Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 5, NO. 6 / OCTOBER 1986



10 million bytes at your fingertips


The SupraDrive 10 megabyte (10Mb) hard disk for 8-bit Atari computers delivers fast access to the equivalent of over 100 floppy disks at the touch of a key. Our Antic 10Mb SupraDrive contains every 8-bit program ever published in the magazine-with more than seven megabytes still available for more data.

The system's controller board is encased in a long plastic box, roughly the size of a paperback book, which plugs into the parallel bus port on Atari XL and XE computers. A 50-conductor ribbon cable and a four-conductor power cable (each cable about 30 inches long) connect the controller board to the gray metal SupraDrive, which is approximately the size of a small shoebox and weighs 8-1/2 pounds. The controller board comes with its own parallel bus port so it can be "daisy chained" to other compatible peripherals.

If you own a I30XE, you'll need the $16 XE adaptor that plugs the controller board into the XE's parallel bus port and cartridge slot. This adaptor has its own cartridge slot, permitting use of cartridge software with the SupraDrive.

When running, the drive makes a gentle whine. During disk access, it emits a faint "blooping" noise. The system is designed for unmodified Atari XL and XE computers. Custom chips such as RAMrod and Omnimon will severely damage the SupraDrive.


The SupraDrive hard disk is divided into two sections, each of which is treated by the Atari as an independent disk. The first section becomes drive 1 and is called the "fake floppy." It has the same capacity as a floppy disk, can be set to either single or double density, and is compatible with any disk operating system (DOS). Normally the computer will boot from this drive.

You'll also need a real floppy disk drive to use the hard disk system. This drive is configured as drive 2 and lets you copy floppy disk files to and from the hard disk.

The second section of the SupraDrive is configured as drive 3 and contains the remainder of the hard disk's storage space. It can be set to either single or double density, but may only be accessed with MYDOS (which is provided with the SupraDrive) or lCD's SpartaDOS. Other operating systems, such as Atari DOS 2.0 and 2.5, cannot access all of the hard disk's sectors.

The SupraDrive comes with a MYDOS 4.0 disk that also contains nine helpful utility programs. There are utilities to write-protect and write-enable the hard disk, which is comparable to placing write-protect tabs over the notches of a floppy disk. Another program controls the flow of linefeeds to your printer. One very important utility "parks" your drive- locks its read/write heads into position above the innermost track of the disk to prevent damage when the drive is being moved. The ACTION! source code for the park program is included in a separate file. The main utility formats your hard disk, then checks it for bad sectors. This process takes between 10 and 20 minutes.

MYDOS organizes disk files into subdirectories. A subdirectory is a disk file which houses other disk files. This arrangement is similar to the Atari ST "folders" that hold multiple files.


Let's assume that you use your Atari and SupraDrive to manage a business. At the end of each day, you generate a sales report and store it on the hard disk. At the end of the week, you can look at the disk file directory and see seven files-one for each day of the week. MYDOS lets you collect these files for storage in a single, larger file.

Call this file WEEK1. When you examine the main disk directory, you'll only see the WEEK 1 file. You must examine the subdirectory of WEEK1 to find your seven original sales reports. You could take this even further by placing all your weekly reports into a monthly report file, and store your monthly report files in a yearly report file, and so on.

Subdirectories don't conserve disk space. But they make it much easier to organize large numbers of files. We've taken every program ever published in Antic and stored them on our SupraDrive. The programs are organized into subdirectories according to the month and year they were published. For example, our D3:0CT86 subdirectory contains the CASTLE.BAS and the STRETCH.ACT files. To LOAD the Castle game from BASIC, you'd type:


First look at the forthcomming 20-megabyte SupraDrive for Atari STs. This new 3 1/2 inch hard disk is said to be faster than 5 1/4 inch hard disk drives, as well as more compact.

Supra Drive for Atari STs


A hard disk drive is a uniquely powerful tool for a bulletin board sysop or a professional programmer. But it can be an overpriced headache to the casual user. The hard disk is designed to take over booting up your system. If you want to use a professional program that's not stored on your disk, such as a word processor or a game, press the [HELP] key and the computer will boot from the floppy disk drive (drive 2). Programs designed to be used exclusively in drive 1, as well as programs which do not "get along" with your hard disk system, will not function properly. In this case, you must turn off your hard disk system, unplug the controller board from your computer, and reconfigure your floppy drive to be drive 1.

If you have two floppy drives, the procedure is a bit easier. The floppy drives should be configured as drive 1 and 2. When you're using your hard disk system, turn off floppy drive 1. To disable the hard drive system, turn it off and remove the controller board from your Atari. Now, turn on both floppy drives, and your professional software disks will function normally.


As with any hard disk system, you should never move or jar the SupraDrive while it's running. Be sure to keep it on a stable surface, where it's not likely to be tipped over. At Antic, we keep our hard drives on our desks. The technicians at Supra Corporation prefer to leave theirs on the floor.

Whenever you must move your hard disk drive-even a few inches- you should first park it (using the software as described above) and turn off the power switch. When you re-boot your hard disk, it will automatically unpark itself. It's also a good idea to park your drive whenever you're not going to be using it for any length of time.

Finally, even the finest of hard drives can occasionally malfunction. Always back up your files on floppy disks. Despite the name, hard disks are fragile. And a moment of carelessness could destroy months of work if your files are not backed up.

(10Mb hard disk)
Supra Corp.
1133 Commercial Way
Albany, OR 97321
(503) 967-9075
Requires XL/XE with one disk drive $799