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Looking for A8 computer model recommendation


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#1 Greg2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 2, 2018 3:57 PM

So I've had an inkling for some time to jump back into A8 after idk 30 years!  If I do though, I may (say again may) part with my 5200, largely because it's so difficult to get the controller buttons to work.  Plus most if not all of the 5200 games were either released on A8 or have been converted.  Obviously I'd probably get one of the multicarts as I have zero intention of buying individual (and expensive) games or fiddling with diskettes!  

 

In any case, fairly general question I know, but what is the most recommended model to try to get?  I see the 800XL around quite a bit.  For nostalgic reasons I'd prefer to get an original 400/800, since that's what we had back then, but not sure if that can play enough games?



#2 slx OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 2, 2018 4:12 PM

In any case, fairly general question I know, but what is the most recommended model to try to get?  I see the 800XL around quite a bit.  For nostalgic reasons I'd prefer to get an original 400/800, since that's what we had back then, but not sure if that can play enough games?

 

A lot of late period European and modern games require 800XL, 65XE, 130XE or XEGS machines, so these should give maximum compatibility with minimum hassle.

 

For the handful of games and demos requiring more than 64K, Ultimate 1MB is a combination memory upgrade/OS switcher that together with SIDE2 will also give you a slick mass storage solution. It should be easy to install and seem reasonably priced although there are cheaper options that may be more difficult to install. You will find enough games for the rest of your life that work without a RAM upgrade, this is just required if you want to be able to play everything that's out there.

 

600XLs are compatible with most games once you upgrade them to 64K (but need an upgrade of the built-in memory before they can be expanded to beyond 64K  - unless using the "Antonia 4MB" memory upgrade/65C816 board which due to the CPU used will not be compatible with a handful of games using illegal 6502 opcodes). They are the most compact machines but AFAIK US versions lack a video output (which can be retrofitted in various ways). They are your most compact option, though they can become croweded if you plan on installing lots of internal upgrades.

 

800s can be made 800XL compatible with the "Incognito" board which includes an SD drive but is currently not available with a new run in preparation at Lotharek.pl. He also sells a dual POKEY stereo board that is supported by some modern games.

 

So it depends on your space, budget, and if you just want to enjoy some games or deck out your machine with everything that's out there ;).



#3 thetick1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 2, 2018 4:12 PM

See this old thread from 2016. I doubt much has changed since then.

http://atariage.com/...0xlxe-questions

 

I have tried a few of the 8-bit emulators and they work pretty well Collen and Altirra.



#4 Gunstar OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 2, 2018 4:13 PM

Well I know back in the day, for sales reasons, an Atari with 48K was good enough to use probably 90% or higher of software released. But today, with homebrew software from the last couple decades, and easy access to software from England and Europe that wasn't available in the U.S. back in the 80's, it's probably reduced to like 50% of the total software, since Atari wasn't big with the high-priced 800 across the pond in the early years, most Atarian's over there got into Atari with the 800XL and XE line, so the norm was more toward 64K games. 



#5 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 2, 2018 4:23 PM

Maybe get two models, much like I keep an Apple II+ and a //ep at the ready. The original 800, and maybe a 130XE. Or you can just pick your fav and get one. Use Altirra to pick up the slack and fill in for the others. That's what I do with other classic platforms, pick one fav and emulate the rest.



#6 Paul Westphal OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 2, 2018 4:24 PM

Visit Eightbitfix.com. I will hook you up. The best option is a socketed 800xl with 256k ram. I have one I just did and have been driving it for weeks now. I also have 64k 600xl's with monitor port. One 64k 600xl with s-video.

 

Paul


Edited by Paul Westphal, Tue Jan 2, 2018 4:26 PM.


#7 bbking67 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 2, 2018 5:18 PM

I recommend the 800XL... especially socketed.  A stock 130XE is also pretty nice, but not socketed so repairs are challenging.  The biggest drawback of the 800XL is the video quality.  If you can get a fixed unit that would be the best.

 

The Westphal units are probably the best way to go... 256K is pretty sweet.



#8 CharlieChaplin OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 2, 2018 5:44 PM

 


For the handful of games and demos requiring more than 64K,

 

Looks like you have quite many hands... just a few examples to get you started:

 

- 128k RAM: http://a8.fandal.cz/...utt_details_x=x

   (currently 146 records)

- 320k RAM: http://a8.fandal.cz/...utt_details_x=x

   (currently 72 records)

- 1088k RAM:  http://a8.fandal.cz/...utt_details_x=x

   (currently 5 records)

 

And there are many more games and demos out there (not listed at Fandals database), that require 128k, 192k, 256k 320k, 576k or 1088k RAM. But yes, U1MB should run most/all of them.



#9 Justin Payne OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 2, 2018 10:13 PM

An original 800 is a wonderful system but in close second is an 800xl, or as previously mentioned, get a 600xl and upgrade the RAM. 130xe give you 128K right off the bat but the keyboard is a bit mushy.

As far as floppies, you won't need them. They have several SD card solutions out there so you just download like you would with a multicart and play away.

 

Now, you can get a fully fixed up system like from someone who sells them for a living, get them from someone on here who wants to part with one, OR ebay/Shopgoodwill.com. The latter being buyer beware since what you get could be in any condition so if you don't want to repair your system, pay a bit more and get one that has been recapped and cleaned up.



#10 slx OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 3, 2018 1:54 AM

 

Looks like you have quite many hands... just a few examples to get you started:

 

- 128k RAM: http://a8.fandal.cz/...utt_details_x=x

   (currently 146 records)

- 320k RAM: http://a8.fandal.cz/...utt_details_x=x

   (currently 72 records)

- 1088k RAM:  http://a8.fandal.cz/...utt_details_x=x

   (currently 5 records)

 

And there are many more games and demos out there (not listed at Fandals database), that require 128k, 192k, 256k 320k, 576k or 1088k RAM. But yes, U1MB should run most/all of them.

 

I stand corrected. It underscores that looking for a 130XE won't assure maximum compatibility, though. If one wants to be able to use "everything" (or almost everything before someone posts the VBXE list ;)) some kind of further memory expansion is required.



#11 slx OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 3, 2018 1:56 AM

While I love the 800, my first machine, it only makes sense from a "want to be able to play most games" point of view if Incognito becomes available again (which it looks like it will, given the listing on Lothareks page, but some goodies there have been listed "in development" for quite some time). Without Incognito the 800 is limited to classic games, probably still enough to play through for a couple of years.



#12 suspicious_milk OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 3, 2018 9:41 AM

Go with your heart. Don't let anyone talk you into not getting your favorite machine; or you'll never be content.

No machine runs 100% of the A8 library ... so figure out which wares your machine can't run that you want (maybe none), and then look for it's solution.

#13 zzip OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 3, 2018 9:53 AM

So I've had an inkling for some time to jump back into A8 after idk 30 years!  If I do though, I may (say again may) part with my 5200, largely because it's so difficult to get the controller buttons to work.  Plus most if not all of the 5200 games were either released on A8 or have been converted.  Obviously I'd probably get one of the multicarts as I have zero intention of buying individual (and expensive) games or fiddling with diskettes!  
 
In any case, fairly general question I know, but what is the most recommended model to try to get?  I see the 800XL around quite a bit.  For nostalgic reasons I'd prefer to get an original 400/800, since that's what we had back then, but not sure if that can play enough games?


I think 800XL is a good spot.

To me the Atari800 has great build quality but missing newest features. XE has all features but the worst build quality. XL has most features, and is noticeably better built than XEs

#14 gozar OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 3, 2018 6:59 PM

So I've had an inkling for some time to jump back into A8 after idk 30 years!  If I do though, I may (say again may) part with my 5200, largely because it's so difficult to get the controller buttons to work.  Plus most if not all of the 5200 games were either released on A8 or have been converted.  Obviously I'd probably get one of the multicarts as I have zero intention of buying individual (and expensive) games or fiddling with diskettes!  

 

In any case, fairly general question I know, but what is the most recommended model to try to get?  I see the 800XL around quite a bit.  For nostalgic reasons I'd prefer to get an original 400/800, since that's what we had back then, but not sure if that can play enough games?

 

  1. Get an 800XL. They are plentiful and will run almost everything (as long as it doesn't need more than 64K).
  2. Build an SIO2PC-USB with a $5 FTDI chip and some header wires (search the 8-bit forum for more info). Use with Aspeqt for a disk drive.

That's all you need to get started. 

 

Once you enjoy it, then you can look at other upgrades and equipment.



#15 Geister OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 3, 2018 10:13 PM

If you want an 800, a 600XL or an 800XL, go to Kemner's Surplus warehouse in Pottstown, PA. It shouldn't be too long a drive from most places in Central Jersey.

 

He has an 800XL (non-working, but it may just need some TLC), a working 600XL (which needs a memory upgrade), and a badly yellowed 800 which I have no idea whether it works or not.  As far as peripherals go, he has several disk drives (810, 1050, XF551, and Indus GT) and a few printers (1027, 820, and several old dot matrix) that may work with the Atari.  He doesn't have much in the way of software, but that's not an issue with all the new tech available for the Atari.

 

If you are looking to broaden your experience, Kemners also has Tandy CoCo's, TI 99/4a's, Commodores, Apple II's.  I just missed getting an Apple IIGS.  Kemner sells on EBay and has a Facebook page, so you may be able to buy without making the trip. 

 

I bought his 130XE and an XF551 which I intend to keep original, and an 800XL and 1050 that I plan on giving the full Lotharek treatment (U1MB, Rapidus, VBXE, etc.)  Should be better than an Apple IIGS! 



#16 MrFish ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 4, 2018 11:52 AM

I bought his 130XE and an XF551 which I intend to keep original, and an 800XL and 1050 that I plan on giving the full Lotharek treatment (U1MB, Rapidus, VBXE, etc.)  Should be better than an Apple IIGS! 

 

For an A8 fan, it's a nice setup, but "better" than a IIGS? The IIGS offers a lot of things on the hardware side (and firmware for that matter) that a setup like that doesn't hold a candle to. On the software side, the IIGS specific library isn't so huge, but the VBXE/Rapidus specific library for the A8 is paltry.



#17 kheller2 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 4, 2018 3:40 PM

If you want an 800, a 600XL or an 800XL, go to Kemner's Surplus warehouse in Pottstown, PA. It shouldn't be too long a drive from most places in Central Jersey.

 

He has an 800XL (non-working, but it may just need some TLC), a working 600XL (which needs a memory upgrade), and a badly yellowed 800 which I have no idea whether it works or not.  As far as peripherals go, he has several disk drives (810, 1050, XF551, and Indus GT) and a few printers (1027, 820, and several old dot matrix) that may work with the Atari.  He doesn't have much in the way of software, but that's not an issue with all the new tech available for the Atari.

 

If you are looking to broaden your experience, Kemners also has Tandy CoCo's, TI 99/4a's, Commodores, Apple II's.  I just missed getting an Apple IIGS.  Kemner sells on EBay and has a Facebook page, so you may be able to buy without making the trip. 

 

I bought his 130XE and an XF551 which I intend to keep original, and an 800XL and 1050 that I plan on giving the full Lotharek treatment (U1MB, Rapidus, VBXE, etc.)  Should be better than an Apple IIGS! 

 

Last time I was at this place he only had two machines, and wanted $100 for each. 



#18 _The Doctor__ OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 4, 2018 3:52 PM

Been there before, wanna buy a radio you can pick up at the curb, for free, at house clean out, or a friends attic or basement? Now imagine the privilege of being asked to pay $45.00 or more for it even if it's broken common cheap stuff? sorry not going there ever again...



#19 Swami OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 4, 2018 5:53 PM

If you have an 800XL and XEGS, like me, what is the best way to deal with the disks/tapes/carts that only play on the 400/800 systems? Wait around for a good deal on an 800 from a reputable buyer (not 95% of people on eBay now). "Mint" 800s are like $300 US on ebay. Video61 sells some cart converter, which is okay for carts...although I seem to remember some compatibility issues. An example is Slime for light gun, which may only be 400/800 compatible?

 

https://www.ebay.com...UIAAOSwHMJYIfEH



#20 gozar OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 4, 2018 7:27 PM

If you have an 800XL and XEGS, like me, what is the best way to deal with the disks/tapes/carts that only play on the 400/800 systems? Wait around for a good deal on an 800 from a reputable buyer (not 95% of people on eBay now). "Mint" 800s are like $300 US on ebay. Video61 sells some cart converter, which is okay for carts...although I seem to remember some compatibility issues. An example is Slime for light gun, which may only be 400/800 compatible?

 

https://www.ebay.com...UIAAOSwHMJYIfEH

 

Most games have been fixed for the XL/XE. How many games aren't fixed?



#21 Geister OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 4, 2018 8:08 PM

 

For an A8 fan, it's a nice setup, but "better" than a IIGS? The IIGS offers a lot of things on the hardware side (and firmware for that matter) that a setup like that doesn't hold a candle to. On the software side, the IIGS specific library isn't so huge, but the VBXE/Rapidus specific library for the A8 is paltry.

Yeah that was a bit of hyperbole from someone getting back into the 8-bits after being away for nearly 30 years.  The IIGS offered some hope that there might be a path forward for the 8-bit line before it became obvious that Tramiel was only using the 8-bit sales to fund the ST's development.   The IIGS did have some nice features which is why I'm interested in them still.  Too bad Apple was as short-sighted as Tramiel, or Western Design might have had reason to come out with a 32-bit and maybe a 64-bit 6502 compatible chip.  There might not be a lot of software available for the native mode on the 65816 and the VBXE, but that's the point of having them, seeing what can be done.

 

I wish I still had my old system with my 320XE, my 256K MIO, and my 20MB hard drive, but I though I had a good reason for giving them up at the time.    



#22 Geister OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 4, 2018 8:20 PM

 

Last time I was at this place he only had two machines, and wanted $100 for each. 

Have you seen what they are going for on Craigslist and Ebay these days?  At least Bill will sit down with you and try to test the system before you buy it.  I have no idea what the value is of the other stuff he sells, but he spent the years acquiring this stuff when most of us were kicking it to the curb, so I guess he can ask what he wants for it.  At least he isn't asking what that crazy old bat in Philly wants for her collection of Atari stuff...$1500?  It's all rare and collectible you know! 

 

Not trying to start an argument, just an observation



#23 MrFish ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 4, 2018 8:27 PM

Yeah that was a bit of hyperbole from someone getting back into the 8-bits after being away for nearly 30 years.  The IIGS offered some hope that there might be a path forward for the 8-bit line before it became obvious that Tramiel was only using the 8-bit sales to fund the ST's development.   The IIGS did have some nice features which is why I'm interested in them still.  Too bad Apple was as short-sighted as Tramiel, or Western Design might have had reason to come out with a 32-bit and maybe a 64-bit 6502 compatible chip.  There might not be a lot of software available for the native mode on the 65816 and the VBXE, but that's the point of having them, seeing what can be done.

 

The IIGS is a really neat machine. I've had many chances to get them for next to nothing, but I own Atari 8-bits for good reasons instead.

 

VBXE is overkill for me. If they would have limited things to something like: 8 player-missile sprites with 3 colors, a 16-color (out of a 128-color palette) 160-width mode, and a 2-color hi-res mode, then I'd be more inclined.

 

I'm all for the 65816...



#24 kenjennings ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 4, 2018 10:14 PM

1) 800XL.  (with video upgrade)  Though this is Atari's effort at cost reduction, they still couldn't bring themselves to assemble the same level of krap quality that the Tramiels put in  C64 and then later in the Atari XEs.

 

2) Atari 800.  Built like a tank.  In the distant future, the last real Atari left running will be an 800.  (Maybe a 400.)  And it has Four joystick ports!

 

3) 1200XL (with a multi-OS upgrade and video upgrade.)  If you can find one. 

 

A 48K 400 would be almost as good as an 800 if it has an aftermarket real keyboard upgrade.



#25 slx OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 5, 2018 7:17 AM

If you can‘t find fixed versions of old games there‘s a ‚translator‘ disc that you boot before the game to load the old OS. There are several solutions to install an ‚old‘ OS in later machines and select it with a switch or boot menu software. Even 4 (or more)-player games are possible with a little gadget called ‚Multijoy‘.


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