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Why is the ST never mentioned in documentaries?


oky2000
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We've all seen a million poor US shows claiming we went from 2600 to NES and Windows PC (sometimes mentioning the single tasking classic Mac) when this is just for one country and even then not even true. I was surprised because the ST sold not that much less than the Amiga 500 (remember the Falcon and Mega made up a tiny percentage vs Amiga 1200/2000/3000/4000 machines making a significant proportion of the 11 million total). For a long time Amstrad distributed their PCs with GEM and not that crap Windows (and this is correct because Windows was coded by talentless clowns)

 

There are EU based programs that do acknowledge 8 bit computers like Sinclair/Amstrad/Commodore efforts, as is correct as they were massive over here in the EU where the NES crashed and burned spectacularly, BUT maybe if you are lucky you will find a reference to the Amiga but never the ST despite 6-7 million sold!

 

And yet when you actually look back at the mid 80s the ST was not only quite a big seller in the EU from the get go especially 520STM/STFM but it was very important in terms of the dawn of 16 bit computer software (OK PC 8086 may be 16 bit technically but let's face it with CGA or EGA they look 2 bit and never sold in the EU),

 

I think it's time someone covered the machine that gave people a taste of sampling, pixel art, complex programming and adventure games with a parser so sophisticated you can almost have a conversation with it as Alan Turing predicted....and of course sometimes the best versions of arcade conversions available on any system like Gauntlet 1 (OK this is rare lol as usually all conversions were crap including Amiga 1000).

 

Anybody else noticed that the ST is not getting its deserved limelight despite being one of the most capable home computers, in the traditional way imagined they would evolve on from the time of the TI99/VIC20/BBC Micro at the dawn of the computer revolution?

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That's one of the reasons why I started my humble Atari ST website.

Everywhere I went on the web or social media for example & it was usually Spectrum & Amiga. The ST was huge yet is often over shadowed by that other 16-bit'er! I don't mind that machine but the ST was big in games also - until the early 90s. plus even bigger throughout its life for the more serious / creative side.

 

Long live the Atari ST

 

Or rather long live my own Atari Megs STe

;))

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As an American I can say I NEVER saw an Atari computer growing up until I started getting into them on this site a few years back now. I think in North America they were really a niche machine in certain industries.

 

I wish I knew about them back in the day for gaming and such because they are awesome computers! Not really sure why they never took off in the US, probably the rise of Mac and Windows machines of the era left little room in the market for competing platforms. Even Amiga's I encountered in my youth were only used for 2D animation at my local schools computer lab.

Edited by travistouchdown
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<shrugs> I had an Atari based BBS and a dealer fairly close from the get-go in the 80's.

 

Software Alternatives. Man, I loved going to that place. Tons of Atari stuff.

 

Lucky! Location and market definitely played a role in availability.. If I had seen the stuff i'm sure I would have wanted it.

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It's not surprising it's often barely mentioned. It ultimately didn't make much of an impact in the US, and even the Amiga, which was at least a high profile, if distant, second, to PCs and Compatibles in their respective eras, barely gets a mention.

 

It's not necessarily something to take personally. If you consider that the collective we in this type of community know our history well and champion all eras and all platforms, it's not realistic to expect that same amount of care or interest outside of our community or for things targeted to general audiences or more general aspects of our history. In theory, if there were histories on things we weren't necessarily interested in, like say the history of cars or the history of a sport, etc., we wouldn't necessarily care about or even know the difference if it wasn't completely exhaustive, while dedicated fans would.

 

In my own case, I make a point of knowing about and acknowledging as much as possible (and owning as much as possible from all eras and territories), but even in my own work I've had to make concessions. In my documentary, Gameplay, there are only brief mentions of Amiga and ST stuff. That was not by design, but rather for practical reasons. If you have to tell the history of everything to the present day in about 90 minutes, some things have to get sacrificed for the more important/impactful bits of the story.

 

It was the same thing with the platforms included in one of my books, Vintage Game Consoles. There was only room for 20 platform-specific chapters, and, while the Amiga made the cut, the ST didn't for various reasons. It still received generous mentions throughout the book, but it didn't quite make the cut to be a featured platform. If we were able to fit say, 25 platform-specific chapters in the books, it would have almost certainly made the cut.

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It was the same thing with the platforms included in one of my books, Vintage Game Consoles. There was only room for 20 platform-specific chapters, and, while the Amiga made the cut, the ST didn't for various reasons. It still received generous mentions throughout the book, but it didn't quite make the cut to be a featured platform. If we were able to fit say, 25 platform-specific chapters in the books, it would have almost certainly made the cut.

 

Sounds like time for a second updated edition! :D

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Look at how history gets rewritten (by exclusion of facts much of the time) in this country anymore. That and the phenomenon of amnesia people have about the past... little wonder Amiga and Atari being just a couple of casualties of history that way.

Extremely sad and I liken the phenom to music. You listen to the radio all day long and the jockey's never fail to let you know when you're listening to something obvious... like the Beatles. But the one time you hear something new(to you), refreshing and good for a change, think they can be bothered to let you know who the artist was? Nope! Never fails. ;)

You see it all the time in these mainstream documentaries or sites claiming to be historical references to the evolution of computing. Seem to glaze right over the all important years of 1985-1990 when it comes to the ST or Amiga. From then on? just a blurb here and there about the A3000 if you're lucky. An that's only because some UNIX/Linux geek performed a search while doing their "research" and accidentally learned a little something on the topic. :lol:

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Do you mean documentaries about the history of games? I think you do because there are very few documentaries about the history of office machines. There's not as much nostalgia about word processors and spreadsheets, and the people who used them were older at the time- we tend to feel a lot of nostalgia about things we did in our teens.

 

The ST was considered a great gaming machine for a few years from 1985, but 4 or 5 years later other machines and consoles were selling better and getting exclusives that used custom hardware that the ST couldn't keep up with, and at the high end PC sound and graphics were beginning to leave them all far behind, so the ST wouldn't have been first choice for gaming by then.

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The ST was also selling hot in Germany as a SOHO computer since PCs of the era were pure crap in terms of hardware and usability (that's why PC GEM was gaining much popularity when 286/386SX hardware became affordable) and the Mac was ridiculously overpriced. It e.g. won the German "Chip" magazine's "Computer of the Year" award in both 1985 and 1988 and many hardware projects such as the PAK030 were published in the "c't" magazine, both magazine catering to the "serious" users (i.e. the guys doing their word processing, spreadsheets and database stuff rather than playing games).

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The ST was also selling hot in Germany ...

Yes, exactly- but no-one (yet) is making documentaries about machines used like that. The games industry is huge today and there's a huge audience for games documentaries- even among those teo young to remember the machines the first time around!

Edited by galax
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Maybe its just me, but over the years I have come to enjoy the obscurity of our platform. Heck even Bill Loguidice, a regular on this very forum, found the ST to be obscure enough to leave out of his book except in passing.

 

I don't think I'd still be 1/2 as interested in my STs if they were as ubiquitous as an Apple ][, a C-64, or a 286. There is something about flying under the radar that makes it more special.

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It was the same thing with the platforms included in one of my books, Vintage Game Consoles. There was only room for 20 platform-specific chapters, and, while the Amiga made the cut, the ST didn't for various reasons. It still received generous mentions throughout the book, but it didn't quite make the cut to be a featured platform. If we were able to fit say, 25 platform-specific chapters in the books, it would have almost certainly made the cut.

Wow, that's a book not to buy. Plain ignorance.

Edited by high voltage
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Wow, that's a book not to buy. Plain ignorance.

 

Good, then don't buy it. You don't have to agree that the 20 platforms chosen were the most important game playing platforms ever. The book is historically complete and mentions everything worth mentioning, it's just that a large part of the story is told through the lens of the 20 most important platforms. I'm actually quite happy with how it turned out. If you're not (even though you haven't read it), it's really no big deal.

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Wow, that's a book not to buy. Plain ignorance.

Well on the one hand the book is called "Vintage Game Consoles", which I don't think the ST is, but on the other hand the Apple II and PC (twice) get chapters, so the definition of 'console' is fairly broad.

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At least he said the ST gets generous mentions throughout the book. Lets face it... if you're talking 16-bit computer gaming, be a trifle redundant to spend much time on the ST when you've already focused on the Amiga. ;)

 

-edited for content-

 

I'll save the lazy ST ports to Amiga rant for some other time, but it really is true that you hardly ever saw any real ST ads or heck, even stores that sold them BITD. The Amiga seemed to be in the news and in computer mags quite a bit more comparatively. Growing up in Chicagoland, wasn't a single store that I was aware of that sold ST's, whereas there were at least 4 local to me that carried Amiga's and its software.

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Maybe its just me, but over the years I have come to enjoy the obscurity of our platform. Heck even Bill Loguidice, a regular on this very forum, found the ST to be obscure enough to leave out of his book except in passing.

 

However, it did get acknowledged in every one of my books where it was in any way applicable (actually, both that it was applicable, Vintage Games and Vintage Game Consoles). I'd be curious of the 20 most important game playing platforms that received their own chapters in the Vintage Game Consoles book, which platform the ST should have replaced? I think it's fair to acknowledge that just because it doesn't make the top 20, that's not a slight on the platform. There have been countless dozens of platforms released over the years, and not every one is necessarily worth mentioning, period.

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Well on the one hand the book is called "Vintage Game Consoles", which I don't think the ST is, but on the other hand the Apple II and PC (twice) get chapters, so the definition of 'console' is fairly broad.

 

Unfortunately, like with "Vintage Games," the title for "Vintage Game Consoles" (the follow-up to the first book focused on hardware instead of software) was not in our control, but the publisher's. A more accurate title is "Vintage Game Platforms" or something along those lines. In any case, the Preface for each book does go to some lengths to explain both titles. By the way, "Gameplay" is loosely based mostly on "Vintage Games," but also to a degree "Vintage Game Consoles," a fact mentioned in the credits. It's like an inter-related trio that all tell the same basic type of history, just in very different ways/approaches.

 

Anyway, sorry to hijack the thread. I'm just trying to provide clarity to some assumptions that are being made about a book that it appears none of you have read.

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My thoughts on this topic have always been due to Tari being known as a video game company and most people aren't even aware of the split between Atari Corp and Atari Inc. There are some pretty decent documentaries about Atari on Youtube, but most of them only cover the early years up to when Time Warner bought them and screwed it all up.

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After going back to school after 20+ years to finish my Computer Science degree, I was taking an Operating systems class with a professor about my age... sometimes the class would go off on a tangent and he and I would talk about the "good old days".... one day, after we had done this about 4-5 times throughout the semester, a kid in the back asked "so wait, Atari REALLY made computers? I thought you were just making that up!".

 

And that's probably why it never gets mentioned. It would be like doing a nature documentary and deciding to include Bigfoot.

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I didn't mean my comment as a criticism, I genuinely thought "well the ST doesn't really belong in a book with that title", but then noticed that the term 'console' was being used more broadly than I had assumed. As you said, "Platforms" would be more precise than "Consoles" but possibly confusing to many people. The Forward (which can be read on Amazon) mentions the US perspective, as well as why the ST didn't get a chapter. Even with a European perspective the Amiga should be more prominent than the ST if the subject is games platforms.

Edited by galax
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