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I finally found some time to start digitizing the Madison Area Atari Users' Group newsletters and game disks my dad brought on his last visit (discussed in my previous post). The first two newsletters contain information on the Rambo XL 256K memory upgrade. The Oct. 1985 Special Issue newsletter describes the upgrade and contains a listing to patch DOS 2.5 so that it will work with the upgrade to provide two 720-sector ramdisks. The November 1985 issue describes the Terminator XL (gotta love those 80s movies), which is a 512K memory upgrade. It also provides the artwork for a circuit board that can be used with either the Rambo XL or Terminator XL upgrade. I suspect that's the circuit board in my family's original upgraded 800XL. I have no idea whether any of the programs on the game disks are rare, but I’m guessing they aren’t. So far I’ve scanned disks 1, 2, 4, 7, and 24 (skipped ahead because I remembered Sanctified Quest for Power and Beneath the Pyramid fondly). The sound the menu makes when disk 1 boots up brought back a lot of memories One thing I'm curious about: the October newsletter says, "Don't count on the duplicate disk function always working between ramdisks." Sure enough, when I tried to duplicate a physical floppy to the ramdisk, it failed. Any ideas why this would be?
Recently I brought "the one that started it all" out of storage: the 800XL my dad bought for our family as a Christmas gift when I was 6. I wanted to clean up the video and add chroma, so I opened the case for the first time in probably almost 30 years. I was also curious to see the Rambo XL upgrade my dad installed to increase the memory to 256K. My dad was a member of the Madison (WI) Area Atari User's Group, or MAAUG. Having heard that "more memory is good," we decided to install the upgrade, which we purchased from the user's group. I think we thought that the existing programs we had would automagically run faster or better once the additional memory was in. The reality was that, years later, I dug out an old MAAUG newsletter and realized that unless you wrote your own software, had a program specifically written to take advantage of the 130XE's extra memory, or used a special DOS to set up a ramdisk, that memory was just sitting there idle. Other than using the ramdisk to save a few BASIC programs I was typing in (I was amazed at the speed), I never really used it. I'm hoping to change that now Upon opening the case, the upgrade in all its glory was revealed! My dad has excellent soldering skills, but he told me he was terribly afraid that he would hook it all up and find out that he had bricked the computer. Some of the MAAUG members held "soldering parties" to install the upgrade and test it out. I'm sure my dad was greatly relieved when everything worked. I have attached a picture of the upgrade. Luckily we had a socketed motherboard, so soldering the pins on the PIA was easier. If I can find the newsletter that details the upgrade, I'll post that here too. One other "time capsule" find. At some point a year or two after we got the computer, I had the stomach flu and threw up all over the keyboard! Undaunted, my dad disassembled the computer, took out the keyboard, and washed it. It's still working today! After I opened the case, I noticed some discoloring that could only have come from this incident. Memories...