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Why isn't the 130XE the dominant Atari 8bit?


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#1 Subby OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:42 AM

Oh, no, not that one again! I'm not trolling, really. :) I'm starting a bit of research for a future topic.

This question is fairly multi-faceted. One one hand I'm asking, to use today, why would you get anything other than a 130XE? Not "back in the day", but today. The 130XE has the most stock memory, the latest chips, it's parts are five years younger(or so) than the 800's, etc.

... Actually, I'm going to stop there, this thread might get out of hand otherwise.
And I can probably guess most of the answers, but then I would be guessing, you tell me.

So to reiterate, when you use your Atari 8bit today, why would you get/use anything other than a 130XE?

Thanks for tolerating another one of these.
Subby

#2 adam242 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:47 AM

Crappy keyboard, awkward cartridge port, less-than-great video output, fully unsocketed motherboard.

Just off the top of my head... I'm sure others can add to this list.

#3 bfollett OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:52 AM

I was in the middle of typing almost the exact same list as Adam242 when the web page alerted me that another reply was posted and let me view it before finishing my post. I've never encountered that feature of this message board before. So I had to remove almost everything I typed. The only thing else I can think of was that it doesn't have a full expansion port. It's got that mini connector that has to be used in conjunction with the cartridge port and besides being unsocketed the motherboard is not well soldered. More prone to traces cracking.

Bob

Edited by bfollett, Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:53 AM.


#4 save2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:34 AM

On top of all the great things said, I'll throw this out there... For the very same reason I prefer to use a breadbox C64 vs. a C64c - nostalgia.

130XE was released so late, no way most Atari users could/would have had much time to develop those kinds of feelings for it.

If I bothered to maintain an A8 system, would definitely be a 400 or 800. Cool computers for what they are but the XE line would be my least favorite.

#5 Magic Knight OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:14 PM

Availability and late overlapping marketing is probably the main reason.

High street shops wanted low cost but multiple sales instead of high cost and low qty.

In the UK Boots electrical chain thought that the 600xl would be good, but 16ks were considered too low by the time they were in the shops. Dixons/currys and other high street outlets were slashing 800xls down in price 3 times in almost 18 months at the time that jack Tramiel was trying to push the 130XE.

As there was a poor split of memory class (800 users with 48k, 800xl with 64k and 130xe with 128k) the best 'common' denominator to sell software would be trying to keep with 48k and reluctantly 64k if required (drop zone)

by the time 128k was perhaps realized a benefit for games, the 65xe and later XEGS was now being marketed as the benchmark machine with the cart market making memory a low priority.

Atari with overlapping strategy made this a white elephant for the commercial home computer industry of atari.

a continued trend with a 128k version of the 800 in 1981 with pokey/SGTIA :grin: advancements would have scuppered commodore and several other cutters in the share of market which followed (dont you just get pissed when you chart ataris' great progress up until the early eighties and it stalls with the pish xl episode onwards)

Edited by Magic Knight, Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:15 PM.


#6 Justin Payne OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:36 PM

Since I got rid of my 800 and 130xe years ago, if I were to pick a replacement Atari computer today, which would be the best choice to not only be the most compatable but cheapest and easiest to upgrade?
BTW: IMO, the 800 ( not xl) had the best stock keyboard.

Edited by Justin Payne, Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:59 PM.


#7 high voltage OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:48 PM

It dominates with me, best 8-bit PC evvvvaaaaa!!!!

#8 MrFish OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 26, 2013 3:27 PM

The only thing else I can think of was that it doesn't have a full expansion port.


Correct, but try to power a device off your 800XL's full expansion port without modding the machine. It's a simple mod for sure, but still an issue that may need to be dealt with.

The video is anothing thing that needs to be modded on an 800XL, if you want to have S-Video/Chroma-Luma. Once again a simple mod, but something that may need doing.

I guess these are not much of a problem if you plan on getting the machine for modding in the first place. In that case, let the modding begin...

#9 ledzep ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 26, 2013 4:59 PM

Nostalgia, I still have my original 800 from back in the day (and just got a monitor/S-video cable for it to hook to my TV). And all those B&W XL machines are hideous to my eyes. It's a bias, I know, but since both machines are less powerful than my smartphone I can't really justify spending more money for another 8-bit just because it has slightly better specs. I barely have room for the computers I actually use regularly, I have two SGIs that are being neglected as well (I think, besides them running Irix, I always loved SGI computers because they looked like they had the same case designers as whoever designed the Atari 800, very stylish). And if my dream to code a game for the 800/5200 happens I figure that if it works for the lesser version then it should work for all of them.

#10 Fres OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 26, 2013 5:14 PM

800 was my first a8. It was massive. 130XE was my 2nd. I like my 130XE. I use it more often than my other a8s. It has a squishy keyboard, but I'm not typing term papers anymore on it so it's not that big of a deal. My 800XL is my cart machine -- I like the top cart port, and it's smaller than an XEGS (with keyboard attached) and the XEGS had horrible placement of the joystick ports. The video from the 800XL is not great, but satisfactory for games.

#11 JD6502 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 26, 2013 5:18 PM

I did it backwards, I bought a 130 in '85-6 first then picked up an XL later as part of a bundle of Atari stuff. I prefer the 130, perhaps because it was first, but believe it or not I also like the keyboard better. Not all XL keyboards are the same, in fact the later ones are pretty crappy (as I understand it). Mine is a two guide type and the keys tend to bind easily, has a short throw, and a hard feel. There is much to criticize about the XE's, it may be that I'm simply used to it, but I think I would replace it with another 130 rather than switch to the XL. Perhaps I am the exception to save2600's rule - I've had almost thirty years to get attached to my 130.

#12 zylon OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 26, 2013 5:37 PM

I alternate between my 600xl's and a 65xe, but much prefer the xl's in that they are easier to use and repair if needed(all things cited above). Also better looking IMO

#13 MrFish OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 26, 2013 6:11 PM

And all those B&W XL machines are hideous to my eyes.


I wouldn't call them "hideous", but they're certainly on the bottom of my list for style. My original setup was a 130XE with two 1050s and, although I loved the two 1050 drives themselves for being solid performers, I always thought they looked inferior next to my XE. I would have much preferred to have a pair of XF551s sitting there.

However I own all Atari 8-Bits -- except I still need a 600XL -- and I don't dislike any of them, and regularly use two 130XEs (NTSC & PAL), an 800XL, and an 800. They're all great machines. I mean, they're Atari 8-Bitters man!


I did it backwards, I bought a 130 in '85-6 first then picked up an XL later as part of a bundle of Atari stuff. I prefer the 130, perhaps because it was first, but believe it or not I also like the keyboard better. Not all XL keyboards are the same, in fact the later ones are pretty crappy (as I understand it). Mine is a two guide type and the keys tend to bind easily, has a short throw, and a hard feel. There is much to criticize about the XE's, it may be that I'm simply used to it, but I think I would replace it with another 130 rather than switch to the XL. Perhaps I am the exception to save2600's rule - I've had almost thirty years to get attached to my 130.


Same here with the 130XE being first. I also never had any problem with the keyboard. The keyboards are not all the same. I believe it's the Mitsumis that have the better feel. I'm guessing my original had one of these better keyboards (I don't own it anymore unfortunately).

Edited by MrFish, Fri Jul 26, 2013 6:13 PM.


#14 Faicuai OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 26, 2013 6:19 PM

(...) why would you get anything other than a 130XE? Not "back in the day", but today. The 130XE has the most stock memory, the latest chips, it's parts are five years younger(or so) than the 800's, etc. (...)

(...)


Well, that is a question which answer could also be multi-faceted.

In any case, if you talk about purchasing these TODAY, then collector's / technological / emotional value will all come into play (I happen to have samples from "JM" series (to name the entire 400/800 family), "XL" series and "XE" series). I am also familiar with not just outside but the inside of these machines, as well.

For some people that grew close to Atari 8bit's technology at its sunset, then XE-series maybe more familiar, and maybe the one to which emotions are attached (also true for later-stage Atari markets, especially in Eastern-Europe). For those who caught-up with Atari during an important expansion phase of its business (with overseas manufacturing), then the XL-series may be closer to their heart. For those of us that had the chance to see the sunrise of an era, then the "JM" series machines are their natural choice.

From a technological / historical value, the series that REALLY broke-through and ushered a new era for Atari (in and industry that already started a few years earlier with Altair, Apple, etc.) was the "JM" series (the original Atari 400 and 800). There are striking differences between these machines and the rest of the line-up, especially on the design and QUALITY department. In particular, the older 800 is simply built like a tank, it is bigger / heavier, has a sleek design thus appearing more like an office appliance. It OOZES quality (the plastics, the screws, massive aluminum shielding, very good keyboard, EXCELLENT composite video output, readily available Y/C signal, separate slots / boards for OS/firmware, memory, etc., and "MADE IN USA" on its back. It has been also included in PC-World's Best-25-ever-made list ((http://www.pcworld.c...ime.html?page=5). In comparison, my 130XE looks like a half-developed embryo (half-ATARI and half-something-else) next to the 800.

Another aspect to consider (historically) is that the older 400/800 were designed and manufactured at a time when Atari was propelled FORWARD into the Home-Computer business, while the XE-series came during the final moments of Atari, as company. The XE-series was brought to the market when J. Tramiel (after DESTROYING the home-computer business with the C64) joined Atari, while leaving behind a Commodore that would never really recover.

In any case, none of the above machines could probably match the collector's value of a 1400/1450XLD, for instance... However, it s also true that no other machine in Atari line-up enjoys the "JM" 800's (and maybe the 400's) iconic status.

As for my personal preference, I think there is no substitute for the real McCoy (the 800) and there is hardly a more reliable workhorse than the 800XL (preferably socketed and with an ALPS keyboard). Load Incognito (proudly made in Poland) on the 800, and you have a robust "time-machine" that you can enjoy while traveling across Atari's entire histroy-timeline, for the most part.

In any case, there are plenty of opinions and points-of-view. However, the differences between these machines are quite palpable, especially when owning and working on all three (my 130XE is damaged, by the way). The XEGS is out of this group, but it should not be overlooked, though.

#15 kenjennings OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:06 PM

Yeah, What Faicuai said.

- - and by that time a lot of Atari owners weren't spending any more money on 8-bits since they were saving up for an Amiga. :-)

#16 Bryan OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:22 PM

Because the XE line was the final round of cost-cutting for the A8. I think the 800XL is best all-rounder.

#17 1050 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:33 PM

adam242 nailed my list in post #2 with a point I'll add in since there is a flavor in here I'm not liking the taste of.

The 130XE needs to be modded in order to be modded in the first place, talk about needing a mod. 4 banks of extended memory is a JOKE to start with, not only is it the lamest bragging point ever, it's not even enough to learn why you really need a megabyte. Then you got crap for a motherboard to work with on top of that. The keyboard tops my list though, it's a toy. Built for little children's fingers. While everyone talks up the 800 keyboard, I have no issues at all with the 800XL stock one.

I've never repaired my 800XL keyboard, while I can't find one good 130XE keyboard that still has all it's keys and buttons working - NOT ONE. Six out of six 130XEs just happen to need new mylar? I don't think too highly of that, they be junk to start with and always was. Sell me a seventh, I dare you. These machines were just made way too cheap is why they run behind the others.

You could give me one however, I am looking for a working keyboard after all...

#18 jmetal88 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:54 PM

130XE is the only Atari computer I have, because I found it nearby and at a low price. I quite like it, though, and haven't looked too seriously at getting any of the other models, yet.

#19 mimo OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 27, 2013 12:07 AM

its fugly + hardly any software for it

#20 pixelmischief OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 27, 2013 3:55 AM

I'd say that it is a combination of nostalgia and the fact that the software doesn't exact any price for that nostalgia. As has been previously stated, the 130XE came along so late that anyone who is still using an 8-Bit today, was already using a beige box or an XL. Given that Atari use is largely an exercise in nostalgia, the XE line simply isn't the best choice for most. That said, If the extra memory on a 130XE opened up a significant number and variety of new possibilities to the 8-Bit user, nostalgia might suddenly not be as important to as many people. But since the vast majority of software runs exactly the same on the earlier models as it does on the XE's, there simply isn't enough benefit to dealing with the diminished "warm fuzzy" that so many feel when using the Atari of their glorious past. Then there is the whole issue of Atari's corporate history and which era or dynasty a system was developed and marketed under. It's an advanced topic, but one that plays into a surprising number of users' value perceptions concerning the 8-Bits.

Still, I have to say, an Atari 130XE with a pair of XF-551's and an ICD MIO is, to me, the ultimate setup.

Edited by pixelmischief, Sat Jul 27, 2013 4:00 AM.


#21 MEtalGuy66 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 27, 2013 4:13 AM

I have two 1200XLs that have 130xe motherboards.


#22 pixelmischief OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 27, 2013 4:16 AM

I have two 1200XLs that have 130xe motherboards.


Aaaaand then Metal shows up and sh*ts on everyone with the best possible configuration to meet all needs. Go ahead, Metal. Tell us you extended all the ports and everything looks perfectly stock. =)

#23 sloopy OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 27, 2013 7:48 AM

My first was an 800... then used a 130XE, and finally a 1200XL...

would have never used anything but a 1200XL, but I eventually got a MIO... And went back to the 130XE...

sloopy.

#24 Ross PK OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 27, 2013 8:55 AM

My first and only Atari 8-Bit was/is the 800XL. I have nostalgia for that machine, I also much prefer the styling of the 800XL over the 130 XE too. The XE systems look grey and quite bland with no character IMO. Also I have heard that the build quality of the XE has a more cheaper than the XL's.

Edited by Ross PK, Sat Jul 27, 2013 8:55 AM.


#25 flashjazzcat OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 27, 2013 12:14 PM

I wasn't brought up on the XL, although I love the styling of the XL machines now that I have several. But my first Atari was a 65XE, and although it died after only a few years (probably because of the power brick), its successor (another 65XE) had a superior Mitsumi keyboard which was (and still is) great to type on, and received a 128KB RAM expansion, XF551 disk drive, SDX cart, and ICD Printer Connection. Used that combo for nearly a decade, and everything still worked in 2008. So the XE has a special place in my heart, despite the fact the 1200XL has pride of place on my desk (and that machine wouldn't be regularly used if it hadn't been so heavily upgraded). Maybe if I'd had an 800XL first, I wouldn't hold the XE in such esteem, but there's no disputing that 65XE->130XE RAM upgrade was EASY to do. :)




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