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#1 ClausB OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 7, 2008 8:47 PM

I'm Claus Buchholz, author of the 1985 BYTE article about a homebrew 256K RAM upgrade for the 800XL. I'm delighted to see you hardy souls still interested in that great old Atari computer.

My question for you is: what things did people do with all that extra RAM? I gave out a RAMDisk program, but never really heard much about other applications. We didn't have email and internet back then, just the USPO and some BBSs.

Thanks.

#2 Allan OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 7, 2008 9:29 PM

Hey Claus,
Do you remember writing this article for Analog magazine?

http://www.atarimuse...nv_to_5200.html

There are quite a few programs that have been converted to the 5200. Some of them I'm sure inspired by your article.

Allan

#3 Gunstar OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 7, 2008 10:02 PM

Mainly a lot of killer graphic demos, but there are utilities like Snapshot that allow 2 or more programs in memory, not true multitasking, but it's cool. There are some games and other shareware&PD programs/utilities that use it. Newer versions of some DOS's and GUI's like ATOS can use the extra memory in other ways than just a ramdisk too. More than just ramdisks, but hopefully even more are still to come.

#4 tjb OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 7, 2008 10:43 PM

Hey Claus,
Do you remember writing this article for Analog magazine?

http://www.atarimuse...nv_to_5200.html

There are quite a few programs that have been converted to the 5200. Some of them I'm sure inspired by your article.

Allan


I would be one of those people. I originally wrote Rasteroids for the 8-bit and then ported it later to the 5200 using information from that article. Very informative.

tjb

#5 atarifan49 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Mar 7, 2008 11:42 PM

Well, I for one mainly used all the RAM upgrades to various 8bit machines (800XL, 1400XL, and 130XE) for ramdisk operations. In the 800XL and 1400XL I did a 130XE PAL modification that provided support to allow the ANTIC chip to access the expand RAM while the CPU accesses the main RAM. I've seen demos take advantage of this special memory mode on the 130XE to do page flipping animations. And a program that was available thru Antic's software store, Envision, took advantage of this to allow you to build character graphic based maps.

Those about the main uses I've seen for the RAM expansions in the 8bits.

Later on I did remove the RAM expansion out of the 1400XL to return it to its original condition since I had a 130XE to be my primary use machine.

Glenn

#6 remowilliams OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 8, 2008 12:08 AM

Hi Claus, I recognized your name immediately :)

Back in the day, the extended RAM was primarily used for just ramdisk stuff. There really wasn't much else to really do with it.

These days (as mentioned) we have a number of tech demos, and nifty XE cartridge conversions that use the extra RAM.

And one of my favorite uses of extra RAM - AR The Dungeon. :D

#7 Urchlay OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 8, 2008 12:14 AM

Back when I used real floppies, I used to have a floppy-copier that used the extended RAM so I could do single-pass copies with one drive. Not sure whether it could use the full 256K or just the 128K that would be found in a 130XE also.

#8 mos6507 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 8, 2008 2:54 AM

I think PaperClipXE was one of the only applications that made use of memory greater than 128K. Not sure if it worked with Claus' upgrade.

Most software that used banked RAM were written for the 130XE only and never saw any more banks, like Basic XE, AtariWriter, etc...

#9 Larry OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 8, 2008 5:21 AM

I'm Claus Buchholz, author of the 1985 BYTE article about a homebrew 256K RAM upgrade for the 800XL. I'm delighted to see you hardy souls still interested in that great old Atari computer.

My question for you is: what things did people do with all that extra RAM? I gave out a RAMDisk program, but never really heard much about other applications. We didn't have email and internet back then, just the USPO and some BBSs.

Thanks.


Hello Claus-

How very nice that you found us and "dropped by!" Hope all is well and life has been good to you.

Although the default method of using the extra ram has changed slightly, you certainly pioneered our XL/XE extra ram. (IIRC, your original scheme used 32KB banks?) I still use the ramdisk typically under MyDos as a fast "scratchpad" for sorting, temporary files, etc. It is still something like twice as fast as a hard drive. Sadly, very little in the way of applications software was ever released to use the extra ram -- a little bit from Atari for the 130XE.

I hope you drop back from time-to-time. This may be the year that we get a 65C816 with a faster clock and 512 KB of linear ram. There have been many nice, modern add-ons that have helped keep our Atari systems viable. There is also a very nice emulator that has been ported to run under several different platforms. This allows folks without real hardware to explore the *gigabytes* of software written for the A8.

Certainly if you are curious and have a desire to "catch up" this is the place!

Best regards,
Larry

#10 ClausB OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 8, 2008 9:26 AM

Thanks for the warm welcome. Good to see your continued interest.

I was thinking recently that I should have done a disk-caching program instead of a RAM disk. Would have been more useful, but it's 25 years too late. Anybody got a TARDIS to lend me?

I wrote 2.5 magazine articles back then. First (the .5) was a 48K upgrade for the Atari 400 in the MACE newsletter (a nicely printed newsletter that was almost a magazine). Second was the 5200 article in ANALOG. They filled it full of typos and when I sent them a letter-to-the-editor with corrections, they would not print it. So my last article went to BYTE, which was then the pinnacle of computer magazines. I was amazed to get it, especially in their 10th anniversary issue, and I have one of their editors, an Atari fan, to thank. I wish I could remember his name. BYTE did a fine job with the article. The ANALOG guys called me and asked why I did not give them the article and implied that I had betrayed the Atari community!

The only problem with BYTE was the long lead time. I submitted the article in late '84 and it came out almost a year later. Meanwhile, Atari released the 130XE with 16K banks and I had to redesign the upgrade and software to be somewhat compatible. I sent out dozens of fliers with the changes for at least 2 years after.

#11 bf2k+ OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 8, 2008 9:28 AM

I'm Claus Buchholz, author of the 1985 BYTE article about a homebrew 256K RAM upgrade for the 800XL. I'm delighted to see you hardy souls still interested in that great old Atari computer.

...


As an Atari "old-timer" meself, I certainly remember your name. I think I may have built your upgrade way back when but my personal onboard memory doesn't refresh as well as it used to.

Welcome...

#12 Mathy OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 8, 2008 10:47 AM

Hello Claus

If you speak German, check out the site of the ABBUC. www.abbuc.de

Sure I know your name. I "invented" my own memory upgrade. It uses 6 bits in $D301 and still has full software control over BASIC, Selftest, Missile Command (in the XEGS) and OS RAM/ROM. And has separate ANTIC and CPU access. I've always been interested in memory upgrades, so the name Claus Buchholz sure rings a couple of bells.

Greetings

Mathy

#13 atarifan49 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 8, 2008 3:41 PM

Claus,

I would definitely say that for those of us who have been using the 8bit since the 80's that your name is up there with other hardware legends like Bob Wooley and Bob Puff. We would certainly love to hear of any stories of your time with the 8bit and any projects that never saw the light of day.

Regards,
Glenn

#14 peteym5 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 8, 2008 7:35 PM

I had a 130XE and I used the extended banks for database storage for games and experimented with using the Antic mode to store screen graphics for the side-scrolling type games using Antic 4. You can make very larger screens. Think about this, Boulder Dash uses under 4k for one of its screen. Imagine going 4 times time size to use 1 16k bank, or 16 times the size to use all 64k. I was planning on creating a Zelda like game before I started making games on the PC.

#15 ClausB OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Mar 8, 2008 9:28 PM

It is just fantastic that you guys are keeping the original hardware alive with modern upgrades. I've seen some of the emulators for the PC and they are impressive works of software but I think you need to run the old hardware to get the real feel of it all. I'll follow the progress of the 65C816 upgrade and I'll browse for other interesting projects.

Keep it up!

#16 cas OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 9, 2008 8:21 AM

Hello Claus,

Andreas Magenheimer (now Andreas Koch, married, aka CharlieChaplin) has published an extensive list of Demos, Games and Tools that support extra RAM in ABBUC Magazine 84, Pages 21-25.

I have added PDF of this pages.

The whole Magazine 84 (from 2006) can be found also on the CD-ROM of Retro #7, a German Retro Computing Print Magazine (www.retromagazin.eu)

Carsten

Attached Files



#17 ClausB OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 9, 2008 6:03 PM

Hello Claus

If you speak German, check out the site of the ABBUC. www.abbuc.de

Sure I know your name. I "invented" my own memory upgrade. It uses 6 bits in $D301 and still has full software control over BASIC, Selftest, Missile Command (in the XEGS) and OS RAM/ROM. And has separate ANTIC and CPU access. I've always been interested in memory upgrades, so the name Claus Buchholz sure rings a couple of bells.

Greetings

Mathy


Thanks for the link. I tried out my rusty German and posted there.

I also saw your article about your memory upgrade. Very nice that you got the separate ANTIC access working. I don't understand why it said that other upgrades don't work with the PIA switches for the BASIC ROM, OS ROM, and Diagnostic ROM. My upgrade certainly retained those functions on the 800XL. Only the separate ANTIC access was sacrificed. Did I misread?

Claus

#18 Mathy OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 9, 2008 6:37 PM

Hello Claus

I saw you message on the ABBUC site. If you are in Europe the first weekend of April or the second weekend of July, you might want to visite the Nomam Fritztown 2008 or the Fujiama 2008. I'll be at the last and maybe on the first.

Since your upgrade only had 256kB, you only need four PIA pins to select banks. Pins 2, 3 and 6 are free (in the 800XL). Plus the ANTIC bit, makes four. As soon as you go over that, something usually is sacrifised. Meaning you either loose it (BASIC, Selftest, Missile Command) completely or you have to use hardware switches or PIA pins are used to select the above ROMs AND to select memory at the same time. That last one means, the ROM is switched of in one half of the memory upgrade and on in the other half.

With my upgrade, the ROM (BASIC, SELFTEST, OSROM/RAM and Missile Command (in the XEGS)) select signal is frozen as soon as either ANTIC or CPU accesses memory.

Greetings

Mathy

#19 jacobus OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 9, 2008 8:38 PM

When the 130XE came out, I wrote a program to use the extra RAM (along with the RAM disk) to allow duplication of a selected set of files from one disk to another - with one pass. With a 64K RAM disk and 90K floppies you couldn't do an entire disk, but it was great for handling lots of small files.

I never tried with larger RAM disks, but I'm sure it would work...

#20 MEtalGuy66 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 10, 2008 1:45 AM

Hi Claus.

I guess you know that ICD took your design, made it into a small production PCB, and added a few jumpers for 800XL/1200XL compatability and sold it for years as the RAMBO XL, right?

There are alot of programs included in (and/or written for) various releases of the SpartaDOS contruction set, and SpartaDOS toolkit that directly support the RAMBO XL, among other extended ram upgrades..

ICD abandoned the ATARI years ago, but Steve Carden currently maintains a development project called REAL.DOS which is an improved evolution of spartados, and has written alot of utilities and commands that make much better use of extended ram than the original "ramdisk handlers" did (eg, the ability to format in double density, maintain percomm tables, direct sector reads/writes, etc.) for all sorts of applications. He has source for all of both the old and new, and has been very involved in DOS level coding since the early 80s on the ATARI. He'd probably enjoy hearing from you.

http://www.tcpipexpress.com is his website. There is a current mailto: link on the main page.

#21 Larry OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 10, 2008 5:08 AM

I forgot a "biggie" as far as use of the extra ram -- OSS released BASIC XE which has an "EXTEND" command that lets you program seamlessly in the extended ram banks and retain all of the available main memory for strings, etc. I only have written a couple of programs that need that much data space, but very handy, if required. Written specifically for the 130XE, it still works with other upgrades so long as memory is arranged such that BXE can find the normal XE bank. I don't know of any other languages that have this feature. (Perhaps someone knows of others?)
-Larry

#22 ClausB OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 10, 2008 5:33 AM

Hello Claus

I saw you message on the ABBUC site. If you are in Europe the first weekend of April or the second weekend of July, you might want to visite the Nomam Fritztown 2008 or the Fujiama 2008. I'll be at the last and maybe on the first.

Since your upgrade only had 256kB, you only need four PIA pins to select banks. Pins 2, 3 and 6 are free (in the 800XL). Plus the ANTIC bit, makes four. As soon as you go over that, something usually is sacrifised. Meaning you either loose it (BASIC, Selftest, Missile Command) completely or you have to use hardware switches or PIA pins are used to select the above ROMs AND to select memory at the same time. That last one means, the ROM is switched of in one half of the memory upgrade and on in the other half.

With my upgrade, the ROM (BASIC, SELFTEST, OSROM/RAM and Missile Command (in the XEGS)) select signal is frozen as soon as either ANTIC or CPU accesses memory.

Greetings

Mathy

Oh, I see what you mean. Yes, my upgrade (the one with 16K banks) did use all the unused PIA bits. You're right that a larger upgrade would need to latch the other bits and then reuse them for bank selection. Is that what your circuit does? I could not quite read the small schematic in the article.

I doubt I'll be in Europe this year. Haven't been to Germany since 1993 and the UK since 2000. Got kids now. What is Fujiama?

Claus

#23 ClausB OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 10, 2008 5:39 AM

Hi Claus.

I guess you know that ICD took your design, made it into a small production PCB, and added a few jumpers for 800XL/1200XL compatability and sold it for years as the RAMBO XL, right?

There are alot of programs included in (and/or written for) various releases of the SpartaDOS contruction set, and SpartaDOS toolkit that directly support the RAMBO XL, among other extended ram upgrades..

ICD abandoned the ATARI years ago, but Steve Carden currently maintains a development project called REAL.DOS which is an improved evolution of spartados, and has written alot of utilities and commands that make much better use of extended ram than the original "ramdisk handlers" did (eg, the ability to format in double density, maintain percomm tables, direct sector reads/writes, etc.) for all sorts of applications. He has source for all of both the old and new, and has been very involved in DOS level coding since the early 80s on the ATARI. He'd probably enjoy hearing from you.

http://www.tcpipexpress.com is his website. There is a current mailto: link on the main page.

I suspected that RAMBO was a copy but I never saw one to verify it. I was young and idealistic and did not care to profit from it then. Boy, what a fool I was!

Thanks for the link. I'll check it out.

#24 drac030 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 10, 2008 7:33 AM

I forgot a "biggie" as far as use of the extra ram -- OSS released BASIC XE


SpartaDOS X uses (or: can use, if the user wants so) the extra RAM to keep most of the kernel code, disk buffers and resident programs.

#25 Mathy OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 10, 2008 12:14 PM

Hello Claus

You're right that a larger upgrade would need to latch the other bits and then reuse them for bank selection. Is that what your circuit does?

That's correct.

What is Fujiama?

The Fujiama is a meeting that's usually held in mid July in Lengenfeld (near Zwichau) in Germany. It starts at midnight the night from Thursday on Friday and ends Sunday afternoon (officially at noon, but ...) Most visitors are Atari 8 bit enthousiasts, with the odd ST of Falcon fan. Most visitors are from Germany, some are from the Czech Republic, last year we had a (just married) couple from Poland. And for some reason, somebody from the Netherlands has been there each year. Can't really remember his name. :D Some of us programm/code, some play games, some show their hardware (beetle showed his home made XL-laptop last year), some of us do some soldering, Helmut makes sure everything is taken care of, Carsten (cas) visites the bakery so we have rolls/buns for breakfast. On Saterday around 6, we eat grilled sausages (kinda like hotdogs). We sleep (but not too long/much) on the floor, in tents, in cars and some even go to a hotel. Usually, there is some silly "real live" version of a game. Last year we had Pac Man, the year before we played Space Invaders using water guns. Back wenn it was still call "the unconventional", they had archery one year and harddisk throwing another year. And we had "bobbycar downhill driving with or without obsticals" once. A bobbycar is a thing with wheels on it, toddler usually "drive". One year it was so hot, we brought waterpistols and shaved 2 to 3 decades off our ages for some time during the afternoon.

And yes, Fujiama is fun.

This year for the first time, Nomam Fritztown will be held in Friedrichstadt, Germany. It's not restricted to Atari or even 8 bit computers. Sleeping arranchements are the same. It'll also be a three day event (Friday to Sunday). It will be simular, but not the same as Fujiama.

Greetings

Mathy

PS IIRC Fritztown '08 will be the 4th, 5th and 6th of April and Fujiama '08 wil be the 11th, 12th and 13th of July.




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