4. Communication

4.1 How can I transfer files between an ST and another computer ?

Disk exchange between MS-DOS and TOS is absolutely possible, if you follow these rules: As a summary, it is usually best to format a DD 720K floppy on the PC before using it to transfer files.

 The following is an MS-DOS program that allows conversion of old ST disks to make them readable by a PC. Do NOT use it with executable boot sector disks (ie: games) and if possible, only use it on a copy of the disk. This program messes around with the disk's boot sector, and if anything goes wrong, chances are your data will be lost.

If all else fails, another solution can be to make a disk image file from the disk, and use an emulator to transfer the files over to the PC. See section 1.5 for more details on Atari ST emulation.

TOS is not compatible with the Mac's HFS disk format, but MacOS versions from 7.5 onwards are supplied with PC Exchange, that allows reading and writing of MS-DOS disks, which are compatible with TOS (See section 4.1.1). PC Exchange is also sold separately by Apple dealers.

An old ST program called DCFormat can reportedly format HFS and MFS disks.


Another way of exchanging files between ST and PC is to connect the two computers through serial or parallel links. Here is a quick review of several PC to ST connection packages. The following suggestions are file transfer solutions, not real network setups. Please check section 4.1.4 for networking information.

Ghostlink uses a serial null-modem cable. The PC drives are mounted on the Atari desktop, just like ST drives, but it suffers several limitations, of which speed of transfer, the need to run it under DOS (not a DOS session under Win95) on the PC, and it's inability to launch programs from the remote drive.

The following packages all require a special parallel cable to be built (or bought), but are much faster. They also use their own file transfer programs.

ParaLink 2000

HDD Daemon

Zmodem is a standard for terminal connections. Zmodem compatible terminal programs can be found on practically any platform, including Atari, Mac PC, Unix, etc... Zmodem requires a serial null-modem cable, but as above, serial connections are quite slow.

4.1.4 LAN Networking

If you plan on integrating your Atari into a real heterogeneous network with other computers, then you will probably have to setup some kind of Local Area Network. Beware, as this is not for the faint-hearted. Issues related to LAN networks and Ethernet are best dealt with on the following web page.
The Atari Network Connectivity page
If all you need is to connect several Atari computers together, then STinG can do this, either through the serial port or over a MIDI network.

The other networking solution is MiNTnet, and extension to MiNT, which offers unix-like connectivity to the Atari platform. Here are some instructions for setting up a serial NFS connection with a PC.

MIDI is one of the main activities on Atari computers. The issue of transferring MIDI files, other than through the means described above, can be solved by recording the MIDI data directly with MIDI cables.

Just because a file has been transferred does not make it readable by the software. Here are some file types that come up often. All of these programs are shareware and can be found on your favorite ST archive (section 2.2.3). If you no longer have an ST to run these conversion programs, you might try using an ST emulator (section 1.4).

4.2 How can I get on the Internet ?

The ST can be used to send and receive email, read usenet newsgroups, download from FTP archives, and surf the web, chat on IRC, basically all you'll want to do on the Internet. For this you need : There is a whole lot of information resources on the subject. A good start might be to check out the following pages, although some of these are outdated :
This section is intended to be a quick step by step introduction on how to connect to the Net. I will by no means be covering everything, just the quick method to get the most widespread Internet package running. Please note that this method applies to a clean "normal" setup, with a "normal" commercial ISP. Things might be different if you are connecting through a network, to a university or a "proprietary format" provider such as CompuServe or AOL.

This method requires all the software below. Be sure to get THE LATEST packages from the following locations. Do not trust FTP sites or CD-ROMs for these packages, as internet software is in ongoing development.

Another step by step guide on connecting to the Net with STinG can be found here:

Detailed instructions on how to connect 1Mb machines with no hard drive can be found here. Please note that this kind of setup is not the best way to access the net.

Well, if you are really new to the Internet, here are some introductive sites to get you started. As far as newsgroups go, you can check out the comp.sys.atari.st and comp.sys.atari.st.tech groups for support on just about anything Atari-related.

And for other Atari links, it is probably best to have a look at the following section (4.3) for a nice and quick web page list.


4.3 Where are those nifty Atari Web pages ?

There are too many excellent web sites to list them all here, but there are people who maintain some very up to date pages with plenty of pointers, so here is a quick list of some of the most complete general purpose link pages for Atari related stuff:

Atari ST Quick FAQ - v2.9a - bales@online.fr