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Atari 8-Bit as a Legitimate Business Machine

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The 400 might have been better off with a chicklet keyboard.


Geeze... I can't believe I just suggested a chicklet keyboard as a viable alternative to anything.

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I suppose *maybe* rubber chicklet, like the Spectrum, would be better than membrane...maybe, I'd have to type on both for a while. But if they used hard plastic keys in the chicklet style, I think that would be a real step up, they could have even contoured them a bit.

 

But I used to own both a Timex/Siclair 1000 (my first ever computer, but I got one again about 15 years ago) and a Timex/Sinclair 1500 (ZX81 in a Spectrum case w/16K). The 1500 uses the same case style and rubber ckicklet keyboard as the Spectrum. And while I liked the larger size of the keyboard, much closer to full-stroke than the T/S 1000 membrane, I really don't think the rubber keys improved the experience over a 400 membrane (I also owned about the same time) which also had a larger keyboard layout like the 1500/Spectrum, but still membrane instead of rubber chicklet.

Edited by Gunstar

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I suppose *maybe* rubber chicklet, like the Spectrum, would be better than membrane...maybe, I'd have to type on both for a while. But if they used hard plastic keys in the chicklet style, I think that would be a real step up, they could have even contoured them a bit.

 

But I used to own both a Timex/Siclair 1000 (my first ever computer, but I got one again about 15 years ago) and a Timex/Sinclair 1500 (ZX81 in a Spectrum case w/16K). The 1500 uses the same case style and rubber ckicklet keyboard as the Spectrum. And while I liked the larger size of the keyboard, much closer to full-stroke than the T/S 1000 membrane, I really don't think the rubber keys improved the experience over a 400 membrane (I also owned about the same time) which also had a larger keyboard layout like the 1500/Spectrum, but still membrane instead of rubber chicklet.

I think you are confusing dead flesh keyboards with chicklets. Chicklet keyboard were named after Chicklets... the gum... implies something besides rubber keys IMHO, but then I had a Tandy CoCo so that's what comes to mind for me.

 

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Dead flesh was never an official name, just how we all described the Spectrum keys. According to wikipedia the PCjr's was like massaging fruitcake!

 

Chicklets started out as all rubber (TV Remotes, ZX Spectrums), evolved to have harder plastics glued to them (Oric, Z88, Portfolio) then became rubber dome keyboards (all cheap keyboards since), now chicklet describes scissor switched keyboards with rubber domes and flat hard plastic keys like in a laptop, but yes all named because the original rubber buttons were rectangular with rounded edges like a chicklet gum.

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Print more than 40 characters per line using graphics? Why would anyone want to do that?

 

 

Because the A-8bits CAN and WILL do it, very nicely (I use it ALL THE TIME on my SDX / ViewSonic / DVDO iScan processor when editing Assembly code with the beautiful Last Word)], and will do so without ANY other HW expansions, while MANY other similar machines out there will fart-out just by simply trying it.

 

That's why!

Edited by Faicuai
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When I read posts like this, and I read them often, I am reminded of how powerful BASIC actually is, and still can be. I think many people, myself included, are tempted to disregard BASIC as being something too slow to be useful. Lots of talk around here reinforces this as would-be game programmers are told to ignore BASIC and jump straight to assembler. I say, however, start with BASIC and use it until your projects outgrow it. There's a lot to love in there.

 

BASIC is too slow for a lot of things. But yeah, I agree and think that too many people forget how much it isn't too slow for (like stuff you would have normally manually tracked on paper and tried to reference for example). I think maybe that a lot of home computer users developed the mentality that BASIC is too slow to be useful from the backdrop of being focused on quick paced games with snazzy graphics wizardry. Thinking on the order of: "If a language isn't suitable for that, then what use is it?"

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Well, at least there's one fun thing I can do on my Atari with that Panasonic (edited my post - it's actually the colour KX-P2135). I can print a 12 foot long (or 250 if I want) page banner using fanfold paper and Print Shop. Why is there no modern alternative?

We have a wide format Deskjet at work, and can print a banner 24” wide by 150’. :)

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Thinking on the order of: "If a language isn't suitable for that, then what use is it?"

 

Yes. And the problem is, until one has coded in BASIC and run into a problem that CAN'T be solved there, one will not know WHY moving to assembler matters. Also, there is real value to knowing how a high-level language like BASIC devolves into Assembler. It's true, even today. As a long-time C# developer, I can tell you for sure that one does not truly understand the language until they know how the MSIL gets generated and can use it inform their efforts to optimize.

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We have a wide format Deskjet at work, and can print a banner 24” wide by 150’. :)

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

That's impressive! Wonder how much ink that would take?!?

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Because the A-8bits CAN and WILL do it, very nicely (I use it ALL THE TIME on my SDX / ViewSonic / DVDO iScan processor when editing Assembly code with the beautiful Last Word)], and will do so without ANY other HW expansions, while MANY other similar machines out there will fart-out just by simply trying it.

 

That's why!

Seriously, do people not understand sarcasm?

 

A work in progress of mine, this video is from over 2 years ago.

I just made some updates the other day, and once I split the 6502 code into separate versions for different machines, I may see about adding the display list scroll to the Atari code.

Acorn Atom, Atari, MC-10, VZ-200.

I also have code for Plus/4 (which should be easily adapted to the C64), and Color Computer.

There is some preliminary code for other platforms.

Edited by JamesD
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Seriously, do people not understand sarcasm?

 

A work in progress of mine, this video is from over 2 years ago.

I just made some updates the other day, and once I split the 6502 code into separate versions for different machines, I may see about adding the display list scroll to the Atari code.

Acorn Atom, Atari, MC-10, VZ-200.

I also have code for Plus/4 (which should be easily adapted to the C64), and Color Computer.

There is some preliminary code for other platforms.

 

NICE (!!!)

 

Let's see this hung from E:, and integrated with SDX, so we can switch in and out of 80-col. mode from the prompt, at will. Then we check display / scroll performance.

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Atari blew it when they didn't complete the XL line and fulfill the promise of the PBI. Apple II was a viable business machine for as long as it was because it had an Expansion bus that let the owner configure it with any card they wanted. 80 column display, memory expansion, modems, network cards, internal hard drive controllers, co-processor boards, the possibilities were endless. What we should have ended up with was a 16-bit version of the XL computers based on the 65816, and not some artificially hobbled version like Apple put in the GS to avoid embarrassing the MAC computers.

 

When you get right down to it, even the 600XL had a better possible future than the 400, 800, or even 1200XL. But Atari was bleeding money and making bad decisions so they sold out to Tramiel just to get out from under.

 

After Tramiel took over, 8-bit Atari was done. Everything he sold was already on the drawing board at Warner Atari, but the most interesting futures were scrapped. Jack just repackaged the 800XL to make it look like a cohesive product line with his ST machines. But Tramiel didn't kill Atari, it was already dead. Atari killed Atari when they axed the 1450XLD and the 1090XL, and with them, any hope of a path forward for the 8-bit line.

 

ICD tried to do something with the PBI, but the MIO wasn't an expansion chassis, but instead more of a Swiss Army knife multi-tool for the 8-bit line. Too bad they never came out with the promised 80 column upgrade, or I might have stuck with the Atari longer.

 

Once you've worked in Quick Basic, and Visual Basic, Atari Basic just seems a little...confining. View code in 80 columns, Scroll from beginning to end and back again. Search the entire code base for any term. Being able to have multiple modules of code with procedures and functions, and even libraries linked in...and still be able to compile and run the code with a full debugger and breakpoints with a single command...that's convenience!

 

On the other hand, I came back to the Atari because each version of Windows and Visual Studio became more and more incomprehensible. With Windows 3.11 and Visual Basic 3 I knew how everything worked. With Windows 10 and The latest Visual Studio and VB or C# and the .NET framework...it's impossible to know a small fraction of everything. That's why I came back to the Atari, that and FJC's videos on installing the latest upgrades for the 8-BITS. Finally, the pieces that should have been offered as add-in cards for a 1090 box can at least be shoehorned into an Atari or built into a 1080XEL board. The Atari 8/16 GS is finally attainable...even if support for it is a bit thin on the ground.

 

I'll never go back to using an Atari as my main PC, but as a hobby machine it's much more interesting than the direction that Windows PC are going. I'm done with Windows after version 7 is no longer viable. I'll move to Linux on a Raspberry PI machine instead. At my age, ANY PC I use is going to be a hobby PC, so why not stick with computers that I understand and that works for me rather than for some faceless corporation that's just trying to mine my life for sales opportunities?

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NICE (!!!)

 

Let's see this hung from E:, and integrated with SDX, so we can switch in and out of 80-col. mode from the prompt, at will. Then we check display / scroll performance.

I just wanted a cross platform library to do this.

 

I'm not sure how it will perform as an E device, the code can print single characters, or two characters at a time like in this demo.

If the device I/O is a character at a time it will be slower. Dumping full stings at a time is definitely advised.

post-10422-0-09587100-1545451293.jpg

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I just wanted a cross platform library to do this.

 

I'm not sure how it will perform as an E device, the code can print single characters, or two characters at a time like in this demo.

If the device I/O is a character at a time it will be slower. Dumping full stings at a time is definitely advised.

attachicon.gif64Column.jpg

 

Interesting... but is that an 80-col emulation... or a 64-col. one? I counted twice and I can only see 64... is that so?

 

Also, you may want to take a look at Trub's Terminal 80-col Terminal emulator for CP/M (runs on SDX and stand-alone, in Atari). Just type a READ.ME on-screen and watch the SPeEeEeD at which it fills and scrolls the screen with text (!) You can use Altirra by attaching an INDUS/GT drive with corresponding v1.2 ROM and CP/M disks... and then searching for my prior posts with attached image of Trub Terminal and other CP/'M goodies...

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Interesting... but is that an 80-col emulation... or a 64-col. one? I counted twice and I can only see 64... is that so?

 

Also, you may want to take a look at Trub's Terminal 80-col Terminal emulator for CP/M (runs on SDX and stand-alone, in Atari). Just type a READ.ME on-screen and watch the SPeEeEeD at which it fills and scrolls the screen with text (!) You can use Altirra by attaching an INDUS/GT drive with corresponding v1.2 ROM and CP/M disks... and then searching for my prior posts with attached image of Trub Terminal and other CP/'M goodies...

The Atari code can be assembled for 64 or 80 columns. I used 64 to compare speed vs the other machines which use 256x192 graphics.

That was actually the MC-10 emulator, which I chose because it has the latest font, the data is easier to mess with on it, and there is a bug in the latest 6502 code I need to track down. Same font though.

post-10422-0-89776000-1545455048.jpg

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Atari blew it when they didn't complete the XL line and fulfill the promise of the PBI. Apple II was a viable business machine for as long as it was because it had an Expansion bus that let the owner configure it with any card they wanted. 80 column display, memory expansion, modems, network cards, internal hard drive controllers, co-processor boards, the possibilities were endless. What we should have ended up with was a 16-bit version of the XL computers based on the 65816, and not some artificially hobbled version like Apple put in the GS to avoid embarrassing the MAC computers.

 

 

 

I believe JT made a good decision. Left 8-bits where it belonged - hobbyists and gamers. At the time, a viable attempt to produce a business computer was the ST. Not easy, of course. Fighting with PC and also Apple Macintosh.

 

I also feel lost contol over complex things such as Visual Studio. In simpler times, it was you, the IDE, some libraries, and win32 API. Now there are more layers. Complex, but still documented. Sometimes one has to accept "You do not have to know."

 

Frankly, I couldn't imagine me doing office work (word processing, spreadsheets, simple database) on Atari. So limited, clumsy, minimum undo. I would even have trouble with software I started with on PC - T602, Quattro PRO, and MS Works 4.0. However, I admit that for lot of documents, MS-Write would be enough even today. On the other hand, those old tools required you to be focused and think aboutbwhat are you doing. No doubt tools like Sublime text have some popularity.

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Let's see this hung from E:, and integrated with SDX, so we can switch in and out of 80-col. mode from the prompt, at will. Then we check display / scroll performance.

 

It'll be interesting to see how it compares to rendering in TLW, whose speed is best observed when spooling a file from a hard disk:

 

 

There's still the overhead of reading the file from disk (in 256 byte chunks) and implementing word-wrap here, though.

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The Last Word is doing a lot more than this little 3K demo which is just fast text rendering from a buffer with all the characters in the font.
The text rendering code is pretty logical for the 6502, so I don't see why his code would be slower than mine.

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I still can't believe people still print on the old Epsons etc, I was recent offered and FX80 with paper and spare ribbons etc (god knows if they work 100%) but I turned it down due to space needed to store it...

 

*might* take the offer back up purely for retro effect but to actually use it, probably not..

 

Isn't there some sort of old printer emulation program to print out as they would but at proper speed...

 

Don't even get me started on the noise :)

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The text rendering code is pretty logical for the 6502, so I don't see why his code would be slower than mine.

My code (I wrote TLW). But it's an interesting subject, and there are dozens of ways to accomplish the same goal. In the GOS, I was able to throw 2K of look-up tables at the problem (and glyphs are proportional there), but in TLW, space is very tight so I just had to use what appeared to be the most efficient method without any unrolling or tables. But there's always room for improvement. :)

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I believe JT made a good decision. Left 8-bits where it belonged - hobbyists and gamers. At the time, a viable attempt to produce a business computer was the ST. Not easy, of course. Fighting with PC and also Apple Macintosh.

 

I also feel lost contol over complex things such as Visual Studio. In simpler times, it was you, the IDE, some libraries, and win32 API. Now there are more layers. Complex, but still documented. Sometimes one has to accept "You do not have to know."

 

Frankly, I couldn't imagine me doing office work (word processing, spreadsheets, simple database) on Atari. So limited, clumsy, minimum undo. I would even have trouble with software I started with on PC - T602, Quattro PRO, and MS Works 4.0. However, I admit that for lot of documents, MS-Write would be enough even today. On the other hand, those old tools required you to be focused and think aboutbwhat are you doing. No doubt tools like Sublime text have some popularity.

Jack Trameil made the right decision for Tramiel Technologies. As I said, Atari was already dead by the time Jack came along. All the 8-bits Tramiel Technologies produced were repackaged cast-offs from the old Atari R&D labs. I would have been happier if he had repackaged the 1450XLD or the 1090 expansion box.

 

There had been a future path for the 8-bit Atari, but Warner/Atari dropped that ball. A 16-bit Atari using the65816 or a 32 bit using the 65832 could have given Atari a backwards compatibility and a path forward, but Warner-Atari looked at those chips and shrugged. Warner Atari made one more bad decision and killed Atari forever. If they hadn't dropped the ball and let Jack Trameil sink their deal with Amiga, the Amiga could have been the next Atari. It wasn't any more of an Atari than the ST was, but it was at least related.

 

Tramiel Tech. was just the first of many companies to follow that wore the Atari name for their own purposes. At least he was more successful than people gave him credit for. Atari was killed by an extreme lack of interest by the public after Commodore brought the Amiga out. It took Commodore's own incompetence to sink the Commodore name.

 

Maybe the writing was on the wall already once IBM got in the game, but an updated Atari might have made a decent office computer with more CPU, More RAM, and 80 columns, but we'll never know because Trameil's Atari never created an updated Atari, any more than Warner Atari did.

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That's impressive! Wonder how much ink that would take?!?

 

The printer is pretty good with ink, we guesstimate less than $.50 for a 24"x36" poster.

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Jack Trameil made the right decision for Tramiel Technologies. As I said, Atari was already dead by the time Jack came along. All the 8-bits Tramiel Technologies produced were repackaged cast-offs from the old Atari R&D labs. I would have been happier if he had repackaged the 1450XLD or the 1090 expansion box.

 

 

One of the best ways forward for Atari at the time was to sell a better designed 1200XL. Add 80 columns support, update the graphics, add the PBI, and release the 1090XL. Give people something they couldn't get with the 400/800, but still make it backwards compatible. Lose the RF. Rebrand the computer line.

 

They would have beat the Apple //e to market by a year, and would have had AtariWriter and Visicalc/SynCalc. Everything a business needs. :-)

 

Even 5 years later Atariwriter was still an amazing wordprocessor even if it was limited to 40 columns.

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