Zoë Blade's notebook

Atari ST

Atari ST tech specs

Atari ST running C-LAB Creator
Atari ST running C-LAB Creator

  • Released: 1985
  • Company: Atari
  • Type: Home computer
  • Control: MIDI
  • CPU: Motorola 68000
  • RAM: 512 KB — 4 MB
  • Storage: 3.5" floppy disk, ACSI
  • Display: 80×25 character / 640x400 pixel via CRT monitor

Like its rival, the Commodore Amiga, the Atari ST was a home computer released in 1985, the kind that politely hid under the keyboard. Also like the Amiga, it was built around the 16-bit Motorola 68000 chip, and sported a graphical user interface, making it a more affordable alternative to the Apple Macintosh. Unlike almost any other computer, it had built-in MIDI ports.

A lot of musicians swore by the ST's tight timing. While I have no opinion on this particular matter, it certainly had a lot of MIDI sequencers written by various companies, chiefly two in Germany: C-LAB and Steinberg.

If you read a lot of interviews with British electronic musicians in the 1990s, you'd see a popular combination emerge: to sequence the music, an Atari 1040ST (the big two sequencers required a whole meg of RAM) running either C-LAB Creator or Steinberg Cubase; to make the sounds, a sampler, usually the Akai S900, S950, or S1000, or perhaps the more affordable Casio FZ-10M; to add a splash of effects, an Alesis QuadraVerb; and finally, to combine the sounds together, a cheap mixer.

Comparing the two rivals on their own, the Amiga sounded far better. It had a sound chip with such good PCM capabilities that people wrote tracker software for it, which combined the functionality of the whole studio setup, minus the effects, and with only four channels to play with. But because it could control professional musical instruments, the ST sounded as good as whatever you connected it to.


You've seen them on the Michael Jackson project, I had seven of 'em. And every time one broke, all I did was took my floppy disk in the next one, I'm good to go. You can't do that with a Mac. If a Mac breaks, you've gotta fix it. On the Atari, bring another one in.

— Teddy Riley, producing Michael Jackson, 2014[1]


See also


  1. Music Producer Teddy Riley - Pensado's Place #169 Pensado's Place, Jun 2014

Home computers: Atari ST