An Atari ST with 16Mb of RAM? It's now possible, as Derek Johnson reports.
Tightly written software and a ROM‑based operating system mean that most of us are quite happy with the 4Mb RAM limit of our basic Ataris, especially for MIDI purposes. Memory upgrades rumoured to break this limit have hovered on the horizon in the past, but nothing has really materialised — until now. The Magnum ST card from16/32 Systems, utilising memory management techniques developed for the Falcon, allows a total of 16Mb of RAM to be installed in your ST.
The mod is relatively straightforward: if your computer has a socketed processor, remove it and insert Magnum ST into the socket; then plug the processor into the socket on the card. If your processor is soldered (as in many STFMs) it's slightly trickier (and slightly more expensive), as you will know if you've got a standard 4Mb upgrade in your STFM.
Even though the ST's memory‑management unit (MMU) can actually only handle 4Mb, the Magnum card supplements this, working in tandem with the ST's MMU to access the full 16Mb. For ST users working with DTP, graphics, or lots of sequence files at once, this upgrade is ideal, and costs little more than some 4Mb upgrades of a few years ago. Pricing ranges from £69 for a bare card to £84 for a card with 4Mb, £94 for 8Mb and £114 for the full 16Mb. It's compatible with virtually any ST, current exceptions being STe and Mega STe variants. Note, though, that you may need an operating system upgrade — Magnum ST requires TOS v2.05 or higher. If you don't already have the upgrade, Magnum ST provides sockets for the necessary EPROMs and 16/32 Systems can supply TOS v2.06 for £53.99. You could also use MagiC, a popular alternative operating system.
Fed up of being surrounded by piles of floppies full of PD and shareware software? Want even more software, but in a tidier format? Check out volumes one and two of the Atari Software Treasury CD‑ROM from Suzy B's Software. Priced at £25 (plus £2 postage) each from Floppyshop, the CDs are packed with around 1Gb of archived software apiece, of all types, for the ST, STe, TT and Falcon. You, of course, need a CD‑ROM drive (plus de‑archiving software), but that's a small price to pay for such convenience and variety. If you do invest in a CD‑ROM drive, these aren't the only disks available to you. A variety of suppliers, including 16/32 and Floppyshop, stock CDs full of more software, MIDI files, fonts and clip art, so get a few catalogues and see what's available.
On the magazine front, look out for new title ST+, a fanzine which was due to be launched as we went to press. The net‑connected amongst you can get a taster at www.users.zetnet.co.uk/paxton/st.... html. ST+ aims to be a monthly, A5 mag, produced entirely on Atari (using Pagestream DTP software), and costing no more than £1.50 (to cover copying and distribution) to UK readers. Apparently, subscriptions won't be offered: if you want an issue, send in your money, and they'll produce enough to cover demand. ST+ is a continuation of the ST+ Diskzine that lasted for 24 issues; the first issue of ST+ will therefore be number 25. Contact Dave Hollis, 43 Spenfield Court, Lings, Northampton, NN3 8LZ (email tinman@ zetnet.co.uk). American readers can contact Terry K Ross, 101 First St. #3, Bangor, ME 04401, USA (emailtross3@ hamtel.tds.net, web page www.geocities.com /SiliconValley /Peaks/ 6320).
We'll also plug Atari Times, an established disk mag whose issue 12 appeared towards the end of last year; their web site is at www.users.zetnet. co.uk/ polonowski/atimes /index.htm. (But don't get them confused with the US paper mag of the same name, whose site can be found at www.geocities. com /TimesSquare /Arcade/8341). The UK Atari Times can be downloaded from the Atari Times web site, or obtained from Floppyshop.
Italian company EmmeSoft have specialised in supporting the Atari since 1985. Their latest release is Live Player, a dedicated MIDI File player by Luca Stocco. Live Player, as the name suggests, will play back General MIDI format 0 and 1 MIDI files, which are arranged in a list of up to 512 files; you can set composer name, tempo, transpose value and MIDI Volume level for each entry in the list. When you start a list playing, the program moves to a playback page, which provides even more feedback. Here, each track in a file has a voice name, and assignable values for program change number, bank select, volume (which is variable over the course of a song), reverb, chorus and delay, pan position and controller 11 (expression). The software features on‑line help, keyboard shortcuts, a kind of word processor for words and chords (the software can play back lyrics and chord names), and a certain amount of control over MIDI files. It's not a full sequencer exactly, but if a file needs a bit of tweaking, Live Player will oblige. It's even possible to control playback remotely, via MIDI. The manual of the demo I tried was in the form of a Read Me file; the English is adequate, but has a few idiosyncrasies in the translation from Italian. Pricing is unclear at the moment — the software is brand new — but should be in the £60‑£70 vicinity. Contact Emmesoft for full details before ordering.