If there’s one thing YouTuber Viktor Bart likes, it’s retro computers: his channel is dedicated to videos about building old machines, their functions, cool oddities, and just generally the joy of these beige things. Even Mr. Bart, however, was surprised by what he found in Koningsbosch, in the Dutch province of Limburg: a campsite that’s been run since 1986 on an Atari ST.
The owner of the campsite, Dutchman Frans Bos, bought this Atari ST (the 1040 model) in 1986 to help run his camping business: Camping Bohmerwald. At this time the Atari ST was impressive hardware, with 1MB RAM and a 70Hz monitor (as Bos notes, most PCs of the time offered only 512Kb RAM), and in Europe the machine was seen as a serious professional computer rather than a games machine.
Bos bought the machine to manage bookings on the site and register guests, and then sat down and wrote his own software to do so, iterating upon it over the years. Due to the seasonal nature of the business the Atari ST is in use day-and-night for six months of the year. An amusing point in the video is Bos’s argument that he likes using the machine still because it starts up so quickly: he says by the time his more modern desktop PC would be useable, he’s already completed the task on the Atari ST.
One element of the video is down to a slight memory lapse: Bos says he bought the machine in 1985, but the 1040 model of the ST came out in 1986. I think after 35 years we can all let that one slide.