The Atari ST is a line of personal computers from Atari Corporation and the successor to the Atari 8-bit family. The initial model, the 520ST, had limited release in April–June 1985 and was widely available in July. It was the first personal computer with a bitmapped color GUI, using a version of Digital Research’s GEM from February 1985. The 1040ST, released in 1986 with 1 MB of RAM, was the first home computer with a cost-per-kilobyte of less than US$1.
After Jack Tramiel purchased the assets of the Atari, Inc. consumer division to create Atari Corporation, the 520ST was designed in five months by a small team led by Shiraz Shivji. Alongside the Macintosh, Amiga, Apple IIGS, and Acorn Archimedes, the ST is part of a mid-1980s generation of computers with 16- or 32-bit processors, 256 KB or more of RAM, and mouse-controlled graphical user interfaces. “ST” officially stands for “Sixteen/Thirty-two”,referring to the Motorola 68000’s 16-bit external bus and 32-bit internals.
The ST was sold with either Atari’s color monitor or less expensive monochrome monitor. Color graphics modes are available only on the former while the highest-resolution mode requires the monochrome monitor. Some models can display the color modes on a TV. In Germany and some other markets, the ST gained a foothold for CAD and desktop publishing. With built-in MIDI ports, it was popular for music sequencing and as a controller of musical instruments among amateur and professional musicians. The primary competitor of the Atari ST was the Amiga from Commodore.
The 520ST and 1040ST were followed by the Mega series, the STE, and the portable STacy. In the early 1990s, Atari released three final evolutions of the ST with significant technical differences from the original models: TT030 (1990), Mega STE (1991), and Falcon (1992). Atari discontinued the entire ST computer line in 1993, shifting the company’s focus to the Jaguar video game console.