Today I started the long process of trying to restore my childhood 800XL. I received it as a Christmas gift in 1984, and it served me well for years as my platform for learning programming, and maybe more importantly, meeting lots of other people via the BBS scene in the late 1980s. Eventually my interests in programming would merge with my interest in electronics, and this Atari was one of the most important pieces of the puzzle that eventually lead to my career in embedded software and hardware. Years of playing with circuits via the Forrest Mims III books from Radio Shack combined with later discovering the book Your Atari Comes Alive by Richard Leinecker, led to the moment of epiphany when I understood the power of computers not only reacting to the world, but being able to control it.
I more or less ruined this Atari as I took my first fledgling steps attempting to learn the craft of hardware hacking. I utterly destroyed the case. First, drilling holes in it to add the hidden function keys. Then, for some reason, I cut most of the cartridge area out. At some point I had been fancying PC tower cases, so I made one out of wood and plucked the 800XL from its plastic case and put the computer into a fake tower case, complete with detached keyboard via a ribbon cable extension.
Eventually I gave up on this computer and had convinced my parents to get me a 65XE, which failed not due to my tinkering. It was replaced by a 130XE, and then eventually my first PC around 1990.
Anyway, I've held onto this thing all these long years. It's still a complete mess, but I assumed one day I'd get it working again. I was hoping today would be that day, but the saga has only begun.