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CX-22 trak-ball history

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Thought I'd post this here regarding the switched and switchless CX-22. Especially since some people end up buying a trak-ball with no switch to play the trak-ball hacks. Seems some pcbs without proportional trackball mode were made in 1982, likely the earliest model. They were the original pcb or Rev. 1 (C020559) and made in El Paso, Texas rather than Mexico. Also, the earliest model had Atari 2600 & Pro-line Trak-ball on the top of the case (black lettering on black case) and a black bottom while the later model just said Atari & Trak-ball (white on black) and had a white bottom. Why these earliest ones without a joystick-trackball switch had a hole for the switch in the black bottom that was covered with a strip of black plastic is still a mystery. It seems the hole with the joystick-trackball labelling was there before the switch was added. Amost seems like a lack of communication between the case department and the pcb department.


(BTW, some of the information in that thread related to the CX-80 is inaccurate)


Early evidence suggests the earlier CX-22 serial number models had the black bottom, covered switch hole, 1982 pcb, Atari 2600 on the top left and were made in El Paso, Texas, while the later serial numbers had a white bottom, working switch, 1983 pcb, "Atari" on the top left and were made in Mexico.


The guy who seems to know how many switchless were made, with a vague "Service Manual" reference: He says the first 15,000 had no switch or proportional trackball mode. Sure enough, in the linked thread, 44849 has a switch and 3030 does not. I also saw a SN 9084 that does not have a switch ( also, says Atari 2600 and has black bottom)

It is also pointed out the earlier model has only four chips: LM339, 4013, 4538 and 4011, while the newer model also has a fifth 4019 chip (CA024205, Rev "blank"). This Atari Age archive schematic from the end of Dec, 1983 (oddly enough) appears to be the earlier version because of only four chips present, although it is less helpful because no pcb name is given.


Anyone have serial numbers around 15000 for their cx22 to check for the switch, black vs white bottom and Atari 2600 vs Atari on the top left of the case?


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Dan Kramer would know the real scoop here, since the CX-22 and CX-53 were his babies. Are you on Facebook? He's pretty active in the Trak-Ball fan group there. 

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I just dug out one of my CX-22 with a switch, white bottom and says only Atari on top left and it is SN 12618, so, there appears to be some cross-over or less than 15,000 switchless on the market. My switchless one is SN 9178 and has a black bottom and says Atari 2600. I'll have to check out Dan Kramer's facebook page.


SN 3030, 9084, 9178: switchless


SN 12618, 44849, 188030: switched

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I talked a bit with Dan Kramer. He could tell me they developed the proportional trackball for 8-bit missile command before the joystick mode trackball around 1981 to 82, which is the reverse of the order they came out, based on the serial numbers. He also said he wasn't aware of any planning for the ST mouse for 8-bit missile command in the trackball design, but wasn't really in on the programming of the game.


He also said he wasn't aware of when or what order the different versions were released. Why they decided to go with the joystick mode only version is as unknown to him as it is to us. It is clear they only sold 10,000-15,000 joystick trackballs and hundreds of thousands of the dual mode CX22. Not sure what kinds of numbers for the CX80 yet.


One could theorize different scenarios like that they decided to go with the dual trackball mode version for the 8-bit computers because of missile command and possibly planning to use it for mouse based computer software to compete with IBM and Apple which were coming out with mice around that time, '82-'83. Also, that they planned to release a 2600 only model with joystick mode only (explaining why the JS only mode has a top that says Atari 2600 Pro Trak-ball) and decided to cut corner and make only one case bottom

 and soon after decided to just sell one model. This would mean the Atari 2600 versions made it to production first, but the dual mode was in the pipeline since the case bottoms were dual mode. This is just conjecture, of course. Dan did say this theory sounded spot on and releases weren't well organized, but did know for sure. So, maybe the 2600 folks were given a JS only board for some reason and started making JS only trackballs until the dual modes started coming out - again, just guessing, but not unreasonable


If the CX80 was designed so the 8-bits could have their own trak-ball, why would Atari waste the effort on a selling a different looking dual mode? I've never seen any evidence to support the CX80 was the international version (again, why?), except hearsay that some regions of Europe had most of their CX80's converted to ST mice by retailers, but not CX22s.


Anyhow if anyone clearly remembers if the two different CX22's and CX80 came out at the same time or different times of the year or different years that would be great information on the history of these great devices.


Also, anyone know of any CX22s bitd that were modded to ST mice, in contrast to the theory it was only the CX80s?



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Another answer from Dan Kramer:


He recalls the dual mode trackball was derived from the proportional trackball and involved very little extra work.


However, this still leaves open the question of whether the dual mode was created before or after the joystick only mode, although it is becoming clearer how they could have come out in the same year close together. The possibility of a near simultaneous release of the internally identical CX80 has been attributed to either political cliquing or geographical divergence, but still odd.


Edit 11/1/2019: It looks like one fact associated with the JS mode only ~12,000 CX22s and the JS/TB mode CX22s is that the former were manufactured in Texas and the latter were manufactured in Mexico. One could speculate on reasons the change would have taken place at that point of moving manufacturing to Mexico.

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On 10/2/2019 at 9:21 PM, Swami said:

I just dug out one of my CX-22 with a switch, white bottom and says only Atari on top left and it is SN 12618, so, there appears to be some cross-over or less than 15,000 switchless on the market. My switchless one is SN 9178 and has a black bottom and says Atari 2600. I'll have to check out Dan Kramer's facebook page.


SN 001646, 003030, 009084, 009178, 009481: switchless


SN 000189, 008979, 012618, 022667, 038985, 044849, 078579, 079730, 104334, 113585, 114886, 187925, 188030: switched


Just added S/N 8979 to switched trackballs, so there is an overlap in the serial numbers for the JS and JS/TB versions.


Edit: Nov6, 2019: Just added 000189 to switched, which means both CX22 variants had serial numbers near zero. It seems unlikely that they shared the same serial number series as the bottoms of the two models where the sticker went were different and the switchless were made in El Paso, TX while the switched were made in Mexico. Evidence shows that CX53 trackballs were made in both El Paso, TX and Mexico.



SN 001646, 003030, 009084, 009178, 009481: switchless


SN 000189, 008979, 012618, 022667, 038985, 044849, 079730, 104334, 113585, 114886, 187925, 188030: switched


Looking into the 5200 trak-ball vs different 80s mice has been very enlightening. Back in 1983, when only a couple companies like IBM and Apple had mice for only like a year or two and separate joysticks and paddles, the 5200 trackball took the mouse components and added joystick and potentiometer cabability to it. It looks like the C64 neos in 1985 and 1350 and 1351 in 1986 borrowed a lot from the CX22 and CX53. I think the CX53 was the only mouse/trackball type device to be a ble to replace a potentiometer driven paddle or joystick.


 From this Atari Age article, the analog 5200 trak-ball CX53 and the JS only CX22 2600 trak-ball were being sent to the magazine at the same time around early 1983 for review, while the JS/TB CX22 version was not mentioned. Since the issue is May/June 1983, I'm guessing the trak-balls came out in the second half of 1983 with the JS/TB CX22 hot on their trail. The CX53, both CX22 versions and the CX80 all came out in 1983. I'm wondering if the CX22 JS only was rushed out for Christmas in Sept./October to make the catalogs or a bargain 2600 Christmas gift and the JS/TB came soon after. Of course, a couple other reasons have been speculated: 400/800 Missile Command and planning it as a mouse to compete with IBM and Apple, who both had mice in 83.



If you check page 24 it gives the actual release dates of the JS only CX22 and CX53, July and June 1983, respectively. That's two down, two to go.


Dan Kramer: nobody in the upper echelons asked my advice or thoughts once any models were production-released. Goes to show how fortunate gamers of the day were that I got to sneak-tweak my designs for up to a year before putting them into production.


 If this wiki is to believed, the dual mode CX80 was released in June 1983, the month before the JS only CX22. I wonder when production of the dual mode CX22 production in Mexico began. https://atariwiki.org/wiki/Wiki.jsp?page=Atari CX80 Trak-Ball controller&fbclid=IwAR2XKm3Ar3Y53t9IOLMso1Ixm8StOyDoqKwU0_fRmvhETKQmKR93ZmZlZUs


Also, in April. 1983, Atari closes its El Paso, Texas plant, which probably marked the end for JS only CX22 before being released.



Dan Kramer: Good comment, quite likely. I did not usually receive contact from manufacturing to support the post-engineering release scene. Good to know that 35 years later, factoids still emerge!


I read that the Atari 2600 computer expansion keyboard was killed in 1983 due to the release of the XL/XE line of computers, which shows Atari could lose a lot of money through duplication of efforts.

I believe the CX22 was the first popular analog/digital switchable trackball/mouse and the CX53 was the first trackball/mouse to be able to combine optical code with potentiometry for a number of games that could be played with either a joystick or trackball.


-------------- from iesposita:

*You can add the toggle switch to the early "2600" branded CX22s to get native Trak-Ball mode out of them, supposedly.


*The CX80 was designed by Atari Inc's Home Computer Division based upon Dan Kramer's CX22. They wanted their own Trak-Ball to match the XL cases better. Personally, I like the fire buttons better on it than the CX22. [Swami note: Needs verification]


*Slime has native Trak-Ball mode for A8. There's a tape and disk version, and maybe even a cartridge too. A ROM has been ported to the 5200 by Playsoft.


*Back at Atari Inc's Consumer Engineering Division, Dan and others were building custom Trak-Ball controllers and had a special version of Missile Command programmed [3-Base Missile Command] that was more arcade accurate and feature 3 fire button action. They achieved this by using the Paddle Lines to support the extra 2 fire buttons. The game rocks. It also cheats like a mofo. Arcade USA modded a CX22 to add 3 arcade style fire buttons so he can play this version of the game whenever it's finally released, if ever. [Swami note: occurred before the cx80 or cx22 was made, as told by Dan Kramer]


*The 5200 has a ton of games - including Galaxian - that natively support the CX53 - also designed by Dan Kramer - Trak-Ball controller. As Dr. Venkman later posted, they have been back-ported to A8 over the years by the likes of Glen the 5200 Man and others. On a side note, since the standard CX52 analog joystick is technically a "paddle", you can mod them into actual paddles and play various 5200 games with them. IMHO, it greatly enhances 5200 Kaboom, Space Invaders, Galaxian, and Pole Position, amongst others. You can also use the Trak-Ball on Pole Position. Dan's intent was to design an actual Steering Wheel controller for the 5200 based upon the arcade Pole Position set up, not to mention a Yoke controller based upon Atari's arcade yoke controller from Star Wars and Fire Fox, but unfortunately, Warner ordered Atari Inc to scrap the 5200 and move onto the 7800. You can also play Tempest with the Trak-Ball. And a year ago, Dan wired up the arcade Tempest spinner to a CX53 and we were playing 5200 Tempest with the arcade controls. That was dope!


*Dan Kramer is very active in the Facebook Trak-Ball, 5200, and 7800 groups. He rarely visits AtariAge. Facebook is easier for him to post from his phone.


*GCC went behind Dan Kramer's back and created their own "7800 Trak-Ball" based upon the CX22 but it was never released. The commercial release of 7800 Centipede is natively coded for it since GCC did that and created the 7800 in the first place. AtariAge's 7800 Centipede-TB adds code to support the CX22 and CX80 for native Trak-Ball mode and it kicks serious a$$. Please buy it if you have a 7800. [Swami note: needs verification]




Beginning of the Atari Trak-Ball: 1978-79 Atari Football



April - Sept, 1983: Closing of El Paso manufacturing plant

June, 1983: CX53 shipped

July, 1983: 400/800 version of CX22 released = joystick+ trackball mode

September, 1983: Atari International (U.K.) Inc. launched the XL home computer product line (600XL, 800XL, 1010, 1050, 1025, 1020, 1027, Touch Tablet, Trak-Ball = CX80

October, 1983: 2600 version of CX22 released = joystick mode only







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Some box and manual photos of the switchless cx-22 I haven't seen before. Most of them are the switched one. Asked the guy if he could scan the manual, back of box, etc.,but never heard back. From the box, it would seem to confirm that the switchless, all-black-case cx-22 was only marketed to Atari 2600 owners, though it could certainly be used with 8-bits and the 7800, like the black Atari joysticks.


Also can add 005698 to switched serial number list.

009084, 010191 to switchless - I just got the SN 010191 off an eBay picture. It is significant in that it shows the serial numbers for the switchless go over 10,000 and it was still made in El Paso, TX before the plant shut down. Meanwhile, the 000189 switched model was made in the newer Mexico plant.




trakball cx22 boxes.jpg

trakball cx22 manuals.jpg




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Did anyone else buy a box(or more) of CX-80s back when they were a part of Oshea's(or was it Surplus Software) offerings?


I really need to go through my storage and dig out that box.  It still contains 2(?) of the three NIB trak-balls that I purchased. 


I don't even know for sure if they work.  They've never been out of the box.


The CX-80 from that bunch that I use always leaves me wondering why it doesn't have the model number on its case, causing me to forget if it's a CX-80 or CX-22.


The paper label on the bottom says:





And "MADE IN U.S.A." is molded into the case bottom below that sticker.


I don't use it that way on regular basis as I prefer my Logitech Marble "Mouse" for its comfort and reliability, but I was suitably impressed with how usable the CX-80 is through a 2600-daptor as a computer trak-ball.

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