana, CA 92704. (714) 549-2141


SupraDrive (20 Mb $699.00, 30 Mb $995.00, 60 Mb $1995.00) Hard disks in three sizes: 20, 30 and 60 megabytes. Supra Corporation, 1133 Commercial Way, Albany, OR 97321. (503) 967-9075

ICD ST Hard Drive System (20 Mb $699.95, 30 Mb $945.95, dual 20 Mb $1149.95, dual 30 Mb $1349.95) Up to 60 megabytes with one or two 20 or 30 megabyte hard disks; you can also plug an Atari or Supra hard drive into the back of the ICD case for still more storage on-line. Includes a fan and real-time clock. ICD, 1220 Rock Street, Rockford, IL 61101. (815) 968-2228


If you have a 520 STFM, you can hook your computer directly to your TV set. But for the best picture (or any picture, if you've got a 1040 or Mega ST) you need a high-resolution monochrome or RGB color monitor--one specifically designed to plug directly into your ST. If you've got more than one monitor-- or even a composite monitor--there are also switch boxes and cables that can make using your monitors much simpler.

Atari SM124 ($199.95) Atari's high-resolution monochrome monitor shows you 640 by 400 pixels with with an absolutely flicker-free picture. It's perfect for business applications, including desktop publishing. Atari Corporation, 1196 Borregas Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94088. (408) 745-2367

Atari SC1224 ($399.95) The RGB color monitor from Atari lets you use low or medium-resolution software, and displays up to 512 colors and 640 by 200 pixels. For graphics, games and most other ST software, this is the one. Atari Corporation, 1196 Borregas Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94088. (408) 745-2367

Monitor Master ($49.95) You say you have both monochrome and color monitors for your ST, and dread switching them because of the cable-swapping involved? The answer: Monitor Master. This box allows simple push-button switching between the monitors, and if you've got a 520 FMST it lets you connect a composite monitor, too. Practical Solutions, 1930 E. Grant Rd., Tucson, AZ 85719. (602) 884-9612

ST Video Box ($49.95) It almost sounds too good to be true: The ST Video Box allows the use of either a color or monochrome monitor in any of the three resolutions available on the Atari ST. That means you can use low and medium-resolution programs on your monochrome monitor, or monchrome programs with your color monitor. E. Arthur Brown Company, 3404 Pawnee Drive, Alexandria, MN 56308 (612) 762-8847

ST Composite Cable ($19.95) If your ST has a built-in RF modulator (like the 520 STFM), the ST Composite Cable lets you connect a standard composite monitor--like the ones that connect to the Atari 800 and the Apple II. E. Arthur Brown Company. 3404 Pawnee Drive, Alexandria, MN 56308. (612) 762-8847


There are only three things certain in life: death, taxes, and the fact that you never have quite enough memory to run the newest, neatest ST programs. You can never have too much memory, and the ST lets you add up to four megabytes of RAM to your system. Some RAM upgrades need installation by a dealer or qualified hardware hacker; others require only a screwdriver and patience.

EZRAM 520 ($199.00) EZRAM is a solderless half-meg memory upgrade board that's quick and easy to install, bringing your 520 ST up to a full megabyte of RAM. START's technical staff has personally supervised four EZRAM 520 installations, all of which work perfectly. Terrific Peripherals, 17 St. Mar,v's Court, Brookline, MA 02416. (617) 232-2317

Solderless RAMboard ($199.95) You say one megabyte isn't enough--you need to upgrade your ST to four megabytes, but don't want to solder anything? E. Arthur Brown's Solderless RAMboard might be just what you need. Uses either 256K or one megabit RAM chips. E. Arthur Brown Company, 3404 Pawnee Drive, Alexandria, MN 56308. (612) 762-8847

RAM Upgrade Board ($149.95) A megabyte board that requires a minimum of soldering; do-it-yourself instructions are included. Diverse Data Products, 1805 NE 164th Street, North Miami Beach, FL 33162. (305) 940-0458

easieST RAM ($189.00; $20.00 to replace sockets). No soldering required--just plug this expansion board into two existing sockets. Instructions are included. Aerco, PO. Box 18093, Austin, TX 78760. (512) 451-5874


Will your ST give you the time of day? A computer clock lets GEM time-stamp files, and you'll never have to type in the date or time again.


SmartWatch ($59.95) Just remove the #l ROM chip from your 520 ST, insert the SmartWatch, then plug your ROM back into the SmartWatch socket, and your ST has an accurate lithium-powered clock for the next ten years. Michigan Software, 43345 Grand River, Novi, MI 48050. (313) 348-4477

eSTe Clock ($49.95) A six-year, battery-backed clock that plugs into the ST's cartridge port. Bigfoot Industries. 2708 E Lake Street, Minneapolis, MI 55406. (612) 722-9515

Navarone Timekeeper ($49.95) Another battery-powered clock that plugs into the cartridge port--but there's another cartridge port built into the Timekeeper, so another cartridge can be added, too. Navarone Industries, 1043 Sterling Rd. #201, Mountain View, CA 9404. (415) 964-2660

Mind Mine ST Clock ($49.95) This clock installs inside your ST without soldering, and gives the standard battery-backed clock features. Mind Mine Computer Center, 13256 N.E. 20th Street, Suite 4, Bellevue, WA 98005. (206) 641-6138

ST Invisible Clock ($39.95) The ST Invisible Clock installs on the underside of your Atari ST keyboard, and will automatically set the time on powerup. E. Arthur Brown Company, 3404 Pawnee Drive, Alexandria, MN 56308. (617) 762-8847


ST Mouse Ball ($29.95) If your ST takes up all the space on your desk and your mouse is hunchbacked from moving around in too small a space, relief is in sight. Replace your ST mouse with this speedy trackball--it emulates the ST mouse completely and saves desk space, too. E. Arthur Brown Company, 3404 Pawnee Drive, Alexandria, MN 56308. (612) 762-8847


Gateway ($149.95) Need a high-speed 23-channel programmable I/O device? Gateway allows computer control of process, lab, and other external equipment or procedures. Terrific Peripherals, 17 St. Mary's Court, Brookline, MA 02416. (617) 232-2317

Analog/Digital Converter ($115.00) Eight analog-to-digital input channels, two digital-to-analog output channels, and four digital control lines for your computer. This a/d converter was designed as a general-purpose interface for scientific instruments, but you can use it to sense or control almost anything in the world outside your ST. SP Innovations, P.O. Box 33395, North Royalton, OH 44133. (216) 237-2382


Echo Home Control Center ($99.95) This BSR/X-10 compatible controller lets your ST control lights, appliances and other electrical devices--all you need is a control module for each device you want to control. You can dim lights from 10 to 100 percent, and use 256 commands for 95 different devices. If you've already got a BSR/X10 controller, the software is available separately for $39.95. MichTron, 576 South Telegraph, Pontiac, MI 48053. (313) 334-5700