"You've got caviar taste and a pizza face."
Kelly Bundy, addressing Bud, "Married With Children"
ST BOOK REVIEW: "DAS BUCH ZUM ATARI FALCON030" BY DATA BECKER
by Richard Karsmakers
As far back as summer 1992, the Falcon was first seen. It was
officially released at the Düsseldorf Atari Messe in August, even
though it was yet to take well over half a year until the machine
would actually be available in any shops. As far back as summer
1992, Data Becker had already published the first book covering
this major new Atari machine: "Das Buch zum Atari Falcon030"
("The Atari Falcon030 Book"). Its almost 340 pages offered a
wealth of information on the new miracle computer, literally
months before Atari would confirm any details about the system's
final setup, specs and Operating System Calls. Nothing was known
in detail about "MultiTOS" being on ROM or not, nor was anything
known with regard to the final versions of GEM, AES and BIOS that
were to be used in the machine.
"What the heck," Data Becker must have thought, "it's now or
never." They took the risk of releasing a compendium of outdated
and inaccurate information, and it seems they came out quite
The book consists of 9 parts, which I will treat below.
The Falcon's Development Story
This is an atmospheric but rather superfluous story of the ST,
STE, TT and Falcon. When they were released, what was new about
them, that sort of thing. They even mention some of the problems
Atari has caused.
The Falcon030 Desktop
This chapter mentions, in considerable details, what's new about
the Falcon030 desktop. The more interesting desktop items, such
as the dialog box where graphic modes may be selected, were not
yet finished at the time of the book being written - and are,
thus, sadly lacking. Basically this chapter comprises over 40
pages of stuff you will find in the Falcon 030 manual: How to
copy, what the windows are built up of, that sort of thing.
So far, the book offers little new stuff.
Basics of Multi-Tasking Operating Systems
Things are getting a lot more interesting here. Finally, at page
75, the books starts to offer new things. It explains the basics
behind multi-tasking, covering the variety of terms associated
with it and telling you about memory protection, shells, devices,
pipes and links. Especially if you didn't know much about Multi-
Tasking yet, this chapter is of much interest. A disadvantage is
that the book assumes "MultiTOS" to be present in ROM whereas, of
course, it isn't (at least not until later versions of the
Multi-Tasking with MultiTOS
This chapter continues where the previous one left off. It tells
the story behind the Multi-Tasking Operating System "MiNT", which
is in the centre of the new Multi-Tasking AES. It treats virtual
drives, Process IDs, file systems and where to get the "MiNT"
utilities (of which there are many).
What with the Falcon having some fancy new hardware and the
possibility of Multi-Tasking, two parts of the Operating System
have been enhanced considerable: AES and XBIOS. AES (Application
Environment Services) is the thing that is supposed to interface
with thr "MiNT" Kernel. New AES functions (extended pull-down
menus, and a lot more) are summarized and explained here, as well
as new AES messages a program may get.
Hardware and XBIOS
The most important new thing about the Falcon that had to be
taken care of in XBIOS is the DSP56001 chip. Although I have to
say that I didn't understand much of this chapter, it is supposed
to explain how to code the DSP. It also explains everything you
need to know about DSP XBIOS calls but never thought you could
ask. This chapter is quite technical in nature and of little
interest to non-programmers. For true programmers I guess it
might cause a couple of drool glands to have to overwork.
Soundhardware and the XBIOS interface
This chapter is the logical continuation of the previous. It
explains everything you want to know about the audio sub-system
(AD/DA converters, DMA sound, DSP, YM soundchip, speaker, mike,
that sort of thing). It also mentions the XBIOS calls needed to
link individual audio sources together for fancy sound effects.
Unfortunately, preciously little was known about all this at the
time of the book being written. This chapter is less than 10
pages in size, and mentions some fairly general things that have
been mentioned in the computer press as well (such as how the
screen is built up, etc.). Not much to be mentioned here.
Six appendices wrap up the book (plus a rather extensive index).
Appendix A shows all interfaces with pin IDs, appendix B contains
a list of the new AES functions, appendix C contains one of all
new XBIOS functions, appendix D contains a list of phone numbers
to the German MausNet network, appendix E contains a glossary and
appendix F contains a list of further books to read.
At 29.80 German marks, the book is cheap enough just to buy to
see what the machine can do. If you want to have truly detailed
and 100% correct information, I suggest you wait for the release
of Data Becker's "Falcon Intern" or "Profibuch ST/STE/TT/Falcon".
"Das Buch zum Atari Falcon030"
Dietmar Hendricks, Alexander Hertzlinger and Martin Pittelkow
Data Becker, ISBN 3-89011-622-1 (29.80 German marks)
Thanks to ACN's Willem Hartog!
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.