Désolé pas de
version Française pour le moment
The Atari ST - JLG Quick FAQ
Why did I decide to update/rewrite the Atari ST Quick FAQ files?This FAQ is based on The Atari ST Quick FAQ - Version 2.8a - 1999-01-22
last updated by
Nicholas Bales. There is also a
text version of V2.9a of the FAQ and
some older documents
The reason is that I found a lot of interesting information in the original
Quick FAQ files, but unfortunately most links were broken and a lot of topics
were outdated (document has not been updated since January 1999!)! Therefore
reading the original ST
Quick FAQ turned into
a rather frustrating experience.
The Atari ST - JLG FAQ V0.5 -
WHAT'S THIS FAQ ALL ABOUT ?
As you probably know FAQ stands for 'Frequently Asked Questions'. ;-)
(and that's a smiley!)
The intent of this FAQ is to provide introductory level information for
someone starting with an Atari. However if you are looking to more in-depth information
this FAQ provides a lot of links to either external references or to internal references on
several subjects that I
have covered in depth. Again this FAQ is based on the original
ST Quick FAQ from
Nicholas Bales and for several subjects for which I do not have
specific knowledge or interest the original text has been kept unchanged.
the time the original FAQ was written, information among "Atarians" was
widely exchange through
newsgroup related to the Atari. Apparently the Atari newsgroup are gone
from the Usenet distribution (at least I could not find any on my provider's
news server) but seems to be available from
Google Groups. Newsgroups have been replaced by
forums and there are plenty of Atari Forums.
DISCLAIMER JUST IN CASE...
I cannot be held responsible of any data loss, hardware damage, warranty
voids, or thermonuclear warfare resulting in the application of anything
described here. Nobody else can be blamed for any misuse but yourself.
Any action that is described here may only be done at your own risks and
perils. Whatever happens, it's not my fault.
Helpful criticism, corrections and additions in helping
Nicholas Bales to create the
document came from: Richard Davey -
Tom Derrick -
Eric Hays - Tom Hopper
- John Kormylo -
Ken Macdonald -
Ashley Seabrook -
Martin-Eric Racine -
Terry Ross -
Neil Roughley -
Hallvard Tangeraas -
Jo Vandeweghe and of course
Many thanks to all of these people.
Louis-Guerin (remove _REMOVE_NO_SPAM_)
The Atari ST is a 16/32 bit Motorola 68000 based personal computer range
launched in the mid 80's which has evolved over the years from the ST (Sixteen
bits data bus, Thirty two bits address bus) to
the STF, STFM, Mega ST, STE, Mega STE, and into more modern computers like
the TT030 or Falcon030.
There are even some extremely powerful Atari-compatible clones around
like the Swiss 68060 based Hades or the German
Milan, and clone projects
like the French Phoenix or the American
All these computers run various flavors of an operating system called TOS
(The Operating System), which includes a graphical user interface called GEM
(Graphical Environment Manager) from Digital Research.
If you are interested in the fate of Atari, and the company's history,
you might want to consult the link page
The Atari ST
have 3 screen resolutions:
640x400 monochrome resolution referred as the High resolution
640x200 4 colors resolution referred as Medium resolutions
320x200 16 colors resolution referred as the Low resolution
The original STF/STFM have of 512 color palette, but starting
with the STE this palette has been increased to 4096.
Definition/selection of the 4 or 16 colors from the 512/4096 color's palette is
done with the control panel accessory and for monochrome resolution the same panel
accessory can be sed to select either black on white (the default) or white on black
Switching between Mid/Low-res is done in the set
preference dialog box of the option menu and
switching to Hi-res requires either to connect a monochrome
monitor's cable or to use a
video switcher. In
all cases switching between any of
the resolution modes reset the Atari.
some later models were equipped with an RF Modulator allowing them
to be connected to a TV's antenna connector. You then need to tune into
the correct channel on the TV to get the ST picture.
In some countries, Atari shipped machines with a SCART/Peritel cable
that plugs into the monitor port instead of the RF Modulator. In this case
you need the adequate cable and a SCART/Peritel equipped TV set. No tuning
is required, and the RGB picture is better quality than RF. These cables
might still be available from some Atari dealers, but it is also quite
easy to build one.
As a TV connection act exactly like an Atari Color Monitor it will
only display low or medium resolution modes (see
Depending on the graphic resolution you need to connect two different types
of Atari monitors:
- Hi-res monochrome (640x400) requires the
SM124 Atari high resolution monitors. These monitors have a very stable, although small, display.
- Med-res (640x200/4 colors) and Low-res (320x200/16 colors) requires
the SC1224 Atari
It is important to note that the SM124 monochrome monitor can only display Hi-resolution
images, and that the SC1224 color monitor (or TV for that matter) can only display Mid-resolution and Low-resolution
images. As most games require
Med/Low-res color and most application programs require Hi-res monochrome the choice of your monitor
is important and this is also why many people ended up having both. Note that
If you have both monitors
you normally have to plug and unplug video cable each time you need to switch
from one to the other unless you buy an
Atari monitor switcher that
allow you to switch back and forth between the two monitors at the toggle of a
It is also important to know
that monitors from Atari includes an audio amplifier, with a volume control knob,
and a speaker for hearing Atari sound. On the STF/STFM models the only connector
to provide the sound output is the one that connect to the monitors. On the STE there are two extra RCA connectors
stereo sound. Note that well designed
the sound to the TV set.
These two monitors cannot be connected to an Atari TT, as this machine requires
a VGA monitor.
order to connect a VGA/SVGA/Multisync monitor to an Atari it need to supports RGB signals, and the following
refresh rates for the horizontal and vertical synchronization signals (Note the
second part of the table contains the measurements I made on an European Atari
Only a "modern" VGA/SVGA or most Multisync monitor can handle the ST monochrome
Horizontal frequencies. To
use a VGA/SVGA monitor for Hi-res monochrome you need to
build a cable
that connect the ST mono out to the red, green and blue inputs of the monitor,
as well as the H-sync and V-sync signals. You have to connect the mono-detect pin to
the ground pin.
|Vertical refresh rate
||50 or 60 Hz
||Vertical refresh rate
|Horizontal refresh rate
||Horizontal refresh rate
ST Low/Medium resolution:
Here on the contrary only very old CGA monitor can handle such a low
Horizontal frequency! A modern
VGA monitor don't accept an HSync below 30KHz (the lowest VGA freq). And therefore in
order to display Low/Med-res you need an old monitor (e.g. a Multisync monitor)
that can handle the above display rates.
In this case you will need to
build a simple
cable that connects the red, green and blue outs, as well as the H and V sync signals from the ST monitor output to the display unit's
and leave the mono-detect pin disconnected.
Follow these links
understand the Video standards or to find out about
capability. It is also possible to
convert CGA video to VGA with this kind of converter, and it you want to
better understand video conversion you can look
The nicest solution is to have an old Multisync monitors that handle
perfectly the three resolutions (for example a
Multisync 2). In order to switch your Multisync
monitor between Hi-res and Med/low-res you need to
build a special cable with a
Also remember that usually standard monitors do not have an audio circuit and
therefore you need to connect the audio output of the Atari to an external sound
system (this is covered in
Monitor Connector page).
The Falcon is equally happy with a VGA/SVGA/etc. monitor or an old ST/STE
type monitor (though resolution will be limited to 640x400 interlaced on
Whatever the display you choose, the Falcon requires an external video
adapter, either for ST type monitors or for VGA screens. There are also
third party adapters that can switch
between the two displays.
A text file about Multisync/VGA/ST-res adaptors for Falcon is
First of all, most Atari computers have
TOS in ROM and therefore don't
need a boot disk. If you do not have a correctly formatted double density
disk to boot from, just wait a few minutes for the GEM desktop to come
up on it's own, then format a blank double density disk using the menu
option. Having a formatted disk (even an empty disk) in the drive dramatically
shortens the boot up time.
If the desktop screen doesn't come up after more than 5 minutes, either your ST
is broken or you have an ST without TOS in ROM.If you have never used an ST and don't have a manual on hand, there is
little you need to know to use the GEM desktop. here are the basics:
Once you have got the hang of this, the rest is pretty straight forward.
This is for all TOS versions. Newer versions of TOS have additional features.
Depending on the ST version you have, a language disk was supplied with
some basic software, mainly:
Main file types:
PRG and APP files are executable programs, using the GEM graphic environment.
TOS are executable programs, that run under TOS (text mode).
GTPs and TTPs are executable programs (GEM or TOS respectively) needing parameters,
added by the user when running from a command line, or asked by the program
when running under GEM.
ACC files are desk accessories. These go in the boot disk's root directory,
and always accessible
from the desk menu bar. There is a limit of 6 desk accessories per boot.
CPXs are Control Panel Extension modules, special desk accessories for
use with XCONTROL.ACC
RSCs are program resource files. These contain GEM objects (icons, dialog
boxes, menus, icons...) used by the program.
INF and SYS are system information files or program options or preferences, or
PRG files that are placed in a folder named AUTO, in
the disk's root directory, will be launched at boot up. Some
will remain resident. Not all PRGs can be used this way.
ZIP, LZH, ARC, ZOO, MSA files are various compressed archive formats. You
need special de-archivers to use these. You can find them on most
To open a file, a folder or a disk, or to launch a program, double click on the
icon, or select it and go to File -> Open in the menu bar.
To copy a file, select it, and drag it onto a disk or folder icon,
To delete a file, select it and drag it onto the trash icon (on the ST,
trashed files are permanently deleted, unlike on a Mac or PC)
To rename a file or to view it's properties, select it and then go to File
To format a blank disk, select the disk icon and go to File -> Format
To save your desktop configuration, use the save desktop option in the
Options menu bar. This will create a DESKTOP.INF or NEWDESK.INF file, depending
on your TOS version. Like accessory programs, this file is read at boot
Very few of the programs supplied on these disks were of much use. If your
system disks have been lost, it is no big deal. Better public domain or
shareware equivalents can be found on most
CONTROL.ACC or XCONTROL.ACC:
Control panel desk accessory
STBASIC or STLOGO: Programming languages (very buggy and not very useful)
Omikron Basic: A quite good Basic language (commercial).
VT-52 terminal emulator Accessory
Printer/modem configuration Accessories or CPXs
Various TOS patches
Software supplied with the Falcon included several commercial programs
such as MultiTOS, Atari Works or SpeedoGDOS. These are not freely available.
One way to find out which version of TOS you are running is to check out
the latest copyright date in the Desk, Information box.
1985: TOS 1.00 (ST/STF) - original ROM version
In addition to these, a Falcon will be running TOS 4.02 or 4.04 and a TT030
will have TOS 3.01, 3.05 or 3.06. The new Milan computer runs a licensed
1986: TOS 1.02 (Mega ST) - added blitter support
1989: TOS 1.04 (STF/Mega ST) - colored Atari logo (The rainbow TOS), better disk I/O,
many bug fixes, faster.
1990: TOS 1.06 (STE) - STE hardware support
1991: TOS 1.62 (STE) - bug fixed version of above
1990: TOS 2.05 (Mega STE) - new desktop, customizable icons, HD disk
1991: TOS 2.06 (Mega STE) - bug fixed version of above, support for
To obtain a full report on your hardware (RAM, TOS, disks, etc...),
you should run a program such as Sysinfo.
Look a this nice document
or a quick list
of the main TOS versions to get interesting
information on TOS versions and follow the TOS links
The term Emulator is overloaded especially for the Atari. Originally the term
was used to indicate a program to emulate a
terminal for example a VT52 Emulator. But here we talk about the more recent usage of
emulator that designates a program to emulate an older machine (computers or
game consoles) running on a recent and powerfull computer
You need a program
("an ST emulator") that will fool your computer into running Atari ST programs.
There are a lot of sites dedicated to the subject of Atari emulation and I will
therefore point you to a list of links on
the subject.TOS is the
ST operating system. It was supplied on ROM chips with most
Atari machines. Most emulators need an image of these ROMs in order to
However, TOS is still copyrighted software and the distribution rights
belong to Atari. Atari has not stated that any version of TOS can be freely distributed and used.
Owners of a real ST can use a program called
Romimage to make a TOS
image for their own use. This is considered legal as long as the image
is not distributed and you own a legal copy of the program (ie: the ROMs).
However most version of the TOS in many languages can be found at the
Pangaelin Willow AtariTOS ROMEmulators often have problems reading original ST floppy disks, mainly
because of hardware issues on the emulating machine. A common workaround
is to convert all the data contained on a disk (including special formatting,
boot sectors, hidden tracks, etc...) into a disk image file. The most common
format for this is the .ST file format from PaCifiST as well as the older
format. The emulator then
mounts these files as if they were real disks.
Please refer to the different emulator
links for more information on creating/finding disk images.
This section of the FAQ has drastically changed from the original one because
the situation of the Atari software is quite different today. Most of the Atari
programs are still copyrighted and therefore copying or distributing them is
illegal. However nowadays it is becoming almost impossible to find shops that
still sell these programs which are 10 to 20 years old. Your best bet now if you
want to be 100% clean is either to look for
remaining shops, or to look for people selling old stuff on places like
eBay, or to find freeware and public domain
programs in FTP sites or other
places, or specialized
site like music site. A special thanks to
authors of programs that have generously "donated" (removed protection and made
public domain) their programs. You can also sometimes find programs
published by Magazines. Beyond that it is
possible to find a lot of disk images of games and other programs on the Net and
the P2P networks.
This section list some of the most famous software available at the time for
Atari. You may need to find them in order to be able to read some specific data
file (word processor, graphics, music, etc...)
The ST's operating system TOS (see the
list here), is on ROM chips on most STs. Upgrading your TOS
replacing the old ROMs with new ROM or EPROM chips. It should be extremely
difficult to find those ROMs now. Currently your best solution is to use the
freeware program that allow you to load a different
TOS image from a floppy disk.
- Home Productivity Software: There is no integrated "MS
Office"-like package for Atari, except maybe the defunct Atari Works. The
latest supported office programs are:
- Word processor : Papyrus, Protext, Sting, 1ST Word, Le Redacteur
- Spreadsheet : Texel, XXL
- Database : Twist
- Graphics and DTP packages: Ever since Atari launched the first laser printer under US$2000, DTP and
graphics have been one of the platform's major strengths. Although some
of these program will run on an 8Mhz ST, they are usually designed for
more powerful machines.
- DTP : Calamus SL (Invers), ST Publisher
- Raytracing : Neon, POV
- Graphics : Positive Image, Photoline
- Sequencers and Music Software: Because the Atari has had built-in
Midi ports since it's earliest days,
it has been used in studios and on stages all over the world as a
system for music.
- Sequencing : Dr.T's, Notator (Emagic), Logic (Emagic), Cubase (Steinberg)
- Direct To Disk : Logic Audio (Emagic), Cubase Audio (Steinberg), Devil Studio (Softjee)
- Sampling : Zero-X (Copson Data), Studio Son (Centek), Expand (Softjee)
Internet and Communication Software: this topic is covered later in the
the Communication section of this FAQ.
There are also third party replacement operating systems such as MagiC
and Geneva (TOS-like multitasking systems) or MiNT and Linux-68K (UNIX-like
For more information on TOS follow the
In most country it is legal to make one backup copy of your original software
for safety reason. Most commercial programs on Atari are protected either by a
key that plug into the cartridge port or by incorporating protection
mechanism in the original floppy disk. For software with a key (e.g. most
Steinberg programs) you can make as many copy of the original disk with any
standard copy program. The second protection mechanism works by placing specific
"defects" on the floppy disk (e.g. CRC errors, weak sector, holes, ...) that
prohibit a normal copy program to work. In the early days it was easy to
circumvent the protection by using specially design copy programs, but as
protection mechanisms were perfected you had to use some specially designed
hardware to make copy of the original disk. The most famous HW for copying
protected programs are the Blitz cable (specially design cable connected
to the ASCI and Floppy connectors of the Atari and requires an external floppy
drive) and the Discovery Cartridge from Happy Computers (that plug into
the cartridge and floppy disk connectors). There is also the
preservation of Atari software project
that allow to create disk image of virtually any original protected
programs but it does not allow to make backup copy and therefore
only works for
I also provide more in depth information on
ST is equipped with SIMM memory, you can easily upgrade your memory
to 1, 2 or 4Mb by just taking out the old SIMMs and popping in the new
The correct memory type is 30 pin SIMMs, with or without parity, capacity
being either 256Kb or 1Mb. The minimum speed of 256Kb SIMMs is 150ns and
120ns for 1Mb SIMMs. It is best not to mix different SIMM types. They must
be installed by pairs in slots 1 and 3, then 2 and 4 (from back to front).
Atari STEs are originally equipped with either 2 (520STE) or 4 (1040STE)
256Kb SIMMs that can be replaced by 2 or 4 x 1Mb SIMMs.
Because of a bug in TOS, STEs will not recognize a 2.5Mb configuration
(2x256Kb + 2x1Mb) without a small bootup program like silkboot2e or simmfix.
These can be found on most FTP
sites but are quite unreliable.
DRAM memory models, the memory chips are soldered directly to the computer's
motherboard. This makes memory expansion a lot more tricky.
A way to avoid the soldering and memory limitations is to use a special
memory expansion board that replaces the original memory banks with standard
SIMM sockets. There are several such solutions available like the Marpet
Xtra Ram board or the Aixit 10Mb expansion board, or the
DIY conversions require serious soldering skills, and are not for the
faint hearted. Descriptions of such modifications can be found below:
On ST, STF and STE computers, the MMU (Memory Management Unit) has a hardware
limit of 4Mb.
However recent developments have seen third party expansion boards that
allow going beyond this limit. The Magnum-ST board from Woller+Link in
Germany allows up to 16Mb on a
plain ST/STF (not STE). TOS versions below
2.06 will not deal with more than 4Mb, so either a TOS upgrade or
MagiC is necessary.
The step forward from DRAM to SIMMs on the STE series became a step back
to a proprietary memory board system on the Falcon. The falcon was pre-
equipped with 3 memory board models: 1, 4 or 14Mb. Upgrading a Falcon means
scrapping the original memory and replacing it with either a new proprietary
memory board or a third party SIMM board. There are many
of these available
and can sometimes be combined with a CPU accelerator board.
ACSI is Atari's proprietary hard drive connector. It is similar to SCSI
which was standardized later, but not directly compatible. ACSI drives
were the Atari Megafile and SH series that ranged from 20 to 60Mb capacities.
Supra, and maybe some other manufacturers also made some ACSI drives at
one point, but these are quite rare.
These are the only hard drives that are directly "plug'n'play" compatible
with the Atari ACSI/DMA port on stock STs.
Atari SH drives have the advantage of being made up of an ACSI to SCSI
host adapter connected to an Adaptec 4000 SCSI to MFM adapter that is attached
to the drive. It is therefore
sometimes possible to adapt these drive to
use SCSI drive mechanisms. This is not the case for Megafile drives.
In order to use SCSI peripherals, and unless you have an internal Atari
interface (Mega ST, Mega STe) you need a SCSI host adapter that connects
the SCSI drive to the ACSI hard drive port on the Atari. There are several
models available depending on whether or not you need parity, whether or
not they are for external or internal drives. The 2 most common SCSI host
adapters are the Link II
from ICD and Link'97 from WB Systemtechnik
Don't forget also that there is not much room for a 3.5" hard drive inside
an original ST case. You will need either to put the whole system into
a PC type tower case, or to find an external
housing and power supply for
your hard drive.
The Mega STE internal SCSI interface does not support parity.
The Upgrade Shop, a UK based company sells an internal IDE host adapter
for STE only, It plugs into the processor socket and requires 4 wires to
be soldered to the board. It is mainly aimed at connecting 2.5" IDE drives
internally, but 3.5" drives can be attached to it if the computer is tower-mounted.
Instructions to build your own
DIY interface also exist, but should only be performed by people with
a solid knowledge in electronics, soldering and programming GAL chips.
The Falcon has an internal IDE slot for internal 2.5" IDE drives. Some
Falcon users have managed to fit a replacement 3.5" drive after cutting
parts of the metallic shielding.
Just a general note: You can partition IDE drives as much as you like,
but do not format them. Some of them will not recover from a "low level"
Using a parallel ZIP drive on any Atari computer's parallel port is impossible
because of the lack of several signals in Atari's implementation of the
parallel port. You should use a SCSI ZIP drive. There is however a parallel port interface that plugs
into the cartridge port of Atari computers, available from Woller+Link
(Germany). See the
Zip Drive FAQ
SCSI versions of ZIPs and CD-ROMS are recommended, so that you can use
a SCSI host adapter. Be aware also that CD ROMS and ZIP drives use parity, so you must have
enabled SCSI adapter.
In order to get TOS to recognize the drive, a HD driver package will be
needed. Here are some of the more popular packages:
It also seems that some drivers are more suited to one type of drive whereas
they can have problems with other drives. A good idea might be to ask in
forums or the software vendor for
any compatibility issues before buying.
The disk drives used by Atari ST computers are industry standard 360K
(single sided) or
720K (double sided) double-density DD floppy drives.
V6) is Atari's Hard Disk Driver. However, it
appears that it is not as capable and efficient as some 3rd party driver
ICD Tools: adSCSCI V6.5.5 SW provided with
ICD host adapters.
Quite efficient and easy to install but has a few compatibility problems
with advanced setups (alternative operating systems etc).
HDDriver: Probably the best commercial driver available. It can be bundled
with some host adapters, and it also includes support for removable media,
such as ZIP or JAZ drives.
CBHD: another freeware driver, probably not as good as the two commercial
ones, but certainly better than AHDI. Only german docs are provided, so
setup might be a bit tricky.
PC drives can be used as replacement drives, only nowadays it is difficult
to find 720K drives. You can however use just about any 1.44Mb HD drive
as these will perform perfectly well in DD 720K mode. Nevertheless, you
have to be aware of the following:
Using a high density drive in high density mode on an ST,
but requires a few hardware hacks, both on the ST and on the drive. Ready
made HD kits are available at several places, and a few DIY text files
describe (sometimes contradictory) modifications too on several FTP servers.
You need to be able to change the ID number of the drive to 0 instead of
the default 1 for PCs. Usually there is a jumper to do this, but it tends
to disappear on modern drives, making this rather tricky. It now often
involves connecting a solder pad on the drive's PCB.
You need to connect the cable upside down on the drive. This can mean cutting
a little plastic part that is designed to make this impossible.
You need to set the Media Change Detect jumper, or else, under certain
circumstances, your disks might end up scrambled. This jumper no longer
exists on most modern drives, but you can work around the problem by using
the Force Media Change program.
Most modern HD drives can no longer read single sided 360K disks.
Force Media Change
Then there is the issue of the controller chip. The WD-1772 is not designed
for handling the faster frequency needed to use HD mode, although some
people have had one running for years with no problem so an 'Ajax' chip
is highly recommended. Most STEs seem to have an Ajax chip fitted as standard.
Lots of information on the subject can be found at the
Atari Hardware Hack Page
All Atari computers have a standard
bidirectional printer port, which means that basically any printer that connects to a PC parallel port should work with an ST, with the same cable.
A problem lies, however, with the recent appearance of cheap printers "Optimized for Windows 95". These units actually lack hardware, making them rely on require Windows95 to run. They will also not work with a Mac or Unix box, so be careful when you buy.
Atari became famous in the DTP for offering the first cheap laser printers. This was done by using the computer's RAM instead of having built-in memory. The SLM laser printers therefore require at least 2Mb of RAM to run. They also attach to the ACSI/DMA port, which means that they cannot be connected to a Falcon. A Falcon/SLM adapter, called the Heatseaker, did
exist but never got to the market.
The issue of printer drivers is mainly an application problem. The part of TOS originally devoted to printing and graphic output, called
GDOS, was not included in ROM, therefore some applications bypassed it and developed their own printing routines. This sort of application will require it's own proper drivers to be written.
Properly written programs will use the GDOS standard, allowing use of
proportional fonts and standard drivers.
To run GDOS on your computer, there are several solutions. FontGDOS is the latest freeware GDOS implementation from Atari, but is slow and handles only bitmap fonts. SpeedoGDOS and NVDI are both commercially available and fully maintained, and handle both bitmap and proportional fonts. NVDI is also a very efficient screen accelerator. Basically, if you plan on
using a printer, you should consider obtaining NVDI.
The Atari mouse was quite poor, and very few remain in good working condition
after the years. When it finally needs replacing, these mice are very hard
to find. Try contacting an Atari dealer in your area, as most of them carry
some sort of Atari compatible mouse.
A PC serial mouse can be connected directly to the serial (modem) port. There
are two drawbacks to this. Firstly, on a machine with only one serial port
it prevents from connecting anything else (modem, extra midi ports...).
Secondly, you will need to load a serial mouse driver at each boot.
or Mouse25 are such drivers and can be found on your favorite
FTP sites. The problem is that,
being auto folder programs, they will obviously not run with auto booting
programs such as games.
A PC mouse can be attached to the Atari mouse connector, but this needs a complicated adapter board, such as:
DIY PC to Atari mouse adapter.
Some Amiga mice have a little Amiga/ST switch allowing them to be used on an
Atari. There is reportedly a means of converting an amiga mouse to an ST mouse
by inverting two wires, but I could not not find the instructions.
Erratic mouse behavior is sometimes caused by a faulty connector. The
mouse port connections under the keyboard, are subject to stress when there
is continuous plugging and unplugging of the mouse (to connect a joystick
for example). A remedy for this is to take apart the ST and touch the solder
joints that connect the mouse connector to the keyboard PCB with a soldering
iron, just to reestablish a good contact by slightly melting the solder.
If all else fails, you can always use the Alt + Arrow keys trick (Alt +
Shift + Arrow keys for pixel scale movement, Alt+Clr/Home for left click,
and Alt+Insert for right click) as a lifesaver, but that's hardly a practical
solution in the long run.
A common problem on Atari ST computers is socketed chip connections coming
loose. The symptoms are erratic behavior, sudden resets, unexpected bombs,
blank screen (white), disk errors, etc... This is the result of the PCB
aging, heating, dilating, warping, slowly easing the chips out of there
A common, and quick fix to this is the famous 4 inch drop, and it goes
As silly as it may sound, this sometimes works, reseating the chips and
solving the problem. The result is not 100% guaranteed however. If the
problem still occurs you probably have a more serious problem.
Switch off the machine,
Lift it horizontally about 4 inches (10 cm) above the desktop,
Of course, another (more professional) option is to take apart the machine
and reseat all the chips by hand.
When your computer breaks and there is no Atari Service Center in your
neighborhood to repair it for you, you'll want to see if you can do it yourself,
or get someone else to fix it. Chances are that you will need some schematics of
the machine. You can find most of these at
The Atari Hardware Hack Page
Many people ask for information about the
Atari proprietary connectors and cables.
This page has pinout information for just about any connector in the electronics
industry, including all the Atari connectors, standard VGA connectors and SCART/Peritel
Disk exchange between MS-DOS and TOS is absolutely possible, if you follow
As a summary, it is usually best to format a DD 720K floppy on the PC before
using it to transfer files.TOS is not compatible with the Mac's HFS disk format, but MacOS versions
from 7.5 onwards are supplied with PC Exchange, that allows reading and
writing of MS-DOS disks, which are compatible with TOS as explained above. PC Exchange is also sold separately by Apple dealers.
TOS versions from 1.04 onwards are 100% compatible with MS-DOS.
If using TOS 1.02 or earlier, you must either format the disk on a PC,
use preformatted PC disks, or use a DOS compatible formatter on the ST.
Choose a PC format compatible with the Atari drive, i.e.: 720K for double
sided drives and 1.44M for HD drives.
The internal drives of some older 520STF and SF354 units were limited to
single-sided 360K disks that modern PCs can no longer read or write.
Windows uses long filenames that can sometimes corrupt TOS disks, so be sure to
use the good old 8+3 filename format. The same goes for directories.
Do not use HD disks formatted in DD mode (i.e. with sticky tape over the
HD hole). This sometimes works momentarily, but is very unreliable, as
the magnetic coating of HD disks is not the same as with DD disks.
An old ST program called
DCFormat can reportedly format HFS and MFS
Another way of exchanging files between ST and PC is to connect the two
computers through serial or parallel links. Here we are talking about file
transfer not real network setups which are covered in the section below
If you plan on integrating your Atari into a real heterogeneous network
with other computers, then you will probably have to setup some kind of
Local Area Network. Beware, as this is not for the faint-hearted. Issues
related to LAN networks and Ethernet are best dealt with on the following
- Using a serial null modem (DB25F-DB25F
the PC drives are mounted
on the Atari desktop, just like ST drives, but it suffers several limitations,
of which speed of transfer, the need to run it under DOS (not a DOS session
under windows) on the PC, and it's inability to launch programs from the
following link there is a solution to the problem with Windows XP
and MS-DOS applications such as ghostlink.
- Zmodem is a standard for terminal and file transfer connections. Zmodem programs can be found on practically any platform, including Atari, Mac
PC, Unix, etc... but transfer are quite slow
- Using a specially made parallel cable (standard null parallel
printer cable do not work)
- PARCP: This is
definitively my favorite program. Transfer are extremely fast
and it has an excellent interface.
- Paralink 2000 (could not find any living link to this
The best general purpose TCP/IP stack around on Atari platform is
which has drivers for nearly all the ports available on Atari machines,
including the very rare Riebl Ethernet cards or the Falcon/TT030 LAN ports.
There is still no NFS auto-mounting client though.
The other networking solution is
MiNTnet, and extension to
MiNT, which offers
unix-like connectivity to the Atari platform. Here are some instructions for
setting up a serial NFS connection
with a PC.
MIDI is one of the main activities on Atari computers. The issue of transferring MIDI files, other than through the means described above, can be solved by recording the MIDI data directly with MIDI cables.
Just because a file has been transferred does not make it readable by the
software. Here are some file types that come up often.
- Connect the Atari MIDI OUT cable to the other computer's MIDI IN with usual MIDI cables.
- Fire up sequencer programs on both machines. Load the MIDI file into the Atari sequencer.
- Set the PC sequencer sync to the external MIDI source. Hit record.
Hit play on the Atari.
All of these programs are shareware and can be found on your
favorite ST archive If you no
longer have an ST to run these conversion programs, you might try
using an ST emulator
This section is here for historical reason as I doubt anyone want to
use an Atari to connect to Internet through an ADSL connection?
Midi: Midifiles are platform independent, so there should be no problem
transferring them to or from any midi capable computer.
Text: The shareware word processor Marcel can read and write 1stWord, 1stWord
Plus, WordPerfect, WordWriter, STWriter and the universal RTF format. TWP28
can translate between WordPlus ThatsWrite and WordPerfect. In other cases
it is probably easier to export/import plain ASCII text.
Pictures: You can use Gemview to convert just about any graphic format
to GIF or JPG formats. Paint Shop Pro on the PC can read IMG and GEM files.
Sound: FiveToFive (525) can convert many sample formats, including .WAV
The ST can be used to send and receive email, read usenet newsgroups, download
from FTP archives, and surf the web, chat on IRC, basically all you'll
want to do on the Internet. For this you need :
a modem : note that machines up to STE included are limited to 19200bps,
a subscription to an Internet access provider, who must provide SLIP or
a TCP/IP layer : STiK (SLIP only) or
MiNTnet, or CAB
2.x (PPP but commercial) or WENsuite (commercial) or Draconis (beta), (
a Web browser : CAB 1.5 (freeware), Draconis, CAB 2.x or WENsuite (all
commercial) or Chimaera and Lynx under MiNTnet.
a News/Mail reader : Newsie, Okami or Oasis
Rev 0.5 - Last updated