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cgfatari79

Would the Atari community show as much interest?

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Amazing how big the zx spectrum community can be so big as to get a project like this of the ground so fast. 

Do you think if someone was to come up with a new yet retro backward compatible Atari computer. It would be a success? 

 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-53765852

Edited by cgfatari79
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That's pretty amazing!  I'm curious about the technical specs of the new computer.  FPGA, I presume. (?)

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Personally I see the Atari community preferring home projects, things like the 1088XEL or whatever the name is, you also have to remember that in the UK alone the Spectrum sold MASSIVELY and has a huge fanbase, easily more popular than our beloved Atari in this  / my country.

 

Would the Atari community back a similar project, probably yes but not in the same numbers..

Edited by Mclaneinc
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Understand that I make this analysis as an outsider.  I was born and raised in the United States.  That said, I think one has to realize the enormous importance, at the multi-national level, that the Sinclair had for the United Kingdom.  Sinclair was knighted for it; and not for his symbolic value to an ideal but for the real practical value that his work brought to the entire region.  Sinclair propelled the home user out of the commercial atmosphere of early-adopter and into the open space of global-ready market.  The Spectrum ignited a wildfire of bedroom coders and most of the many recent documentaries concerning the early days of game development make this clear.

 

All of this is to say that the nostalgic value of the Sinclair line must have a volume and regional cohesion that any other such effort would not enjoy.

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I don't want an Atari Next; my A8s, with all available upgrades, are just lovely as-is. I backed the Spectrum project because historial Sinclair machines are hard to find and use in North America, and the new design is lovely. Why don't we just work instead on increasing the VBXE's footprint in the existing installed base? And then there was this

 

image.jpeg.84defcd2e3cfe3ef54a9a5aa8a761355.jpeg

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16 minutes ago, davidcalgary29 said:

I don't want an Atari Next; my A8s, with all available upgrades, are just lovely as-is. I backed the Spectrum project because historial Sinclair machines are hard to find and use in North America, and the new design is lovely. Why don't we just work instead on increasing the VBXE's footprint in the existing installed base? And then there was this

 

image.jpeg.84defcd2e3cfe3ef54a9a5aa8a761355.jpeg

Yes, I really wanted one of those keyboards but they were well out of print by the time I learned of them 

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24 minutes ago, davidcalgary29 said:

Why don't we just work instead on increasing the VBXE's footprint in the existing installed base?

Here come the flames...

Edited by pixelmischief
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I wouldn't be interested in a new Atari remake since I have 3 upgraded Atari's and plenty of more upgrades like VBXE, Rapidus and Sophia 2 that ad modern features and upgraded graphics even beyond anything the new Spectrum can do! I agree that more support needs to be thrown behind upgrades such as the VBXE. From my years of experience in this community, we are a more hacker-oriented community than most any other, I believe, and I *think* the majority of us would rather upgrade current machines or build 1088XEL's over buying some new computer remake, especially when it's not the real original custom chips, but FPGA remakes or whatever. I could be wrong, but that's how I feel about it. I like all the upgrades and using the original equipment.

 

A new remake might draw more ex-Atarians that don't hack or are not as deeply involved, still just users, but would that be enough to support such a machine?

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I wonder if a hardware Atari on a PCI-e card with integrated upgrades, analog A/V out, an SIO port, and master/slave integration to video, audio, keyboard, and storage would be interesting to anyone.  It would save desk space, not be emulation, still have conveniences, and support original peripherals.  I'd buy one for sure.

 

The 1088XEL could v1 the idea by just getting power from the bus.

Edited by pixelmischief

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You can find and mod Spectrums around here (Europe) very easily, and there are heaps of upgrade add ons available too. Most people already have tricked out ZX's, (2 myself). FPGA based system like Next are about dfferent things - building something new, adding features and QoL improvements in one package, invigorating the community, etc.

 

Commodore is getting Mega65, so I don't see why A8 couldn't come up with something similar too, I think the fan base is big enough and not any different from any other 8-bit micro. Biggest problems seem to be getting it all together, having a clear vision and a good way of dealing with the "plastic" side of things.

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That mega65 looks interesting. I'd be interested in something along those lines for the Atari. I'm getting a bit fed up with stuff breaking on all my old ones 

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If anyone does come up with an Atari variation on this - I think it's for the future for when the old hardware starts failing big time and this will keep Atari (8-bits) alive and well for the next 100 years or so.

When I purchased an Atari 800 back in '82 - it was because it was all ready to go with no need for enhancements, whatever.  Not everyone is into soldering and doing mods, etc.

 

Harvey

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I would love to see an atari 800 mini with enhanced graphics sound and processor options. 

I'd buy that without hesitation. 

That or a 600xl mini. 

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Imagine how cool it would be to have a "modern" A8 like those C= and Sinclair projects.  I would happily buy a modern A8 that didn't require assembly.  I can't do decent soldering anymore so kits are a no go for me.

 

 

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Nah. For me Next is pointless. Even VBXE or Rapidus. If want more colors or fast cpu, I have PC. If I want old computer, I have genuine old Atari. Even FPGA Atari seems pointless to me, PC emulators offer more features.

I simply see no use for device like that.

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19 minutes ago, R0ger said:

Nah. For me Next is pointless. Even VBXE or Rapidus. If want more colors or fast cpu, I have PC. If I want old computer, I have genuine old Atari. Even FPGA Atari seems pointless to me, PC emulators offer more features.

I simply see no use for device like that.

This makes me so sad.  VBXE is not using a PC with an NVIDIA card.  You're still bound to 6502, it's what Atari should have done in the early 80s, rather than sticking with 1978 technology through the EOL of the 8-bits in 1992.  If you code for the VBXE you will see it as a natural extension of what should have happened.  It has a display list.  It is scanline based.  Few more pixels per line, few more colours.  Same overall feel.

 

This shitty attitude towards only the VBXE kills me.  10+ years and it's treated as the red headed step child.  Since the early 80s we accepted RAM upgrades.  We accepted stereo pokeys.  We accepted faster serial devices.  We accepted parallel devices.  We accepted CF cards not SCSI HDDs.  Covox for 4-channel 8-bit audio.  Atari released a garbage 80 column solution in the XEP-80.  But god forbid, we have a device that gives us some better colours on screen.  It's shunned as the worst thing ever.  Why is this?  Please - as an Atari user since the heavy-sixer of 1977 (which I still own) - why is the VBXE pretty much single handedly pointed out as the only 8-bit upgrade to get universally shit on?

 

I implore you - try Sparta DOS X with Sparta Commander set up properly, and Last Word with VBXE drivers.  It's still 8-bit Atari but "next generation".

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I'd love an Atari 8/16 with an 65816 and VBXE in a classic style case like the Mega65. I'd buy it.  

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17 minutes ago, Stephen said:

This makes me so sad.  VBXE is not using a PC with an NVIDIA card.  You're still bound to 6502, it's what Atari should have done in the early 80s, rather than sticking with 1978 technology through the EOL of the 8-bits in 1992.  If you code for the VBXE you will see it as a natural extension of what should have happened.  It has a display list.  It is scanline based.  Few more pixels per line, few more colours.  Same overall feel.

 

This shitty attitude towards only the VBXE kills me.  10+ years and it's treated as the red headed step child.  Since the early 80s we accepted RAM upgrades.  We accepted stereo pokeys.  We accepted faster serial devices.  We accepted parallel devices.  We accepted CF cards not SCSI HDDs.  Covox for 4-channel 8-bit audio.  Atari released a garbage 80 column solution in the XEP-80.  But god forbid, we have a device that gives us some better colours on screen.  It's shunned as the worst thing ever.  Why is this?  Please - as an Atari user since the heavy-sixer of 1977 (which I still own) - why is the VBXE pretty much single handedly pointed out as the only 8-bit upgrade to get universally shit on?

 

I implore you - try Sparta DOS X with Sparta Commander set up properly, and Last Word with VBXE drivers.  It's still 8-bit Atari but "next generation".

I don't have any experience with VBXE.  So I can only say - if it was an easy low-cost install - more people would get on board with it?  But you need the software running, to show what it can do?  I don't think people are against it at all.

Just reluctant takers on until it gathers enough momentum.

I've noted that only one title seems to interest me - and that is Moon Cresta.  One coin-op I did play a lot of.  But I haven't even tried this out via Altirra.

 

What you need are programmers who'll put out a VBXE enhanced version of their software? Or maybe bring out the missing titles via VBXE versions thereof?  A VBXE Galaga ought to do it?  But a decent version of this game should just be possible on the standard hardware?  Or maybe a VBXE Pole Position would showcase VBXE well?

 

Harvey

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2 hours ago, Stephen said:

This makes me so sad.  VBXE is not using a PC with an NVIDIA card.  You're still bound to 6502, it's what Atari should have done in the early 80s, rather than sticking with 1978 technology through the EOL of the 8-bits in 1992.  If you code for the VBXE you will see it as a natural extension of what should have happened.  It has a display list.  It is scanline based.  Few more pixels per line, few more colours.  Same overall feel.

Apple used their technology (or circuitry layout) from around 1977 through 1992 also. The base graphics and sound didn't change. Nor did the CPU. But we did see some nice advancements or add-ons via the 8 available expansion slots.

 

Quote

This shitty attitude towards only the VBXE kills me.  10+ years and it's treated as the red headed step child.  Since the early 80s we accepted RAM upgrades.  We accepted stereo pokeys.  We accepted faster serial devices.  We accepted parallel devices.  We accepted CF cards not SCSI HDDs.  Covox for 4-channel 8-bit audio.  Atari released a garbage 80 column solution in the XEP-80.  But god forbid, we have a device that gives us some better colours on screen.  It's shunned as the worst thing ever.  Why is this?  Please - as an Atari user since the heavy-sixer of 1977 (which I still own) - why is the VBXE pretty much single handedly pointed out as the only 8-bit upgrade to get universally shit on?

I could suspect it's because each machine, Atari, Apple, Commodore, TRS-80, and so on, have a unique personality. And that personality is conveyed, expressed, demonstrated, through the look and feel of the graphics output. Change that and you've changed flavor of the machine.

 

Being an Apple II hardware guy I understand that and can speak directly as to why. We've had a few hardware add-ons like the Arcade Board and the Sprite Board - attempts at bringing TMS-9xxx graphics to the Apple II series. We had something called Second Sight, a VGA adapter. And recently an attempt at bringing the TI-99/4A's F/A-18 expansion to the II. No go on any of those. Even the TRS-80 Models II and III had some sort of hi-res board available. It was a flop.

 

They took away so much of the charm of the original machine, needed specialized software, and more fiddling that only niche products demand. These graphics boards were useless with the 17,000+ titles of software already out there.

 

The shunning comes from the experts and connoisseurs of the original hardware. We want to keep the personality of the machine intact. And we also want to stay reliable and compatible. Go ahead and upgrade your machine, but don't bitch if anyone doesn't program for it.

 

To make a counter-example of all that, there were 80-column cards. At first they needed specialized patches to a specific software package. But that quickly changed. Thing is with 80-column cards (yes they do change the personality away from 40-columns) is that on the Apple II they were catch-up items and eventually standardized upon. They were a necessary item that couldn't come fast enough. The rest of the industry had them for years.

 

Apple also had RGB interface cards which were moderately popular. They enabled a better class of monitors to be used. The didn't change the personality of the computer much at all. But that SecondSight VGA card failed because it gave you a different-looking display.

 

Regarding serial and parallel peripherals. Shit. Man. Anything goes. Plug it in, throw shit at the wall.. Does it work? Good! We know our computer is the same, just that with new serial/parallel stuff it's controlling stuff that's progressively more sophisticated.

 

Regarding storage devices. Storage never changed the aura of the machine either. Bigger more capable drive was just something to be accessed. Again I'll speak with the Apple II in mind. I grew up with cassette and disk drives. They worked. Then I got a hard drive, a whopping 10MB. The Apple II was just looking at a bigger device. That's all.

 

Then SCSI drives came. They were bigger still, and needed more address space and processing power to use. They worked good enough in their time. But weren't the best match. They worked best in the realm of the PC.

 

Fast forward another 10 years to around the early 2000's and CF media suddenly became practical with the advent of cheaper FPGA and CPLD. Now an interface could be built that wouldn't stress the original 1MHz 6502 and SCSI was becoming outdated. Clunky. So that's how CFFA3000 came to be popular on the Apple II. More or less. In short it was a matter of the right parts at the right time. And CF-IDE -to- 8-bit machine interfacing was becoming commodity knowledge.

 

Storage is something that seems universally compatible. All you need to do is patch DOS or write additions to it. And.. BAM! Instant compatibility with millions of files. In the Apple II world we can image and make perfect copies of protected disks and run them on many different Flash-based storage devices as well as the original hardware from BITD. And same with emulators. All sorts of interoperability I would guess other 8-bit platforms can do the same.

 

That doesn't happen with graphics hardware though. Practically each game had its own routines that played its own tricks and did things its own way to put something on the screen. The exception being crap made with stuff like Br0derbund's "The Arcade Machine". A universal common graphics "engine", if there was such a thing so early on.

 

Sound cards a little more forgiving, usually it's a matter of adding in some "GOSUB" style code for calling the new and different addresses for the add-on sound chip. And the timing doesn't need to be perfect either. This was done with the Mockingboard for the Apple II.

 

Quote

I implore you - try Sparta DOS X with Sparta Commander set up properly, and Last Word with VBXE drivers.  It's still 8-bit Atari but "next generation".

I bet it looks nice. But it's also 80-columns, so its an industry expectation.

 

2 hours ago, R0ger said:

Nah. For me Next is pointless. Even VBXE or Rapidus. If want more colors or fast cpu, I have PC. If I want old computer, I have genuine old Atari. Even FPGA Atari seems pointless to me, PC emulators offer more features. I simply see no use for device like that.

Not a fan of FPGA. Seems there are issues with controller and cartridge input levels. And with controller ports, they don't always do analog paddles well, or one type of specialty controller never works with it - all because of incorrect voltage being supplied to the DB9 and/or there being no A/D, D/A conversion. So. Yeh. I call that out because most everyone sees FPGA as the end-all be-all exact duplicate of the original hardware at the transistor level. It is not.

 

I thoroughly enjoy emulators for game playing, the occasional programming exercise, convenience, versatility, reliability, and more. Been doing emulators since the mid/late 1990's and have been quite happy to follow them through all the improvements and upgrades over the years. Decades even. It's always been fun to get new updates and versions of each major emulator. Not unlike taking your real hardware into the shop for an upgrade or tune-up.

 

On 8/14/2020 at 8:30 AM, pixelmischief said:

I wonder if a hardware Atari on a PCI-e card with integrated upgrades, analog A/V out, an SIO port, and master/slave integration to video, audio, keyboard, and storage would be interesting to anyone.  It would save desk space, not be emulation, still have conveniences, and support original peripherals.  I'd buy one for sure. The 1088XEL could v1 the idea by just getting power from the bus.

I thought about that too. I even thought about an FPGA on a PCIe card too. But, no, as much as we'd want it work it wouldn't be practical or as rewarding as it might first appear.

 

A big reason is you're stuck to a specific piece of hardware that requires its own set of drivers. And these drivers would need to be updated in lock-step with their host OS. A big task to be committed to.

 

Another being the interface software between the host OS, the PCIe card, all the host APIs, and host hardware. That can get rather complex. It's been tried before with the Jaguar, 3DO, and Saturn. There's likely more that I'm just not recalling ATM.

 

Today PC's are stupid powerful. And a basic entry-level i7-8700 CPU idles at just a coupla 2 or 3% on ONE core when playing Altirra. And turbo'ing it nets you like 2500+ FPS if you want to blast through something.

 

Another thing is that really tiny formfactor PCs with no PCIe slots are super popular. These little 4"x4"x3" cubes pack a punch all their own. Put 10 different quality emulators on one then get back to me about space savings!

 

And then there's the R-Pi and MiSTer..

 

 

Edited by Keatah
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5 hours ago, Keatah said:

Apple used their technology (or circuitry layout) from around 1977 through 1992 also. The base graphics and sound didn't change. Nor did the CPU. But we did see some nice advancements or add-ons via the 8 available expansion slots.

 

They did release the Apple IIGS in 1986, which had a 16 bit cpu, up to 8 MB ram, 640×200 with an actual 4096 color palette and much improved sound while being backwards compatible to the Apple II. I mean sure, it was a new platform but it was meant to be the nextgen continuation while running old Apple II software (at twice the speed.) Thats something Atari could have benefited from in the mid 80s. Extending the platform and bridging the gap.

 

In the end they fucked it up because it competed against the mac (which sucked in comparison), so they kept the clock frequency artificially low at 2,8 mhz and killed it off as fast as they could.

 

Not that Apple should be the goldstandard anyway. They werent exactly making the best business decisions from the early 80s right up until the late 90s. Any other computer company would have simply gone bankrupt.

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16 hours ago, Stephen said:

This makes me so sad.  VBXE is not using a PC with an NVIDIA card.  You're still bound to 6502, it's what Atari should have done in the early 80s, rather than sticking with 1978 technology through the EOL of the 8-bits in 1992.  If you code for the VBXE you will see it as a natural extension of what should have happened.  It has a display list.  It is scanline based.  Few more pixels per line, few more colours.  Same overall feel.

 

This shitty attitude towards only the VBXE kills me.  10+ years and it's treated as the red headed step child.  Since the early 80s we accepted RAM upgrades.  We accepted stereo pokeys.  We accepted faster serial devices.  We accepted parallel devices.  We accepted CF cards not SCSI HDDs.  Covox for 4-channel 8-bit audio.  Atari released a garbage 80 column solution in the XEP-80.  But god forbid, we have a device that gives us some better colours on screen.  It's shunned as the worst thing ever.  Why is this?  Please - as an Atari user since the heavy-sixer of 1977 (which I still own) - why is the VBXE pretty much single handedly pointed out as the only 8-bit upgrade to get universally shit on?

 

I implore you - try Sparta DOS X with Sparta Commander set up properly, and Last Word with VBXE drivers.  It's still 8-bit Atari but "next generation".

I don't hate it. I just don't care. As I said, I don't want 'next generation Atari'. RAM upgrades were done back in the day. SD cards and HDMI outputs allows your device to work in current context. But VBXE is just random extension of capabilities. Some people will mount modern engine into old timer car. Good for them. I don't care about that.

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Having just watched RetroManCave's video on the MiSTer he's put together I'd consider that a far better item to have and use rather than the fpga just being dedicated to being an A8 clone.

 

 

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19 hours ago, Stephen said:

This shitty attitude towards only the VBXE kills me.  10+ years and it's treated as the red headed step child.  Since the early 80s we accepted RAM upgrades.  We accepted stereo pokeys.  We accepted faster serial devices.  We accepted parallel devices.  We accepted CF cards not SCSI HDDs.  Covox for 4-channel 8-bit audio.  Atari released a garbage 80 column solution in the XEP-80.  But god forbid, we have a device that gives us some better colours on screen.  It's shunned as the worst thing ever.  Why is this?  Please - as an Atari user since the heavy-sixer of 1977 (which I still own) - why is the VBXE pretty much single handedly pointed out as the only 8-bit upgrade to get universally shit on?

Just about every one of the expansions you mentioned - CF cards, serial devices, parallel, memory expansions, even processor upgrades - all enhance existing software.  VBXE (and Covox) both need software to be written to support it.   Also, VBXE isn't a plug-and-play peripheral like a CF card that goes into the PBI port.  It requires a soldering iron and skills to install, which for me (and probably a good number of other people) puts it outside the realm of consideration.

 

I don't necessarily think VBXE is a bad thing, but I understand why it hasn't received the warm reception people hoped for.

 

I do like the idea of a modern recreation of the A8 hardware with integrated VBXE.  That could be very interesting and perhaps give the VBXE the respect it deserves.

Edited by FifthPlayer
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I've never been a huge fan of FPGAs and treated it more as an emulation than anything (I know, totally wrong, but it's just how I felt). However, I finally got myself the Ultimate 64 Elite, which is a Commodore 64 FPGA clone, a really good one, that fits into the original case. I built it with a brand new Pixel Wizard case, new mechanical Mechboard keyboard, and it's truly a game changer for me. Now that Gideon, the maker, created a 48Mhz CPU mode for it, it opens up a ton of new possibilities that make it that much better, especially for the developer in me.

 

Ultimate 1Mb, SIDE and Sophia are awesome, but I would pay big money for a similarly well done FPGA enhanced Atari 8-bit machine. We now have Ultimate 64, Mega 65 and Spectrum Next. It's time for A8 to show them who's boss...

Edited by Mrarkus
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