A small bit of unusual Atari ST/Commodore Amiga history regarding 3.5" disks

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Bill Loguidice's picture

Remember back in the late 1970s and early 1980s when games used to come on cassette, publishers such as Avalon Hill would pack on as many as a half dozen or more different platform versions of one game onto the front and back of one cassette? And how in the age of the 5.25" disk, the front and back of a disk were sometimes sold with, for instance, an Atari 8-bit version on one side and a Commodore 64 version on another? This became a lost art with the rise of the 3.5" disk, as there was only one side and no way to split formats; it wouldn't be until optical media rose to prominence that we would again see multiple platforms on one disc (usually Windows and Mac). Or was it a lost art on 3.5" disk? I was unaware until about a year or so ago that multiple platforms on a 3.5" was not only possible, but was actually used in a commercial product by at least one company, Rainbird, who developed a seemingly impossible dual format Atari ST/Commodore Amiga disk for their game, Starglider II. As luck would have it, I recently won a dual format Starglider II to go along with the standard, single platform releases I already have in the series. Of course, according to its Wikipedia entry, releasing Starglider II in this format made the game extremely unreliable so the technique was abandoned, but it's still of significant historical interest as far as I'm concerned. Perhaps some time after it comes I'll attempt to load it on each of the systems and see what happens!

Comments

Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Maybe I'm being double dense

Maybe I'm being double dense here (lol), so just answer this:

Can you have a disk that have a game that ships on a 3.5" disk in such a way that one side is the Amiga version and the other the Atari ST version? I'm saying--you put the same disk in both machines, the drives know which side to use, and boot the respective game?

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Calibrator
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Joined: 10/25/2006
I love search engines!
Matt Barton wrote:

Maybe I'm being double dense here (lol), so just answer this:

Can you have a disk that have a game that ships on a 3.5" disk in such a way that one side is the Amiga version and the other the Atari ST version? I'm saying--you put the same disk in both machines, the drives know which side to use, and boot the respective game?

Yes.

But to be pedantic (again), it's not only the drive "knowing" that but also the host computer: The OS routine that kicks off the booting process and the disk controller chip that can be coerced into controlling the drive to read funny formats.

Just found this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual_format

This describes the procedure of using a boot sector of some sort I wrote about.

take care,
Calibrator

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Calibrator
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Joined: 10/25/2006
Addendum
Calibrator wrote:
Matt Barton wrote:

Can you have a disk that have a game that ships on a 3.5" disk in such a way that one side is the Amiga version and the other the Atari ST version? I'm saying--you put the same disk in both machines, the drives know which side to use, and boot the respective game?

Yes.

But to be pedantic (again), it's not only the drive "knowing" that but also the host computer: The OS routine that kicks off the booting process and the disk controller chip that can be coerced into controlling the drive to read funny formats.

With the above I mean that the different game versions are either on different sides or that the disk is in a custom format that can be read by several (two or three!) different systems. The latter would have the advantage that some files could be identical for both system - which increases the capacity.

take care,
Calibrator

n/a
SelZero (not verified)
I remember...

... buying a magazine that gave away a free disk that was different for ST owners and for Amiga owners...

Perhaps the real crux of the issue was economic. 3.5 diskettes were so cheap, and the games were so expensive, I remember the huge boxes we used to get the games in to make up for the difference. Whats the point in making them dual purpose? Make people pay twice instead.

Maybe what this post is really pointing at, is a maturing of the concept of software IPR!

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