Nostalgic Computing – buying an Atari 1040ST on eBay

During college in the early 90s I had an Atari ST computer. At the time PCs (286s and 386s) were pretty expensive (I only knew of a couple of other students on my BSc Computing course that had Intel based PCs).

The Atari ST was a 16bit machine, using a Motorola 68000 CPU (same as the Mac at that point in time), and came in two main flavors, the 520 had 512k RAM, and the 1040 had 1Mb RAM. Both has a 720k doublesided, double density floppy disk drive, but no harddrive. The OS (TOS) booted from ROM, and you loaded programs and games from floppies. At the same time the Amiga was the main competitor in the same range of machines, but I think the Atari was more popular in Europe, whereas I think the Amiga was more popular in the US. The ST was originally launced in 1986, so will be 20years old next year!

I couldn’t resist bidding on a 1040ST the other day when I saw a few going on eBay, and managed to win one with a color monitor for 50 bucks. Can’t wait until it arrives and to unpack it and set it up. Not sure what I’m going to use it for at this point (other than re-living some classic ST games), but I may look into getting an ethernet adaptor (some sites have a DIY convertor to add an Ethernet card) and getting it set up to browse the web and access email.

What I found interesting was that the last model in the ST line, the ST Falcon030, is pretty rare, and if you can find one still sells for hundreds of dollars. Not bad for a computing relic. The TT030 although is hard to come by. I would have bid on either of these but couldn’t find any at the time.

Something else impressive – when you start searching on Google you never know what you might find – Best Electronics based in San Jose, still sells ‘new in box’ ST computers for around 300 bucks (depending on the model – they currently have a 1040 at this price). The also have a reconditioned TT030 for $600 and a reconditioned Falcon030 for $800. Wow. Thats more than you would get for a decent spec second hand PC that is only 3 years old. Incredible.

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