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Lord-Chaos

What if the STE was more successful?

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I bought my 1040 STE in 1990, because I wanted a system to program, but

also with good sound and gfx, my brother had an AMIGA 500 and although

sound and gfx are great, working with an A500 isn't fun (it can drive you

crazy with its slow und unreliable disk system).

 

I was really disappointed that almost no STE games were released. Stardust

and Obsession are as good or better than most of the AMIGA games,

but I was so disappointing to have games with bad scrolling and

music that was a lot worse than my XL's POKEY sound on a machine

that was so much better.

 

I wonder what would have happened if the STE came earlier?

 

More games like Stardust and Obsession? Psygnosis games

like Beast or Blood Money with the AMIGA intros and digisound?

At least some more STE - enhanced games with extra features

on STEs like Wings of Death or Lethal Xcess?

 

It's too bad that the world never saw more STE games, the machine

had more potential than the ST, some STE demos show that.

 

Thimo

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It was always the same story with Atari; fantastic hardware that was on the edge or even pushing the envelope, but never had good marketing to lead to good support. The XE, STE, TT, Falcon, Lynx and Jaguar all suffered from the Tramiel's penny-pinching when it came to marketing and suffered short under-achieving lifespans. If people don't hear about the product, they can't buy it and if people don't buy the product developers won't support systems where they can't make money due to a small user base. The other end of the spectrum is crappy hardware with tons of money tossed at marketing which gets the user base and devlopers to follow, a perfect example of this is Nintendo's Lameboy (Gameboy).

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I personally think, the ste needed better graphical capabilities. Sure it had the blitter, but it wasnt really that useful. It didnt extend the colour pallette, there were no extra colours on screen and the same old resolutions.

If Atari had come up with a graphics chip to meet or exceed the amigas, then the ste would have faired alot better.

Saying that though, I do love the computer.

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The STe did have extra pallete. 12 bit colour, just like the Amiga.

 

My opinion. The STe still lagged behind the Amiga in most respects. But, it is the machine that the ST should have been in the first place, especially with respect to fine scrolling, proper 8-bit digitized sound and blitter.

 

It suffered much in the same way as the XL/XE did so far as never really having a software base to properly utilise its capabilities - although at least in the 8-bitters case it was a true leading edge machine when first released.

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The STe did have extra pallete. 12 bit colour, just like the Amiga.

 

My opinion. The STe still lagged behind the Amiga in most respects. But, it is the machine that the ST should have been in the first place, especially with respect to fine scrolling, proper 8-bit digitized sound and blitter.

 

It suffered much in the same way as the XL/XE did so far as never really having a software base to properly utilise its capabilities - although at least in the 8-bitters case it was a true leading edge machine when first released.

 

The ST WAS a true leading edge machine when it was released, the Amiga came out later. But Atari did do too little too late to compensate for the Amiga's release.

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It was definitely too little too late. A couple of years earlier and it might have stood a chance of getting a decent user base. The ST was definitely the machine to have in 1988 and with a higher spec baseline model it might have held its own a lot longer.

 

However, the STE was launched into a ferociously competetive marketplace in 1990. As well as the Amiga, the STE was up against a raft of fourth generation consoles (Megadrive/Genesis, SNES, etc.) from below and gaming PCs with the 386/VGA/Soundblaster hardware combo were becoming pretty much standard at the high end. It would have taken it a bit more than clever marketing to have survived in that environment and even if it had, the end would surely have only been delayed by a couple of years to when the fifth generation consoles arrived.

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Well, people knew the Amiga was coming - those who really wanted it just waited (and put up with the pain of the 1000).

 

By the time they brought out the 500, the decent software was coming thick and fast, and the writing was well and truly on the wall.

 

One advantage Atari had was lower price, especially outside the US. I can remember tossing up over an ST or Amiga, but went the 1040ST because I could have it with mono monitor and be able to hook it up to my TV all for under $2000.

At that same time (mid 1988), the Amiga would have come to probably $2500 for 512K and colour monitor.

 

Not long after, the Amiga became price competitive - by the early 1990s the ST was very much yesterdays news but the Amiga still evolved and enjoyed greater success.

 

But, the early 1990s also saw the birth of the Soundblaster, and graphics cards which outmatched even the Amiga, especially via their ability to render simple textures.

 

I can remember first seeing Wolfenstein 3D and thinking "There's no way a standard ST or Amiga could come near this".

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Still amazes me how I really thought (here in Dallas, TX-USA) that the ST died shortly after the 520 ST. I remember it was all the rush on the 8-bit BBS's and then.. silence.

 

8 bitters that sold their system to have a 16 bit system that would come with the mods that many of them had and more quickly learned the disk system was unreliable (less reliable than what they knew in the 8-bit world at least), and that while 512 K on a 8-bit was awesome, it was under what was needed on a ST.

 

The only thing that amazes me about the ST was how they had color so early on, unlike my Macs, which that came a lot later.

 

Turning a ST into a cheap Mac was what brought many to the ST in the early days. That and Synth music and the midi abilities.

 

When Macs started getting System 7 (which Spectre doesn't support) and color, I think it was all over then.

 

The TT030 added some nice utility & speed (which a few businesses jumped on until they learned how hard it was to get more TT030's (short supply)), and the Falcon added a extra boost of curiousity in the ST line, but where in the world could the find that back here in the states most of the time?

 

In the end, only the religious diehards would see what the ST line could do in 1993, and some would get clones for even greater speed.

 

Me, I co-existed in a computer scene of Macs and PC's and ever Newtons, and didn't even KNOW any of this was going on till I stumbled across a struggling Atari user group in 1999. If not for them, I would probably be saying "ST... that died off in the late 80's right?"

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The main problem with the ST line was that it was cheaper but not so future proof. The Amiga was more expensive but had a longer shelf life, it just took longer to get going, but it was going strong when the ST was running out of puff. The STE was the attempt to stem the tide but it was a bit too late.

 

If I was to single out Atari's single largest mistake with the orginal ST was the inclusion of the single sided floppy on early machines. Even when the DS drives had been out for sometime software manufactures always stuck with the SS disks to ensure the largest possible market. So the media costs per application were double what they were on the Amiga, and apparently this was a significant cost increase in an era when floppies were not $5 for 20. The floppy effect was the same deal with the STEs failure to gain market share, software writers always want the largest possible market so catered primarily to the lowest spec of the family. It was fairly late in the STs life that 1Mb became unavoidably neccessary rather than just beneficial.

 

Had Atari released the STE in 1986 it would have cost a small fortune, as did the early Amigas. As manufacturing economies of scale kicked in and hardware prices fell it too would have got cheaper as the years went by. Potentially the ST peaked too early, too soon and just ran out of steam. The upgraded STE would never gain large scale acceptance as by 1990 too few people were buying into the line. It was too small an increase for people en masse to upgrade from their older FMs, and not enough of an increase to tempt folk away from the Amiga.

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I think a big part of the ST's difficulty in the market had to do with the OS. TOS was just a bad start and didn't get a lot of enhancement. There was a vast difference between AmigaDOS 1.3, 2.x, and 3.x. A base-level Amiga with the newest AmigaDOS is surprisingly snappy (albeit unstable with any amount of extra software loaded on). Because of the OS, the low-latency multitasking of the Amiga desktop user-experience resulted in a perceived computer speed on par if not faster than newer Macs and PCs. That's not even taking into account the various ways to torture the Amiga custom chips. The ST really didn't have much to justify a following.

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Things might not be all that different keeping in mind that Apple went intel.

 

Its pretty certain that Atari would have jumped over to the Power PC just like Amiga and Apple did, so how could they have been so satisfied with the G5?

 

It's not like you'd be able to run your ST software natively, you can't run Apple software from 84 natively, can you?

 

Thats my guess.

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I don't think the OS was that much of a problem with the ST. Say what else you like about it, but at least GEM/TOS is stable and well behaved applications rarely crash. Also, considering that most of the world was running on MS-DOS or worse at the time I don't think it was too bad in the feature department.

 

The single-sided floppy drives were definitely a bad move though. Ah well, we should be thankful for the small mercy that they went for the 3.5" format at least.

 

Anyway, I think people are making too big a deal of the ST losing out to the Amiga. Commodore went belly up within a couple of years of the ST line being discontinued, so it was a rather Pyrrhic victory at best. The two machines had far more similarities than differences and, the way I see it, pretty much lost out together to common enemies.

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The ST failed simply because it came out too late, by the time the STE came out CBM were already doing the 1200, the market had shifted more to gaming on PC and the revitalised console market (mainly dominated my sega/nintendo)

 

Alo Atari made the same mistake with the STe as they did with the Lynx, i.e. keeping the STe back for at least 2/2.5 years (as the 'EST', the original name for the STe was originally testmarketed at the back end of 86/early 87 in mainland europe, apparently several showed up in france)

 

Also, the other reason why the STe failed is because of Atari insistance on programmers keeping to the stated programming guidelines therefore making sure that any software released would be compatible with all ST's, ther only way that software houses were ever going to support the Ste would be to do a dual st/ste version or a specific ste version separately, unfortunately this simply wasn't an option as the market for Ste specific software wasn't yet established the existing st market wasn't big enough to warrant s/w houses investing in ste specific versions or dual st/ste version

 

Esp. when the very same s/w house had more money invested in console games development and what with the market shifting to console gaming and an increase in pc's being used for gaming/entertainment purposes basically left the STe out in the cold...i.e...it didn't have a market

 

Additionally when you consider that the a1200 offered what would now be considered 'VGA' graphics (and that's without having to buy and expensive piece of extra hardware) and the STe only offering what would now be considered, the graphics capabilities of the very machine it was 'trying' to compete against (namely the a500 and a600 systems) by the time the STe came out, Atari were already trying to play 'catch up' or 'follow the leader' (which certainly wasn't atari) Atari made the same 'faux pas' with the falcon (releasing it 2/3 years after the equivalent cbm machine had hit the marketplace, and too soon before Atari pulled out of hardware/computer manufacturing)

 

Which is why Atari handed over manufacturing and distribution of the jaguar to IBM

Edited by carmel_andrews

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The ST failed simply because it came out too late, by the time the STE came out CBM were already doing the 1200, the market had shifted more to gaming on PC and the revitalised console market (mainly dominated my sega/nintendo)

 

Alo Atari made the same mistake with the STe as they did with the Lynx, i.e. keeping the STe back for at least 2/2.5 years (as the 'EST', the original name for the STe was originally testmarketed at the back end of 86/early 87 in mainland europe, apparently several showed up in france)

 

Also, the other reason why the STe failed is because of Atari insistance on programmers keeping to the stated programming guidelines therefore making sure that any software released would be compatible with all ST's, ther only way that software houses were ever going to support the Ste would be to do a dual st/ste version or a specific ste version separately, unfortunately this simply wasn't an option as the market for Ste specific software wasn't yet established the existing st market wasn't big enough to warrant s/w houses investing in ste specific versions or dual st/ste version

 

Esp. when the very same s/w house had more money invested in console games development and what with the market shifting to console gaming and an increase in pc's being used for gaming/entertainment purposes basically left the STe out in the cold...i.e...it didn't have a market

 

Additionally when you consider that the a1200 offered what would now be considered 'VGA' graphics (and that's without having to buy and expensive piece of extra hardware) and the STe only offering what would now be considered, the graphics capabilities of the very machine it was 'trying' to compete against (namely the a500 and a600 systems) by the time the STe came out, Atari were already trying to play 'catch up' or 'follow the leader' (which certainly wasn't atari) Atari made the same 'faux pas' with the falcon (releasing it 2/3 years after the equivalent cbm machine had hit the marketplace, and too soon before Atari pulled out of hardware/computer manufacturing)

 

Which is why Atari handed over manufacturing and distribution of the jaguar to IBM

 

Atari made a lot of mistakes, there's just no disputing that...but I'm wondering about

your "timeline"...

 

I'm almost 100% certain that I had a 1040 STe in 1990, and a Falcon in 1992. I'm

also fairly certain that the Amiga 1200 wasn't released until about 1992 as well.

 

Thanks.

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The A1200 was released in 1992, only shortly before the Falcon was supposed to be released. It didn't beat the Falcon out of the gate by very long.

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Commodore went under in late 1994 early 1995. I still remember reading the article feeling very good that it didn't happen to Atari. Amiga 1200 was released in 1992 a month or so ahead of the falcon. The STE would compete with the popular A500 and other models such as the A600. Wikipedia is a good source, of course you can also google it. STE's were released in 1989...

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the a1200 was launched well before 1992 (cbm went under in 1993)

 

Okay, my bad then. I was going by this:

 

http://www.gregdonner.org/workbench/wb_30.html

 

and this:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amiga_1200

 

"The Amiga 1200, or A1200, was Commodore International's third-generation Amiga computer, aimed at the home market. It was released in October 1992, at a base price of £399 in the United Kingdom and $599 in the United States.[1]"

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I think a big part of the ST's difficulty in the market had to do with the OS. TOS was just a bad start and didn't get a lot of enhancement. There was a vast difference between AmigaDOS 1.3, 2.x, and 3.x. A base-level Amiga with the newest AmigaDOS is surprisingly snappy (albeit unstable with any amount of extra software loaded on). Because of the OS, the low-latency multitasking of the Amiga desktop user-experience resulted in a perceived computer speed on par if not faster than newer Macs and PCs. That's not even taking into account the various ways to torture the Amiga custom chips. The ST really didn't have much to justify a following.

 

Man, I love TOS, especially the later versions. TOS 2.x and up were awesome. I've owned the A1200, and its version of Workbench (3.0). It's okay, but I stil prefer TOS hands down.

 

I don't see how anyone could say there weren't vast differences from Tos 1.x to 2.x and then 4.x.... :(

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AmigaOS had more "modern" features than TOS (namely pre-emptive multitasking) but the GUI is a nightmare to navigate compared to GEM. The ST's simplicity made it the only computer that was actually easier to use (IMO at least) than the Mac.

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The thing that really compromised the ST was the 16 colour 320 x 200 resolution. If they'd given it a 256 colour 320 x 200 mode from day one, then it would have walked all over the Amiga aswell as PCs.

 

At the end of the day, I don't think the ST line would have survived for much longer than it did. It's software and expansion that matters, and that was where PCs' had the advantage.

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The thing that really compromised the ST was the 16 colour 320 x 200 resolution. If they'd given it a 256 colour 320 x 200 mode from day one, then it would have walked all over the Amiga aswell as PCs.

 

Although not technically that difficult, I think you'd need to be a bit of a visionary to put a mode like that into a computer in 1985. Given that even high end PCs only had EGA cards (and they were pretty new too) at the time, a 16 colour mode would surely have seemed more than adequate.

 

Secondly, using 64K for the display would outstrip the capability of the CPU to update it quickly. A lot of ST games, particularly scrollers, were rather sluggish compared to their Amiga counterparts and this would only make things worse. Unless there was a corresponding boost to the CPU speed, you'd end up only being able to use the 256 colour mode for static displays and such, much the same as with the Amiga's HAM modes.

 

At the end of the day, I don't think the ST line would have survived for much longer than it did. It's software and expansion that matters, and that was where PCs' had the advantage.

 

Yep, despite all the Amiga's supposed advantages it only took a couple more years for the wheels to fall off Commodore. The market for sub PC-priced home computers had all but evaporated by that stage.

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Amiga, as a hardware platform, pretty much died after amiga inc were established (previously Amiga technologies) as Amiga inc. were'nt interested in the actual hardware, all amiga inc wanting the amiga for was the o/s, so they could licence it out, create portable amiga compat. devices (if you remember the amigADE thing

 

If the EST/STe had being launched in 86/7 (the period it was being test marketed) Atari might have stood half the chance against the amiga as programmers/ software houses would have had some time to bring out STe specific software, the STe suffered because Atari already have a similarly spec'd machine (the TT) already on the market and it was faster and had a better proccy

 

All amiga is today and has being for several years now is an operating system embedded in a pc emulator (either running on intel/amd or ppc)

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AmigaOS had more "modern" features than TOS (namely pre-emptive multitasking) but the GUI is a nightmare to navigate compared to GEM. The ST's simplicity made it the only computer that was actually easier to use (IMO at least) than the Mac.

 

I think the problem of AmigaOS was, that it was just too big for an A500 with 512K. It

really NEEDS a hard disk and a fast CPU. I didn't get into AmigaOS before I got my

A1200, 68030 and 1942 VGA monitor. OS 3.x is so much better, it can read PC/ST

disks , CrossDOS is already a part of it, I had to search for CrossDOS/MessyDOS on

the A500 first and on the A500 it was quite slow/unreliable. The 1.3 disk system with

its disk-validator sucks.

 

And upgrading an A500 is no fun either. It has only one

expansion port. The ST has a cart port and a port for a Megafile HD. The AMIGA doesn't.

A500 harddisks had to be attached to the expansion port and this took a lot of space.

I had it all. Turbocard 68020/14 Mhz, A570 CDrom, extra RAM, extra drives and

hard disk - it was no fun to use.It got better with the A600/1200 with its internal IDE

and external PCMCIA port, but it came too late.

 

What I like about the ST is, that it's easier to use and very reliable. I've used my

Mega STE for over ten years for all kind of business-related stuff. In that time, I had

multiple problems on my Windows PC. Hard disk crashes, failing PSUs , Windows bugs.

The STE never failed. Lost only one 10-year-old SM124 which was easy to replace. It

still has its old 48Mbyte hd, but its showing signs of old age by now.

 

A plain ST is better for working. The A500s 640*512*16 resolution is useless, because

it's flickering like hell. So you have only Medium Res for working on an A500. The A500's

disk drive is slow and LOUD. Some loaders do really torture the drive. The worst is,

that I have 3 A500s now and none of them has a fully working internal disk drive while

I never saw an ST with drive problems.

 

The ST has great text editors, Calamus is still great, inkjet printers like my Epson

Stylus Color work great without any drivers. It has the great Turbo Assembler,

which can also be used for writing 68K stuff on the AMIGA.

 

The AMIGA 500 is a good machine for games, the AMIGA has so many games that never made it

to the ST. Turrican III, Lionheart, Ambermoon (ST version never released) ,

Elfmania was quite good, too and I really like the music of many AMIGA games,

too bad that so many ST games did not support STE or MIDI.

 

But I must add that I really hate Windows. I prefer to use the Mega STE and the Amiga.Even

the ATARI 800 with the S.A.M. GUI or the C64 with GEOS is better. Windows can drive you

crazy.

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