The majority of my mates owned a Commodore 64 or BBC Model B, and I'd looked enviously at their systems - the beautiful, brown, flicker-free, graphics of the C64, and the crisp, arcade-like perfection of the BBC's version of Defender.
I took refuge in the fact that we had Ultimate Play The Game and Skool Daze fighting our corner, but I couldn't deny that at times the grass definitely appeared greener on the other side. Or browner anyway.
When it come to thrusting a foot in the 16-bit waters, I don't know why I chose to have it bitten off by the Atari ST rather than the more powerful, more popular, Amiga. With hindsight, I suspect it had something to do with being unable to imagine owning a Commodore-branded system.
Given that Sinclair had by this time been swallowed by Amstrad, and weren't part of this new generation, my loyalties skipped over Sinclair, back to Atari.
And so it was that I asked for an Atari ST for Christmas 1987. My parents could only afford half of it, however. Fortunately, I'd just dropped out of college, and had a job working for Ladbrokes as a graphic designer, so was able to pay for the other half.
And it was worth every half a penny.
The games I best recall playing on the ST were Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, New Zealand Story, Police Quest, Dungeon Master, and Peter Molyneux's Populous, from the days before he became the games industry's whipping boy du jour.
The latter, in particular, stands out. I remember going into the games shop, and the guy behind the counter pointing at me and saying "You're here to buy Populus."
"How did you know that?" I sputtered, taken aback.
"Because that's the only reason anyone has come in here today."
Castle Master was another that had a big effect on me, inducing a particularly vivid dream one time. Hard Drivin' I remember living up to its name a little too well. Similarly, Powerdrome - which laid the foundations for the later PlayStation hit Wipeout - was not advisable for someone with my lack of skill and patience.
I also recall Fish! quite fondly. The graphic adventure from Magnetic Scrolls cast you in the role of an inter-dimensional fish, on a mission to stop a group of anarchists called The Seven Deadly Fins. I never finished it, mind. I loaded it up one day to find that the disk had been corrupted by the magnets in my stereo speakers.
In short, I had no problems with my ST, I liked it if never loved it, though it was hard not to feel I'd made a mistake when I'd go into the aforementioned local games shop and see the glorious demos running on the Amigas. Oh, for that bouncing red-and-white ball, that Newton's cradle, and Defenders of the Crown...
But still. You can't win 'em all.
The next Atari system I wanted was a Lynx. A friend of mine had one, and it was beautiful, but I had already stacked my chips on the Game Boy... ultimately proving that my gambling skills had improved in the years since choosing ST over Amiga; the Lynx was throttled through a combination of bad battery life and a lack of software.
The next time Atari would cross my path, I would be working as a video games journalist for Teletext.
The Atari ST was no more, the success of the Amiga had reduced it to a musician's fancy due to its MIDI interface, while the Lynx had died a death, strangled by its short battery life, and a lack of software support.
I'd long since given up on my ST, having saved up for a Master System, and then a Mega Drive, then a Game Boy, and then a Super NES.
Atari weren't giving up on gaming so easily, however. I don't particularly recall the first contact I had with the company, after becoming a games journalist, but I know we weren't considered all that important to them.
Frankly, few PR people did take Digitiser seriously. You might view teletext as the forerunner of the Internet, but we couldn't do screenshots, and it looked rubbish. We were widely considered to be a joke among the rest of the industry. Whenever PRs did accept that our readership - while more casual - was far in advance of the specialist magazines, it was usually begrudgingly. And so it was with Atari.
Somehow, however, we managed to prise a Jaguar - Atari's 64-bit, multi-buttoned, return to the console gaming scene - out of the company's grasp. Whereas before it essentially had the market sewn up, Atari was now jostling for attention with Sega and Nintendo, and - to a much lesser degree - the 3DO.
To compete it threw more bits, a convoluted joypad, and ultimately - in a last-ditch attempt - a CD-ROM drive, at the Jaguar in the hope that something would stick.
Nothing did. Atari felt old, irrelevant, and desperate.
We started mocking the Jaguar more or less the second we got our hands on that woefully ill-designed joypad.
The promise of better games initially proved hollow - they certainly had sharper, more colourful graphics, but only Aliens Vs Predator ever really showed off its potential.
Cybermorph and Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy were wholly unloveable, while Tempest 2000 and Doom were the only other standouts during the system's curtailed life. There just wasn't the room for another machine on the market, and Atari's marketing, its entire vision, seemed terribly out of step with the times.
We attended a lavish party for a second wave of Jaguar games, held at the London Planetarium (now part of Madame Tussaud's, playing host to a Marvel Super-Heroes 4D show). There were a lot of journos there, the usual free drinks and nibbles, and it was hosted by Tony Robinson, of all people (we made sure we stroked his back).
We gathered en masse into the Planetarium dome, where footage of Atari's forthcoming Jaguar titles were shown. People laughed. Genuinely laughed at what they saw. The hilarity started with the title screen of Club Drive, and didn't let up. For once, we didn't join in: it felt incredibly rude, with representatives from Atari also in attendance. And also a bit sad.
We eventually snuck away, and accidentally found ourselves in the wax museum, hiding from a security guard. But that's another story.
Atari was a brand that people knew, and at one time loved. It was once the default brand for video games, as synonymous with gaming as Hoover is with sucking up dirty things. And here we were witnessing what felt like a company that was flailing, that was tired and broken, and limping towards its inevitable demise.
We bumped into Atari's PR guy afterwards, and you could see he was crushed by the reception the games had received. We didn't really get along with him, but this time around we just felt sorry for him. It was impossible not to pity somebody who'd been given the job of plugging a dam single-handed.
It was inevitable that the dam was going to break sooner or latter.
We met the Atari PR guy twice after that, both times at Atari HQ.
The first time was at an event with a few other journos. Atari had gone from a free booze-and-nibbles launch at the London Planetarium to a thing held in their own offices with some free orange squash and a few bowls of stale Twiglets.
Naturally, most of our peers were appalled at the lack of alcohol, that they'd been dragged out of their offices and couldn't even get drunk for free, whereas we just stumbled around bewildered at how this had happened to a once-mighty entity.
The subsequent time we paid the company a visit, Atari was in the process of closing down. The HQ was almost as empty as their PR guy's eyes. He'd been doing the best he could, you could see he had a loyalty to the company, but he seemed broken somehow. All his energy was spent trying to shore up that crumbling dam, and find enthusiasm enough to big up the Jaguar CD-ROM.
It was shortly afterwards that Atari ceased to exist as it had. It went through a succession of different owners, including Hasbro and - ultimately - Infogrames, where it has remained until today... albeit via bankruptcy and a refocusing of its corporate strategy on "LGBT, social casinos, real-money gambling, and YouTube”.
Whatever that might mean (beyond "We don't know what we should be focusing on").
Atari CEO Fred Chesnais, said at the time of this re-focusing: "Atari is more than a game publishing company; it’s an iconic brand that has established a passionate and timeless culture."
It's a sad state for a company - for a brand - which gave us so much.