Classic Computer Magazine Archive START VOL. 3 NO. 12 / JULY 1989

START Spotlight

Turbo ST 1.4


Every once in a while, we come across a little utility that quickly becomes essential in the START offices. Turbo ST is just such a utility. It's not very large and is undetectable in many uses. But when you're scrolling through a long text file in STWriter Elite or waiting for a window update on the Desktop, you'll definitely notice--and appreciate--Turbo ST.

Turbo ST is the product of SofTrek of Winter Park, Florida. It does one thing and one thing only: speed up writing the ST's system fonts to the screen. These fonts are the ones used for text windows, such as in "Show as Text" disk directories on the Desktop, any file selector box and most word processors. Turbo ST is a relatively small desk accessory that installs on boot-up. It intercepts the system calls to the ST's ROM-based internal screen text and scrolling routines and redirects them to Turbo ST's much faster RAM-resident routines.

Speed! I Need Speed!

How much does Turbo ST speed up text? According to SofTrek's tests, as much as 607 percentin certain uses. That makes a bigdifference but what makes Turbo ST so valuable is that it speeds up every system font text redraw. That may seem like a little thing, but when you use an ST as much as we do at START (six to eight hours a day, every day), little things mean a lot!

If you haven't used Turbo ST, you're used to the ST's normal text speed and it probably won't seem slow. Now try Turbo ST. Within a very short time you'll become accustomed to the noticeable speed-up in mundane operations. Remove it and you'll go crazy waiting just that unnecessary little bit longer!

No Panacea

Turbo ST is not a cure-all for system slowdown, however. It doesn't work at all in applications that use bit-mapped fonts, such as desktop publishing programs, nor with programs such as WordPerfect that use their own routines. Earlier versions of Turbo ST also caused problems with such old standards as STWriter. The current version, 1.4, works with many more applications than before.

If you're prone to "desk accessory-itis," you may resent the fact that Turbo ST uses up one of the six precious slots allotted for desk accessories. It was written as a desk accessory to let you remove and re-install it to avoid any conflicts with cantankerous applications. If you have an unexpanded 520ST, you may also resent the fact that Turbo ST takes up a bit of your relatively scarce memory. In tests I've run, Turbo ST requires 42,774 bytes of memory. Whether to use 42K of memory for Turbo ST is a choice each user must make, but with recent declines in RAM chip prices, you 520ST owners might want to consider a RAM upgrade.

By the way, if you reallywant to revel in speed, install Turbo ST and CodeHead Software's G+Plus with its speedy solid-line window redraw routine. You'll never go back again.


Turbo ST 1.4, $49.95. SofTrek, P.O. Box 5257 Winter Park, FL 32793, (305) 657-4611.

G+Plus, $34.95. Codehead Software, P.O. Box 4336, North Hollywood, CA 91607, (213) 466-1868.