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Recreating your BITD Experience

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So, how far has everyone gone recreating your collection from BITD? (Or, if you still have everything, I'd love to hear about that too...)

 

I'll start.

 

I originally got an Atari 800 with three cased 16K ram boards and an Atari 410 tape drive.

I had that hooked to a quasar 19 inch(ish) color television. (Which is what I had my 2600 attached to...)

Then, I got a Rana 1000 disk drive and a Panasonic KX-P1091 hooked to an APE Face printer adapter. (Or something similar to an APE Face...)

Then, I got an Indus GT (I deliverd a lot of newspapers to get this far...)

Then I got a job working at a veterinary clinic and got a 130XE.

Somewhere in there, I got an OkiMate 10 printer.

A friend and I built a large switch (it was round and had lots of contacts and we mounted it in a vegetable can we got out of the trash) so that I could swing the drives and printers from the 800 to the 130XE. That solved that pesky translator disk issue... I do not recall how I was switching the video outputs between the two computers...And I got an Amdek amber monitor.

 

All of that was sold, given away or trashed.

 

Today, I have reaquired all of that except for the SIO switch... along with waaay more than I thought I would ever be able to justify buying. Does anyone know where I can get a reasonably priced switch with enough contacts to switch all the SIO connectors?

 

I actually have 2 of each printer. I have 3 or 4 800's, but only one has the cased ram cards. I have numerous 1050's, some work, some don't. an Indus, a Rana, many many 800XLs, but only one 130XE.

 

BITD, I used to have it all set up with a brown, burlap-covered wooden platform that held the TV (and then monitor) that I built myself. I have not recreated that ... yet.

 

 

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My final A8 setup was a 48K 800 (no cases on the RAM cards and the thumbtabs were removed in lieu of screws and washers); a single unmodified 1050; a 410 Program Recorder and a Star Microconics SG-10 (I *think* that was the exact model - I don't have a receipt or any photos). I also don't recall exactly what model of SIO/parallel interface I had either. Everything was hooked up to the hand-me-down family Zenith TV connected through a switchbox to channel 3. 

 

All those items are lost to time, sadly. Today I have a very similar 800, a pair of Happy 1050's, a trio of non-functional 410's (I should really fix one of those one day) and several different small color TVs or monitors to choose from when I want to use an 800. Sadly, no working dot matrix printer.  

 

Ironically enough, the one substantial thing I *do* have from BITD is the same desk my step-dad built for me and my step-brother to use. It's got a riser perfectly sized for one of my monitors, a circular cutout on the right riser support large enough for an SIO connector, and no less than 8 ganged power outlets wired in parallel to a single grounded pigtail to plug it into the wall, and a switch up front that can turn everything off in one place. Basically, it was a desk and power strip (sans surge protection) from 1982. :) The disk currently resides in my retro/game room and supports whichever machine I want to play around with at any time. 

 

EDIT: I meant to post this pic with my post and got distracted. Oops. This is similar to what I had then - replace the C1802 monitor with a Zenith rotary dial TV, and the SDrive-MAX with a 1050, but you get the idea. (Both my 1050's are on another desk connected to my 1088XLD currently). The desk is wide enough for a disk drive or stack of drives to sit where that disk file is currently, plus an average sized do matrix printer to sit next to that.

 

 

IMG_1738.JPG

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2 hours ago, toddtmw said:

Does anyone know where I can get a reasonably priced switch with enough contacts to switch all the SIO connectors?

Here you go, I used to use these at work BITD to share one printer between two desks. Switches 25pins.

https://www.amazon.com/Parallel-Printer-Switchbox-Female-Ports/dp/B00CA5TLLM

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Posted (edited)

I saved up half the money and my Mother added in the other half as a 16th birthday present so I could buy an Atari 800XL, 1010, Panasonic 14" colour TV, a Computer desk, Chair and some software. Over time I added a Panasonic KXP-1081 printer, two 1050 drives, an Atari touch tablet, lots more software and eventually a Star LC-10c colour Dot Matrix printer. The 800XL got spray painted black with red trim at some point, and when I upgraded to the 520STfm it went in the trash, peripherals I could use with the ST I kept. The ST got sold six months later when I upgraded to an Amiga 500.

 

Now I have an 800XL (NTSC, not the original PAL one) and the Touch tablet. I also have a 1088XEL (A PAL one), a couple of flash carts and an SDM. Even though it's not the same thing as I used to use, it feels the same but with more modern functionality. I feel it's what I'd have ended up with if I'd just kept upgrading and not gone the ST->Amiga->PC route.

Edited by Mr Robot
More info
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Posted (edited)

I bought a 16K 400 in 1982.  Used it for about 6 months and then sold it because membrane keyboard.  Bought a 48K 800 in early 1983 (no cases on the expansion cards, screws and washers instead of thumb tabs) and an 810 FDD later that year.  Some time in 1985 I had the Archiver/Editor mod done to the 810.  I stopped using the machine regularly in 1986, but kept everything until 1999 when we moved from Italy to Florida.  I had left the 810 in my office on base (needed to solder a broken wire) and forgot about it until the evening before we were due to fly back to the states.  So my 810 ended up in a dumpster in Aviano, Italy.  Once we were back stateside, keeping the 800 without the 810 seemed pointless, so the 800 and all of the software, books, etc... that I had accumulated were unceremoniously dumped in the trash.   Sad.

 

Now I have a 400, an 800, two 800XL machines and a 1200XL.  Also, two 1050 disk drives and an 810 disk drive on the way.  I've bought some carts, got some old disks with one of the 1050s, and have bought several mods for the A8 machines.  I'm enjoying them very much.  I'm a C++ developer and am working at learning 6502 assembly programming as a justification for my A8 obsession.  We'll see how far I get with assembly. :)

 

2 hours ago, DrVenkman said:

...a pair of Happy 1050's...

 

I've been interested in doing this mod for my 1050s as well.  Do you like the mod?  Worth doing?

Edited by Colleton

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11 minutes ago, Colleton said:

I've been interested in doing this mod for my 1050s as well.  Do you like the mod?  Worth doing?

It would’ve been a lot more “worth it” in 1985 had I had the money as a 16/17 year old constrained to using floppies or nothing. :)


That said, the AtariMax reproduction boards I’ve got are well-made and inexpensive, and ridiculously easy to install. They can be formatted and used as double-density drives by any DOS that supports it (I use SpartaDOS X primarily) and I do still enjoy booting a real disk sometimes.

 

But the reality is I don’t really “need” to use floppies - I can load ATR and XEX files more quickly via the CF card interface on my 1088XEL and XLD computers, or through the SIDE2 cart on my 1200XL + Ultimate 1MB combo. I can load them - and CAS cassette files too - from an SIO2PC-USB device, or through my SDrive-MAX.  But it’s hard to tickle the nostalgia perfectly without every once in awhile playing with floppy disks. I enjoy the process of copying and booting them, of using the Happy software to make bootable copies of my handful of remaining original 80’s copy-protected disk, of just hearing the read/write heads moving across the spinning disk surface .... The Happy boards aren’t necessary for most of that but it is nice to be able to use the extra 50K available on a true double density disk instead of being limited to 1050 “Enhanced” density. 

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Good answer, thanks.  Nostalgia is a big driver for me with these machines as well.  This mod is now on my list, if only for the double density capability.

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I bought a 16K Atari 400 and 410 recorder in the early 80's and replaced the keyboard with a B-Key board, added a 48K ram upgrade (Mosaic, I think). 

 

I later got an 810 drive and a 800 computer from the Sears where I worked part time.  They were clearanced to make way for the 1200XL and later the 600XL/800XL. I might have gotten the 1200XL when they clearanced it, but at the time I thought of the 1200XL as an abject failure (still kind of do).  Besides I was saving my money for a 1050 as the 810 was getting wonky.  Somewhere I picked up an 850 interface and the 830 acoustic modem. For a printer, I had an Epson MX80.

 

I picked up an 800XL of a clearance table at a local department store to replace the old 800 and loved the XL styling.  It looked great next to my 1050 drive.   I replaced my Epson printer with a 24 pin color printer from Star Microtronics...I think it was a Rainbow model.  The 800XL was upgraded to 256K using a home-made Rambo board using a magazine plan published in a club newsletter. I even etched the board myself.

 

I later bought a 130XE and added an ICD MIO and 20 MB hard drive.  I was using DOS based computers pretty heavily at work, so I started using SpartaDOS at home to get the same feel.  I never felt limited with this set-up, but the games coming out on the PC started to draw me away from the Atari.  Eventually, I gave everything to a local Atari guy who promised to give them all a good home.

 

Recently I got the bug to return to simpler times and started acquiring hardware again.  I have 2 working 800XLs, one working 130XE, a dead 600XL, and my original 400, still with 48K and the B-Key keyboard.  I've to two finicky 1050 drives, and two finicky XF551s, a dead 410, and a deader than dead 1027.  I also have a ton of cartridge games and I'm starting to build a small collection of floppy disks, but I'll probably mostly use the Atari-Max IDE cart and the SIO2PC board that I also bought from Atari-MAX for loading software.

 

I don't know where I'll go from here, but I would like to try an enhanced graphics card and accelerator card.

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I've collected much more than I had BITD but the only item I ever got rid of was my broken 800XL. It broke the day after my Amiga arrived with a red screen and I always thought that was suspicious.  I always regret getting rid of it as I know now they are fixable and it had a wonderful keyboard. Oh well.

 

My final BITD setup was my orginal 600XL with 1064 expansion (it resumed service after the 800XL death) with two 1050s and a 1010.  I loved having two drives when playing Alternate Reality: The Dungeon and the Wizard's Crown games or using Synassembler.

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Back in what day? Ew, I don’t want to go back to 1983, typing in “Seagull” from the manual, saving it on cassette, and then running to the library to hunt down the latest issue of COMPUTE!. I’ll say it again — using an A8 is so much nicer in 2019 than it was in 1985.

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On 8/22/2019 at 9:32 AM, davidcalgary29 said:

Back in what day? Ew, I don’t want to go back to 1983, typing in “Seagull” from the manual, saving it on cassette, and then running to the library to hunt down the latest issue of COMPUTE!. I’ll say it again — using an A8 is so much nicer in 2019 than it was in 1985.

I know exactly what you mean...

 

I am not writing on this thread because I enjoyed a pleasant and feature-rich "BitD" experience... on the contrary, I endured a pretty restrictive and frustrating personal-computing initiation, thanks to the "fully-equipped" Atari 400 (and that borderline-useless 410) that I got as my first computer... while ALWAYS wanting the 800 for years, since the first day...

 

Scrambling to type-in Basic games EVEN from code developed for the ZX81, as I ran out of magazines to type-in and had little or no documentation available around? Being able to load just a fraction of the titles because of 14.5 Kbytes of usable memory after system start?  Waiting an eternity for that garbage Zaxxon-cassette, thanks to the 410's notorious inconsistency and lack of reliability? 

 

I too have to admit that I am now experiencing this little "computing oasis" like I NEVER did before, I have seen and learned stuff that I could only hope to distantly see in brochures, magazines, and (most importantly) confirming the superior performance that I always suspected this superb little platform was capable of delivering but never tapped on...  (even as I type this on a HP Z840 workstation, capable of crunching in one stroke, all my decades-long computing experience...) 😁

 

Enjoy! 

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On 8/22/2019 at 2:32 PM, davidcalgary29 said:

Back in what day? Ew, I don’t want to go back to 1983, typing in “Seagull” from the manual, saving it on cassette, and then running to the library to hunt down the latest issue of COMPUTE!. I’ll say it again — using an A8 is so much nicer in 2019 than it was in 1985.

Funny you should mention typing in "Seagull" and saving it on cassette- I did exactly that only about a month ago to test out my newly-refurbished 410!

 

Had a real rush of nostalgia ☺️

 

And it reloaded first time...

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Ok, I can’t lie: getting “Seagull” to run (and saving it on cassette) was the turning point in my relationship with my new 800 in 1983: it was total love after that. :)

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Yep. Me too. 

 

Probably my first program.

 

Checkbook balancer? Pass. 

 

Bubble sort? Yeah maybe someday, but not now. 

 

Seagull over the ocean with sounds? Count me in!

 

Cool. It worked. Now I need to save it. Memorex tape and 410 to the rescue!

DE4EC32F-1A9E-4117-8AA8-8A2714A3FB60.thumb.jpeg.d4d3701c8139daa2231cfb92a04f990f.jpeg

 

 

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I wonder who wrote that? It seems like it was the first listing every kid managed to type in. Heh, I remember that I called my mother, my sister, and her friend all in to watch after I got it running. :)

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410 recorder stocks were late in arriving to the UK, so for some time (weeks or months) in early 1981 (?) I had a 16K Atari 400 from Maplins but no means of saving anything...

 

Having a computer of my own was such a fabulous novelty that I would type in programs again and again even without any means of saving.

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9 hours ago, drpeter said:

410 recorder stocks were late in arriving to the UK, so for some time (weeks or months) in early 1981 (?) I had a 16K Atari 400 from Maplins but no means of saving anything...

 

Having a computer of my own was such a fabulous novelty that I would type in programs again and again even without any means of saving.

Now that's hardcore. :)

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I had a computer that decided for you if you were going to be allowed to save...

 

Yup, was called a ZX81 and 16K ram pack, you could type a huge program in and accidentally knock the table, the ram pack would wobble and reset..All typing gone....

 

As for the Maplin tape shortage, jeez, I'd forgotten about that. Yeah we actually had people on a waiting list for 410's, probably the only time anyone has ever been that desperate for a tape drive :)

 

As for getting to a BITD state, I'd say I have, almost...Got an 800, an 800XL and a 130XE, no fancy mods on them like mine had back then but its not important, also got 3 1050's of which only 2 work, a 410 and an 810 (borrowed) so I'm happy, would have loved to get the old 14" Sony Trinitron back just to make it look like it did but my 1084 is good enough..

 

I'm just so annoyed with all the gear I lost, one WIP ComputerHouse board, lots of silly things like Pill carts and multi OS mods and of course my beloved genuine OmnimonXL /  Ramrod board...Sigh..

Edited by Mclaneinc
Spalling

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18 hours ago, davidcalgary29 said:

Now that's hardcore. :)

Indeed.

 

Except having said that, my original programming experience (pre-dating home computers) was to write BASIC code with pen & paper at a Saturday club then, at the end of every term, have the grand experience of a trip into the centre of Manchester to enter my programs into a University mainframe terminal.

 

Run once, then gone forever...😕

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When I bought my 800, I could only afford a tape (still have it, but not working), can't believe how long I used it for,

yes there were lots of failures on saving data, but you got used to that and always saved twice.

 

Wasn't until the 1050 drive came out that I finally bought a disk drive.

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50 minutes ago, drpeter said:

Indeed.

 

Except having said that, my original programming experience (pre-dating home computers) was to write BASIC code with pen & paper at a Saturday club then, at the end of every term, have the grand experience of a trip into the centre of Manchester to enter my programs into a University mainframe terminal.

 

Run once, then gone forever...😕

That must have felt quite wrong / sad....All that work and then...blip......

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My back in the day system would have been an 800XL with a 1010 tape deck, which after a couple of years the power supply failed (we bought a multi voltage one from Dixons) and then the buttons broke on it... In the end the only way to operate it it was to have it permanently dismantled and use it that way :D

 

We are living in a golden age, with so much information being shared on wonderful places like this, eBay and 3D printers etc.. It's a good time to be into the machines from our youth ;-)

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Its great to get your gear back and relive your younger times but you never get that buzz you had from day one back, like when you had no clue what would be in the disk drive box or the Atari computer box, the thrill of owning a computer that was brand new as an experience, the thrill of seeing the games for the first time...

 

I so wish you could get those back as if it was the first time..I know, I want too much but I'm more than happy to use my gear, play some old games, maybe find some I never played that I like..I can do all that now which is a great 2nd prize...

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1 hour ago, Mclaneinc said:

That must have felt quite wrong / sad....All that work and then...blip......

This was in the days before even schools had computers, so it was the only means of interacting with them- and therefore was actually very exciting!

 

As well as getting to type in and test our BASIC programs (and print them out on a dot-matrix fan-fold tractor-feed printer), we got to play some games on the terminal- there was for example a text-only precursor of MULE called Hammurabi, simulating ruling an ancient Mesopotamian kingdom, where you had to choose each year how much grain to feed to the people, how much to keep in storage, etc. etc., and a precursor of Star Raiders called Star Trek, which printed up sector scans and galactic scans in crude character graphics.

 

We went home happy as Larry with our own printouts and also sheafs of ASCII graphic pictures printed off by the computer department boffins.

 

Seems almost incredible now!

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31 minutes ago, Mclaneinc said:

 

I so wish you could get those back as if it was the first time..

 

If only nostalgia was what it used to be... 😀

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