Atari ST: What went wrong?
The Atari ST was conceived in spring 1984, shortly before the Tramiel takeover of Atari. After taking over Atari in July 1984, the project was fast-tracked as the Tramiel’s knew that Atari’s fortunes rested on getting a new 16-bit machine to market as quickly as possible.
Atari ST project was code-named RBP for Rock Bottom Price, which was a common theme for Jack Tramiel. The Commodore 64 had a similar philosophy and it worked out pretty well, becoming the best-selling home computer of all time.
With hardware primarily designed by Shiraz Shivji, a top engineer that came over to Atari from Commodore, the Atari ST’s hardware went from design to working prototypes in less than a year and it shipped pretty much one year after the Tramiel’s bought Atari, an impressive accomplishment.
Things started strong for the 520ST. It beat the Amiga to market by a few months, was aggressively priced and it got positive reviews.
But as we all know, the ST line was not the success that many of us (and Atari) wanted it to be. So what went wrong?
It’s not one thing, really. And even though I’ll identify a few things that could have been done better, there is no guarantee that anything could have saved the ST. With the PC, DOS and Windows juggernaught, it was probably destined to fail, as did Commodore. Don’t forget, even mighty Apple almost collapsed in the mid-90s.
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