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What is the installed VBXE base in 2017?


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#26 Level42 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Dec 1, 2017 5:37 PM

That's what we thought about them 20'years ago....the things usually still work fine.

Yes'm I only run them for nostalgic reasons....but it's worth it for future generations to keep the origins of computer technology alive and running.

Just like CRT TVs. My mid 90s B&O MX4000 runs great and has a very nice picture, which will even improve to the ultimate possible step with Sophia in RGB, I will never run my A8 with an LCD, never, I am positive any CRT will last decades longer than any LCD. I don't WANT the cool...emotionless picture of a LCD....the A8 machine was designed for and used during its entire production years with CRTs. I will keep running my A8's on CRTs for as long as I can....and I think it will last until my last breath.

That's why the picture built up by ANTIC and GTIA suffices for me. They provide the graphics of the system I loved back in the day, and I still love the machines for...

#27 _The Doctor__ OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Dec 1, 2017 5:42 PM

When they make on LCD without the lag and allow it to mimic a running beam, with decent persistence functions I'll bite, until then when I'm really enjoying it.. I'll drag a CRT out and hook it up... age is making that ordeal less fun though  :)



#28 TMR OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 2, 2017 3:22 AM

Yes, if it's just slight enhancement, I feel it's better than nothing, but dual development doesn't have to mean just that, it could be two completely different versions in many ways, just like the old days and porting. Start with a VBXE version, and dumb down a stock version for those without VBXE or whatever.


Even in that direction there's going to be one version that suffers. Again personal opinion, but i'd much rather concentrate on a stock program or a VBXE-flavoured one rather than jumping through extra, self-inflicted hoops coming up with something that'll work for both but needs a lot of extra code to make that happen.

There's also an argument for not producing a stock version to encourage folks to get the expansion, although i've never been convinced by that in the past myself.
 

Everybody's line in the sand is a little bit different, obviously. 65816 still fits into late 80's/early 90's for me. I do have a clearly non-1990's Antonia in a 600XL but like the U1MB it does nothing that could not have been done then with a little more hardware or at a price that would have been outrageous then.


Doesn't that apply to every expansion though, even something like the VBXE...? If it works now then presumably it was possible from day one but hideously expensive, far too large to be mounted internally or probably both.

#29 _The Doctor__ OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 2, 2017 3:47 AM

Nope, many things weren't that expensive.. but when management does not want to spend 1 cent to 5 cents on a resistor or diode do you thinks you going to get dual gtia, antics, or pokeys?


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#30 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 2, 2017 3:52 AM

I'm of the opinion it becomes a frankenputer. Too far away from the original Atari. It's like some of the accelerator boards for the Apple II. Everything happens inside one or two modern chips, and the Apple II becomes little more than a host box. Too far away.

 

And if you want significantly improved graphics and all that, it's probably better to switch to a platform that has a wide array of software already developed.

 

I also feel it takes away or divides a developer's resources, both mechanical in the computer and mental reserves. If you demand the best it seems like it can only be one or the other. Tempest cut features and gives an "ok" experience to both native Atari and VBXE users. Nothing that'd blow me away.


Edited by Keatah, Sat Dec 2, 2017 4:09 AM.


#31 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 2, 2017 4:05 AM

I'm not against people developing for the vbxe, if there were more software using it, it might even sway me to buy another Atari machine and put the mod in there. That machine would never become my primary machine though, I feel the same as slx does when he says it just crosses a line somewhere and makes the machine somehow less authentic. I feel the same way about rapidus.

 

SD based storage, Extra Memory, an Extra Pokey and a UAV is as far as I'm able to go and still feel like I'm using the same machine I used in 1985

 

Thing with SD and other modern storage solutions is they can be external and they feel external. Much like the early 810 drives, and even the Corvus drives.

 

So..

Going from Type-in to Cassette was cool.

Going from Cassette to Disk was cool.

Going from Disk to Hard Disk was cool.

Going from Disk to Flash is cool.

 

..speed and capacity are gained just like each previous technological transition. There's nothing that removes or changes the essence of the machine. The machine is operating in every way as the manufacturer intended. And in many situations you can segue back and forth between storage types with a simple command, or a plugging-in of the new storage device.

 

Many micros of the day back then advertised different levels of storage, and today - flash - is just another level up.


Edited by Keatah, Sat Dec 2, 2017 4:11 AM.


#32 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 2, 2017 4:16 AM

For storage, convenience and reliability beats authenticity, at least for me. I have at least 5 floppy drives but am still not convinced that they will outlive me in working condition. Using floppies is more authentic without any doubt, but will there be floppies available 20 years from now?

 

I fixed that for you!

 

But I must say that I do enjoy whirls and clanks of the mechanicals drives on occasion. So I use modern storage and emulation and such for common usage and save the drives for nostalgia trips.



#33 davidcalgary29 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 2, 2017 9:33 AM

I fixed that for you!
 
But I must say that I do enjoy whirls and clanks of the mechanicals drives on occasion. So I use modern storage and emulation and such for common usage and save the drives for nostalgia trips.


I have disk drives hooked up to my modded A8 units functioning as my main setup. Of course, those drives are a mix of unmodded Ranas, modded 1050s, and I have a couple of 3.5” XF551s.

Another question: what about the ATR8000? Are you still using an A8 if you’re using that with CP/M?

#34 Gunstar OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 2, 2017 10:02 AM

For me, the hobby is just as much about building and/or using hardware as software, and I still love to use ALL the hardware storage mediums. Right now that includes 1010, multiple 1050's, MyIDE II,SIO2PC, Flash cartridges. and I'm even modding my 1010 with pass-thru inputs so I can connect and use any audio device and it's media I want...VCR, CD, Reel-to-reel, 8-track, LP, smart phone, even a 60-year-old wire-recorder if I want. New or old, I'll use anything I can with my Atari, for the fun of it and because I can. 

 

It's all an "ATARI" experience for me, because it involves my Atari.-this should have been my short and sweet response to Madi.


Edited by Gunstar, Sat Dec 2, 2017 10:26 AM.


#35 Heaven/TQA OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 2, 2017 12:37 PM

For me as coder who did 1 demo for VBXE is thats really cool device but yeah... the gap from a8 to chunky mode13h like dos blitter stuff is too ahead with its Fastram... ;)

Was nice experience and you can do a lot with it. So I guess the device is more fun for coders than users but I would use it with Spartados and native 80 collums plus LastWord.... :)



Looks like Amiga but sounds like Atari ;)

Edited by Heaven/TQA, Sat Dec 2, 2017 12:38 PM.


#36 Gunstar OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 2, 2017 1:00 PM

I'm so used to the idea of installing both a VBXE and a Rapidus, that I forget that the VBXE is still using the 6502, and not a 65816. :P


Edited by Gunstar, Sat Dec 2, 2017 1:00 PM.


#37 davidcalgary29 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 2, 2017 1:05 PM

For me as coder who did 1 demo for VBXE is thats really cool device but yeah... the gap from a8 to chunky mode13h like dos blitter stuff is too ahead with its Fastram... ;)
Was nice experience and you can do a lot with it. So I guess the device is more fun for coders than users but I would use it with Spartados and native 80 collums plus LastWord.... :)
https://youtu.be/BZ3wb4UvsG0
Looks like Amiga but sounds like Atari ;)

Then VBXE really is the missing link between the A8 machines and the Amiga. :)

And POKEY sounds AMAZING in that demo.
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#38 slx OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 2, 2017 1:44 PM

As for reliability, I can't say I omitted it on purpose but thinking of it, the jury is still out on flash memory reliability. We know that good Atari SD discs can last for 30 years and new or at least NOS ones are still available 30 years later. Let's see how SD cards score on both counts. 



#39 _The Doctor__ OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 2, 2017 1:57 PM

SD cards score poorly, they are great for long term storage but writing to them repeatedly is a real killer, wifes facility run through them like water.... they always have a stack to just waiting for the inevitable dead card to arrive... reformatting them and using tools on them to make them work a little while longer becomes tiresome and no one like a failed card with their work on it so they save to the hard drive, nas, and sd card as a matter of course now. What is weird some of the compact flash cards are still working and I'd have expected them to die long ago... as for the floppy disks... that is the real surprise, they sure were not rated mtbf to last as long as they have and do... holding data, and still being able to format and store new data, at least for the quality disks that is... and most seem to have been quality. :)

 

Back to the regularly scheduled VBXE talk

 

it's time for a VBXE 2 thats pulls what has been learned and make some changes while sticking to it's general design for compatibility, at that point even I might be interested..


Edited by _The Doctor__, Sat Dec 2, 2017 2:03 PM.


#40 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 2, 2017 2:27 PM

I have disk drives hooked up to my modded A8 units functioning as my main setup. Of course, those drives are a mix of unmodded Ranas, modded 1050s, and I have a couple of 3.5” XF551s.

Another question: what about the ATR8000? Are you still using an A8 if you’re using that with CP/M?

 

With ATR8000 you're communicating to another computer via serial-port. All of the original circuitry in the Atari 800 is still active and working and not disabled or taken out in any way.

 

In the Apple II world there are hardware upgrades which completely replace the essence of machine, leaving it to act as a shell or dumb-terminal. CPU and Memory and Apple Firmware are essentially out of the picture.



#41 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 2, 2017 2:42 PM

SD cards score poorly, they are great for long term storage but writing to them repeatedly is a real killer, wifes facility run through them like water.... they always have a stack to just waiting for the inevitable dead card to arrive... reformatting them and using tools on them to make them work a little while longer becomes tiresome and no one like a failed card with their work on it so they save to the hard drive, nas, and sd card as a matter of course now. What is weird some of the compact flash cards are still working and I'd have expected them to die long ago... as for the floppy disks... that is the real surprise, they sure were not rated mtbf to last as long as they have and do... holding data, and still being able to format and store new data, at least for the quality disks that is... and most seem to have been quality. :)

 

Back to the regularly scheduled VBXE talk

 

it's time for a VBXE 2 thats pulls what has been learned and make some changes while sticking to it's general design for compatibility, at that point even I might be interested..

 

Floppy disks were heralded as the next big thing in computing in the 1970's. Then when the industry developed newer, faster, bigger storage devices they had to make floppy disks look bad. So bad news about short life was spread around. Thus making you transition out of floppies and into whatever was being manufactured at the time.

 

Early CompactFlash cards used SLC. These are rated for hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of write cycles. And the geometry is big enough to hold a substantial long-lived charge. The structures are big enough that they don't break down. Later on MLC, TLC, and QLC were developed - touting bigger capacities, smaller size, and cheaper production. But you pay for that in longevity. The cells are so small that the electrical charges which represent your data dissipate comparatively quickly. The geometry is so small that it diffuses and breaks down with only moderate usage. So much for cheaper and bigger capacity.

 

It's one of those mafia rackets, the tech industry will do whatever it can to get you to churn and burn through all products it offers. None of today's tech is geared with "long-term anything" in mind.



#42 Gunstar OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 2, 2017 2:45 PM

What if Atari themselves had released A VBXE type upgrade and/or Rapidus upgrade? Would it qualify as "true Atari experience" then? I'm thinking of PBI/ECI expansions, so more like the upcoming F7 Turbo card. What about the XEP80? It was a video card upgrade, with 80 column text or screens with half graphics and half 40-column text. It's an Atari experience isn't it? Does it make a difference if it's 1st or 3rd party? There were plenty of add-ons back in the day that made the Atari 8-bit "more" than what it was born with from Atari and 3rd party companies. Digitizers, Voice modules, ComputerEyes device...I don't see why a line has to be drawn between 1st/3rd party or internal/external and when it's no longer an Atari or "Atari experience." Otherwise better just use a cassette recorder and cartridges...mmm-maybe a floppy drive...else you're liable to creep too far away from original design and true Atari experience.


Edited by Gunstar, Sat Dec 2, 2017 2:54 PM.


#43 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 2, 2017 2:52 PM

Quality disks made of quality materials.. Should last 100+ years. As long as the materials don't break down or intermix with each other. And the same goes for hard disks. Everyone is saying don't trust them beyond 2-5 years. Bullshit. Treat them nicely, don't bang them around or run them in temperature extremes and they'll last seemingly forever. If it makes you feel better, refresh the data occasionally. HDD surfaces have no life limitations. You can't wear them out.



#44 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 2, 2017 3:06 PM

What if Atari themselves had released A VBXE type upgrade and/or Rapidus upgrade? Would it qualify as "true Atari experience" then? I'm thinking of PBI/ECI expansions, so more like the upcoming F7 Turbo card. What about the XEP80? It was a video card upgrade, with 80 column text or screens with half graphics and half 40-column text. It's an Atari experience isn't it? Does it make a difference if it's 1st or 3rd party? There were plenty of add-ons back in the day that made the Atari 8-bit "more" than what it was born with from Atari and 3rd party companies. Digitizers, Voice modules, ComputerEyes device...I don't see why a line has to be drawn between 1st/3rd party or internal/external and when it's no longer an Atari or "Atari experience." Otherwise better just use a cassette recorder and cartridges...mmm-maybe a floppy drive...else your liable to creep too far away from original design and true Atari experience.

 

 

Then we'd likely have a different machine, or the OS stored in ROM would be different and at least be aware of the new hardware. I think it would be integrated into the machine better. It would be standard. The install base would be bigger. And people would treat it as a new machine to develop for.

 

ComputerEyes.. How much third party software is written for that? How much software works with it?

VBXE.. How much third party software is written for that? How much software works with it?

Arbitrarily-chosen modern storage solution.. How much software works with it? A truckload!



#45 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 2, 2017 3:16 PM

What if Atari themselves had released A VBXE type upgrade and/or Rapidus upgrade? Would it qualify as "true Atari experience" then? I'm thinking of PBI/ECI expansions, so more like the upcoming F7 Turbo card. What about the XEP80? It was a video card upgrade, with 80 column text or screens with half graphics and half 40-column text. It's an Atari experience isn't it? Does it make a difference if it's 1st or 3rd party? There were plenty of add-ons back in the day that made the Atari 8-bit "more" than what it was born with from Atari and 3rd party companies. Digitizers, Voice modules, ComputerEyes device...I don't see why a line has to be drawn between 1st/3rd party or internal/external and when it's no longer an Atari or "Atari experience." Otherwise better just use a cassette recorder and cartridges...mmm-maybe a floppy drive...else you're liable to creep too far away from original design and true Atari experience.

 

It's possible that an upgrade or add-on can be niche and unconventional and so capable it makes the machine into something it's not. Possible. Is that the case here?

 

I personally believe that VBXE lacks software is because it IS optional and not everyone has one. Developers are going to code for the widest install base. And the "problem" may be as simple as that. Any further examination of the issue and we fall into a rabbit hole full of semantics and esoterica.

 

Perhaps the question is best answered by Atari 8-bit devs themselves. Ask them specifically why they do not make VBXE versions of whatever it is they're making.



#46 Gunstar OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 2, 2017 3:39 PM

 

It's possible that an upgrade or add-on can be niche and unconventional and so capable it makes the machine into something it's not. Possible. Is that the case here?

 

I personally believe that VBXE lacks software is because it IS optional and not everyone has one. Developers are going to code for the widest install base. And the "problem" may be as simple as that. Any further examination of the issue and we fall into a rabbit hole full of semantics and esoterica.

 

Perhaps the question is best answered by Atari 8-bit devs themselves. Ask them specifically why they do not make VBXE versions of whatever it is they're making.

My points are not at all for a conclusion of reasons why there is a lack of support or should be more. It's purely about why there has to be a line at all when it comes to any upgrades or editions to the end result not being a proper "Atari Experience" anymore. I'm just giving examples. Even if a device only allows the computer to do one new thing, like ComputerEyes video digitizer which opened "photographic" digitization to the 8-bit, (and I think available on C64, Apple Ii, etc. as well). No more support except maybe software revisions of the same program.


Edited by Gunstar, Sat Dec 2, 2017 3:40 PM.


#47 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 2, 2017 4:58 PM

My points are not at all for a conclusion of reasons why there is a lack of support or should be more. It's purely about why there has to be a line at all when it comes to any upgrades or editions to the end result not being a proper "Atari Experience" anymore. I'm just giving examples.

 

Well.. there doesn't have to be a dividing line drawn on a map. But it is human nature to categorize and organize things. This line on the map may help to illustrate why VBXE isn't as popular as it should be. Lines and categories help define flavors and capabilities. They help things keep shape. Why have mobiles and desktops? Not unlike 1st class air travel. Why have it? Why bother with dividers? To enhance, illustrate, define. To specify range and personality of functions. Without lines of separation everything is going to be the same. Maximum entropy. No uniqueness. Ink on de' paper, all grey, no separation of Red or Green or Blue. Every painting a single grey color.

 

The way I see it is if you upgrade Atari 8-bit capabilities to Amiga-like capabilities (speaking of graphics now), then you might as well go full Amiga. Amiga exists and has a well-understood architecture that has support and tools and all that. It has standards. And users and devs are going to want that. But everything done on VBXE is going to have to start from scratch.

 

An extreme example would be taking an Atari 800 computer, and adding a tiny PC-on-a-stick in there. On power up, it would work like an Atari and use Atari's original hardware 100%. 6502, GTIA, ANTIC, POKEY, all present and working. But.. I could A/B switch into the modern PC-on-a-stick and go play X-Plane. And I will tell myself I'm having an "Atari experience.." Am I really? Why or why not? Where is the line drawn here? What criteria? If a line isn't drawn, then hot damn! That's *T*H*E* ultimate upgrade!

 

And I feel that VBXE brings too much flavor to the Atari. You're now playing on hardware that isn't Atari style. It's VBXE. Crossing the line into a whole different graphics platform. One that the internal routines of the OS know nothing about.

 

But.. Maybe it's best to not to spend too much energy focusing on this sort thing. It will degrade into semantics.


Edited by Keatah, Sat Dec 2, 2017 5:06 PM.


#48 davidcalgary29 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 2, 2017 5:58 PM

Maybe part of the problem is a simple lack of a comprehensive information source about VBXE. I’d love a sub-forum carved out for hardware mods, and we could have a pinned VBXE FAQ with topics currently spread out over ten years, such as: what does it do? What doesn’t it do? In what languages can I access it? What programming tools are available?

On a completely different note, ComputerEyes VBXE would be very cool. Niche, but cool.

#49 Heaven/TQA OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Dec 3, 2017 1:28 AM

Altirra hardware reference guide included in each Altirra setup is the best doc you can get on a broad range of hardware even on VBXE.

#50 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Dec 3, 2017 1:43 AM

Which versions of the .zip file contain that PDF? Because the ones I see on the site do not..






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