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oracle_jedi

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About oracle_jedi

  • Rank
    Dragonstomper
  • Birthday 01/06/1971

Profile Information

  • Custom Status
    Nothing to Declare
  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Seattle, WA
  • Interests
    Atari 8bit, 7800, Jaguar, ST, PC1, Falcon; Commodore VIC-20, Max, C64; Amiga 500, 1200; TI-99/4A; Sord M5; Camputers Lynx
  • Currently Playing
    Lemmings (Atari PC1 in glorious CGA)
  1. For the PSU, I'd just add a barrel connector to your existing cable and create a short pig tail to drive the VIC from the Atari PSU. I use a number of pigtails for systems I don't have the original PSU for, or I just don't want to have the extra hassle of dedicated units for each system. For software and accessories, the basic VIC is very limited with just 5K of RAM. Get a 32K switchable RAM card. That should let you run most of the original games and applications, including those that were originally on ROM cartridge. You will also need a way to load and save games and apps. Look for an SD2IEC solution, something that lets you puts programs or whole disk images on an SD card, and then load them into the VIC via the disk interface. Also check out the VIC20 Denial forum. Lot's of great help there as well as access to many new games if that's your thing.
  2. I need to respray an STFM case. Anyone know a good way to remove the power and floppy LED lenses? They seemed to be glued in, and I don't want to break them on getting them out.
  3. If your primary motivation is playing Lucasfilm and Llamasoft games off a near instant load media, the 400 may not be your best choice. You've already fixed a failed membrane keyboard, and it sounds as if that wasn't inexpensive. But now you are limited to 48K of RAM, RF video and many of the cartridge port solutions either wont work on the 400, or wont fit in the cartridge bay with the door closed. As cute as the 400 is, you might be better off looking for an XL or XE machine with more capabilities and fewer limitations.
  4. In July 1984 Jack Tramiel acquired the consumer-market assets of Atari Inc. including the rights to the Atari name and associated fuji marketing logos. Plus he got by most accounts, warehouses full of unsold stock that still had a significant market value, product placements and sponsorship at the upcoming Summer Olympics, a complete and ready-to-manufacture replacement 7800 video game console, and the ongoing rights to several video game properties including some Nintendo titles for the home computer market. He acquired a global manufacturing and distribution network, and from memory Warner agreed to settle most outstanding debt. In short he got one heck of a deal. Knowing what we know today about the success of video games, it is tragic that Atari has been relegated to a purveyor of goofy retro consoles and ported-to-iphone penny games. Much of that blame belongs to the Tramiel clan. To be fair, Tramiel inherited a mess. Warner had mis-managed Atari badly. Like many MBA-led tech giants I have worked for, senior management mistook early success for their own business acumen, and hubris took over. The wild success of the 2600 after Space Invaders was licensed and a half-decent port released, was followed up by the cynical money-grabbing shit show that was Pac-Man, and the catastrophic disaster that was ET. I've heard Howard Scott Warshaw on stage at PRGE, hotly contesting that ET "wasn't the worst game on the 2600!". True enough. But it was the biggest disappointment ever released on any console, and a video game buying public twice conned by the marketing hacks at Atari were not going to be fooled a third time. James Morgan had quite sensibly halted some of the more bizarre Atari cash burning projects such as the 1400XL and 1450XLD machines, but also left the company with no future computing strategy. Tramiel brought his own baggage to the party. His Wikipedia page has several quotes to dealers who had been burned by him at his time at Commodore, and his penchant for trying to micro-manage every decision. His "stack 'em high, sell 'em cheap", no money for marketing, "build it and they will come" approach may have worked well in the early days of the PET and VIC20, but by the mid 80s it wasn't going to cut it anymore. His rock-bottom-price approach was a by-product of earlier career losses to the Japanese and TI, but it left no margin for serious product development. The C64 was a massive success in large part due to the low price. But there were several low-price micros in 1982. What Tramiel seemed to miss was that the C64 was also successful in large part due to the VICII and SID chips that blessed the machine with its remarkable abilities. If he had understood that key point, I believe the ST would have entered the market with more capabilities in this respect, especially audio. The Atari ST was remarkable for being introduced so quickly, but the machine lacked serious graphical and audio capabilities that are a requirement for a video game platform. He seemed to think his 1040ST with cheap laser printer was a good fit for small businesses, but who was going to support it when he had burned all his distribution bridges? Atari bought Federated Stores without doing their homework and lost what little working capital they had left, and the razor thin margins on the ST meant that development seemed to be stalled. As you say above, the STE should have been released in 1987, and might have allowed Atari to compete with the Amiga 500 at a price point that still allowed them to innovate. Instead we had a series of somewhat useless semi-portables and repackaged mega machines, and a TT that Atari didn't seem to know what to do with. Had he got the 7800 to market in 1984 and built some strategy to lure developers into supporting the platform or used legal means to break Nintendo's exclusive platform license policy, he might have kept that revenue stream open for longer, and we might have seen competitive Atari consoles into the late 90s. And what the hell was the XEP80 supposed to be? So in summary I feel Tramiels' wheeling and dealing squeezed another few years out of Atari. I am grateful for the 130XE, the STE and the Falcon. I supposed few others could have done much better. But Tramiel never seemed to have much of a vision. Someone who understood the value of the Atari brand, had vision, and a few million in working capital... Some dreams never die.
  5. Maybe someone with a 3D printer could make up some STF/E drive slot "shims". Basically a hollow rectangle that you glue over the modded drive bay hold to hide the less-than-machine-accurate cuts made with a drill bit and xacto knife. Would be handy for anyone replacing a failed ST drive with an industry standard 3.5 unit.
  6. My Atari 800 and 800XL had a brief hibernation in 1987 when I got my first 520ST. But I became frustrated with the ST on a number of fronts, sold it in 89/90 and moved back to the 800XL. They then had a four-year hibernation late 1990 to 1994 when I was at Uni. After Uni I had a little more space, but not much. The 800XL moved to the living room and became the "games machine" which due to space meant primarily cartridges. I even threw out all of the boxes (gasp!) because they took up space and really, who would ever want those? A larger house, a home office and Nick Kennedy's SIO2PC broke the XL's dependency on a large and clunky 1050. The 8-bits have been a regular fixture of the home office ever since spending about six months of the year of the desk and then yielding some time to the other retro systems - the VIC20 collection, the TI99/4A, the Amiga or the Falcon.
  7. Thank you for doing this! I remember looking at the Silica Shop advert every month on the back page of Personal Computing Today magazine - a black and white scan of that stock Atari photo with the 400 and the 800, and in large text across the top of the ad "100 FREE PROGRAMS" The 12yr old me imagined the 100 programs would include Space Invaders and Pac-Man. Going to be fun to see how wrong I was
  8. I've always had a soft spot for old school emulators. Although common place today, BITD there was something absolutely fascinating to me about an Atari ST running a PC, ZX81 or TRS80 emulator in software, or emulating a Macintosh with a hardware add-on. I've never owned anything by Apple, and so it was relatively recently I learned about the Apple IIe emulator that Apple made for the Macintosh LC line. It sounds like a really cool idea and it has me interested in trying to acquire an LC III and the Apple IIe card. I like the LC III as it is compact, and still relatively cheap. It seems it would not require a major investment in money or space, and would allow some of the common Mac games of the era to play on native hardware. What's everyone's opinion on the Apple IIe card? Does it allow most IIe applications and games to run, or it is only a subset of the most well behaved apps and only games that do little to exploit the IIe's features? If I got one, would popular IIe games that run fine be the norm, or the exception? Interested to hear people's thoughts.
  9. oracle_jedi

    Camputers Lynx

    Some pictures of my growing collection of Camputers Lynx hardware.
  10. As others have stated, with the Incognito expansion board, the original Atari 800 is the ultimate 8-bit Atari. It can run pretty much everything, the keyboard is good (albeit with a horrendous position), is almost indestructible, and you can bask in the glorious late 70s design language. But as I understand it, the Incognito is currently out of production and we don't have any firm dates on if or when another run will be done. Without Incognito, the 800 is quite limited. Many of the XL/XE era games, including later cartridges, need 64K, and many of the best games and demos released in the last 15 years need even more. Whereas there are RAM expansions for the stock 800, none of them AFAIK, follow the Claus Buchholz design, which is what pretty much all of the XL/XE software expects to see. So what do you want to do when you go home? If playing the early to mid 80s Atari classics is your thing then the 800 is great. If Bombjack, Numen, Commando or Yie Ar Kung Fu is your thing then the stock 800 won't help much. Or get the 800, and if/when Incognito 2 is available, you'll be set.
  11. Whereas there is some serious technical skills on display in this project, it is not something I find especially interesting. Retro computing for me is a mix of nostalgia, fulfilling cravings from childhood, exploring how different vendors brought unique solutions to common problems against a backdrop of limited resources and limited technology and just playing fun and unusual 8-bit and 16-bit games from a time when you didn't need to invest three months in a game to make any progress, have a controller with 23 buttons, join a clan, or buy your way to success through in-game purchases. David's project will doubtless use a USB-connected generic PC keyboard and output a rock solid display via HDMI or VGA to a generic LCD monitor. There will be no quirky game library to explore. No puzzling over why the unit wont power up only to discover it needs a cartridge inserted before it will do anything. No admiring the kitschy 70s design language. Or laughing at the goofy picture of the family crowding around the magical computer that we saw on the retail packages of machines like the VIC 20 or Dragon 32. The final product, while very impressive, will probably remind me of a Raspberry Pi, only without the ability to emulate almost every other 8-bit and 16-bit machine. Nonetheless I wish them luck with this.
  12. If you put a USA TOS ROM in a UK ST, wont that cause the keyboard to become mis-mapped? There are not a lot of changes between the US and UK layouts, but I would find it very irritating when I needed a back-slash or double quotes and kept having to go look up where that symbol is.
  13. If you have 48K RAM you can just load BASIC from disk.
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