Monday, November 01, 2004

Journey To The Past (5): The Age Of Atari (1988-1992)

I really fell in love with my first Atari. It was a 520ST, equipped with 512KB RAM (upgraded to 1MB for a tremendous amount of money as soon as I received payment from a summer job). GFA Basic was a mighty language. This was my introduction to GUI programming (Digital Research's GEM, an early Macintosh look-alike). One could invoke inline assembler code, so I bought a book about 68K assembler, and finally managed to run some performance-critical stuff in native mode.

But I also felt the lack of support for modules and data encapsulation in Basic, so I decided to learn C (sounds like a contradiction today, but hey, this was 1988) using Borland Turbo C, which came along with a great graphical development environment for GEM. Phoenix on the other hand was a relational database system, that shipped with a very nice IDE. I learned about relational database modeling, and implemented some simple database applications.

Modula2 was the language of choice at my first university courses, but that wasn't too much of a change from the old Pascal days. Luckily, Modula2 compilers existed for the Atari ST as well, so I didn't have to spend my time at the always crowded university lab in front of those Apple Macs with 9-inch monitors.

In 1991 I purchased Atari's next generation workstation, the Atari TT-030. It was equipped with a Motorola 68030 processor running at 32Mhz, a 80MB HD and 8MB RAM.

But Atari did not manage to make the TT a winner, while the PC was gaining more and more market share. Notwithstanding all sentimental restraints, I finally bought a 486-DX2 in 1993.