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smartkitten26

Did the shape of the Atari 400 come from the Apple II?

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The shapes of those computers look very similer, And the co-founder of apple did work at atari once, could the shape of the 400 of been inspired by the apple II??

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Doubt it.

 

Computers of the late 1970s tended to still have that typewriter look, such as high-profile build and/or deep case. e.g. Apple, Atari, TRS-80 (high profile at least), PET (although monitor built in).

 

The manufacturing technique dictated shape to a large extent too, it wasn't really until 1981 or so until you could build a reasonably complex machine contained on a single smallish board.

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You took the words out of my ... keyboard. The TI 99 4a, Tandys, etc., all took a theme from typewriters it seems. It was what people were used to I guess, and it wouldn't look too out of place if all of a sudden their typewriters were replaced by similarly shaped computers.

 

A lot of the word processors kept the luggable look, my friend has a Smith Corona that I would have sworn was a luggable pc but it was a word processor. My Apple IIc has a carry handle, so does my Toshiba 1200, both kinda look like typewriters.

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I reckon it's dual cause - part of the weaning process for people "scared" of the new tech, as well as the technical aspect, ie the earlier machines tended to need multiple boards and tended to use high-profile componentry.

 

Really, if you look at the constituent parts of a 400, with some reorganisation it could probably have easily fit into a C64 form-factor case, albeit probably a bit bulkier. The internal power supply also adds bulk, and could easily have been put in a brick like later machines.

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I reckon it's dual cause - part of the weaning process for people "scared" of the new tech, as well as the technical aspect, ie the earlier machines tended to need multiple boards and tended to use high-profile componentry.

 

Really, if you look at the constituent parts of a 400, with some reorganisation it could probably have easily fit into a C64 form-factor case, albeit probably a bit bulkier. The internal power supply also adds bulk, and could easily have been put in a brick like later machines.

 

Actually the shape of both the 400 and 800 were dictated by the expansive RF Shielding required at the time by the FCC

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You took the words out of my ... keyboard. The TI 99 4a, Tandys, etc., all took a theme from typewriters it seems. It was what people were used to I guess, and it wouldn't look too out of place if all of a sudden their typewriters were replaced by similarly shaped computers.

 

I think the TI-99/4 took the TI calculator designs and super-sized them. TI went with a high-tech black and silver (slightly bronze on the original 99/4 IIRC).

 

Atari opted for wood grain effects on the VCS to promote user acceptance in the home at a time when most TVs came in wooden cases, but I believe they used the IBM Selectric type writer as the inspiration for the design of the 800, using a fetching shade of 70s brown. The Atari 400 was an 800 that was shrunk and made more angular, possibly to reduce the cost of the moulding process. It shares the same 70s colour scheme as its big brother, but opts for a truly 70s wedge shape. Perhaps Curt could shed more light on the designs here?

 

The PET 2001 design seems to draw from the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey", using a similar font on the keyboard as seen on board the Discovery in the Kubrick classic, as well as the use of red and blue keys which mirrors the use of primary colours in the film. The case design was pure opportunism, as Jack Tramiel owned a sheet metal manufacturer and decided it was cheaper to use that to case the PET computer than develop a real plastic case as Apple had done for the II.

 

Commodore later realized the keyboard and case of the PET limited user acceptance outside of business and academic institutions, and choose an effective white plastic case design with full type writer keyboard for the VIC-20. The look of the VIC almost certainly helped the machine sell, being seen as a "real computer" versus the odd looking Atari 400 or calculator TI. In almost every other category both the Atari and the TI out-classed the VIC.

 

Personally I think the late 70s and early 80s produced some real experimentation in consumer electronic designs, far more so than today where everything is shrunk so small than anyone with big fingers finds it impossible to type.

Edited by oracle_jedi

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...but I believe they used the IBM Selectric type writer as the inspiration for the design of the 800, using a fetching shade of 70s brown. The Atari 400 was an 800 that was shrunk and made more angular, possibly to reduce the cost of the moulding process. It shares the same 70s colour scheme as its big brother, ...

Is that what you call the Atari 400/800 color-- "fetching shade of 70s brown" or is there a real color defined for it?

 

>...look of the VIC almost certainly helped the machine sell, being seen as a "real computer" versus the odd looking Atari 400 or calculator TI. In almost every other category both the Atari and the TI out-classed the VIC.

 

>Personally I think the late 70s and early 80s produced some real experimentation in consumer electronic designs, far more so than today where everything is shrunk so small than anyone with big fingers finds it impossible to type.

 

I agree with you on those complicated keyboards-- they were better off just having a one-button mouse/pen interface. However, I would say Atari 400 has a very simple interface for playing cartridge games to go along with a simple joystick. I have a mouse for a PC with buttons all around and every so often you end up pressing some button and you have no idea what it did to the machine-- sometimes it causes the web browser to revert back to some page. Who knows perhaps one combination causes it to reformat the hard drive or erase some subdirectory.

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Hmmm interesting topic.

 

I just googled images for..

 

Apple I

Apple II

Atari 400

Atari 800

TRS-80 (silver all in one model)

Sinclair ZX-80

 

To me they all look pretty much identical except the TI 99/4A which looks sufficiently different. The closest resemblance to the Atari 400 is the ZX80 which is almost a mini Atari 400 with just the heat sink/vent on the top being any difference which is obviously a requirement not a design feature of the machine. They both have the angular sharp edged look that the Apple II doesn't have (and the A800 also doesn't have as much)

 

atari48.jpg

zx80.jpg

tandy_trs80.jpg

appleii-right.jpg

 

Maybe the 1200XL and Texas Instruments TI 99/4A are similar in a way

ti-994a.jpg

insideatari1.JPG

 

The C64/VIC20/C16 look nothing like that nor does the PET to be honest. However the VIC20/C64 designs look similar to the later Memotech MTX-500 and MTX-512 apart from the keypad on the Memotech and the case being metal not plastic.

1izb40.jpg

_42684671_commodore_64.jpg

 

And then we have my two favourite computer designs of all time.

 

The original ST/STM which is the most beautiful of all the one piece keyboards ever.

atari520st-left.jpg

 

And for a traditional computer the simple but elegant Amiga 1000

amiga1000.jpg

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