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I have everything I want for the Atari 8-bit. Now what?

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Storage unit break-ins must be a thing. Just days before mine was heisted I had removed all my Apple II stuff (in between moves). Cops thought they were looking for PlayStation stuff.

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That’s a good question, I don’t think it’s stepped but I’ll have to check.

In a nutshell, I describe the feel of the c64 keyboard like you’re hitting bricks with a mushy stop as opposed to a sudden stop on the XL. Not the best to type on but still much better than the XE. The later keyboards in the c models feel better, they use 3mm plungers instead of 5mm but they stil have that mushy stop everyone hates. My original brread bin c64 didn’t have that mushy stop though, it felt quite different to every
other keyboard I’ve typed on.

Touch typing is possible but the space bar on mine feels a little tight so you may find it less appealing than touch typing on an XL.

Edited by shoestring
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Storage unit break-ins must be a thing. Just days before mine was heisted I had removed all my Apple II stuff (in between moves). Cops thought they were looking for PlayStation stuff.

I guess so. I had some expensive stuff in there, but I also had loads of Commodore, Apple, Atari and TI stuff in there that was intended for salvage and restoration, most of which was not currently in working condition and probably tossed by the thieves. And it was the stuff most important to me, because i could have restored it all.

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Ah!

 

Yes!

 

This is where I have reached the same point. My Atari history goes pretty long back, and has been in two periods of time. 1984-1991 and 1995-now ... only 4 years of pause. In 1991 I sold everything to a friend, which I did regret from day 1. So in 1995 a Dutch toy warehouse started selling NOS Atari XE computers with 10 games. So I decided to buy one. Yes 1995 has been an important year. The atari fever kicked in real hard. I was 19 years old and I thought: why did I ever left this fabulous platform? So I started coding, and collecting stuff. I started using the BlackBox with SCSI harddrives, and that was amazing too. But... I also noticed some flaws and I had some harddisk crashes. I started interested in fixing all the flaws and searching for the BEST thinkable atari setup. The BlackBox, one of my most favorite add ons ever, started to make me worry. What if it would die? What if I wouldn't be able to obtain a compatible harddisk ever again... and harddisks hmmm yuk... I wanted something more reliable. So I started looking for something better.

 

This was -I realize this now- the biggest part of the fun for me. I got involved in some way in the MyIDE project and started betatesting and writing my own tools to add the features the MyIDE system was missing. Author of MyIDE BIOS implemented most of my wishes so MyIDE system got better and better. But still.... I really missed the BlackBox debugging features (it has a built in ML monitor) and the MyIDE -although I still love it- did not work as good on original -unmodified- atari's. Moving between myide and blackbox all the time. It was so much fun, experience good and bad things. Making decisions. Trying to improve both setups. There was a lot of coding involved. Coding with a purpose is always fun. I used the Mac/65 cartridge, and later I moved to the Synassembler on ROM (since it was only 8K, and easier to use for small routines -> it is possible to test your code without even leaving the cartridge!)

 

And then I got myself the IDE+ 2.0 ... which had almost all the good things from MyIDE, but it was a real PBI device so it worked on stock Atari's! And.... I got myself a Turbo Freezer 2011.... which had even way better debugging features than the blackbox.

 

Meanwhile I experienced with Ultimate 1MB, different SIO based solutions (like the small Sio2IDE 3.3 system, which also motivated me to write better tools for it), different home made memory upgrades and more, more more. I eventually even started to use SpartaDos X, which I love now, but disliked in the past.

 

But on a sudden level I realized: this is my fabulous dream setup. There is really nothing left to dream for. And indeed, this was seriously the end of a lot of fun.

True, I still play games on it. My daughter (10 now) loves the a8 too, so we play multi player games on it.

I use the a8 for my business administration (I run a medium size music school, and all the financial administration is in SynCalc on atari 8bit, pretty cool!).

I use the a8 a complete distraction free write environment in the fabulous THE LAST WORD processor. It works pretty good.

 

My advice indeed is: go using the a8 for stuff, and try to start coding.

 

Today I have almost no time. I am doing a study next to my work. The study already eats 20 hours/week, which is really a lot of time.

Concerning the A8 I miss three things the most:

1. The fine-tuning of the hardware and the software (so hardware fixing and writing tools for personal use in the Synassembler/Mac65)

2. The idea that it is not finished yet, so the endless search (which is also related to #1 of course)

3. The conversations about 1 and 2 -including betatesting- with some of my dearest Atari community friends like FlashJazzcat and TheLen)

 

Of course #3 is still going on, but not as much as earlier.

 

I hope I will find more time in the future, but also more inspiration. I am not good enough in coding to write a serious game or demo. I am afraid I raised the bar too high to get motivated for writing something that other people would appreciate or love too ;)

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Ah!

 

Yes!

 

This is where I have reached the same point. My Atari history goes pretty long back, and has been in two periods of time. 1984-1991 and 1995-now ... only 4 years of pause. In 1991 I sold everything to a friend, which I did regret from day 1. So in 1995 a Dutch toy warehouse started selling NOS Atari XE computers with 10 games. So I decided to buy one. Yes 1995 has been an important year. The atari fever kicked in real hard. I was 19 years old and I thought: why did I ever left this fabulous platform? So I started coding, and collecting stuff. I started using the BlackBox with SCSI harddrives, and that was amazing too. But... I also noticed some flaws and I had some harddisk crashes. I started interested in fixing all the flaws and searching for the BEST thinkable atari setup. The BlackBox, one of my most favorite add ons ever, started to make me worry. What if it would die? What if I wouldn't be able to obtain a compatible harddisk ever again... and harddisks hmmm yuk... I wanted something more reliable. So I started looking for something better.

 

This was -I realize this now- the biggest part of the fun for me. I got involved in some way in the MyIDE project and started betatesting and writing my own tools to add the features the MyIDE system was missing. Author of MyIDE BIOS implemented most of my wishes so MyIDE system got better and better. But still.... I really missed the BlackBox debugging features (it has a built in ML monitor) and the MyIDE -although I still love it- did not work as good on original -unmodified- atari's. Moving between myide and blackbox all the time. It was so much fun, experience good and bad things. Making decisions. Trying to improve both setups. There was a lot of coding involved. Coding with a purpose is always fun. I used the Mac/65 cartridge, and later I moved to the Synassembler on ROM (since it was only 8K, and easier to use for small routines -> it is possible to test your code without even leaving the cartridge!)

 

And then I got myself the IDE+ 2.0 ... which had almost all the good things from MyIDE, but it was a real PBI device so it worked on stock Atari's! And.... I got myself a Turbo Freezer 2011.... which had even way better debugging features than the blackbox.

 

Meanwhile I experienced with Ultimate 1MB, different SIO based solutions (like the small Sio2IDE 3.3 system, which also motivated me to write better tools for it), different home made memory upgrades and more, more more. I eventually even started to use SpartaDos X, which I love now, but disliked in the past.

 

But on a sudden level I realized: this is my fabulous dream setup. There is really nothing left to dream for. And indeed, this was seriously the end of a lot of fun.

True, I still play games on it. My daughter (10 now) loves the a8 too, so we play multi player games on it.

I use the a8 for my business administration (I run a medium size music school, and all the financial administration is in SynCalc on atari 8bit, pretty cool!).

I use the a8 a complete distraction free write environment in the fabulous THE LAST WORD processor. It works pretty good.

 

My advice indeed is: go using the a8 for stuff, and try to start coding.

 

Today I have almost no time. I am doing a study next to my work. The study already eats 20 hours/week, which is really a lot of time.

Concerning the A8 I miss three things the most:

 

1. The fine-tuning of the hardware and the software (so hardware fixing and writing tools for personal use in the Synassembler/Mac65)

2. The idea that it is not finished yet, so the endless search (which is also related to #1 of course)

3. The conversations about 1 and 2 -including betatesting- with some of my dearest Atari community friends like FlashJazzcat and TheLen)

 

Of course #3 is still going on, but not as much as earlier.

 

I hope I will find more time in the future, but also more inspiration. I am not good enough in coding to write a serious game or demo. I am afraid I raised the bar too high to get motivated for writing something that other people would appreciate or love too ;)

I forgot to mention I also use Syncalc and Synfile for my business...guess I'm not the only one. I wish they would work in 80 columns on my Omniview, but I can live with 40 column and scrolling just to be able to do business on my Atari!

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The keyboard on the 800 feels amazing, reminds me of the Apple 2 plus keyboard. I just can't enjoy typing on my other Ataris after getting the 800.

 

The 1200XL was Atari's tipping point. At the beginning, with the 800, Atari was keeping up with Apple and Commodore PET, etc, where quality and sturdiness of build were concerned. But they were losing the battle with market share for business and education, so they were forced to concentrate more on the home computer market, so they came up with the less expensive to build 1200XL, but still quality and sturdy like an Apple II, if not expandable like one. But then out of the blue Commodore comes along with it's less expensive and cheaply built C64 and Atari was forced in light of this new competition (the Vic-20 was a beginner computer and not true competition) Atari was forced to go cheaper too, or lose the home computer market, which they did anyway, but quality had to drop to compete with Commodore at all. So keyboard quality was on a slow downward trend after the remarkable 1200XL keyboard. Of course on top of that, there were lots of critics of the 1200XL, and it got a bad rap, so they had to replace it anyway. But before Tramiel came along, they were planning the 1400XL which probably would have had a better keyboard again since it was to be a flagship model to try and get back into the business and educational market and compete with Apple again...probably too late by then though, with the Macintosh and 16-bits on the horizon. Then you get into the whole Amiga upheaval when Atari and Commodore basically swapped top engineers.

Edited by Gunstar

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I have everything I want for the Atari 8-bit. Now what?

 

Hmmm, if buying / collecting A8 stuff was the most fun for you, simply sell everything and start all over again. Notice how much fun it is to collect everything together again, how much you have to pay this time and how long you need to get everything together again. Some items (hardware and software) are really hard to get nowadays, so if you sell them, it may take a whole lifetime to get them back again, if ever. But you are busy again with buying (or hording/collecting) A8 stuff... and suddenly the fun is back !

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I have everything I want for the Atari 8-bit. Now what?

 

Hmmm, if buying / collecting A8 stuff was the most fun for you, simply sell everything and start all over again. Notice how much fun it is to collect everything together again, how much you have to pay this time and how long you need to get everything together again. Some items (hardware and software) are really hard to get nowadays, so if you sell them, it may take a whole lifetime to get them back again, if ever. But you are busy again with buying (or hording/collecting) A8 stuff... and suddenly the fun is back !

 

 

It is funny that you write this! Without even the need to sell everything I actually tried to start all over again by picking just a simple setup. 64K + 1050 ... nothing more nothing less. It was actually pretty cool to work this way. It did everything I wanted and it was so much fun again. But I guess I was spoiled with the big setup, so within a month or so it was 1MB + IDE+ 2.0 + Freezer and all the other bells and whistles again lol.

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The 1200XL was Atari's tipping point. At the beginning, with the 800, Atari was keeping up with Apple and Commodore PET, etc, where quality and sturdiness of build were concerned. But they were losing the battle with market share for business and education, so they were forced to concentrate more on the home computer market, so they came up with the less expensive to build 1200XL, but still quality and sturdy like an Apple II, if not expandable like one. But then out of the blue Commodore comes along with it's less expensive and cheaply built C64 and Atari was forced in light of this new competition (the Vic-20 was a beginner computer and not true competition) Atari was forced to go cheaper too, or lose the home computer market, which they did anyway, but quality had to drop to compete with Commodore at all. So keyboard quality was on a slow downward trend after the remarkable 1200XL keyboard. Of course on top of that, there were lots of critics of the 1200XL, and it got a bad rap, so they had to replace it anyway. But before Tramiel came along, they were planning the 1400XL which probably would have had a better keyboard again since it was to be a flagship model to try and get back into the business and educational market and compete with Apple again...probably too late by then though, with the Macintosh and 16-bits on the horizon. Then you get into the whole Amiga upheaval when Atari and Commodore basically swapped top engineers.

 

Doesn't the 1200XL use Mitsumi "rubber dome on a stick" switches just like the C64 does? I haven't disassembled a 1200XL lately and can't find pictures to verify if they're the same.

 

I would have thought that the Alps version of the 800XL would be considered the best Atari keyboard. The 1200XL has nicer keycaps, but it uses cheap membranes instead of individual soldered switches.

 

The 800 keyboards that I've seen were Hi-Tek, Stackpole or Mitsumi - and all were worse switches than the Alps SKFL in that version of the 800XL.

Edited by Mr.Amiga500

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I would have thought that the Alps version of the 800XL would be considered the best Atari keyboard. The 1200XL has nicer keycaps, but it uses cheap membranes instead of individual soldered switches.

 

I think that the first AWC made keyboard is the most comfortable to use of all the XL variations, closely followed by the ALPS one. I have honestly never used a 1200XL but it's hard to imagine that I would really prefer its keyboard to those two XL ones.

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I have used every XL keyboard variant available, and although I find the Alps 600/800XL keyboards extremely nice (slightly preferable to the AWC models), the 1200XL feels nicest of all. The key action is very smooth and the mechanism - although not based on a mechanical switch - is well-designed and durable, the Mylar connection to the PCB being the only weak spot (although that's easily repaired). 1200XL keyboards also quieter than most of the 600/800XL keyboards. Totally subjective, of course, but 1200XL keyboards are exceptionally nice to use which is the main reason people rave about them.

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1200XL keyboard feels very similar to the 800, and it feels better to the 800XL and 600XL models I have on hand, I think they are Alps, but I'd have to recheck. Yes, the 1200XL uses a membrane, but no rubber bubbles, it has plastic/rubber armature that pushes on the mylar. It feels much closer the the 800's mechanical keyboard, and I and many think better feeling.

 

EDIT: I just rechecked my 600 and 800XL keyboards, both are quite nice feeling with a nice bottoming out and click, but not quite as nice to me as the 1200 or 800 keyboards. They are also flat instead of stepped, and stepped is a big personal preference to me. I can type much faster and more accurately and it feels more comfortable to me. The 600XL keyboard says AWC on the bottom and the 800XL is totally enclosed in metal shielding and has a sticker on it that says SCCO or something like that, and made in Taiwan. These XL's are night and day better compared to XE's, but not quite as good still as the 800/1200 keyboards.

 

But as FJC pointed out, it is subjective. I could see why some might prefer the better of the 600/800XL keyboards to 800 or 1200 because they are flat and not stepped, for one example.

Edited by Gunstar

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I say type in every program listing you can find. Believe me, you’ll get a new appreciation of even the shortest BASIC listing after that. I think I almost cried the day I finally got Risky Rescue to work. :)

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I say type in every program listing you can find. Believe me, you’ll get a new appreciation of even the shortest BASIC listing after that. I think I almost cried the day I finally got Risky Rescue to work. :)

That bit is included in my learning to program. Both Basic and Action! listings.

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Here's a challenge: see if you can build a second, identical collection. Then when you are done sell it for 3 times what you paid for it all. Betcha can't :D ;). \\//,

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And a Merry Xmas to you good sir....

 

If you ever get bored with it all then send it to me and I'll admire it :)

Mclaneinc,

I'll keep that in mind. Plan is to take some time during the holidays to enjoy them all. I ended up selling all my beige units (400/800). I do have a fondness for them, but 48K is just tool limiting. I have five 1200XLs modded with video and OS fixes (all still 64K).

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Here's a challenge: see if you can build a second, identical collection. Then when you are done sell it for 3 times what you paid for it all. Betcha can't :D ;). \\//,

Aren’t you just supposed to list it for $999,000 on eBay in one of those vanity listings?

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So it's a bit stepped, but also a bit of the "supposed" ergonomic curve to it like they did with XE/ST computers...

 

I don't know about 'ergonomic'. You had to perch your hands in such a way which made typing difficult as there isn't much room on the front of the machine + the massive space bar.

 

They give you a little more room on the front of the C model but the XL is still, a much better keyboard for typists.

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1200XL keyboard feels very similar to the 800, and it feels better to the 800XL and 600XL models I have on hand, I think they are Alps, but I'd have to recheck. Yes, the 1200XL uses a membrane, but no rubber bubbles, it has plastic/rubber armature that pushes on the mylar. It feels much closer the the 800's mechanical keyboard, and I and many think better feeling.

 

EDIT: I just rechecked my 600 and 800XL keyboards, both are quite nice feeling with a nice bottoming out and click, but not quite as nice to me as the 1200 or 800 keyboards. They are also flat instead of stepped, and stepped is a big personal preference to me. I can type much faster and more accurately and it feels more comfortable to me. The 600XL keyboard says AWC on the bottom and the 800XL is totally enclosed in metal shielding and has a sticker on it that says SCCO or something like that, and made in Taiwan. These XL's are night and day better compared to XE's, but not quite as good still as the 800/1200 keyboards.

 

But as FJC pointed out, it is subjective. I could see why some might prefer the better of the 600/800XL keyboards to 800 or 1200 because they are flat and not stepped, for one example.

 

There were 3 different Atari 800 keyboards, 6 different 600XL/800XL keyboards (see Beetle's excellent thread here), but only one version of the 1200XL keyboard. Most of the 600XL/800XL versions are stepped. One version of the 800 is Mitsumi, which is similar to the 1200XL, but two other versions are stiffer & scratchier Hi-Tek/Stackpole.

 

I own every XL version keyboard except the last "Type 5" mushy Mitsumi. I do think the 1200XL is smooth, but I was mildly disappointed after all the hype. Possibly the 1200XL I tried was old. My Alps 800XL was new, never used. It felt a bit better than the 1200XL. (but as I said, I much preferred the 1200XL keycaps)

 

(The thing is... ALL Atari keyboards are inferior to something like a 1970's Micro Switch SW, 1970's IBM beam spring, 1982 Victor 9000 Key Tronic, early 1980's IBM Model F, Teletype Model 40, etc... all of which I own and can compare with)

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(The thing is... ALL Atari keyboards are inferior to something like a 1970's Micro Switch SW, 1970's IBM beam spring, 1982 Victor 9000 Key Tronic, early 1980's IBM Model F, Teletype Model 40, etc... all of which I own and can compare with)

Well, I certainly never thought any of the 8-bit PC's where ever going to be close to keyboard types you mention for business computers and terminals priced much higher than PC/Home computers.

 

I'm just talking about the best Atari (and the fact that the best Atari matches or beats an Aplle II+ keyboard), to me, and questioning the quality of other 8-bits I intend to get. I'm well aware of the different varieties of keyboard changes over the years, (except for 600/800XL stepped versions, thanks for pointing that out) and also aware the 1200 had only one version. But it has a reputation of being the best "feeling/responsive" Atari keyboard and after owning an one model of each: 130XE, 600/800/1200XL and 800 (twice but the keyboard seems the same as I recall), it holds true in my opinion.

 

And as I've said, I also prefer it to any PC keyboard I've owned in the last 2 decades, but then I don't buy keyboards more than $50, so I've never had a mechanical PC keyboard that I know of unless some can be had for $50. But I just don't like my PC enough for me to want to spend that much money on a keyboard, if one goes out, I usually run out and buy one for $15-20. Their better than the XE keyboards, but none of my PC keyboards really match up to any Atari keyboard to me, besides XE&ST's.

Edited by Gunstar

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Yes, those keyboards I mentioned were originally 2-3 times the price of the entire Atari computer back then - and they're just keyboards!

 

This is the main keyboard I use - 1980 IBM 3278 beam spring (USB converted):

 

post-12824-0-62279800-1543959947.jpg

 

It was actually my memory of the beautiful Atari XL computers that started my obsession with finding the best keyboards ever made.

 

But... I've gone too much off topic, so I'll stop ruining this thread. ;)

Edited by Mr.Amiga500
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