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Freder

Turning the 2600 into a computer?

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Over the past few months I've been running the idea of turning the 2600 into a computer through my head. It came to me after finding my BASIC programming cart and wondering how it could be improved upon.

 

The first changes I thought about were implementing an ascii keyboard into port 0 via UART and using output to port 1 as a way of loading/saving programs to tape. A computer without a way to load and save programs is pretty much just a calculator.

 

I also thought about trying to write a simple BASIC interpreter for the machine but after considering the memory limitations of the 6507 and the 2600 itself I had worked out on paper a keyword oriented BASIC dialect that seemed to be a cross between "BASIC programming" and the Zx80. The language itself took up 8k, not including the routines to communicate with the keyboard, so I figured a simpler approach was needed.

 

I decided to scrap the BASIC idea and go for a machine code monitor with a 24 key hex keypad. The monitor I'm working on is just under 2k and I figure a hex keypad would be easier to implement hardware wise. My biggest problem at the moment is that it is a machine code monitor and would probably be more for novelty value or for the most hard core programmers : P

 

Any thoughts?

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Its your project so you can do what you want. Modern homebrew developers wouldn't use a target machine code monitor in my opinion. Its so much easier to fire up your emulator of choice and debug your game that way ;).

 

Having said that, as long as you are having fun and learning new stuff along the way that's what the hobby is all about.

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Great idea Freder. What about modifying the ROM on a CompuMate instead? It's already got the keyboard and connection to load and save from cassette?

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You might want to check out the Atari Graduate as well:

http://www.atarimuseum.com/videogames/consoles/2600/a3000.html

Awsome! I stumbled upon a magazine artical about this (un named product at the tiem of its printing) and asked here if anyone knew what became of it...

 

As for the "why"..why not? I love the idea of a cart that does its own thing and just uses the console as a video card. How about..showing atari that if they would of got their heads out of their asses they could of saved their company.

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As for the "why"..why not?
Because it would be a lot of work devoted to something that would never get used? ;)

 

 

How about..showing atari that if they would of got their heads out of their asses they could of saved their company.
No..."The Graduate" was part of what was wrong with Atari...bleeding dollars into something what would have very little chance commercially. Win or lose, tho...it would not have made any difference in the market. The console crash was inevitable by then.
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Over the past few months I've been running the idea of turning the 2600 into a computer through my head.

I wouldn't do it. It would hurt and everything would be covered in blood.

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As for the "why"..why not? I love the idea of a cart that does its own thing and just uses the console as a video card. How about..showing atari that if they would of got their heads out of their asses they could of saved their company.

 

I think the only way I'd want to try to improve on what the Compumate already did would be to add a DPC+ chip or something into the mix, allowing more flexibility in the "use the console as a video(/audio) card" concept. But I'm definitely no hardware hacker.

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Like most folks here, I find the use of ancient hardware for anything other than it's original purpose exciting. :)

 

I've always wondered about using the 2600 just as a video output device, for say like FMV. The cart would process and present everything to the vcs.

 

Or what about having controllers plug right into the cart itself? Or have a video out on the cart. Lots of cool ideas!

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i would love to see modern or hacked hardware for the 2600. but it will definately require programming as well..

 

would the 24key double keypad arrangement like use with the basic cart be enough to type? some people type on a phone! what about simple communication from a jack on the cart?

Edited by player 0ne

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would the 24key double keypad arrangement like use with the basic cart be enough to type? some people type on a phone! what about simple communication from a jack on the cart?

 

Well, the keyboard controllers would be able to handle sms texting. There's enough keys, just like the outdated cellphones of last year.

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Three keyboards could link together. instead they plug into the cart. maybe then the cart plugs into the controller port.

fredder, have you made any progress? I think if someone mocked up the hardware it would help inspiration. someone posted pics of the inside of the compumate cart.

 

the gameline for atari was eventually to have email forums news ect. why are there no usefull carts? applications? books? relay controller cart? does the atari actually know the resistance of the paddles? if so couldnt an atari tell you approximate resistance in a range, or be used for displaying the rotation of some attached device?

 

someone please come shoot my ideas out of the water. otherwise ill have to start threads and bore people with ideas everyones allready had.

 

I never got around to learning any programming. so i thought it would be fun to learn atari basic. I know there are drastic limitations, but i would love to work with some hardware people.

 

would new hardware for an old machine sell? im buying a harmony cart asap. do homebrew carts sell? has anyone made mock ups of new hardware? any other ideas for new hardware?

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