atari 1040st

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Introduced 1987
Release Price $999.99


          The Atari 1040ST was introduced in 1987. It is based on the Motorola 68000 16/32-bit microprocessor running at 8 MHz. The keyboard and motherboard are included in one plastic case, as was its predecessor the 520ST. On the right side of the case is a built-in double sided, double density 720 kilobyte floppy drive.

          The 1040ST comes standard with 1 MB of RAM and 196 kilobytes of ROM memory. On the left side of the case are two 5 pin round DIN plugs for MIDI in and MIDI out connections. There is also a 40 pin cartridge slot for plugging in ROM and game cartridges. Under the keyboard on this side are two 9 pin D-plug ports for plugging Joysticks and there are two more 9 pin D-plug ports, one of which doubles as a mouse port under the front of the keyboard. The keyboard has 94 keys and have an excellent feel to them.

         On the back of the case going from left to right is a standard 25 pin D-plug serial port for connecting a modem, next an industry standard 25 pin D-plug centronics parallel port for connecting any standard printer, next is an Atari hard disk port using a 19 pin D-plug, a 14 pin round DIN plug to connect an Atari serial external drive, an RCA type plug for an RF modulated video signal, A 13 pin round DIN plug to connect an Atari RGB monitor, the on/off switch, and a reset button.

         The 1040ST has three video modes: A 640 x 400 x 2 monochrome for text base programs like word processors, a 640 x 200 x 4 color high resolution mode, and a 320 x 200 x 16 color medium resolution mode. The 1040ST has a pallet of 512 colors to choose from, although on later 'enhanced' versions such as the 1040STe, introduced on November 13, 1989, the color pallet was increased to 4096 colors.

          Although the video capabilities of the 1040ST were good, its audio capabilities are where the computer really shines. It has a built in sound generator supplying 3 separate voices and also contains a built in MIDI interface making it possible to connect your computer to a variety of electronic instruments and state of the art sound studio equipment. All for less than $1000 dollars!

          The OS was called TOS (some say for Tramiel Operating System) and is burned into ROM for fast loading. The desktop was written by Digital Research Inc. and called GEM. This was a icon driven GUI similar to the MS Windows environment of that day.

         This exhibit is a 1040STe, the 'enhanced' version introduced on November 13, 1989, and is displayed with an Atari SC1224 12 inch RGB monitor, an infrared wireless mouse, and a Supra 20 MB hard drive. It was purchased locally at a thrift shop and added to the museum on July 19, 1999.


System Architecture



Microprocessor 68000 Standard on system board 1 MB
Clock speed 8 MHz Maximum on system board 1 MB
Bus type Atari proprietary Maximum total memory  
Data bus width 16-bit Memory speed and type  
Address bus width 24-bit System board memory socket type  
Interrupt levels N/A Number of memory module sockets  
DMA channels N/A Memory used on system board dynamic

Standard Features


Disk Storage

ROM size 196k Internal disk and tape drive bays 1 - 3.5 inch
Optional math coprocessor   Standard floppy drives 1
Parallel port type centronics Optional floppy drives: yes
RS232C serial ports yes * 5 1/4 inch 160k  
Mouse ports yes * 5 1/4 inch 1.2MB  
UART chip used N/A * 3 1/2 inch 720k yes
Maximum speed N/A * 3 1/2 inch 1.44MB no
CMOS real time clock no * 3 1/2 inch 2.88MB no
CMOS RAM no Hard disk controller included no

Video & Graphics



Graphics Processor   Sound Interface device  
Screen size - Col x Rows 80 x 25 Sound generation 3 voices
Resolution - Colors/High 4/640 x 200 pixels ADSR capable  
Resolution - Colors/Low 16/320 x 200 pixels Built in MIDI interface yes
Max colors 512 (4096 enhanced) Programming language  
Sprites or Missiles   Built in language  
    Built in M L monitor  

Expansion Slots


Keyboard Specs.

Total adapter slots 1 Number of keys 94
Number of 8/16/32 bit slots 0/1/0 Upper/lower case yes
    Keyboard cable length N/A

Physical Specs.


Environmental Specs.

* Height 2.75 inches Operating voltage @ 60 Hz 120 VAC
* Width 18.75 inches Maximum power supplied 95 watts
* Depth 11.5 inches Power supply output - volts  
* Weight 9 pounds 7 ounces Power supply output - amps