The year 2021 celebrated the 25th anniversary of the release of MagiC-PC. MagiC was an alternative multitasking operating system for the Atari ST. MagiC-PC was a well-designed Windows program that allowed you to run Atari ST software on a Windows computer. After 25 years, MagiC-PC is probably still the easiest way to get a good impression of the Atari ST on a modern computer. It will run on all Windows versions, including Windows 10. On Linux, it will run under Wine. If you're on a Mac, look for the free MagiC-Mac. Whatever the host, you can run Atari software at an amazing speed.
At a resolution of 1920x1080 your desktop can look like this.
Where to get it
MagiC-PC is still available from the original publisher
Application Systems Heidelberg (ASH) for the price of a few beers.
The original setup program will give you a minimal installation without any applications. For a more complete setup,
I have created a MPC2022 distro that has a more modern look and includes a load of other Atari ST software.
The MPC2022 distro
To make full use of the distro, there are some things you need to know.
MPC2022 is configured for a 1920x1080 screen with 32K colors. You can set or define different resolutions from within MPC, but that may cause a system error.
In that case, close the program and restart it. In most cases you will then have the resolution you have set. If so, save the desktop.
Internet should be working right out of the box. This is achieved by MPCSTIK in the Atari AUTO folder which talks to MPC_SOCK.DLL on the Windows side.
Whenever possible, I have added the English version of the included software. However, there are still several programs in German in the distro.
MagiC-PC was only released in German, and lots of the best Atari ST software was created by German developers.
The distro expects a standard US keyboard layout. This implies that the backslash key ("\";"|") is not working. I have mapped these as follows:
Shift+Keypad-"/" = "\"
Shift+Keypad-"*" = "|"
If you're having difficulties with double-clicking, I have set the right mouse button to act as double-click. Long press on the right mouse button will bring up a context menu.
Included in the distro is Rational Sounds (RASN). It assigns sounds to system events. As a default I have it set up with old Windows98 sounds. RASN works best with sound files
in the *.HSN format.
If you want to add your own sounds, you will have to convert the sound files first. First convert to 8-bit WAV, and convert the result to HSN.
The Atari ST can only handle WAV files in unsigned 8-bit format. You can convert any audio file
to this format using Audacity (available for Windows and Linux). Import the file into Audacity and export it as WAV making sure that coding is set to
Unsigned 8 bit PCM. You can convert an unsigned 8-bit WAV to RSN on the Atari using the program 525 (Five-To-Five). You can find it in the MUSIC folder.
Serial port emulation
Most modern pc's don't have a serial port. To use the serial port in MagiC-PC you will have to install a pair of virtual com ports on the host machine. For Windows there is the free and open source com0com solution.
It will install two virtual com ports on you machine that are connected to each other. Consider it as a virtual cable. You will connect MagiC-PC to one end and another virtual device (a modem or a serial-to-midi converter) to the other end.
First, install com0com and configure it as shown here:
Notice this is different from the default setup that com0com will create. You will have to change the default to loopback mode: on both sides RTS and CTS are 'looped back'. You can do this by dragging the green dot to its desired destination. Once you have this set up, you can connect your MagiC-PC to a virtual modem or MIDI.
Connect a virtual modem
For a virtual modem I use the Windows port of tcpser, a free and open source tool developed for Linux systems. This link will give you a zip file with the Windows binary and the required cygwin1.dll. Some virus scanners will issue a warning. Don't worry, just add tcpser to your trusted files. You can inspect the source code here.
The program is run from the command line. Run tcpser with this command:
tcpser -d /dev/ttyS4 -s 9600 -i "z" -p 25232
The command uses the Linux port names, where /dev/ttyS0 is Windows COM1, etc. This example will create a virtual modem on COM5 at 9600 baud with init string ATZ and listening for incoming telnet connection at port 25232.
Start MagiC-PC and set the serial port to COM4. Now you will be able to use the serial port as if a modem is connected to it. If you open port 25232 on your firewall and router, you can even run a telnet BBS on your IP address.
To use MIDI, you will need to redirect the MIDI port on the Atari side to the serial port.
The tool for that is MIDI Director. It's an ACC that is included in the distro.
Set the redirection to B. On the host machine you will need
a virtual MIDI synthesiser (like Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth which is included with Windows) and a tool to link the incoming MIDI signal to the virtual synth.
The best option for that is the free Hairless MIDI-Serial Bridge.
Connect the com0com serial port to the Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth and you're ready to play MIDI from MagiC-PC. This will only work with MIDI software that follows the Atari programming rules. This excludes many well-known software such as Cubase, Notator, etc. I have included a couple of MIDI programs in the distro that (partly) work. If you only need a MIDI player, use SMFPLAY.
You can even plug a MIDI instrument (such as a MIDI keyboard) into your computer and read the signal from within MagiC-PC. If you're interested in Atari ST MIDI programming, you can now do it on a fast, large-screen, multi-window system. Programs you create will work an any Atari ST.
Don't expect to run Atari ST games under MagiC-PC. Many Atari ST games rely on 'dirty' programming that will cause MagiC-PC to crash. As a rule, all software following the Atari standard will run fine. That includes many production software such as word processors, spreadsheets, graphics and communication programs, and more.
- 19-01-2022 MPC2022: English translation of Appline and Start menu resource files