30year old Atari ST gets dusted off

So...back in the mid 1980's some clever chap released the Personal computer, called an "Atari ST".  I'll let you wikipedia it to learn all about the history etc... personally, I don't really care.  All I remember is, I had an Amstrad CPC464 and "Gary" had an Atari 520STFM and it was AWESOME!
(I actually acquired that ST and monitor and it is sitting in a cupboard).  Anyway, over the years, okay, back in the 2005-2007 time frame, I must have had these old computers setup in the previous "home office" as I had acquired quite a few cool things for them.
Over this Xmas/New Year, I decided to have a clear out/tidy up of the current "home office" and of course, that meant taking a trip to the attic/loft!  Where I discovered a few boxes "over the back", that contained some Atari ST machines, Hard drives and monitors.  Well.... it was a shame to leave them up there doing nothing....

It turns out that I had the wisdom to purchase an IDE based Hard disk drive that connected into the side of the Atari.  I found that I had a 1040STF with 1Mb RAM (yes, 1Mb, not 1Gb!), so I thought I would use that machine and the old Philips CM8833 monitor.  Turns out the sound had "gone" on that monitor, but, I had a Mk2 version  in the "other loft" that was for an Amiga....  I had no instructions for the HDD and was a bit baffled by it and didn't really see the need for it, so I put it to one side.  I then managed to find a load of old Game boxes, minus the discs.  I spent a few more hours hunting through the loft and managed to find "some" of the Double-Density discs.  Not all of them, sadly.

I set the machine up and lost a few hours to Bubble Bobble....after hitting 500,000 points, I called it a day and turned the machine off.

The next day....I started a Google-fest.  What has happened in relation to the "new hardware" for these old computers, during the past 10 years?   Oh, did I find some fun things!

A really nice Polish guy called Lotharek has been busy making cool modern hardware - check them out HERE.  Naturally, I ordered a Netusbee...and waited a few days.  I was curious HOW I was going to be able to connect this late 1980's computer to the Network.

When the device arrived, off I went:
That was a diagnostic app just testing the device itself.  You'll also notice that I found a 2nd external Floppy disc drive too!
I then spent a while trying to figure out how to connect the Netusbee to the network - I followed quite a few "guides" online and they all seemed to show just doing a point-to-point connection to a PC.  I eventually gave in and dug out a little laptop/tablet that I had setup just for C coding, but I hadn't used in a while.  It's running Point Linux and is really fast/cool little computer.  Anyway, biscuits & cake were required for the mental challenge that lay ahead...

Then I got distracted by another "old" Dell laptop, after booting it up, it turns out I was running KALI Linux on it and had some interesting things running on it the last time I used it:

Anyway, back to the ST.  After some digging, it turns out I needed to install STinG onto a floppy disc and boot from it, then configure it correctly:

Well, I got it connected using the point-to-point laptop connection, looking good, I could PING okay:
Okay, not going to break any speed records, but at least it was working:

It turned out that I had a bit of a knackered Floppy Disc that I was using to run STinG from and it wasn't saving the settings properly, etc... anyway, after faffing about for a day or so, I made a new disc (Double-sided floppy discs are a bit hit-and-miss nowadays, they are kinda old!).

Then I set up STinG to work as it should, it boots up and I have the gateway details setup to connect via the home router.  Wow, I can ping all the machines on the network, even ping externally.  Things are looking good.

 This led me to the next step.  Now, that I am connected, what do I do now?  Well, as I had network connectivity, I thought, FTP!

 After having a bit of a hunt around, I settled on using the gapFTP software as it ran "on top of STinG":
 The little Point Linux was running an FTP server...so connection, here we come!
Looking at the Linux laptop folder:
 Then looking at the AtariST (I did a >list and I eventually learnt to do an >ls and you get a proper directory listing!)
 As you can see here, it shows the files on the FTP server:
 and to prove I could get the files from the Linux machine:
 there we go:
 No, it didn't get mangled, the file content was in Finnish in the first place!
 Here's proof downloading the file from the FTP server:
 and then reviewing the content:
 Cool!

I then setup the NEWSie software to access the FTP server using the GEM interface

 I then got a bit carried away and thought I would be adventurous and setup EMAIL!!!! seeing as NEWSie offered the capability to do so.

I then burnt a few more hours/day(s) working out what was happening "under the bonnet".  I setup stunnel on the Point Linux laptop so that the AtariST would send all requests via the laptop, basically, services like GMail use SECURE Pop3 and SMTP ports etc... and this old software still uses the old ports, so I eventually configured stunnel to allow connections on unsecure ports and then connect to GMail securely on my behalf.  I also found a nice little app called tcptrack that you can see on the screen in the back left... great tool for seeing what is connecting etc...
 Anyway, I could see the requests coming in:
 But I kept getting rejected using my GMail details:
 I could manually perform the following from my Mac:
$telnet 192.168.0.19 110
+OK
USER tony.pigra@gmail.com
+OK
PASS p@ssW0rd
+OK Welcome.
LIST
+OK 2 messages

So, that proved it "should" work... frustratingly the logs shows the attempted connections, but no real details:

I thought the issue might be Google/GMail.  So I created a new free email account with ZOHO.com - perfect and a pretty cool email service.
I then changed the details in the stunnel.conf accordingly, changed the NEWSie configuration and voila!  "You have mail":

 The server logs show the flipping between port 110 and 995, looking good!
 And there it is... the new test email in the list:
 A double-click:
 and the email is opened.  Now, I did have the configuration set to SHOW ME EVERYTHING!

Eventually, we have the actual email content at the end.  There it is:
How cool is that?!?!?

I then found the setting in NEWSie to not show the HEADER info and it looks proper now:

and just to prove, here is the Web Browser showing the original email inbox:


Now, most people would have left it at that.....but the whole Google/GMail things was still bugging me.

So, I found the "extra" command outputs for tcpdump and I decided to "see" exactly what was being sent from the Atari ST to the Point Linux machine and then off to the Internet:

I then modified everything for GMail again, as you can see, you can work out pretty clearly what is sent:

I think I cracked it this time:
 This is looking good!

There is definitely some data going back and forth this time:
and there is the new GMail email:

and there is it downloaded to the Atari ST:

Ah, I might need to change the email formats to be in Plain Text from now on, rather than HTML:

I then thought I would get a bit cocky and do a Reply Email:
Unfortunately, I need an external Editor to write the email with!  When I press [Edit] it wants to run an external editor .PRG and then send the email.  It was late.  I mean VERY late by this point, so I called it a "morning" (rather than a "night"), if you get my drift  ;-)

If you were wondering, the emails get saved to the Floppy disc drive as files, they were not as big as I originally thought:

One really cool thing was that I found the NEWSie C source-code!  I can now work my way through this, I have pretty much figured out how it all hangs together, I will strip out all the "noise", ie. FTP, NewsReader etc... and just have a specific Email client and write my own Editor, so that I can do email replies too :-)


Okay, so then it was time to remember to have some FUN!

I didn't get a photo of the original 500,000 points (but, it did happen, honest!) and I wasn't even cheating either :-D



So, talking of C-programming.  I managed to get myself quite a few C-compilers from various sources on the internet.  I got Pure-C setup and compiling / building on the original Atari ST from the Hard Disc drive and was quite happy with that.

I then managed to obtain quite a few Atari ST "C Programming" books, but they all referenced the MegaMax C compiler and had code specific for that version.  After a fair bit of hunting and good luck, I managed to get the 3 discs for this (yes, 3, not the normal 2!).
After doing the usual magic of downloading the .st files to the Mac, burning to CD-Rom (Thanks Apple for not allowing a USB floppy disc to be recognised by the OS anymore! B*st*rds!), then putting that CD-Rom into an "old PC" running MS-DOS v6.2 (with some tweaks), copying the files to the D:\ATARIST partition, then running >makedisk /write xxxx.st /AUTO /DRIVE A: (after formatting the Double-Density Floppy Disc with >FORMAT A: /T:80 /N:9 ) to extract the .st image into files onto the disc.  Then taking the Floppy Disc out of the PC and putting it into the Atari ST, booting it up and there we have the files.  Yay!

I copied the files of the 3 discs to the F: partition of the Atari ST Hard disk, turns out MegaMax has to be at the top level folder, it cannot be in a sub-folder.  I can then write the C code, compile and link it and make the .PRG file and run it directly on the Atari ST.  Sweet!!!!

I decided that, as I travel a lot, I might not be able to take the Atari ST with me to hotels etc... so I might need to have an "alternative" that I could use to write the C-code on and then copy it over to the real machine later on.

So, I setup a RetroPie on a Raspberry Pi 3 device!  I installed Hatari on it and it seems to be okay.

I could also SSH to the Pi3 device and could copy files using FileZilla (so that was a bonus!).  This meant I could replicate the MegaMax C folder setup from the real Atari ST to the emulator.
In the RetroPie, I created a folder and then in the Hatari F12 setup, I pointed the GEMDOS drive to: /home/pi/AtariHDD1
This also means that I can create/modify the .C code in my Mac, then copy the files over to then be compiled / built by Megamax C.  Also, as it is a Raspberry Pi, I can take it with me to hotels / flights, etc... so long as I remember to take the cables to plug it into the hotel TV!

Here's the folder via SSH on my Mac:

and here it is shown on an "old" TV that we have (the HDMI doesn't work for normal TV for some reason, but seems to work fine for the X-Box and the Pi!)

Right....now it's time to brush up on some C coding and have some retro-fun with the old Atari ST machines!

Who knows, I might even figure out a way to get it working with IBM Watson.





Oooooo! I just found a Sony PSP in a drawer!.....and it looks like I can write some C code for that too :-)  It's going to be a FUN year.



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