TOS Family

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GEM Desktop of TOS 1.0 familiar to Atari users. TOS 1.0 is shown here.

The TOS Family of machines represents those personal computers manufactured by Atari from 1985 to 1992 which used the TOS operating system and GEM graphical user interface. All members of the family were based on the 680x0 family of CPU's, and also shared certain fundamental components of the chipset (sometimes for backward-compatibility), such as the YM2149 and basic video hardware. Different generations of the family were also enhanced with additions to the chipset, such as the blitter in the Mega ST and STE, and the DSP in the Falcon. The ST Family is the major subset of the TOS family.


Generations of the TOS family were compatible with each other to varying degrees. Cleanly written software which used operating system functions and calls as they were described in (sometimes lacking) Atari documentation is very likely to run on all members of the family, and even on newer third party-built TOS clones or heavily modified Atari machines.

Software which directly addresses the hardware (as many programmers did in order to gain speed) with limited dependency on the speed of the components being addressed (ie highly synchronised is also reasonably likely to run on most members of the family.

Programs less likely to run on all members address the hardware at a very low level in a synchronised way, and use features of the chipset exclusive to the machine on which they were developed.

Generations of the TOS family

TOS clones

As well as computers made by Atari, a number of TOS clones were produced by other companies such as Hades, Medusa, or more recently the Firebee Coldfire project.

Family Specification Summary

There could be a number of tables like the following with more comprehensive information on each model, smarter grouping of models to save duplication etc. Work out how to do text alignment of tables...

Model CPU CPU Speed Memory Architecture OS Graphic modes Notable Chipset Features Year Comments
ST 68000 8mhz 130kb to 512kb (standard) 16 bit TOS 1.0,GEM ? 320x200x16 colours, 640x200x4 colours, 640x400 monochrome YM2149,WD1772,MK68901 1985 First model of ST introduced
STF/M/FM 68000 8mhz 512kb to 1024kb (standard) 16 bit TOS 1.2 to TOS 1.4,GEM ? 320x200x16 colours, 640x200x4 colours, 640x400 monochrome YM2149,WD1772,MK68901 1987 'F' indicates internalised floppy drive, 'M' indicates internal TV modulator
STE 68000 8mhz 512 to 1024kb (standard) 16 bit TOS 1.6 to TOS 1.62,GEM ? 320x200x16 colours, 640x200x4 colours, 640x400 monochrome Blitter,YM2149,WD1772,MK68901 1989 'E' stands for "enhanced". Features 16bit PCM replay, hardware scrolling, DMA, Blitter
TT 68030 16-32mhz 2MB to 4MB ST ram (standard), up to 32 TTram 32 bit TOS 3.02 to TOS 3.06,GEM ? ST modes, ?? YM2149,WD1772,MK68901 1989 Aimed at business market. Keyboard external to case, internal hard drive
Falcon 68030 16mhz 1MB, 4MB (standard) or 14MB 32bit TOS 4.01 to 4.04, TOS 4.92 (beta),GEM ? ST modes, TT mode, High colour mode DSP,YM2149 1992 Last TOS computer, most multimedia capable