Author: shalroth (cpc10-seac22-2-0-cust612.7-2.cable.virginm.net)
Date: 05-17-2014 15:11
I just watched your video.
Not because you managed to get an Atari computer to play a MIDI file through a cheap General MIDI Rompler, because, let's face it, I've been doing that since I was 11 - but because I can tell you are fairly passionate about the vintage computing scene.
I must admit, I had some preconceptions... you've only got to look back at the posts in the 16/32 forum on this site, and many similar threads on atari-forum.com, and there are dozens of posts that start along the lines of "hi someone told me that atari computers are the best ones to use for doing music and fatboy slim still has one LOL so can you tell me what i need to buy and how to use it to become a musical genius BTW i can't pay you ok K THX BAI"
...they get a little bit dreary after a while. [PAY ATTENTION BECAUSE THIS IS ONE THE FEW TIMES IN MY LIFE I WILL ISSUE A PUBLIC APOLOGY]
And I'm sorry. I'm very, very sorry - but based on the information available to me at the time, I had read your posts and assumed you were in a similar category.
Almost a year ago, I bought a hard disc drive for the TOS <3.06 machines (which neatly covers the ST, STM, STF, STFM, STE, Mega, TT, Mega STE, Stacy - but NOT the Falcon, because the interface is different). I paid cash-in-hand and picked it up in person, from a retired gentleman who had ambitions of become a successful producer in his twilight years. Someone told him he needed an Atari. He bought one. I don't know when that was, but I don't think it was thousands of years ago. He was a lovely chap, and we chatted for about about our respective gear (I'm mostly Korg with an Analogue Roland polysynth and a couple of Yamahas) but it became clear that he had all the gear, no idea.
Based on the information available to me at the time, I had assumed your intentions were similar. I can see now how very wrong that assumption was.
Don't read too much into that - If I read your posts again I would come to the same conclusion a second time - but I can see from your video that you're a bit more serious about the craft that that.
I noticed an A500 / A500+, A600, the aforementioned STFM and a Commodore Plus/4 in your rig. That's very, very interesting. I like to think we've gotten beyond the "My micro's better than yours" playground arguments that were so popular in the 1980s - I grew sick of defending my computer very quickly. I had a Sinclair Spectrum, because when we got our first computer in 1984 it was what we could afford, and it was good enough. I got my Atari STE in 1993, when most of my friends were getting Amigas. That was a much tougher fight. I understand why I got one, my stepfather had used an ST since the early days, I was a budding musician myself, and the ST was far cheaper. It didn't have as many games, but they weren't a priority on an educational tool.
Now, in the twenty-first century. now we're all mature, I can say "The Amiga was a remarkable platform, and it introduced seamless pre-emptive multitasking to the workstation market a decade before Microsoft. The custom graphics and sound hardware support made the Amiga a formidable multi-media platform for entertainment as well as serious production work."
The amiga could play back four stereo PCM streams at once, but it didn't have a synthesiser chip, so it's audi capabilities were pretty much limited to playing back samples at various sample frequencies. That's still useful, but perhaps not so versatile... if you want to play a 50% square wave at 11KHz for one second, it can do that, but you have to write that seconds' worth of 11KHz square wave sample data to memory - whereas on the ST / Spectrum (128K or better) / Amstrad / Atari 800 / C64 you would just tell your sound chip (AY-3-8912, POKEY or SID) to generate a 50% Pulse wave for one second. So it had some drawbacks.
Defending the ST - I would have to say (in a similar manner to my previous amiga defence) - The Atari ST represent remarkable value for money. With built-in MIDI ports it understands the language of today's digital electronic instruments. It can display graphics in vivid colour, or high-definition monochrome, with better resolution than the Macintosh. Many businesses chose an Atari Desktop Publishing solution over a similar platform because it was one-fifth the cost and roughly five times faster at getting the printed page into your hand.
The ST was cheaper partly because they used the 68000 to do a lot of the work the Commodore had the Amiga doing with custom chips. The Amiga always had a Blitter (a chip the speeds up memory-to-memory-copies making a lot of operations quicker, especially graphics routines) whereas Atari didn't put one in until 1987. The Amiga had the Copper, which could draw pretty graduated colour fading effects. And the HAM8 mode, while a very pretty trick, still allowed even the most basic Amiga the ability to display up to 4,000 colours on screen at once.
The ST, while not blessed with such hardware niceties - also wasn't constrained by their limitations . You can redefine the 16-colour palette on a per-scanline basis, thus getting all 4096 colours in the STE on screen at once.
I *LOVE* Amiga. I was a diehard Atari supporter in the day, and I hated everything they stood for, but NOW I can appreciate the elegance of the OS and the power of the ChipSet. My husband helped write an Amiga PD game that gained some popularity [Elektrek, if you're interested] so I've spent a lot of time t=with that system, getting it up and running again after fifteen years [The RTC had only lost a few weeks] and installing hard discs, frame-grabbing etc.
But seriously dude. Why a Plus/4?