MagiC is a third party multitasking-capable TOS-compatible operating system for the Atari ST range of computers, including some newer clone machines. There are also variants that run as part of the MagicMac and MagicPC emulation environments.
The kernel of MagiC is largely written in hand-coded Motorola 68000 assembly language, and offers:
- Extensive TOS compatibility
- Restricted MiNT/MultiTOS compatibility
- Preemptive multitasking
- Loadable file systems
- Significant performance advantages over both the original TOS and the MiNT/MultiTOS platform on the same hardware
- MagiC is a commercial product and is therefore not free
- MagiC is not 100% compatible with the original TOS
- Drivers and file systems from MiNT are not compatible with MagiC
- The MagicMac and MagicPC variants will only run on the Mac OS and Microsoft Windows respectively; there is no version that will run on e.g. Linux
History and Variants
MagiC was originally released as Mag!X in 1992, before Eric Smith's MiNT. At that time, TOS featured only limited multitasking in the form of desk accessory programs, simple programs that were accessed from the "Desk" menu and that multitasked using cooperative task switching. In contrast, MagiC offered preemptive multitasking, giving the ability to run multiple (well-behaved) GEM applications as well as other non-graphical software.
The name changed from Mag!X to MagiC with the release of version 3.0, which added many improvements and a significant amount of MiNT compatibility. Version 4.0 added support for the Atari Falcon, and finally in 1995, version 5.0 brought the significant addition of loadable file system support along with an implementation of VFAT with long file names, and a number of other improvements to the GEMDOS layer including threads and signals.
The latest Atari version is 6.2
Atari was very slow to improve the hardware of its systems, and it was apparent in the mid to late 1990s that the Apple Mac was now a superior hardware platform. Given that the two shared a very similar user interface, the Mac was a logical upgrade for many Atari users and so in 1995 a variant of Magic known as MagiCMac was released, allowing Atari users to run well-behaved software on the much newer Mac hardware. Later versions of MagiCMac offered improved integration with the Mac OS and allowed well-behaved Atari software to access the native graphics modes offered by the host machine, in addition to emulations of the standard Atari screen modes.
With the release of Mac OS X, the original versions of MagiCMac would no longer run as they operated at a very low level within the Mac OS in order to function. In 2001, a new version of MagiCMac, MagiCMacX, was released for use on Mac OS X; this was updated in 2004 and more recently in September 2009, and is now a Universal Binary, running natively on both PowerPC and Intel Macs.
In summer 1996, another version was released, MagiCPC, this time allowing Atari users to run their software on top of Microsoft Windows.
MagiC versions 6.0 through 6.2 were released for use with the clone machines manufactured by Medusa Computer Systems in the late 1990s. They include significant enhancements such as support for FAT32, increased MiNT compatibility and support for the newer processors and hardware found in the clone systems.
MagiC's implementation of the GEM Desktop was greatly enhanced over the version included in the original TOS systems. Initially named MagxDesk, but changing to MagiCDesk with the release of MagiC 3.0, it offered features missing from the original Desktop, including
- Parallel (i.e. background) copy/move/delete/format
- Long file names
- Aliases (symbolic links)
- Colour icon support
Unlike the GEM Desktop, MagiCDesk was not built into MagiC but instead could be launched as an application at startup. It was possible to start MagiC with some other shell (popular alternatives including jinnee and Thing)