16-bit era: Atari ST

However, the cash didn’t last long once I’d bought a new 14″ colour TV and a Atari 520STFM (single-sided drive) setup. I soon realised afterwards that, with the higher resolution and multiple colours, a career in graphics design/pixel-painting just wasn’t for me. I didn’t mind fiddling about and tweaking screens, but that was about my limit.

Programming, though, via the medium of GFA BASIC (along with a little bit of 68000) was much more interesting. I could use a BASIC similar, but way more powerful, than what I’d learned on the ZX Spectrum. It wasn’t long before I was churning out utilities and some (quite awful) demos in GFA BASIC v2.

Unfortunately for me, most of these demos have been preserved on DemoZoo by Lotek. Believe me when I say that the sampled demos *are* awful and very dated. If you’re really unlucky, I think I still have the source code for them knocking about somewhere. So they could end up being available here …

Later on, when Magnetic Fields (the creators of ‘Super Scramble Simulator’ and ‘Super Cars’) were leaving the 16-bit scene, I was given their Atari developer’s Mega ST setup with a huge 65Mb hard-drive. That was an immense amount of hard drive space spread across 5 separate partitions!

My development / turnaround time increased dramatically around this time. No more swapping over of floppy disks when compiling or assembling (and hacking) code!

Some of the demos I created in the latter years were quite good though, especially the Synthetic Delights (120 Amiga ‘chip music’ modules on a single disk, selected from a mouse-driven menu) and Pinball Illusions demo – music ripped from the Amiga game that would just about fit onto a Atari ST disk with an extended format.

Both of these demos used routines from Terry King’s Spriteworks as well as my own GFA Linker.

My linker enabled all of the data files to be stored inside a single larger file, which automatically ensured that the demo would run from a hard-disk. It would also allow those ST owners with larger memory configurations to load all of the data from the link file into memory, if there was space available.

Not that I’d learned about link-filing from my time as a demo-compilation disk creator whilst being part of The Source … honest guv!