Full Steem Ahead
Atari MIDI programs acquire
a new following with the advent of Steem, as Tim Conrardy
As web master for Tim's
Atari MIDI World, I get plenty of mails asking if these
great Atari programs work on a PC. In the past, I would
have had to say, "no". Atari programs only
work within the TOS operating system. The Atari emulators
for other platforms did not work with MIDI. While they
were fine for games and other applications, the MIDI
routines required for stable timing were not present
for these emulators to run the programs well.
This has now changed!
There is now an Atari emulator for the PC platform that
works with MIDI programs. It is called "Steem Engine",
and emulates an Atari STE. Granted, the faster machine
you have, the better it works. I have been able to get
good results from my ancient 233 MHz PC. It was amazing
to see some of my favorite programs up and running on
the PC with sound output working well. Examples are
Tunesmith by Jim Johnson, Dr T's KCS sequencer system,
Schoenberg Composer, Fractal Music ST and much more.
However, there are a
few programs that do not work, such as Eric Ameres'
M and RealTime. It is a mystery, but these seem to be
the only programs that have been reported as not working
properly in Steem. However, with the number of applications
that do work, this would be a small percentage to worry
Since Steem has been
introduced, a new following of Atari MIDI users are
coming into the fold. These users do not use a real
ST, but their PCs running Steem and Atari MIDI software.
One such user is Gavin Stevens, composer and pianist.
He has this to say about Steem:
I installed Steem
earlier in the year for the sole purpose of looking
at music software, especially generative programs. I
tend to judge such software on its musical merits, no
matter what the original platform. An interesting situation
has emerged in that I am using Atari software via Steem
more than I use PC based generative software (with one
or two exceptions). The music I have created using programs
like Schoenberg 5 and more recently Fractal Music ST
(now released as freeware) has stimulated positive feedback
and discussion. So thanks, Steem authors, for opening
up a new dimension in my exploration of generative software.
Many programmers are
also releasing their former Atari programs because of
Steem. Examples include Gareth Jones (Schoenberg Composer)
and Johanna Bindgen (Simon ST). They have even created
.ST files for use in Steem's A drive.
Steem offers a unique
opportunity for PC users to try out some of the more
adventurous Atari MIDI programs as well as bread-and-butter
applications such as Dr T's KCS. One KCS user, Tim
Wilson, even uses KCS as his main sequencer and then
uses Hubi's Loopback to connect to soft synths on the
Although there may not
be a substitute for the "real" thing, Steem
comes very close and also enables Atari MIDI programs
a future in the times ahead.
- On your PC, create
a folder called steem
- Within the steem folder create another folder called c-drive. You can put any Atari programs
in this directory. This means it is only a matter
of downloading the files (say, from TAMW) and unzipping
them into this directory.
- Create another folder
called a-drive. You can put any Atari disk
images that have the .ST extension in this folder.
- Unzip the contents
of the Steem archive into the steem folder.
Also unzip the TOS image you will be using for Steem
in the same directory. Most MIDI programs work with
TOS 2.06, so when you are at the Steem site, download
- Run the Installation
- It will ask you
where your a:\ drive is. Browse to the a-drive folder you just created.
- The next prompt
will ask you where your hard drive is. Browse to
folder you just
- It will ask if you
want a folder for your d:\ drive. Choose "No"
(unless you want to create a folder and call it
- Steem will go through
the rest of the installation process and start up.
It will probably start in what is called low res.
- For color MIDI programs
you will need medium resolution. Go to Options>Set Preferences on the Atari desktop and
pick medium resolution. Steem will change accordingly.
You can click on the c:\ drive icon and display
any programs you have in the c:\ drive folder. The
same goes for the a:\ drive.
- You can save your
desktop settings by going into Options.
- You can also change
your desktop colors by going into View
and selecting Set
Color & Style.... Close and go to Options again and Save
save the settings you just created.
- To change to monochrome
(ST high resolution) that some programs require,
hit the [Pause/Break] key on the PC keyboard. This
gives you access to the Steem menu. Find the icon
that looks like a "chip". There will be
a setting to change to monochrome monitor. Select
it and close. Steem will "reboot" and
go to ST high resolution. Steps 11 and 12 also apply
to this resolution.
- Hit the [Pause/Break]
key again to gain access to the Steem menu:
Hard drive icon: disk manager. You can re-organize
your virtual hard drives as well as putting virtual
disks (.ST files) into the a:\ drive.
icon: configure joystick and keyboard to emulate
the joystick. Chip icon: adjust your settings for
how much memory you want (such as 4 MB). Monitor
icon: display options. Piano keyboard icon: to select
your external devices. These would include the MIDI
drivers. This is important if you want to do MIDI
on Steem. You can select if you want to hear sounds
through the computer's internal sound card, or external
MIDI (which would require a MIDI sound module).
Arrow icon: shortcut settings for use in Steem.
"i" icon: general information about Steem.
This covers the above in more detail. Go into each
of the menu items and set what you want. Close.
You can also select the maximize button on the menu
bar and Steem will go to full screen mode. Then
click into the main Atari desktop screen and you
are returned to your Atari desktop.
- You can enhance
the desktop by installing auto programs that speed
up the mouse, alternate desktops with icons and
so on. These are regular Atari programs that can
be downloaded from the internet. Read the Atari
Quick FAQ for these locations. Read the Atari Quick
FAQ for these locations.
official Steem site
Here you can download the
most recent version of Steem
as well as the disk images
you will need to run it.
There is also a Steem mailing
list if you want to ask
the programmers specific
questions on the emulator.
Atari MIDI World
Download and enjoy some
of the best Atari MIDI programs
now available, thanks to
the programmers and companies
for their consent. Unzip
the programs directly into
the folder you are using
for Steem's c:\ drive.