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segasaturn

questions and thoughts about the 8bit cassette players

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I just got the 1010 cassette player for my 800xl and it works pretty good! I have a few questions about it however. I got 2 cassettes so far. Invitation to programming and invitation to sound. Im currently trying to learn basic. I was wondering how the cassette player "works". I never got how a cassette can play video on the screen ( I thought it could only play audio).....do any of you guys know what it works? Also do any of you use your cassette players a lot? More than the floppy drive? Is it reliable? Lastly are there any good cassette games? Im not getting any now, I'm just thinking down the road when I have more money of course, any you guys recommend?

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It doesn't play video, it's just that the computer has sufficient time to be able to do some other stuff in the background while a tape loads (same applies to disk & other devices).

 

In the case that the tape drive is just being used to playback audio, then the computer is totally free to do what it wants.

 

Good tape games? Anything on tape is also available on disk. Practically anything that's single-stage load and on disk should work on tape if you can stand the loading time.

A reasonable percentage of the overall games on disk can also be had on tape, I don't know the number but probably 2/3rds or more.

 

You don't have to buy games on tape unless for collecting reasons, you can get .CAS files from places like Atarimania and use utilities like CAS2WAV to create audio files which can be then used to get them onto tape.

 

Also, the cassette adaptors which came out for cars to allow e.g. using your walkman thru the tape player - they can be used with MP3 players to get things to load without using real cassettes.

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Also do any of you use your cassette players a lot? More than the floppy drive? Is it reliable? Lastly are there any good cassette games? Im not getting any now, I'm just thinking down the road when I have more money of course, any you guys recommend?

No, I don't and didn't use it a lot. I was happy when I got rid of the thing. It is slow, very slow compared to the disk. And it's not reliable, no.

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I've always thought that bundling "An Invitation to Programming" with the 800XL/1010 package (as it was here in the UK for several years) was a very cynical move. I imagine that many computer newbies, whose first experience with an A8 was to sit through "An Invitation", naturally assumed that their Atari was "speaking" to them, and that the video display was being spooled from the cassette somehow. Even though I was already familiar with the Atari (having fiddled around with a friend's 800), when I eventually became an 800XL/1010 owner in 1984, I felt that "An Invitation" created a false impression (and raised expectations) about the machine's capabilities. Especially given that for the majority of users, "An Invitation" would be both their first and last encounter with that style of multi-media production.

 

All of that said, I can still recite large portions of it, thanks to the engaging narrator.

 

I remember wondering how the computer "knew" when to change the display to keep in sync with the soundtrack. Perhaps it was just precision-timed, but I seem to recall an audible tone would signal the computer to display to change. Did the program go into a loop listening for the cue once the new display was drawn? The cue presumably recorded onto the data track (was it possible to "listen" to the audio track within a program?).

 

Two great features (and curses) of the Atari cassette system - stereo soundtrack and the ability to start/stop the motor...

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Slow, unreliable. The belts fail and cost more than alternate SIO methods.

 

A DIY SIO2PC interface comes to maybe $7 in parts. An Atarimax USB APE interface is affordable and either option dozens of times faster than tape.

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For me, getting an old tape drive was about having a fun nostalgia trip. Not practical at all but it brings the memories of my early computing days rushing back.

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It's OK once in a while I suppose. Last time I endured it was when testing a few C64 tapes I was selling a couple of years ago.

Given that people don't have a lot of time to devote to this hobby, in most cases you want to be able to cram as much into those couple of hours a day as possible.

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I loved my 410! Sure, it wasn't very fast, and every third or fourth time you'd get an error and have to reboot, but it was FAR better than cassettes for other systems (especially the C64), and not THAT bad. The ability to play audio while loading data was also a big plus for the Atari cassettes. Of course, once I got my Percom DD floppy, I never used the cassette again. :)

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You will find a fringe group of cassette guru's on atari age that still use their cassettes. Its a good thing cuz when I got started on my atari I was using a 410 and I needed quite a bit of help. They were very helpful. I didn't have my sio2pc at that point and the 410 was my way of getting games off the web. That whole process did get very cumbersome, now that I have my sio2pc and 1050 my 410 doesn't see much action. But I will never let it go I still fire it just to hear it go and play a game of bruce lee from time to time.

Edited by Dripfree

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Yeah, I have a 1050 as sell, I've been eyeing the 1010 for a while and finally got one in the wild. Floppy drives are faster yes, but personally I always thought it was more interesting to use a cassette (something that is different). Like I said before, I thought cassettes only played audio but looking it up online, I guess the player had a feature called duel track or something like that so the audio syncs with the music,I thought that was interesting.

Edited by segasaturn

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Yeah, I have a 1050 as sell, I've been eyeing the 1010 for a while and finally got one in the wild. Floppy drives are faster yes, but personally I always thought it was more interesting to use a cassette (something that is different). Like I said before, I thought cassettes only played audio but looking it up online, I guess the player had a feature called duel track or something like that so the audio syncs with the music,I thought that was interesting.

Here's if you want to play with your cassette and have a disk drive or SIO2PC. You can make a Sargon III tape and a Battle Eagle tape. The ATX5.BAS is a general purpose single stage disk file to tape program,

it tries to coach you how to make the BASIC program to make a tape writing program. The ATSARG.BAS is for Sargon III and ATBTL.BAS makes a Battle Eagle tape. The TRAK2.BAS you can use to

determine if a disk file is single stage or not. RUN the corresponding BASIC program and give the filespec of the disk file (D1:SARG3.COM) for ATSARG.BAS, (D:BATLEGL.XEX) for ATBTL.BAS and let 'er rip.

The TAP2FLE.zip (ATR) will go the other way, make a single stage disk file from a single stage boot tape.

FILE2CAS.zip

TAP2FLE.zip

Edited by russg

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In the 90s, i was very often at Dutch computer fairs with my Atari 130Xe. I used an XC-12 Atari tapedeck, and we always had some audio tapes filled with metal or Amiga music. a simpel visual demo made in basic or assembler and using the trick of the audio tape had a lot of folks impressed... We lied a bit.. (of course...). Most folks where impressed by the audio, but didnt knew that it wasnt the Atari that did make the music, but it was just an ordinary audio tape. hihi.

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