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The Atari interview discussion thread

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#926 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 8, 2018 9:46 AM

Dave wrote:

 

"It’s not actually a cartridge:  it’s a circuit board that you plug into the first expansion slot of an Atari 800 in place of the usual 10K ROM board.

 
I haven’t looked at it the board that closely, but presumably there’s another 6502 processor on it because if a breakpoint is hit, it stops the clock on the Atari 800’s motherboard (6502?) and drops into DDT.
 
I have it in my head they made several dozen of those boards — perhaps even as many as 50.  I suspect a few of them still exist, taken by others like me, and perhaps Curt Vendel found some when he did his urban excavation of the Plumeria building a number of years ago, but any not preserved by Curt and us developers were probably destroyed when the Tramiels took over."
 
I have asked him for photos.
 
Kevin
 

 

 

 

Did any unique software or hardware come out of your interview with Dave Comstock?

I noticed he mentions at 31 minutes into Part 1 that Atari had a special cartridge version

of DDT, available to Atari employees only, that ran on an 800. He mentioned that it was

one of the few things he took with him when he left, because it was a necessity for some

things he had done. So, it sounds like he may still have this. Was he ever asked about

dumping this cartridge? Seems like a great thing to have archived. I know I'd love to have

a copy of it.



#927 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 11, 2018 9:29 AM

Winchell Chung, Avalon Hill games

 
Winchell Chung worked at Avalon Hill computer games, where he was the Atari 8-bit computer programmer. He worked on Nuke War, B-1 Nuclear Bomber, Free Trader, Paris in Danger, and Vorrak. His best known game is probably Gulf Strike.
 
This interview took place on April 10, 2018.
 
"A good game with lousy graphics doesn't sell, but a lousy game with great graphics will."


#928 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 16, 2018 8:20 AM

Mike Matthews, Alien Group Voice Box

 
Voice Box was a external speech synthesizer box for the Atari 400 and 800. Voice Box, and its successor Voice Box II, was marketed by "The Alien Group" starting in July 1982. The device used the Votrax SC-01A speech synthesizer chip to add speech and singing to the Atari. Versions were also available for the Commodore 64 and Apple II computers.
 
The Alien Group was actually an offshoot of Electro-Harmonix. Electro-Harmonix was founded by rhythm and blues keyboard player Mike Matthews in 1968. The company is still is business today, and is well-regarded for its guitar pedals and other musicians' gear.
 
For more background on The Alien Group and Voice Box, I recommend reading Bill Lange's blog post "Atari Says Its First Word."
 
This interview with Mike Matthews took place on November 13, 2017.
 
***
 
One more thing: I talked with Scott Matthews, Mike's son. He told me in email:
 
"My first big software project was for my dad, when I was about 13. What I wrote was an Atari BASIC function that would take a number as input, and would output the phonetic equivalent of that number. The idea was that other people -- who wanted to write applications that would speak a number -- could use the function to convert application-generated numbers to a speakable string."
 
Scott also doesn't remember who, if anyone, won the $5000 contest for best talking software. 
 
AtariSaysItsFirstWord.png


#929 MrFish OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 16, 2018 8:45 AM

Dave wrote:

 

"It’s not actually a cartridge:  it’s a circuit board that you plug into the first expansion slot of an Atari 800 in place of the usual 10K ROM board.

 
I haven’t looked at it the board that closely, but presumably there’s another 6502 processor on it because if a breakpoint is hit, it stops the clock on the Atari 800’s motherboard (6502?) and drops into DDT.
 
I have it in my head they made several dozen of those boards — perhaps even as many as 50.  I suspect a few of them still exist, taken by others like me, and perhaps Curt Vendel found some when he did his urban excavation of the Plumeria building a number of years ago, but any not preserved by Curt and us developers were probably destroyed when the Tramiels took over."
 
I have asked him for photos.

 

OK, I thought that might end up being the case too, being that it was for an 800.

It sounds even cooler than a unique cart.

 

It's great you got ahold of him. Items like this are historical gems.


Edited by MrFish, Mon Apr 16, 2018 8:53 AM.


#930 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:52 AM

Cynde Moya, Collections Manager at Living Computers: Museum + Labs

 
Cynde Moya is Collections Manager at Living Computers: Museum + Labs. Located in Seattle, Washington, Living Computers is a computer museum that provides hands-on experiences using computers ranging from micros to mainframes. (Last time I was there, there was a Xerox Alto, an Apple I, and yes, an Atari 400 with a number of game carts, plus big iron like a Control Data 6500 and DEC PDP-10 - all those machines and more usable by visitors.)
 
As Collections Manager, Cynde takes care of the museum's collection, and catalogs it.
 
This interview took place on April 9, 2018.
 
“It's definitely not all glory when you're cleaning dead rats out of an old computer."


#931 Kr0tki OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:15 PM

I'd love to hear an interview with Colin Hume, who also worked @ Thorn EMI, especially for his code for Computer War...he crammed one HELL of a game into 4K (it's an 8K cart, but only half of it is used), especially the display tricks used...i'd kill for that.


Correction: "Computer War" is a 16 KB cartridge, although first 4K is duplicated (or empty, depending on the particular cartridge's wiring), effectively resulting in 12 KB of data.

Edited by Kr0tki, Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:16 PM.


#932 tschak909 OFFLINE  

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Posted Yesterday, 8:55 AM

whoops :)

 

-Thom







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