Atari 1040 ST

This is likely to be my last post about 16-bit Atari — I did not enjoy my time with these computers (despite lusting after them for so many years.) I bought this to troubleshoot issues with my Mega ST 2, and did the requisite service, but this was not a machine I fell in love with.

The machine came with 1.0 TOS ROM chips, and evidence of some historical power supply blow-out. I upgraded the operating system — by yanking out the aforementioned chips and installing new ones, re-capped the power supply, and scrubbed as much carbon scoring from the case as I could, before a gentle retro bright bathe.

The matching monitor I acquired through the Mega ST deal, but it was too difficult to disassemble, so I tried a new retro-bright technique. This one is mostly about a pure soak in the sun, but augmented with an occasional application of 40v diluted with water (about a 80/20 mix) applied liberally with a paint brush. The theory here is that its actually the heat that is the catalyst for color change, and I’ll be honest, it worked quite well. A liquid bath is still preferable, but I’ll adopt this technique going forward for devices with challenging disassembly and low value.

Everything cleaned up nicely, but multiple attempts to acquire a matching mouse failed. I settled for a PS/2 adapter, and a white PS/2 mouse. I also purchased an unfortunately named device called a “SatanDisk” (not to be confused with the superior “UltraSatan“) so I could load up my curated hard drive image onto a SD card adapted to the Atari’s hard drive connector.

Because this model did not include an RF Modulator (that wouldn’t be available until the 1040 STF) getting color out of it with a modern display is challenging. I purchased a cable from England that worked with one of my VGA monitors (although the monitor permanently displayed a warning that it did not prefer the Atari’s 15 khz refresh rate) and tested color. I also cleaned the heads on the floppy drive, and tested it.

Ultimately, I didn’t keep this one long — it was less capable than the Mega, and frankly underwhelming compared to Apple machines of the era. The bundle sold for about what it cost to put together, although I lost a little on eBay fees and shipping. I’m glad I got to play with one, so I’ll know better than to buy these in the future…

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