Recently I brought "the one that started it all" out of storage: the 800XL my dad bought for our family as a Christmas gift when I was 6. I wanted to clean up the video and add chroma, so I opened the case for the first time in probably almost 30 years. I was also curious to see the Rambo XL upgrade my dad installed to increase the memory to 256K.
My dad was a member of the Madison (WI) Area Atari User's Group, or MAAUG. Having heard that "more memory is good," we decided to install the upgrade, which we purchased from the user's group. I think we thought that the existing programs we had would automagically run faster or better once the additional memory was in. The reality was that, years later, I dug out an old MAAUG newsletter and realized that unless you wrote your own software, had a program specifically written to take advantage of the 130XE's extra memory, or used a special DOS to set up a ramdisk, that memory was just sitting there idle. Other than using the ramdisk to save a few BASIC programs I was typing in (I was amazed at the speed), I never really used it. I'm hoping to change that now
Upon opening the case, the upgrade in all its glory was revealed! My dad has excellent soldering skills, but he told me he was terribly afraid that he would hook it all up and find out that he had bricked the computer. Some of the MAAUG members held "soldering parties" to install the upgrade and test it out. I'm sure my dad was greatly relieved when everything worked.
I have attached a picture of the upgrade. Luckily we had a socketed motherboard, so soldering the pins on the PIA was easier. If I can find the newsletter that details the upgrade, I'll post that here too.
One other "time capsule" find. At some point a year or two after we got the computer, I had the stomach flu and threw up all over the keyboard! Undaunted, my dad disassembled the computer, took out the keyboard, and washed it. It's still working today! After I opened the case, I noticed some discoloring that could only have come from this incident. Memories...