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Just got a 520STfm. Now what? :-)


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Greetings from Canada, Ottawa to be more precise.
Believe it or not, today was the first time I have seen an Atari computer in person and I can certainly explain why.
Even though I am Canadian and have been in Ottawa for close to two decades, I actually grew up in South America (Brazil).
So back in the 80s, due to the Brazilian import ban on computers (the idea was to protect the local industry - fail IMHO) everything you could get your hands on were Apple/TRS-80/Sinclair clones. Mid 80s brought us MSX clones and of course down the road, PCs (well there was actually one company that made the first and only Apple Mac clone, based on the 128/512 - I did my internship there but that is the subject for another post).
What that created was a generation/market that had no exposure to anything like the Commodore/Amiga/Atari computers (video games, different story - there were licensed copies of the Sega Genesis/Atari 2600/etc).

As I do love retro things, especially the ones I played with when young, years ago I started collecting video games. The old Woody Ataris, Jaguar, Saturn, NeoGeo, etc. Even Pinball/Arcade machines. But I felt there was something missing. That is when I started to take a look at all the great stuff that I missed due to being in South America. Dang. icon_mrgreen.gif

That brings us to yesterday. I see a post on the local For Sale board for an Atari computer. After further inspection, it was a mint (the thing looks new) Atari 520STfm with its matching color monitor (SC1224 - also in excellent condition, with a perfect, colorful and bright picture), mouse, joysticks, etc. Everything was there. Boxes, manuals and a cardboard box with 300 floppies, that according to the seller, are indeed working. Add to that many games in the original box with all the artwork etc. Having no clue how much these things go for, I offered him $150 and he accepted. cheers.gif
Now the plan is to do what I am doing with a Commodore 64 I bought two weeks ago. LOL.
- Figure out if it is possible to have some peripheral that works like a hard drive but is SD based or even an IDE interface I can put a hard drive on it. Not sure what would be the maximum size. From what I am reading it seems like depending on the OS version it can see up to 24 partitions but not all will be assigned a 'drive letter' limiting the whole thing to around 8GB.
- Find a way to copy all the floppies to this 'SD' based thing.
- Add somehow a Network Card so I can access BBSs and IRC. Ideally if heaven allows, in 53 or 80 columns for IRC.
- Understand what sort of OS this thing runs, if it can be booted off the SD card and how to upgrade the OS to the latest one available/possible.
- If I manage to get all the above going, well then spend some time trying to understand how to program the damn thing.
Of course all this assumes I will have time in my hands, what almost certainly will not be the case due to the job-related traveling, the eight cars in my garage and the five year old that I managed to get at age 40. icon_lol.gif

Cheers and regards from Canada.


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Some of your ideas are realistic, some not :)

Mass storage with SD cards: yes, that's is what is probably most popular at moment. Look for UltraSatan - manufacturing in Poland (Lotharek) It can handle larger SD cards - 16 GB for sure. but you don't need so big one(s). 8 GB is max what is reasonable. Because TOS can handle max 14 partitions, and max size of 1 partition is 512MB (with older versions 1.00 and 1.02 only 256MB).

Other thing is that there is no so much Atari SW that you can fill some 10GB or more.

Copying floppies to SD card is something what will not work in most of cases when original SW is in question. Because copy protections, and because SW is made mostly to run only from floppies.

There are some network cards available too, but I don't have experience with it.

By Atari, TOS is built in ROM, so you don't boot it from storage. Programming is longer story ... But you can find lot of help online.


Expanding RAM would be one of most important things, but in case of 520ST it is not easy - no sockets in machine.

If you are good with soldering and electronic can make IDE adapter self:



Games fixed for run from mass storage: http://atari.8bitchip.info/fromhd.php

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I have a similar question. A while ago I've bought an Atari 65XE and it came with Atari 520STFM. I've finished upgrading 65XE and I'm thinking to do something with ST. I've never had ST before and I'm not sure if is it worth spending money (4MB upgrade+ blitter + TOS switcher + small things like changing capacitors, etc). I already have an Amiga 1200 and I think it will do the same things as ST (I just play games).





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