Using An ST in the New Millennium
What good is a 16-bit, 8-Mhz, Motorola based computer in the 21st Century? Much more than you probably realize!
One of the primary uses for PCs these days is Internet browsing. Most people's interest in the PC is mostly for email. It's sad to think that people would spend $1,200 or more just for an email terminal, but it's true.
Not surprisingly, the ST can also be used to browse the Internet. Using software called STiK2 for your PPP connection and TCP/IP, you can browse the Internet with software called CAB (Crystal Atari Browser.) In addition, there are newsreaders for NNTP newsgroups, email clients for your email, and even (I was shocked to learn) software that interfaces with ICQ! Amazing!
In a similar vein to the Internet use, you can connect your Atari to an Ethernet network using special adapters. Using your Atari in an Ethernet network will allow you to access the resources on that network! This could range from high-end color laser printers, network drives, CD or DVD-ROMs, or even a neighboring PC! (Of course, this all depends on how wonderful your network is!)
Some of you old-timers (this includes me!) might remember the days before the Internet when we had to connect to individual computers to transfer files and read messages. These were called BBS or Bulletin Board Systems. While not in much use today, this is yet another option for an Atari ST. You could create a club allowing only the members to connect to the BBS to exchange information. This would be a much more secure club than anything the internet could offer!
Useful applications abound on the ST platform. There are dozens of graphic tools, word processors, spreadsheets, and databases that are either free or virtually free these days. Why, you could use the ST to create a permanent database of all your games! In addition, the ST platform was essential to musicians several years ago. While PC packages would be very expensive today, getting copies of the ST synths would be much more cost-effective. So, now you too can create studio quality music at home!
And believe it or not, new games are still being written for the ST platform! In 2001 Fruitware released Four-F, a "man-in-a-maze" puzzle game, and Reservoir Gods released a superb conversion of Sega's popular Chu Chu Rocket!
Besides these games, there are dozens more that have never appeared on another platform. So you could potentially make the ST a game-playing showcase!
Using the ST for these tasks would be amazing enough to people out of the loop to begin with. But even more amazing is the fact that many TOS compatible computers are not even made by Atari! Several clones have been built that run TOS and ST programs just as good (and better) than the original! Medusa systems built the Medusa and the Hades TOS-compatible computers, and Milan computer has built the latest Atari clone in 1998, the Milan 060. Unlike the original Atari machines, these clones have multiple PCI and ISA expansion slots, much faster processors (up to 80MHz), 1.44 meg floppy drives, and other features found in the PCs of today.
So dig out that Atari ST from the closet! No matter how badly the rest of the world wants you to forget about the ST, it still has its uses today.
Did I forget an important ST development? Letme know about it!