THE FIRST LUSTRUM ISSUE OF ST NEWS
REFLECTING BACK AT FIVE YEARS OF FREAKING OUT
by Richard Karsmakers
What happened when Stefan took over? When did we start doing
demos? Why did we die and, more remarkably, why did we revive?
Read further, and you will know the answers...
ST NEWS Volume 3 - And then Stefan took over
The new year was entered with fresh energy, though it could be
noticed that my inspiration was getting low. On February 16th
1988, in fact quite late for a first issue, ST NEWS Volume 3
Issue 1 was published. All my own articles had practically been
written in four days' time - the most hectic issue so far. It
featured pull-aside menu bars as a bonus (again programmed by
our talented friend Robert Heessels of STRIKE-a-LIGHT), and one
of the earliest reviews of the "B.I.G. Demo". I was at the time
already desperately seeking for someone to replace me as I was
about to start studying at Utrecht University in August and my
activities had to be kept to a minimum then.
Volume 3 Issue 1 contained, by the way, one of Mad Max' most
brilliant musical conversions ever: "W.A.R." from Rob Hubbard. We
now also had distributors in France, the U.S. and Norway (Ynnor
the Divine One!), thus adding up to eleven people. The German
distributor was replaced by a friend of his when he switched to
An acquaintance of ours at the ST Club Eindhoven prompted us to
try and make some money with ST NEWS now, which lead to us trying
to get 1 Dutch guilder per sold copy through the Dutch PD
libraries. This ploy was not very successful and earned us only
about 100 guilders in total - and started the historic event
later to be known as "The SAG War" that was to lead to an article
about the things the SAG (Foundation Atari Users, which went
defunct not much later) done several issues later.
The semi-commercialisation of ST NEWS was grudgingly maintained
through all Volume 3 issues and then happily discarded.
My follower-up had been found, and in ST NEWS Volume 3 Issue 2
(launched on April 6th 1988, which was in the Easter holiday
just before my final exams that were supposed to allow me to go
to University) it was to be read that this would be Stefan
Posthuma, which was no surprise really. He didn't hesitate a
moment when I asked. This Volume 3 Issue 2 was in fact my last
issue (sigh), which Frank and myself decided to dedicate to Jimi
Hendrix. After five issues that had been dedicated to Willeke, it
was about time for some change and we happened to have been very
impressed with Jimi at the time.
In this last ACC issue of ST NEWS, the first 'real-time article'
was to be published: The article about TEX' visit to Holland.
This was to become such an enormous success and was to arouse
such stupefying reactions that we kept the thought in the back of
our minds to write more of these articles at a later stage.
In the mean time, the concept of 'real-time articles' has turned
out to be very popular, as other disk magazines have done them by
now as well.
The "Did you know that..." announced the release of two new
Atari systems, the Abaq (now ATW) and the TT. Even the Megafile
44 harddisk (then known as SR244) was announced.
Mark van den Boer wrote the last part of his MC68000 course.
Less than half a year later, he would go to South America for a
year - selling his ST.
But this issue has also entered history as the issue that set
the notorious Lost Boys going: Inspired by an article about
scrolling in machine code by Stefan, Tim Moss (Manikin) started
coding in assembler...
So then Stefan took over in May 1988. With that, a new era
started; an era filled with zany articles, fresh inspiration, and
finishing of ST NEWS at his place as well.
Stefan examined my source code and did some vicious recoding. As
I said before, the program was already significantly enhanced by
Stefan's 'organs', but now the thing also got a better, healthier
The best thing he did for ST NEWS was the total reprogramming
of the pageview mode. He did this in assembler, and the first
version of it was already almost as fast as the "Tempus" editor -
but with text styles and all that stuff.
So when ST NEWS Volume 3 Issue 3 hit the street on May 16th 1988
(which was actually Willeke's birthday), is caused many positive
reactions. Stefan was easily inspired by things like this, which
was very good for his efforts to even further increase the
quality of both the ST NEWS program and the articles.
By the time we started working on that issue, we had turned out
to be quite good friends not only with Jochen of TEX, but also
with the other members. This resulted in -ME- (Udo) writing an
article about border obliteration - together with source. That
was, once again, a bit of an ST NEWS exclusive.
ST NEWS Volume 3 Issue 3, by the way, was dedicated to Evelien,
who was at that time Stefan's girlfriend.
Some way or another, ST NEWS Volume 3 Issue 4 (released on July
9th 1988) was to go down in history as the best and the most
notorious issue ever to be created - well, at least up to the end
of that year. It contained quite some rather brill introductory
novels as well as the alternative background story to the game
"Obliterator" (by Piper). It had been turned down by Psygnosis
for reasons unfathomable.
This issue was finished at Stefan's place, and was to lay the
basis for a real-time article called "The Computer Orgy" that was
to appear in the issue after that. It captured faithfully the
atmosphere of the finishing of an ST NEWS issue. It featured the
two of us and Stefan's whacky friend Peter. This orgy had us
discover a delicious alcoholic beverage called 'Vieux'. From that
issue on, alcohol was a prerequisite at the finishing of an ST
NEWS issue. At that time, "Lavaro" happened to be our favourite
brand, which was later to be replaced by "Plantiac" - of which
one could drink a litre on one night without having a hangover
the next morning!
Something that also happened in this issue: I wrote a review of
Titus' game "Fire & Forget", featuring a rather talented but dim-
witted mercenary annex hired gun that I choose to call Cronos
Warchild (Cronos because of the bass player of Venom, and
Warchild because of a song called "Lovechild" by Deep Purple).
The issue as a whole was dedicated to Corinne "Vixen" Russell,
with a competition where you had to guess her measures (five
"Vixen" copies to be won, courtesy of Martech).
Ah. This issue also formed the height (or should I say depth
maybe?) of the "SAG Wars". This point was formed by the most
controversial article ever, which caused many readers to spew
criticism - including Lucas whom we nearly lost as writer and
friend. It also caused me to get anonymous phone calls (the
person didn't say anything and didn't hang up - I usually just
left the horn in front of my speakers and had him listening to
some pumped up Kreator).
Both Stefan and myself read J.R.R. Tolkien's brilliant epic
"The Lord of the Rings" and were greatly inspired to write quite
some articles with a lot of Tolkienish language. We
decided to dedicate ST NEWS Volume 3 Issue 5 (which was
released on October 16th 1988) to this Great Man. This was to be
the first issue completely influenced by a writer. It contained
the aforementioned 'Computer Orgy' article plus some special
articles about J.R.R. Tolkien. In this issue, the tendency
towards non-computer related articles became noticable, which was
to reach its temporary climax in the next issue.
Stefan had been to the U.S., which clearly impressed him deeply
and caused lots of human interest in this issue. I started
studying, the freedom of which caused me to lose total control of
myself with regard to girls, sleeping late, and all the stuff you
do when you're not with your parents for the first time in 20
A new distributor was appointment: Andreas Ramos in Denmark (the
guy that was to write "Your 2nd Manual"). We also published the
first of a series of articles by TEX - The Wizards.
After reading the completely absurd books by Douglas Adams, we
decided to dedicate ST NEWS Volume 3 Issue 6 (released November
13th 1988) to this remarkable man. This ST NEWS issue was as
absurd as Adams' writing. It contained a lot of non-computer
articles like Stefan's extremely absurd "Piece of Mind", some
articles about Douglas Adams himself, and some other stuff.
Maybe we overdid it this time, but the result was funny. It was
to be the most funny issue of ST NEWS ever, and probably
triggered one of our foreign distributors (an inconspicuous
Norwegian by the name of Ronny Hatlemark) to write a long and
very strange letter. This would eventually lead to Nutty
Norwegians and the Norway Quest, but that's not yet to be told.
According to a remark Stefan wrote in the scroll text, the
"Climax of non-computer related stuff was reached here". What a
lie this turned out to be...
There was not much to program on the ST NEWS program anymore and
when, one night after some heavy nightlife, Stefan came home, he
sat down behind his ST, had to control himself not to slam any
Metallica on my CD player (it was 2 AM) and started programming.
Some hours later (a lot of hours it was, actually) a deafening
cry shook his parents' house on its foundations and a scrolling
message plus some rasters were to be spotted on his greasy,
He had done it. Finally, he had managed to write his first demo,
containing some rasters and scrolling - the first ever demo to be
contained in ST NEWS, that was to be proudly featured in Volume 3
Issue 7, released on December 24th 1988. This issue was more
serious than the previous ones, though good to our standards. It
featured that what Stefan considers to be his best review ever,
that of "Flying Shark". He wrote it in a dark mood, and it
contains the only introductory novel where the main character
This issue was dedicated to a waitress in a Greek restaurant we
had happened to be particularly impressed with. She was called
Agapi, and she caused the height of our romanticism in the
dedication article "The Greek Goddess".
The most interesting part of the "Wizards" articles was
published in this issue - the one featuring a source listing of
one of Mad Max' synth routines. Further, it also contained a
touching XMas story based on a PD demo that Microdeal had been
spreading called "The Snowman".
Of course, after the Volume 1 and Volume 2 compendia, it was
clear that an ST NEWS Volume 3 Compendium had to be made, too. So
we did. As we thought there were quite a lot of decent articles
contained in the Volume 3 issues, we had to resort to a double
sided disk with 1 extra tracks and 11 sectors per track (!). It
featured 924813 bytes of programs and documents (63 articles),
and was launched on December 31st 1988. It even contained a new
bit of music: "Phantoms of the Asteroid".
ST NEWS Volume 4 - Time and quantity grows less and less
During Volume 4, it was to become apparent that we no longer had
the abundance of time needed to more or less regularly publish ST
NEWS - at least not whilst upholding our quality standards. Up to
the summer, everything went very much like it should, but after
the summer an important thing happened to me: I was taken on as
employee at the growing software company Thalion in Germany. No
longer did I have time aplenty to write for ST NEWS, and in the
weekends I rather wanted to be with my fresh girlfriend, Miranda,
instead of finishing ST NEWS. Stefan was also becoming
increasingly involved with his work, so that didn't quite benefit
the mag, either.
Nonetheless, the first half of the year was spent making ST NEWS
issues just like we originally intended - at a speed of about one
issue per two months.
ST NEWS Volume 4 Issue 1 was released on February 18th 1989. It
was dedicated to Alida, the creatress of the Divine Dessert
(Chocolate Mousse) and Stefan's lady of his heart at that time.
Even the recipe of Chocolate Mousse was given here.
The most striking review was that of the best demo ever, the
"Union Demo". I also reviewed the Cambridge Z80 computer, and
this issue already mentioned that Great Things would happen in ST
NEWS Volume 4 Issue 4, whetting the people's appetites for more
The best thing of this issue, however, was the introduction of
the monochrome demo. No demo programmer so far had bothered to do
monochrome demos. It featured double swinging scrollers and such.
Of course, the color demo was present as well - with bouncing
rasters and logos, a scroller and Alida's signature superimposed
on all of that.
When we released ST NEWS 4 Volume 2, on April 1st 1989, it
became apparent that we had written a bit too much. Again, just
like with the ST NEWS Volume 3 Compendium, a format of 11 sectors
per track had to be applied - as we still wanted to remain
single-sided for the sake of the English.
This issue, which also featured the Unique Bootsector Scroll (or
UBS), was dedicated to synth man Jean Michel Jarre.
It contained an article about the Australian PC Show '89 by our
Australian distributor, Norman Pearce. It also contained the
real-time article of a visit to TEX, where the basis was laid for
my forthcoming employment by German software company Thalion.
On the demo front, Stefan had again sought to stun the world.
The monochrome demo featured sloping, double sloping, wobbling,
sinussing and baby-sinussing scrollers in an interactive scroll
message. One of the best he ever did. The color demo was brill
too, with tracking sprites and rasters and a parallax scroll.
This issue also contained out first hidden article.
May 20th 1989 saw the creation of ST NEWS Volume 4 Issue 3, the
reli-nut' issue, during which event Stefan and me also made the
cult tape "ST NEWS Home Vid'" - made especially for the Nutty
Norwegians to whom that particular issue was also dedicated. It
came on another 11 sectors per track disk, which Stefan really
hated as it was a bastard to copy. This was, however, never to be
Again, a bootsector scroller was written for this issue. This
time, however, it did not get the text from the bootsector itself
but from a separate file it loaded from disk instead. The actual
issue saw some articles called "Who are we" where most of our
authors (both past and present) wrote something about themselves.
Piper was also to write for just about the last time. The Lost
Boys wrote the first of a long series of tips'n'tricks articles
about demo programming - the first part that, some way or
another, never got a sequel. Mad Max had really strained himself,
and had made the music of the C-64 game "Comic Bakery" - an ST
NEWS exclusive, actually.
The demo screens had got even better. The color one was alive
with mass movement, with nodding and rotating Pacman graphics by
yours truly! The monochrome one contained a custom font and a
starfield with sinus and the whole lot (another monochrome demo
to set standards!).
Around this time, Stefan and me wrote our first true long Crazy
Letters, and this also lead to this issue being known as the
'reli-nut' issue. Our Crazy Letters had featured strange
adorers, worshippers and extollers, and this was bound to have
its feedback on ST NEWS. Stefan wrote an introductory novel for
the review of the "Universal Item Selector II" featuring the
first appearance of his spiritual child Korik Starchaser among a
clan of fileselector return string worshippers. Hell, even the
"ST Software News" column was invaded by worshippers of L.L. Cool
Starting with ST NEWS Volume 4 Issue 4, we remained double-
sided. This particular issue (our 25th), which was released on
August 12th 1989, completely covered a holiday Stefan and me had
spent in England, visiting all the major software houses and many
programming legends: The LateST NEWS Quest. It contained over
half a megabyte of real-time articles, as well as other articles
concerning The Quest.
The issue itself was crammed with four demos (by Stefan, In
Flagranti (now Oxygene of TLB) and two by John M. Phillips,
author of "Nebulus" and "Eliminator") and four musical pieces
(three by Mad Max and one by David Whittaker (!)). The Quest had
taken up three weeks (excluding the preparations, that is), and
it had taken 10 days of intense work to get all the experience
down in word processor files.
During the finishing of all those articles, I actually succeeded
in really going steady for the first time in my life with the
girl with whom I now live together, Miranda.
Before finishing this issue, I had already mentioned the fact to
Stefan that there would be no better occasion of saying 'goodbye'
and quitting ST NEWS than this issue. We were surely never going
to beat this...
We continued, however. Be it not for long.
We did not make an ST NEWS Volume 4 Compendium, as we felt that
the entire issue 4 would have to be on there - which would be
ST NEWS Volume 5 - ST NEWS is dead, long live ST NEWS!
It was a disgrace. More than half a year no issue of ST NEWS
were launched. I had started to work for Thalion and time
ST NEWS Volume 5 Issue 1, released on the day Nelson Mandela was
released, February 11th 1990, did become the biggest issue we
ever made, with almost 770 Kb of articles. And our last 'live'
Predominantly present was the real-time covering of the Norway
Quest, when Stefan and me visited the Nutty Norwegians for 10
days around new year 1989/1990. It made up for a massive 250 Kb
real-time reading experience of some rather strange proceedings.
We stayed at the place of Ronny Hatlemark, our Norwegian
distributor. As he must have had a hard time we dedicated this
entire ST NEWS issue to him.
This issue was actually very much to our satisfaction, even
though it was our last one. Introductory novels tended to get
longer and I really felt good with that. The last decent piece of
new Mad Max music was included here: "Scoop".
We also features a nice April fools' joke, a 'software 68030
The color demo in this issue was stylish as ever, and the
monochrome one broke new ground as well. Shrinking and flopping
and turning...there seemed no end to Stefan's ideas and
But there was sadness in this issue as well, as we knew it would
be our last one.
After ST NEWS Volume 5 Issue 1, we died. Or, rather, we decided
it would be better to have ST NEWS depart. We were both very
afraid that we would eventually not be able to make any more
issues at all, so we decided to cast the towel in the ring before
a quality decrease would set in. We wanted to prevent us possibly
getting the same kind of status Elvis had the years before he
died (if this is comparable).
We did, however, deliver a finishing blow with the ST NEWS Final
Compendium (published on March 11th 1990 and dedicated to
Miranda), a collection of over 100 of what we felt to be the most
interesting articles ever published in all issues of ST NEWS -
including the full version of ST NEWS Volume 1 Issue 1. It was
two double-sided disks in size; 2 Mb of articles; massive by all
standards. It also contained one or two new articles.
In "New Atari User" (the new name of our English distributor's
"Page 6" magazine), editor Les Ellingham wrote that it was "the
end of an era". An unexpected and gratifying honour!
To be honest, dying wasn't a lot of fun. The good thing was that
we didn't have all those obligations any more, but there was also
a bad thing: What to do now? What could we do to get rid of
excessive inspiration once in a while?
So even when our death had been official only for a couple of
weeks, Stefan and myself considered a possible revival. ST NEWS
had, after all, been lots of fun and neither of us had really
felt happy about giving all of it up. It was a choking feeling to
no longer have the Purpose of finishing an issue of ST NEWS in
So we simply decided to arise from the grave as it were, and the
undead issues of ST NEWS sprang to life. This was no surprise to
the people who really knew us - they probably knew we would
revive before we did.
We reorganised the distributors (some of the old ones used to be
not so good, to put it mildly), started with a subtle change in
layout, and wrote more about non-computer related stuff.
So on November 24th 1990, we did the first 'undead' issue: ST
NEWS Volume 5 Issue 2. We actually didn't like making this issue.
The actual writing had been fun but the actual making of it
lacked the old feeling as I really wanted to be with Miranda
instead of finishing ST NEWS. I still worked at Thalion so I was
only in Holland in the weekends.
My work damn nearly killed off ST NEWS.
I am grateful that didn't happen.
There was no decent demo in this issue, either. The color
version was a scroll with gorgeous picture by Tanis of TCB, but
monochrome had nothing. The music was again by Mad Max, but it
was clumsily prepared - obviously to him it no longer mattered
whether we had good music or not. Reason enough to start looking
for another musician.
This issue contained yet again many reviews with longer intro
novels, and the first issue of a 'new and thrilling' submagazine:
"JournaLYNX". In this issue, we did not shun offering some more
programs as well. After all, we were now permanently double sided
so we had twice as much space that we couldn't possibly fill with
articles only. Programs featured on this issue were e.g.
"NEOChrome Master 2.19", "Pack Ice" and a swearing accessory
written by me called "Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged".
ST NEWS Volume 6 - Why stop when we're not hating it?
Well, we tread upon the borders where we cannot tell you all
here - Volume 6 hasn't been completed yet, as after this issue we
intend to release one more around Christmas time.
On December 21st to 24th 1990, Stefan and myself organised the
ST NEWS International Christmas Coding Convention. More than 120
people, all of them demo programmers of the highest order, joined
together for a couple of days in the town of Oss in Holland. It
was a monumental gathering that will probably never be equalled
on such a level of friendliness. Simply everyone was there.
This gathering of likewise ST freaks was covered exclusively in
ST NEWS Volume 6 Issue 1, published on April 20th 1991. This was
by no means a regular issue, as it omitted reviews and most of
the regular columns in favour of the covering of this major
event. Two pictures were contained in the program (the ones that
had become second ex aequo in the Convention's Graphics
Competition), and quite a lot of tiny 3.5 Kb demo's were present
on the disk (due to the 3.5 Kb "VIC TIMES REVISITED" contest that
was also held at the Convention).
Oddly enough, Volume 6 Issue 1 was the first issue of ST NEWS
that worked on all ST's regardless of the resident programs they
had in memory. After Volume 3 the program was only illegal
insofar that it used a fixed absolute address to load the music,
and that it checked the write-protect the wrong way. The write-
protect problem was discarded after Volume 4, but not until
Volume 6 Issue 1 did we get the chance to load the music at any
address we wanted instead of a fixed one. This was largely due to
the fact that the music for this issue was done by another
person: Laurens van der Klis (The Mind of the Quartermass
Experiment). Laurens was a new music programming talent, and
Jochen was really getting too lazy, sloppy and demanding for his
music further to be included. The color selector, that had so far
only worked on TOS 1.0 due to a mysterious reason, was now also
recoded so that it worked on all TOS versions.
This issue also contained a nice demo again - a 3D line
character rotato-scroller by Manikin of The Lost Boys. A brill
screen by all means.
Of course, the Gulf War that stunned the world didn't leave us
unaffected, either. Both Stefan and me had our say on the subject
in some deep articles.
And so the time came upon us of our first lustrum, on July 26th
1991: The release of the ST NEWS Volume 6 Issue 2 that you're
reading now. The third undead issue - the 29th in total.
There's hardly any use for telling you what this contains, as
you can see for yourself when you leave this article.
And here endeth the history of the First Five Years Of ST NEWS.
It is difficult to foretell the future, but I think it is
possible to lift at least a part of the veil that keeps it from
I think we will be able to release 3 or 4 issues per year, which
can hardly be called 'often' but just about the best we can do.
Remember: We're undead and still very much non-commercial so we
do this for fun. Generally, I think we'll do an issue each time
we've got about 35 to 40 decent articles lined up. Of course,
there will be an accent on the things that have always
constituted ST NEWS: Human interest, less computer related
material, and the typical reviews with introductory novel. As we
will remain double-sided, we will use any space left on the disk
for offering you the most interesting Public Domain and shareware
I suppose inspiration will never really run low, as Stefan will
never cease to be inspired and I will go to study English
(literature, culture, grammar...) which should supply me with
endless amounts of inspiration as well.
Especially now I have written this article I know what almost
went wrong at various stages of the life of ST NEWS. None of it
will happen again. ST NEWS will become a nice and popular disk
magazine around, to which we will devote more attention again!
All in all, ST NEWS has so far been a great thing to, and we're
both sure it will remain that. Especially the positive reactions
we have received have been a major driving force. Besides,
writing articles is a great way to get rid of inspiration that
otherwise haunts us in our dreams.
As we haven't been getting lots of mail recently any more,
please don't hesitate to write to us - about anything. If you
want me to read your letter too, tell Stefan so as he often
forgets to mention your correspondence to me...
You can also write to me directly, of course; I love
correspondence and I also love replying.
I hope that we will still be able to write an article like this
in our second lustrum issue - i.e. that we will get inspiration
to continue with the mag, and that the ST (or a compatible,
better system) is then still alive and kicking.
Writing an article like this always leaves me with a bit of
sadness in my heart. I read back old issues where we were
assisted by old friends; issues with rare stuff reminding me of
times when things were just different.
It fills me with a sense of post-peak feeling. It makes me
realise that it will be impossible for ST NEWS ever to actually
grow any more. I will miss the growth of the first three volumes.
I know the last couple of issues have been of steady quality,
and all I can say: I will do my utmost best to maintain that
quality, or improve it here and there. I am certain Stefan will,
Hoping that I will be able to meet you again in five years'
time, I would like to thank you for reading this.
I sign off.
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.