The Atari ST is a home/personal computer that was released by Atari Corporation in 1985 and commercially available from that summer into the early 1990s. The "ST" officially stands for "Sixteen/Thirty-two", which referred to the Motorola 68000's 16-bit external bus and 32-bit internals.
The Atari ST was part of the 16/32 bit generation of home computers, based on the Motorola 68000 CPU, with 512 KB of RAM or more, and 3½" double-sided double-density floppy disks as storage (nominally 720 KB). It was similar to other contemporary machines which used the Motorola 68000, the Apple Macintosh and the Commodore Amiga. Although the Macintosh was the first widely available computer with a graphical user interface (GUI), it was limited to a monochromatic display on a smaller built-in monitor. Preceding the Amiga's commercial release by almost two months, the Atari ST was the first computer to come with a fully bit-mapped color GUI, using a version of Digital Research's GEM released that February. It was also the first home computer with integrated MIDI support.
Atari later upgraded in 1989 the basic design in 1986 with the 1040STF (also written STF). The machine was generally similar to the earlier 520ST, but moved the power supply and a double-sided floppy drive into the rear of the housing of the computer, as opposed to being external. This added to the size of the machine, but reduced cable clutter in the back. The 1040 shipped with 1 MB of RAM, and the same design was also used for the new 512 KB 520STFM, which replaced the earlier models in the market. The early 'STF' machines lacked the 'M' modulator that allowed a TV to be used and would only work with a monitor.
The 1040ST was the first personal computer shipped with a base RAM configuration of 1 MB, and when the list price was reduced to $999 in the U.S. it became the first computer to break the $1000/megabyte price barrier, and was featured on the cover of BYTE. However, the ST remained generally the same internally over the majority of its several-year lifespan. The choice of model numbers was inherited from the model numbers of the XE series of the Atari 8-bit family of computers. A limited number of 1040STFs shipped with a single-sided floppy drive.
Our 1040ST was kindly donated by Alan Hunter.
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David Arnold and the Atari ST Computer