Personal Computer Museum, Canada's Videogame Museum

Atari 1040 STE

Atari 1040 STE

Speed8 MHz
Memory1024 KB

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Atari ST

Release Date: 11/1/1989
Manufacturer: Atari
Donated By: Jim Heiden
In late 1989, Atari released the STE, a version of the ST with improvements to the multimedia hardware and operating system. The STE featured an increased colour palette of 4096 colours from the ST's 512 (though the maximum displayable palette of these without programming tricks was still limited to 16 in the lowest 320x200 resolution and even fewer in higher resolutions), Genlock support, and a graphics co-processor chip called Blitter which could quickly move large blocks of data (most particularly, graphics sprites) around in RAM. It also included a new 2-channels digital sound chip that could play 8-bit stereo samples in hardware at up to 50 kHz. Two enhanced joystick ports (EJP) were added (two normal joysticks could be plugged into each port with an adaptor), with the new connectors placed in more easily-accessed locations on the side of the case. The enhanced joystick ports were compatible with joypads from Atari's Jaguar console. RAM was now much more simply upgradable via SIMMs. Despite all of this, it still ran at 8 MHz, and the enhanced hardware was clearly designed to catch up with the Amiga.

The STE models initially had software and hardware conflicts resulting in some applications and games written for the ST line being unstable or even completely unusable (sometimes, this could be solved by expanding the RAM). To make matters worse, the built-in floppy disk drives could not read as many tracks on a floppy disk as the built-in floppy disk drives on older models. While this was not a problem for most users, some games used the extra tracks as a crude form of copy protection and as a means of cramming more data onto the disk, and formatting as many as 86 tracks on an "80-track" disk was a common space-expanding option in custom formatting utilities. Furthermore, even having a joystick plugged in would sometimes cause strange behaviour with a few applications (such as First Word Plus).

Very little use was made of the extra features of the STE:


This computer is currently interactive in the Museum.
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