User Profile: Frank Charlton

What more can I say about Frank than what I've already said in this issues top ten? Not a lot! So instead of waffling on, I'll just let you get on and read this issues profile. I hope you enjoy it...

Describe your Atari setup

Currently, it consists of two Falcon030 machines (although one is on long-term loan to Steve Dent, a guy who helps a lot on the Ad.Lib BBS), a couple of VGA monitors, my ageing 4160STe with its 38400 serial port modification, two or three hard drives, an SM124 monitor, an old Microvitec RGB monitor, a BeST Trackball and what seems like every broken ST mouse in the Western Hemisphere ;-) As well as that, there are a few interesting bits and bobs like a colour hand-scanner for the Falcon, loads of old ST sound sampling cartridges, a Vidi-ST and at least two Videomaster cartridges. All of this is scattered about the house, as my girlfriend will tell you... ;) On top of that, I use MagiCMac on my Mac Quadra, too.

What is your Atari's main use?

Comms, basically. One of the Falcon runs the Ad.Lib BBS, although we're in the middle of making arrangements to find a new home for the BBS, so my precious 030 will more than likely become a full-time Linux machine again soon.

[Since this interview was carried out, Frank has announced that he plans to close Ad.Lib BBS on 28th February. See the news story this issue for more details.]

How long have you been an Atari user?

God, as long as I can remember! Right back from the early days of my first 2600 console with a copy of Space Invaders, I've loved Atari stuff. I've owned every machine Atari produced except for the TT, including a dodgy hand-held 'Simon' type game called 'Touch Me' ;) I think it was about 1988 when I bought my first 16-bit Atari, though - a 512K STFM with no bundled software other than ST BASIC, a mouse and a single blank floppy. It took me ages to fill that disk, too ;-)

What is your favourite Atari program?

I don't think I can name a single program, to be honest. If I did, it would probably be Jeremy Hughes' superb Imagecopy. Without that, my life as a magazine journalist would have been nigh-on impossible - Imagecopy served me for years as my default screengrabbing and conversion tool. Even with my Mac being in daily use, I return to Imagecopy almost daily - there's nothing like it on other machines. Apart from that, I'd have to recommend APEX Media and Rainbow 2 on the Falcon for being superb image tools, and CAB for showing the other platforms that the Atari can produce one hell of a browser - Alex deserves a medal for producing a program like that in his spare time.

What is your opinion of the Atari market today?

Not an easy one to answer, that. Since I started with ST FORMAT 4 years ago, I've seen the market change a lot. At the moment, we still have some exceptional companies involved, like Titan Designs, producing innovative hardware and software independently. Look at Nemesis and APEX Alpha - great examples that imagination and innovation is far from dead in the Atari market. Add that to supportive companies like System Solutions importing, translating and releasing European software, and it's still healthy. With shareware schemes like InterActive as well, we have a way to support some superb low-cost stuff, too.

Any information about yourself i.e. your occupation etc.

I don't really have an occupation as such, at least not in 9 to 5 terms :) I'm still a freelance writer since STF went through its death rattle, although I'm now working mostly in Internet writing. Recently I've done stuff for mags like The .Net Guide to AOL (don't flame me, I know what you all think of AOL :)), Internet Know-How and Discover The Internet, all from Future Publishing. Not forgetting our very own Atari Computing either, since Joe keeps bullying me for more and more pages every month... :) I do bits and bobs of web design as well though, not that it earns me much money :) I maintain the Floppyshop pages at:
As well as my 'pet project', the Atari Article Archive, at:

I'm working with Joe Connor and Darryl Godsmark (Atari Computing Art Ed) on the AC website, too. I still provide Atari and Mac tech support (along with Andy Curtis) for .netkonect, and I still maintain the Atari section of Demon Internet's ftp site, although I don't do tech support any more. When I'm not doing that lot, I like to sit making sarcastic remarks on IRC (join #atari and ask Arnel!) and watch a lot of SF on telly - I think I'm the one person who enjoyed 'Space : Above and Beyond' :-)

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