Atari-ST (Little Green Desktop) spec.

ATARI 1040 ST (1986)

Manufacturer Atari
Name 1040 ST
Origin U.S.A.
Year 1986
CPU 68000, 8 MHz 
RAM 1024 Kbytes, i.e. 1Mb
ROM 192 Kbytes, including TOS (the operating system) and GEM (the GUI).
Case Very similar to that of the Atari 520ST, but deeper to accommodate the built-in floppy drive. The case is medium-sized and gray, in the style of the Atari 130XE. It's adorned with oblique ventilation grills and the ten function keys match the whole design. There is a power LED at the front left corner of the keyboard and connectors on either side and the rear.
Keyboard Controlled by the 6301 CPU. 94 typewriter keys in standard QWERTY layout. There are ten stylish (not typewriter-style) function keys at the top of the keyboard. Two Alternate keys flank the space bar. A numeric keypad has 18 keys (including, strangely enough, parentheses). Between the numeric keypad and the alphanumeric keyboard is a cursor control keypad, like on IBM AT keyboards. It numbers eight keys, including two wide Help and Undo keys.

The 1040STF is capable of the same display modes as the Atari 520ST:

  • 640 x 400, monochrome. This can only be used with Atari's monochrome monitor.
  • 320 x 200, 16 colors chosen from a palette of 512 colors.
  • 640 x 200, 4 colors chosen from a palette of 512 colors.

There is no text mode. The computer autodetects the type of monitor connected and will not use color modes on the monochrome monitor (or vice versa). This was a bad move (though, admittedly, necessary), in that it forced users to have two monitors if they were going to play games and run serious applications (that typically used the monochrome mode).


Same as that of the Atari 520ST, controlled by a chip compatible to the famous AY-3-8910. Although the chip was beginning to show its age in 1985, the relatively fast CPU on the Atari pushes it beyond its previous capabilities, enabling the machine to playback digitized samples and make very complicated sound effects. The standard 8910/8912 features are still there, of course: three channels of sound (output separately and mixed off-chip -- the Atari is mono, by the way), one channel of noise that may be mixed with any of the three other channels, 16 volume levels and 9 octaves of tones.

What really makes the STF interesting in terms of Audio, though, is its MIDI port. For this, although its built-in sound is inferior to that of its great competitor, the Commodore Amiga 1000, the ST is the best choice for serious music. the In fact, it's still used today by musicians all over the world as a MIDI sequencer (among other things).

The nice thing is that a lot of games would played music through MIDI. So if you had a synthesizer handy, the music output of the machine got a lot better.


One built-in 3.5-inch double-sided double-density floppy drive. The device can store 360 kbytes on single-sided disks or 720 kbytes on double-sided ones. The format and filesystem of the floppies is MS-DOS compatible (in fact, PCs and Ataris may read each other's disks easily).

Another, external floppy may be connected to the machine. There is also a port to connect external hard drives with a DMA transfer rate of 10 Mbits per second.

  • Midi in port (female 5-pin DIN).
  • Midi out port (female 5-pin DIN).
  • Parallel printer port.
  • Serial RS232 port.
  • Floppy drive port.
  • Hard disk port.
  • ROM cartridge slot (up to 128 kbytes of ROM).
  • Two mouse/joystick ports.
  • Monitor output (female 13-pin DIN that carries RGB signals, composite video output and audio output, allowing anyone who can find a male 13-pin DIN plug to connect the machine to a SCART TV or a normal composite monitor, as well as to amplify the machine's sound).
  • Hard Disk Megafile 60

Sincerely yours James Cohen Israel.