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#1 Philsan OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 2, 2011 12:25 PM

Which Atari 8-bit computer to buy? What I need to run software? Where to find software? What emulators are available?

I try to answer to those questions in a way objective and suitable for newbies.
You'll find many other answers in Atari 8-bit computers FAQs.

Which computer to buy?

Historically speaking, Atari 800 is a milestone (compare it with contemporary 1979 computers!), but if you want a computer compatible with all software, you should take an Atari 800XL or a 130XE (65XE and XEGS are OK too). Their only limitation is that they have two joystick ports only instead of the four Atari 800's ports.

Cart port. If you use cartridges, 800XL cart position is more comfortable.
Design. 800XL and 130XE are both beautiful and original.
Keyboard. Important only if you plan to enter a lot of text. Overall many people prefer 800XL keyboards but 5 variants exists (avoid the last variant, Mitsumi).
Memory. 800XL has 64KB, 130XE has 128KB, usuful for few games (but now AtariAge user ctirad sells an external 320KB low cost memory expansion for 800XL OUT OF STOCK).
Video ouput. RF and composite. 130XE has s-video too. With a simple jumper 800XL can have s-video too, but with a lower quality (to have an excellent s-video output you can make Kjmann s-video upgrade).
Quality. 800XL has a better building quality. Some XL's have all ICs socketed, so they are easier to repair and upgrade.
Basic. Important only if you want to program with Atari Basic. 130XE has bug free Basic rev. C. You can replace 800XL Basic rev. B IC with a rev. C. Anyway, if you like Basic programming, nowadays many people uses the fast, compatible and compilable Turbo-Basic XL so Basic's revision is unimportant.

What I need to run software?

If you want to use cartridges, you don't need anything apart your Atari 800XL/130XE.
If you want to use old 5¼ floppy disks, you need a disk drive (Atari 1050 and XF551): to load machine language programs, remember to turn on computer with option key pressed.
If you want to use old tapes, you need a program recorder (Atari 410, 1010, XC11, and XC12): to load machine language programs, remember to turn on computer with start and option keys pressed, then press play on program recorder and finally press return key.

If you want to run all existing software you have two solutions:

1 If you have and want a PC always near to your Atari you can buy
SIO2PC (AtariAge user classics, $60) and use it with APE Windows application (SIO2PC USB/RS232 version) or SIO2OSX Mac application (SIO2PC RS232 version)
SIO2PC-USB (AtariAge user sloopy, $30-45) and use it with AspeQt Windows application
SIO2PC/10502PC DUAL-USB (AtariAge user atari8warez, $55) and use it with AspeQt Windows applications
With APE you can emulate not only disk drives but printers and modems too.

2 You can put all existing software in an SD card/USB memory and buy/build independent self-powered devices like
- SIO2SD (basic instructions):
AtariAge user lotharek (Euro 84.49 with case, Euro 27.49 without case)
AtariAge user mega-hz (Euro 80 with case)
AtariAge user Pigula (Euro 40 without case and SIO cable/connector)
Atari Fan Store ($75 without case)
AtariAge user santosp (Euro 60 with case and SIO2PC) OUT OF STOCK
If you care about aesthetics, AtariAge user flashjazzcat can insert an SIO2SD into a 1064 (to match XL design) or an XM301 (to match XE design) case or inside the computer.
- SDrive:
AtariAge user c0nsumer ($150 with case) OUT OF STOCK
AtariAge user santosp (Euro 45 with case) OUT OF STOCK
More Than Games ($94 with case)
- SIO2USB (documentation):
ABBUC (Euro 130-150 with case)

SIO2SD - SDrive comparison (I don't have a SIO2USB to compare, sorry).


If you like cartridges and their instant loading, you can put games in the Atarimax Maxflash Flash Cartridges (AtariAge user classics) or in the SIC! Cart (AtariAge user Stryker). To insert software in these two cartridges remember that you must buy Atarimax USB cartridge programmer or have a real disk drive or a SIO2PC/SIO2SD/SDrive device.


If you want fast loading/saving times - but you can load only single files (.xex/.exe) not disk images (.atr), unless you have Ultimate1MB internal upgrade (Lotharek, Euro 49.99) - you can buy SIDE cartridge (Lotharek, Euro 51.49)
This device has SpartaDOSX and a real time clock too.

Where to find software?

You can buy/find software on the Internet or in the real word, the price depends on conditions (loose, boxed, sealed) and rarity, and/or you can download it here:
Atarimania
Atari 8-bit Forever
Fandal
Atarionline
Homesoft's Disk images
Mr. Bacardi
Pokey Soft
Vjetnam 8-bit Atari games Archive

Emulators?

PC
Altirra (the best emulator for PC)
Atari800
Atari++
Atari800WinPLus
Mac
Atari800MacX
Android
Colleen (official Atari800 port)
Droid800
Atari800
Nintendo DS
PokeyDS
Nintendo Wii
WiiXL
Sony PSP
Atari800PSP
PSP Atari

Emulators exists for Dingoo, GP handhelds, Pandora...


Edited by Philsan, Mon Nov 25, 2013 3:18 PM.


#2 analmux OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 2, 2011 1:34 PM

Yes, sounds like a good idea.

A nice setup could be: Keep track of all posts made in such a thread, thus keep a summarizing list (with links to later posts in the same thread) in the 1st post, to be edited by the topic starter. This list can be edited, everytime someone adds a new post.

Another idea: As there already exist a lot of such topics, all we need is just one topic linking to all the others.

#3 carmel_andrews OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 2, 2011 1:43 PM

somone should also stick up a revised copy of Mr Current's Atari 8bit FAQ thing (have'nt seen that in a little while)

stick it up in this thread that is

#4 Rex Dart OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 8, 2011 5:57 PM

Considering getting into A8 here... would a 600XL be worthwhile? I have no problem soldering the insides to add RAM (if that's even necessary). I think I saw a topic earlier where somebody'd located $2 RAM chips? Sounded like a deal to me. Ideally I guess I'd get a 130XE or XEGS, but they seem somewhat expensive to me. How's the keyboard on a 600XL, too? I hear various reports on the (various) A8 keyboards.

#5 thgill OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 8, 2011 6:37 PM

Ohhh I like this. For newbies like me this is great.

#6 russg OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 8, 2011 7:08 PM

Considering getting into A8 here... would a 600XL be worthwhile? I have no problem soldering the insides to add RAM (if that's even necessary). I think I saw a topic earlier where somebody'd located $2 RAM chips? Sounded like a deal to me. Ideally I guess I'd get a 130XE or XEGS, but they seem somewhat expensive to me. How's the keyboard on a 600XL, too? I hear various reports on the (various) A8 keyboards.

you can get 41464 chips for 600XL upgrade here:

http://www.jameco.co..._10001_41574_-1

$1.69 per chip, and something ($5.00?) ship and a $10 minimum order.

A 64K 600XL is OK, but no composite output, must use RF. You can't tell which keyboard you're getting on an 800XL without opening
it up. I never heard that the Mitsumi keyboards were to avoided. Probably the older 800XLs have better keyboards, so getting a used one rather than an unopened 'new' one may be better.

I've experienced a problem with both the 64K 600XL and the 800XL for burning non-USB Maxflash carts, I have a 1200XL that does that very well. A 1200XL is the largest XL/XE, but has a nice feeling keyboard which must be 'upgraded', often fails.

#7 Philsan OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 9, 2011 2:37 AM

Regarding keyboards, I don't know if 600XLs had 5 models like 800XLs.
800XLs older models are better than newer ones (but it important to avoid only the last one, Mitsumi).
All keyboards works, but the last one feels very bad (rattle while typing...).
Anyway, there is a fundamental topic regarding keyboards.

Regarding internal memory upgrades, I can't help you (I am unable to solder!)
I would buy AtariAge user ctirad external 320KB memory expansion.

In my first post I haven't mentioned 600XL because this thread is for newbies and 600XL needs at least a memory expansion (and a composite mod if NTSC).
But with those two enhancements 600XL is a very nice machine, for someone even better than 800XL/130XE because of its small dimensions.

#8 Rybags ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 9, 2011 2:45 AM

Pretty sure the XL keyboard variants were all shared among both machines.

First 600XL I owned had the nice high-quality stepped version, the one I bought about a year ago has the cheaper stepped one, my 800XL has the flat one.

#9 KLund1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 9, 2011 2:53 AM

I've heard about Atari. Just saw here they made PC's back in the day. Which Atari PC to get XL or ST?

LOL LOL LOL LOL ...

Good topic. Should be a sticky.

#10 Rybags ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 9, 2011 3:13 AM

A mini-FAQ is a good idea.

The "official" one has the problem in that it's a giant wall of text and not exactly convenient if you're just looking for the simple answers.

Then again, AtariAge itself seems to have most of the "Systems" covered from links on the main page, but there's nothing covering the 8-bitters.

#11 w1k OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 9, 2011 3:18 AM

good idead :)

#12 mimo OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 9, 2011 3:27 AM

I have been thinking about making some sort of grid with the various attributes of each system, kind of a quick reference guide.
Just need to pull my finger out and actually do it.
I agree, we need to sticky some sort of guide for noobs

#13 carmel_andrews OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 9, 2011 4:29 AM

A mini-FAQ is a good idea.

The "official" one has the problem in that it's a giant wall of text and not exactly convenient if you're just looking for the simple answers.

Then again, AtariAge itself seems to have most of the "Systems" covered from links on the main page, but there's nothing covering the 8-bitters.







Like i already said, A revised version....And i think it needs updating as i think most of that text is from the 90's and doesn't take into accept recent developments

#14 WizWor OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 9, 2011 5:04 AM

We used to call this a FAQ, and I think it's a great idea. While there are a lot of Atari FAQs, the topics covered here are unique -- covering the last decade of A8 evolution.

I think this topic should be *very* detailed. Not simply noting that there are SD options but comparing and contrasting the options and availability. A flash cart post would compare all carts, detail the load procedures, and link to vendors. Same for custom hardware (VBXE, MIO, memory upgrades, video upgrades).

The topic schould be moderated and sticky. Hurry up with this -- I have a lot to learn ;-)

#15 Philsan OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 9, 2011 6:59 AM

I think A8 deserves a good website with history, hardware, software, books (for software and books a link to Atarimania could be sufficient), service manuals, mods...
(BTW, Atari definitely deserves a book like Commodore - A company on the edge).
Wikipedia page needs to be updated too.
Websites always forget to tell that A8 was leader of the market in 1980-1982 and to point out that in 1979 Atari 800 128 colors, sprites, and sound were awesome.
Unfortunately such a website doesn't exists.
For example, Atari History Museum has many unvaluable informations but, for example, a good history is here, Atari Basic is examined here...

Carmel, I have to say that Atari 8-bit computer FAQs are updated frequently.

The problem is that many persons don't have time, other have knowledges but are unable to design a good website, other don't have the qualities of historians, other don't know English (like me)...

Back on topic, I have done this thread because newbies often ask the same questions and people always answer with the same replies: someone writes to buy an 800XL, another one a 130XE, another one SIO2SD, another one SIO2PC...
Boring...

I think this thread is useful for newbies and too much informations would scare them.
On the other hand it's impossible to give fewer informations. I would not be very objective if I would simply write "buy this machine with that device".
I will try to keep updated the first post.

Obviously another thread with complete informations (not only for newbies) would be great.
Anyway, people really interested in A8, have the motivations to search the forum (and the web) to find deeper infos.

#16 Mclaneinc OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 9, 2011 8:04 AM

The trouble with FAQ's (I've written a few) and pinned subjects is that as much as we would like they rarely get read, peoples eye's see 'pinned' or 'sticky' and instantly their head says boring and they look for the new subjects.

#17 frogstar_robot OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 9, 2011 1:30 PM

Emulators?
PC
Altirra (the best emulator for PC)
Atari800
Atari800WinPLus
Mac
Atari800MacX


Atari++ is also an actively developed emulator.

Edited by frogstar_robot, Wed Feb 9, 2011 1:31 PM.


#18 Rex Dart OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 9, 2011 5:00 PM

The trouble with FAQ's (I've written a few) and pinned subjects is that as much as we would like they rarely get read, peoples eye's see 'pinned' or 'sticky' and instantly their head says boring and they look for the new subjects.


Sadly, they often aren't maintained & aren't as useful as newer topics might be. ONE good solid FAQ for this forum would probably be beneficial, though. I know I'd have at least looked at the initial post in one, if there were one.

#19 WizWor OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 9, 2011 7:25 PM

Nice thing about a community like this is that you can point the newbies to the FAQ when they ask a question it answers well.

#20 Mclaneinc OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:44 AM


The trouble with FAQ's (I've written a few) and pinned subjects is that as much as we would like they rarely get read, peoples eye's see 'pinned' or 'sticky' and instantly their head says boring and they look for the new subjects.


Sadly, they often aren't maintained & aren't as useful as newer topics might be. ONE good solid FAQ for this forum would probably be beneficial, though. I know I'd have at least looked at the initial post in one, if there were one.


My C64 FAQ that I created many years ago for a C64 newsgroup was maintained solidly by me and also by the guy that took it over (I think its still in the wild even now) but we still got the same level of same questions. I'm not against the idea at all, I love it but if anyone is hoping to see less traffic question wise then you may be disappointed.

#21 Philsan OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 12, 2011 6:23 AM

Please correct me if I am wrong because in the first post I want to be very objective.

After having tested Sic! Cart and IDE Plus 2.0 these are my thoughts.

Those awesome pieces of hardware are not the first devices a newbie should buy because:

Sic! Cart: to program it you must already have another device to transfer files from PC to Atari (SIO2PC, SIO2SD, SDrive).
IDE Plus 2.0: you must have another device too, installation and file transfer not easy for newbies, software compatibility issues.

All in all, SIO2PC, SIO2SD and SDrive remain the best solutions for newbies (and must have devices for others): easy software transfer, no storage space problems, no compatibility issues.

#22 UNIXcoffee928 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:03 AM

It would be really great if there were detailed descriptions of different people's fully tricked-out , modern, upgraded systems, for each Atari 8-Bit model.

Also, can someone list which upgrades are known to be incompatible with other upgrades?



#23 R6502A OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:14 PM

A matrix with rows and columns named after each upgrade with a tick or cross in each box showing compatibility/incompatibility would work well in this case.

#24 Philsan OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:18 PM

It would be really great if there were detailed descriptions of different people's fully tricked-out , modern, upgraded systems, for each Atari 8-Bit model.
Also, can someone list which upgrades are known to be incompatible with other upgrades?

A matrix with rows and columns named after each upgrade with a tick or cross in each box showing compatibility/incompatibility would work well in this case.

Useful, but not for newbies! ;)

#25 Animan OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 17, 2011 5:50 PM

A really dumb question, but I can't seem to find the answer to with Google.

Is an Atari DOS disk required to use the Disk Drive, or is it only needed for certain things? From what I can find, it seems that the DOS files can be written onto a disk. Would that mean most official software on disk would have DOS already written onto it?




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