I never used the serial ports for anything. I never had a modem on my A8's.
Only the C.Itoh 8510 printer on the parallel port. It worked fine and I liked the 800 style design, it showed it's build quality.
Today I had a look at the schematics. I already knew BITD that the 850 had its own processor and was thus a small computer by itself.
The thing mainly exists of 4 chips:
1x 6507 processor
1x 2532 EPROM
2x 6532 RIOT
Looking at the design I can only have one feeling, one question......why on earth didn't Atari decide to put 1 6532 on the A8's main boards ???
As far as I can see this would allow one parallel and one RS-232 interface. (Who needs 4 RS-232's ?).
This would require 1 6532 maybe some buffer chips and 2 connectors....
Atari had and used truckloads of 6532 since it was used in the 2600 so the price could have barely been a problem.
This would have given the A8's industry standard connections from day 1 and would have really given it (yet another) edge over the competition.
It really bugs my mind why they decided to go with an external case, which needed its own power supply (externally and internally), power switch, 2 SIO connectors, SIO interfacing, 6507 and EPROM. All of this is just extra ballast and added up to the hefty initial price tag of the 850.
An internal RIOT could have simply been joined on the internal busses, drivers could have been included in the OS-ROM.
So what do you guys think ? I think Atari was too arrogant and too protective (wanting the user only to buy their external,devices) in the days of the 400/800.
But even when the XL series was introduced they would have had a chance to get a big advantage over competitors like the C64 by including this single chip of which they already had truckloads....
Edited by Level42, Fri Jul 31, 2015 12:41 PM.