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craigm71

New to Atari 8-Bit Computers

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Hello everyone! I am a regular to the Colecovision Adam (the computer I grew up on) here at AtariAge, but now I am looking into getting into the Atari Computer side of the house after collecting for the 2600 and just getting done with the book Atari - Business is fun (wondering if Business is War will ever come out =/)

 

I have been doing some research but I thought I would ask the experts on their opinion of what I should look for.

 

As of now, I am between the Atari 800 and the Atari XL Series. While I never had an Atari Computer when I grew up, I knew a few kids that had the 400/800, never even seen the XL version though.

 

It would be nice if someone can also point me to any upgrades (modern) to these computers as with my Adam, I have modded it so it runs on my 4K TV. It would be nice to do the same here.

 

My basic ideas is to learn the system, play games, and learn some programming possibly.

 

Thanks ahead of time!

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In my opinion, from an historical perspective, the original Atari 800 is a wonderful collector piece. Because when it came out in 1979 - it was truly innovative. By the time the 800XL came out, it was competing against more recently released machines by lowering the price, rather than continued hardware innovation.

 

However, because the 800XL is far more easily upgradeable. Although the Atari 800 has a nice built in s-video (just need a cable) and therefore may work for you without upgrade, if you do want a nice upgrade I would go with a VBXE (Video Board XE) mod, and it'll work on a XL or XE machine.

 

It allows you to get RGB out. I had mine installed with hd15 VGA type port, to hook up that signal directly to a monitor using a VGA cable. Of course the monitor still has to be able to sync down to 15khz, since it isn't actually a VGA signal, but rgb. In the end I found a monitor that looks great, but doesn't scan down, so I use a cheap ebay scan doubler...and wa-la, my 800XL hooked up to a vga monitor, and I love it.

 

Since most TV's can scan down, you may not even need a scan doubler...just install a VBXE and ready to go.

 

I love the display of my Atari 800XL with VBXE card....it is rock solid and beautiful and I never had anything like it back in the day.

 

Btw, I never owned a colecovision back in the day, but did get into colecovision programming a few years ago. I never completed a project, but I had two gamess fairly far along. So, you know....at this point feel like I know the colecovision well, and still have a colecovision in my garage :) it is some awesome hardware for sure.

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A fully socketed ( Hong Kong )800xl is great. All of the 600xl's are socketed, and it's easy to upgrade them to 64k and put a monitor port in them. A upgraded 600xl has the smallest footprint. I have them for sale on my site : eightbitfix.com.

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Thanks for the responses!

 

Dmitry, that is what I want to do my Adam soon (program), I am looking to move soon, so it will be after that, but I really do love that system.

 

Atari 800XL with VBXE card sounds like the way to go. I was doing some more research and what does everyone think of the 130XE, that was the last 8-bit computer from Atari correct? They are a little cheaper on ebay (blah) and if they are move powerful or better to upgrade, maybe that would be the way to go?

 

Paul, thank you for pointing me to your website now, I am looking at what you have to offer!

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Love the 130XE, but it was not built with quality materials and the case is subject to all sorts of weird discolouring and fading issues. In terms of build quality, 400/800>XL>XE. XE keyboards are also mushy.

 

I'd go with an A/V modded XL and a flash drive for maximum flexibility.

Edited by davidcalgary29

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A fully socketed ( Hong Kong )800xl is great. All of the 600xl's are socketed, and it's easy to upgrade them to 64k and put a monitor port in them. A upgraded 600xl has the smallest footprint. I have them for sale on my site : eightbitfix.com.

Especially the PAL model, they already have a monitor port built in. All they need is the luma and chroma lines restored plus some tweaks for a nice display on a good 15khz CRT monitor ( Philips , 1084 or Sony ). Edited by shoestring

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Love the 130XE, but it was not built with quality materials and the case is subject to all sorts of weird discolouring and fading issues. In terms of build quality, 400/800>XL>XE. XE keyboards are also mushy.

 

I'd go with an A/V modded XL and a flash drive for maximum flexibility.

 

I agree on the XE.. also the mylar flexible PCB that XE and most XL keyboards have do not last (the traces corrode and are difficult to fix). I like early XLs which have phenolic PCBs. They can certainly break, but even if you crack the PCB, it can be easily fixed.

 

I just bought an original 800 in unknown condition for sake of nostalgia. I was 17 last time I owned one :-)

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I love my 130XE - If you want to program and use a real disk drive then the 130XE's ramdisk is really convenient.

 

I guess you are going to get many answers, but you will really enjoy whatever system/setup you go for :thumbsup:

 

Do I need to plug the High Score Club? YES! join in any time ;)

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XE keyboard mylars and keyboard mushy-ness is fixable from Best Electronics.

They seem to be sitting on a mountain of untouched Atari XE keyboards, and have better quality replacement mylars and "best touch" keyboard rubbers so that the XE keyboard becomes a joy to work on instead of the piece of tat they originally were.

 

I recommend going this path for any XE keyboard owner.

 

The XE series isn't all that bad, but they do require some modifications to make them better.

Edited by Neo-Rio

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