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Member Since 23 Jan 2001
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Topics I've Started

Atari Computer Exhibit at Vintage Computer Festival East

Wed Mar 20, 2019 4:24 PM


This year marks the 40th anniversary of the release of the Atari 400/800 computers, and to help celebrate this event, the Atari Museum has been working with one of the original Atari 400/800 computer engineers, Joe Decuir, to put on an exhibit at the annual Vintage Computer Festival East. This year's show takes place May 3-5, 2019 in Wall, New Jersey at the InfoAge Science and History Center. Each year the science center hosts a myriad of vintage computers from 8-bit home computers to mini and mainframes of all shapes and sizes. 

The Atari Museum exhibit hosted by Curt Vendel and Joe Decuir will feature every piece of hardware ever produced for the 400/800 series, as well as unique prototype equipment. But the 400/800 exhibit is just one small part of the overall Atari exhibit, which will also be a tribute to Jay Miner. Peter Fletcher, Bill Lange, Amiga Bill, and Dean Notarnicola will also be on hand, displaying Atari computers from the XL, XE, ST and Falcon series in this huge overall exhibit. The Lorraine will be there as well – Jay Miner’s amazing Amiga 1000. 

Thanks to Evan Koblentz, executive director of the Vintage Computer Festival (VCF), Joe Decuir will be giving a formal speaking presentation at VCF covering the Atari 400/800 computers, from their beginnings as an improved design over the Atari 2600, to the final production computer designs. Evan and Jay will then discuss the follow-up 68000-based computer that the Atari’s could have further evolve into, a design that would eventually see reality years later as the Amiga “Lorraine.” 

This is a rare and special opportunity, not just for Atari enthusiasts, but for anyone who loves the Atari 2600 to the Atari computers to the Amiga to see and meet the man who was involved in all three product designs. Please visit the Vintage Computer Festival website to learn more! 

Pictured above is the The Atari Home Computer Demonstrator, which will be on display as part of this exhibit.

Working on Forum Upgrade (finally!)

Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:45 AM

For a while now I've mentioned in various topics that I will be upgrading the forum soon to a significantly newer version.  The current version of the software is now about four years old, which is roughly when Invision released a completely rewritten version of their Invision Power Board software (4.0).  I held off upgrading initially for many reasons, for instance, at first they dropped support for third-party search engines, which is something we use here in order to greatly speed up searching.  This was finally addressed last year, and over the course of four years version 4.x of the forum software has matured quite nicely, with lots of great features and improvements having been made during that time.  The current version is now 4.4.1, and we are running 3.4.8.  


I've also had to rewrite nearly all the software on the main site (hosting the games database) as it was originally written in 2000-2001 by Alex and myself and hasn't seen many changes since then.  That has been great...fun, but I've made significant progress and have completed most of the difficult files.  Everything remaining I'll be able to churn through relatively quickly.  This was a requirement before I could begin on the forum upgrade.  


This weekend I have leased a new, more powerful server to host the AtariAge web server (the database server lives on another server).  My plan is to get the main site, forums, and store running on this new server and then "flip the switch" over to this new server once everything is working properly on it.  However, the forums will still be down for a significant period of time when this happens, as I will need to take the forums down, copy the database and any new/changed files to the new server, then begin the time consuming upgrade tasks to convert the database to the latest version of the forum.  I'll have a better idea of how long this will take after I've done a few test conversions. 


I am paying a professional skin developer to convert the existing AtariAge theme over to the new forum.  I'll also be purchasing new versions of most of the skins we have available on the current forum, at least where upgrades are available (forum themes had to be rewritten from scratch for IP.Board 4.x).  Some do not have upgrades available, so I'll probably purchase a few new skins as well.  


I also have some custom modifications to the current forum that I will need to rewrite for IP.Board 4.x.  This includes things like being able to give people the ability to indefinitely edit certain posts.  And there are various third-party apps/hooks/plugins I'm currently using that I need to ensure I have equivalents for with the new software.  And I will be enabling new modules for the updated forum, such as "Downloads", which homebrew authors will be able to use to post their game binaries, and versioning is supported (among many other features).  


In short, I really have my work cut out for me. :D  I'll post updates here as I progress.. 


Right now I'm working on doing the first test conversion on the new server.. 


Attached File  Screen Shot 2019-03-17 at 11.35.31 AM.png   50.09KB   9 downloads


This particular step is simply changing the character encoding of the entire database, which is necessary before the actual conversion can take place..  This step alone is going to take hours, but it may be something I can do to the live forum before I do the final conversion (which would save time when the site needs to be converted over).  I have to be careful, though, as I don't want to cause any problems on the live forum.  :)


I'll get into some of the new/changed features of the upgraded forum as I have time.. 



Convert NTSC Atari 2600 to PAL?

Thu Mar 7, 2019 8:20 AM

Is it possible to convert an NTSC Atari 2600 to PAL?  if so, what is involved?  Is it easier to just buy a PAL 2600? 


I now have a CRT monitor capable of displaying both PAL and NTSC signals (with a second on the way!) and I'd like to have at least one PAL 2600 so I can better test PAL50 and PAL60 homebrews and see the correct color palette.  


Thanks in advance for any advice. 



Best way to enjoy games on a real 8-bit?

Tue Jan 22, 2019 11:55 AM

What's the best way to play games on a real Atari 8-bit computer?  While emulation is fine and dandy, I'd really like to play games on a physical computer on a nice CRT television (of which I have many, to say nothing of the tons of Commodore 1702s I own).  I currently have a stock Atari 800XL setup, but I have many other 8-bits as well (400s, 800s, 800XLs, 1200XLs, 130XE, etc).  I guess the first question would be, which 8-bit is ideal?  Next question is, best way to get the games onto the 8-bit to fire them up? 


I do have a SiDE2 cart that uses a Compact Flash card..   It's nice, but all my computers have SD card slots now, and I have to hunt down a CF card reader to load files onto it. 


Curious to hear about others' setups. 





Favorite Atari 8-bit Computer Homebrew Games?

Tue Jan 22, 2019 11:48 AM

I know there have been quite a few great Atari 8-bit homebrew games released over time, and I'd really like to try them out.  Some I have played, but I know there are many I have never personally experienced.  I'd love to get recommendations from members here on what their favorite Atari 8-bit homebrews are.  Doesn't matter when they were released, I just want to hear everyone's favorites.  I can then track them down and try them out. 


Here's the list of games suggested, posted here in alphabetical order.  Last updated 01/24/19: 


Atari Blast!
Baby Berks
Bomb Jack
Castle Crisis
Combat (2600)
Deathchase XE
Dimo's Dungeon
Dimo's Quest
Donkey Kong Arcade
Dr. Mario XE
Druidarium (WIP)
Dungeon Hunt
Dyna Blaster
Electro Maniac
h3x0r (1K & Deluxe)
Heli In the Caves (Ext. Edition)
His Dark Majesty
Hundreds of 10Liners
Jewel Bits
Jim Slide
Loops (DX & Zen)
Major Blink
Manic Miner
Mind Blast
Ocean Detox
Pac-Man Arcade
Pang (PAL)
Platform Engine
Project-M v2
Ridiculous Reality
Seaquest (2600)
Skool Daze
Space Harrier
Star Raiders (Phaeron v7a)
Stunt Car Racer
Sudoku Sweep
Tempest Elite
Time Pilot
Yie Ar Kung-Fu