At Atari, after the drastic restructuring approach put into practice by Jack Tramiel,new products started to be deployed very quickly. The focus, predictably, was on home computers: new 8-bit models—the XE series—were released while the game console business, which featured the 7800 and the restyled 2600 Jr., was relegated
The Atari ST was the first computer featuring a bit-mapped color GUI. It also had integrated MIDI ports,which made it the first choice for electronic musicians who could now control their instruments straightfrom the computer.
to a supporting role to finance the computer R&D activity. While this made many “hard core” gamers of the time extremely unhappy, Jack’s approach was, once again,valid from a business perspective. He made the company solvent, repaying Warner in just two and a half years, and brought the company public again in November 1986 after posting a profit of $45 million on sales of $258 million—an amazing feat considering the financial situation of the company after the crash. One of the main developments responsible for this impressive comeback was the ST line of home
The first Atari ST, with 520 KB RAM and the Motorola 68000 CPU, was released in 1985 and it was the computer that Jack, together with his son Sam, was most proud of. The “ST” stood for “Sixteen/Thirty-two,” referring to the 68000 16-bit external bus and 32-bit internals.
Different iterations with minor but significant improvements were released in the following years, such as adding more RAM, an integrated floppy drive, and so on.
In 1989, a major upgrade took place in the form of the ST Enhanced (STE) model with improved multimedia and OS features, including a 4096-color palette (the original ST had only 512) and a graphics coprocessor (the Blitter) to handle on-screen manipulation of big chunks of data (representing big sprites, for example) more efficently. The ST was especially successful in northern and central Europe where it also
had a significant role in game development.
In 1992, a last upgrade was released in the form of the Falcon, a powerful machine with a 68030 CPU, but the computer was discontinued soon afterwards (in1993) to allow Atari to focus on the upcoming Jaguar console instead.
Dungeon Master (by FTL Games, 1987) was the first real-time 3D game with RPG elements and was developed on the Atari ST, where it became the best selling software of all time, in addition to being elected Adventure Game of the Year in the 1988 UK Software Industry Awards. It was then ported to the Amiga,Apple IIGS, DOS, and SNES.