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How Dave Small made miracles for the Atari ST

technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology

Simple gray rule

How Dave Small made miracles for the Atari ST 

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1991, The Syracuse Newspapers

There was bedlam in Reston, Va., a town near Washington, two weeks ago. A man at the front of a conference room at the Sheraton was passing out free Macintoshes—hundreds of them.

It was Dave Small at his best. Small, the inventor of the plug-in device that turns ST computers into Macs, told the crowd of ST users at a computer fair that he wanted to thank them for helping make his unusual product a success.

And he then reached into a large box and tossed $300 Spectre 128 emulator cartridges out to his fans. The crowd reacted like pigeons that hadn't been fed for weeks, grabbing the palm-sized devices as they sailed across the room.

I was in the audience, returning with my wife, Nancy, from our honeymoon in the mountains. I didn't catch an emulator (somebody alongside me did a flanking maneuver and deflected the one that was coming my way), but I did get to see Dave Small and his miracles in action.

The first, of course, is his Mac emulator. With the ST's screen size being larger than the standard Mac's, an ST-Mac is a beauty to behold. Two million STs have been sold worldwide, and thousands upon thousands of them turn themselves into Apple Macintoshes every day at the click of a mouse.

The second was something he calls the SST. It's an ST that runs at 40 megahertz. It's faster in every way than Apple's most expensive Macintosh, and a lot cheaper, too.

Dave Small is one reason the ST hasn't disappeared from the American market. The company that makes the ST, Atari, had nearly abandoned the U.S. market for Europe, but Small and a few others have helped keep interest alive here.

It's paying off. An advanced ST, called the TT, is now available to consumers in this country, and the company is taking orders for a notebook-size ST, too. A pen-based ST notebook computer is expected out next year.

The crowd in Reston gave the TTs that were being demonstrated there high marks. But they gave their biggest thanks in the cheers that went out for Dave Small.

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