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Would the Atari community show as much interest?

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On 8/15/2020 at 9:30 PM, sgrddy said:

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

Me too, but I don't need a Maga65 Atari.

 

The following is in response to everyone, I can add Rapidus and VBXE to the hardware I already own, and I know my basic Atari computers will last as long as anything new made in China, even from this point, just keep making modern IC component replacements like we do, Pokey Max being one of the latest examples. I see no difference in upgrading original hardware, To me it's no different than adding cards to a PC, except you have to have more skill to do it. I agree with  @Stephen about VBXE, etc.

 

Apple, PC, even Commodore Amiga (like the 2000) and Atari (Atari 800, mega STe, TT) all had card slots to upgrade and those upgrades are all accepted as a natural progression and upgrade to a computer, and it's still the same computer. So why is it so different just because a computer wasn't designed to be upgraded internally? Even XL and XE have upgrade paths through their parallel ports and a 1090 would have allowed for everything we have internally and externally now. The difference is all semantics and is ridiculous to me and so is anyone you thinks otherwise.

 

I've got no problem with others wanting Atari compatible hardware in a new case, mass produced, if they want, or in a 1088XEL/XLD. I just don't need them myself and prefer upgrading the original hardware. Honestly I don't believe some new piece of plastic that is compatible with my old plastic will ensure anything for the future, let alone another 50-100 years, maybe 5-10 more at best, until they start breaking down and be even harder to obtain parts with to repair, since they'd all be specialized chips that copy legacy specialized chips. I feel the same way about upgrades for current Atari's; eventually they will go out, and will there be another Pokeymax or VBXE there to replace it? Maybe, maybe not. That's life, but for now they are improved replacements for original hardware getting harder to obtain.

 

Whether you want a new replacement for original hardware or want to upgrade original hardware, both are great, IMHO, I just don't think there's a market the size that would be needed, which is why we get upgrades and 1088XEL kits that can be made in smaller quantities so we can add a bit of our own stuff, like custom cases and have what other's communities with 10-100 times the population than we have, but it means more to us, because WE built it ourselves and not some robot in a factory.

 

Bottom line, go for it! Get new hardware built and more power to all involved and the end users. It's not for me though and I just don't believe are community is right for one to be successful or even make it past a proto-type or extreme limited run.

 

I see these new products and I see a new model Spectrum or a new model C64 with upgrades added. I look at my old Atari, and I see a new model Atari with upgrades added; new upgrades, old computer. I'd rather have an old C64 or Spectrum with new upgrades too. I have the pleasure and pride in my own accomplishments by upgrading, with upgrades by someone else, or DIY. I could get that from a 1088 at least, but I can't get that from something already made for me. But I guess that's just me, I'd rather do myself and do for myself with pride and accomplishment and fun. Isn't that the main point of hobbies anyway? It is for me...I guess it comes down to thinking like either a user or a builder, and I prefer thinking in the latter state of mind, you get to be a user too, best of both worlds.

Edited by Gunstar
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1 hour ago, Gunstar said:

Apple, PC, even Commodore Amiga (like the 2000) and Atari (Atari 800, mega STe, TT) all had card slots to upgrade and those upgrades are all accepted as a natural progression and upgrade to a computer, and it's still the same computer. So why is it so different just because a computer wasn't designed to be upgraded internally? Even XL and XE have upgrade paths through their parallel ports and a 1090 would have allowed for everything we have internally and externally now. The difference is all semantics and is ridiculous to me and so is anyone you thinks otherwise.

 

Disagree.  The systems you mention are 16-bit, and they have more sophisticated operating system support for sound and graphics that allows hardware upgrades, while allowing application software to use it without modification.  Or else the hardware board came with an applications software suite that made the board a complete, stand-alone solution (e.g. Video Toaster).

 

The Apple II had plenty of support for expansion cards, and there was absolutely no shortage of cards available.  You could get sprite cards and synth cards and the vast majority of apps and games didn't use them because of the same dynamics VBXE now faces.

 

Edited by FifthPlayer

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45 minutes ago, FifthPlayer said:

 

  The systems you mention are 16-bit, and they have more sophisticated operating system support for sound and graphics that allows hardware upgrades.

 

Atari 800, Apple II, XL/XE parallel bus which could have had a 1090...those are all 8-bit. But bit's don't matter and neither do "advanced" OS's. Almost all the advanced Atari upgrades have BIOS which make up for more advanced OS's. Funny, how Rapidus and VBXE, Pokeymax, etc. all seem to be able to work fine with their advanced features with the basic 8-bit OS...

 

But none of that matters to my point, about people accepting upgrades that make a computer much more than it was because a card can be installed instead of having to plug it into a socket, that they don't accept. To me, an electronics guy that understands how it works, they are the same thing, with a different implementation. The difference only being the lack of understanding by the ignorant.

 

Your statement at the bottom about Apple II's contradicts what you said just above about 16-bit, needing advanced OS's that allow hardware upgrades! Regardless of how much the upgrade cards were used by programmers. I'm still shocked about how these upgrades were done for the lowly Atari 8-bit without the advanced features to allow them and yet they work! Quite the contradiction aren't they?

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1 hour ago, Gunstar said:

The following is in response to everyone, I can add Rapidus and VBXE to the hardware I already own, and I know my basic Atari computers will last as long as anything new made in China, even from this point, just keep making modern IC component replacements like we do, Pokey Max being one of the latest examples.

That's right. You can add all sorts of things internally and externally. Absolutely. No question about it.

 

1 hour ago, Gunstar said:

I see no difference in upgrading original hardware, To me it's no different than adding cards to a PC, except you have to have more skill to do it. I agree with  @Stephen about VBXE, etc.

Here's where some shades of gray and other subtleties & definitions come into play, as we will soon discover.

 

1 hour ago, Gunstar said:

Apple, PC, even Commodore Amiga (like the 2000) and Atari (Atari 800, mega STe, TT) all had card slots to upgrade and those upgrades are all accepted as a natural progression and upgrade to a computer, and it's still the same computer.

No. Not all those cards were not accepted as a natural progression. Heavens no. They change the personality of the original computer too much. The original computer is changed in how it looks and what software it can run. The combination of new hardware and new software affecting those changes invokes a "not natural" feel.

 

It isn't the same computer logically. Physically it is the same computer but now a whole new architecture is in play.

 

1 hour ago, Gunstar said:

So why is it so different just because a computer wasn't designed to be upgraded internally?

It isn't different.

 

1 hour ago, Gunstar said:

Even XL and XE have upgrade paths through their parallel ports and a 1090 would have allowed for everything we have internally and externally now. The difference is all semantics and is ridiculous to me and so is anyone you thinks otherwise.

Semantics regarding internal or external expansions are ridiculous. Unless the topic is about something like heat generation or required skill or physical size.

 

TRIVIA: In the Apple II world we have something called an expansion chassis. It adds 8 more slots, into which you can add 8 more chassis. And bifurcate out to 256 slots or some crazy amount. The original chassis concept never took off. And only 1500-2000 were made.

 

1 hour ago, Gunstar said:

I've got no problem with others wanting Atari compatible hardware in a new case, mass produced, if they want, or in a 1088XEL/XLD. I just don't need them myself and prefer upgrading the original hardware.

Everybody should do whatever they want in the hobby. It promotes diversity and creativity. And you don't have to show interest & approval in every project. It's O.K.

 

1 hour ago, Gunstar said:

Honestly I don't believe some new piece of plastic that is compatible with my old plastic will ensure anything for the future, let alone another 50-100 years, maybe 5-10 more at best, until they start breaking down and be even harder to obtain parts with to repair, since they'd all be specialized chips that copy legacy specialized chips. I feel the same way about upgrades for current Atari's; eventually they will go out, and will there be another Pokeymax or VBXE there to replace it? Maybe, maybe not. That's life,

but for now they are improved replacements for original hardware getting harder to obtain.

 

Whether you want a new replacement for original hardware or want to upgrade original hardware, both are great, IMHO, I just don't think there's a market the size that would be needed, which is why we get upgrades and 1088XEL kits that can be made in smaller quantities so we can add a bit of our own stuff, like custom cases and have what other's communities with 10-100 times the population than we have, but it means more to us, because WE built it ourselves and not some robot in a factory.

Eventually hardware will have to be recreated 100%, circuitboards and parts and housings. It will simply degrade over time. Maybe another 25 years? 50 years? 100? Who here has done long-term studies and predictions on the lifespans of all the parts used in an Atari 400/800 rig?

 

Eventually we'll all be playing on new recreated hardware or through Virtualization & Emulation on a contemporary PC.

 

1 hour ago, Gunstar said:

Bottom line, go for it! Get new hardware built and more power to all involved and the end users. It's not for me though and I just don't believe are community is right for one to be successful or even make it past a proto-type or extreme limited run.

 

I see these new products and I see a new model Spectrum or a new model C64 with upgrades added. I look at my old Atari, and I see a new model Atari with upgrades added; new upgrades, old computer. I'd rather have an old C64 or Spectrum with new upgrades too. I have the pleasure and pride in my own accomplishments by upgrading, with upgrades by someone else, or DIY. I could get that from a 1088 at least, but I can't get that from something already made for me. But I guess that's just me, I'd rather do myself and do for myself with pride and accomplishment and fun. Isn't that the main point of hobbies anyway? It is for me...I guess it comes down to thinking like either a user or a builder, and I prefer thinking in the latter state of mind, you get to be a user too, best of both worlds.

And that is O.K. Nothing wrong, absolutely nothing wrong, doing it that way.

 

I collect and operate with emulation. Transitioned from original hardware (except Apple II material) decades ago. It's great fun bringing vintage software and hardware forward to today through virtualization and emulation. Curating, molding, shaping a virtual collection is just as rewarding and even potentially as time consuming as it is working with circuitboards, housing shells, cases, disks, cartridges, controllers and all the various other paraphernalia & peripherals & add-ons, and documentation, too. Maybe even more so because of the depth and thoroughness of the easily-created rabbit holes this hobby seems to make.

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If I wanted to leave my 400 original, I would still be running that awesome software using 4kB of RAM and the CTIA with a cassette.  When we got more RAM, nothing took advantage of it for a while - we needed software.  When we got stereo PoKey, the music and demos didn't code themselves.  Every upgrade I've witnessed for these machines since owning one in 1982 has been readily accepted and coded for minus the 6809 CPU (very easy to argue and say yeah - that's no longer an Atari 8-bit, entire CPU is different) and the VBXE.

 

We actually wanted to upgrade the machines back then.  We wanted faster storage, bigger storage, more RAM.  We got it and liked it, but the minute we get better video - full stop.  I guess it's always been that way for these machines.  How many BIT3 or similar sold for the 800 machines?  Couple dozen it would seem. 

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You cannot make a new Atari, whatever you make is a bastardised version..It will cheat to add things the original never had....Emulation can be changed very fast but emulation never claims to be a single machine, it's a fluid

system. The only true system is the original for all the failing it has.

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Yesteryear's hardware was innovative in concept and limited in capability. Today's hardware can be both. And it has the ability to significantly change the ecosphere into something else. Not everyone wants that.

 

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1 hour ago, Gunstar said:

Atari 800, Apple II, XL/XE parallel bus which could have had a 1090...those are all 8-bit. But bit's don't matter and neither do "advanced" OS's. Almost all the advanced Atari upgrades have BIOS which make up for more advanced OS's. Funny, how Rapidus and VBXE, Pokeymax, etc. all seem to be able to work fine with their advanced features with the basic 8-bit OS...

 

But none of that matters to my point, about people accepting upgrades that make a computer much more than it was because a card can be installed instead of having to plug it into a socket, that they don't accept. To me, an electronics guy that understands how it works, they are the same thing, with a different implementation. The difference only being the lack of understanding by the ignorant.

 

Your statement at the bottom about Apple II's contradicts what you said just above about 16-bit, needing advanced OS's that allow hardware upgrades! Regardless of how much the upgrade cards were used by programmers. I'm still shocked about how these upgrades were done for the lowly Atari 8-bit without the advanced features to allow them and yet they work! Quite the contradiction aren't they?

 

With 16-bit processors came enough linear memory space to offer an operating system with hardware abstractions for graphics and sound.  Some of the 16-bit platforms isolated apps from the hardware (Mac) and some allowed the app to choose to use the abstractions or code straight to the metal (Amiga, Atari ST).  But all of them provided some way to write an app that could work unchanged with an upgrade to graphics and sound.

 

In contrast, none of the 8-bit platforms (Atari, Apple, C-64) offered the level of software abstraction as the 16-bit machines.  You could add a hi-res graphics card to the Apple II for instance, but you had to rewrite the apps to support it.  The situation would have been no different with a VBXE chip on a card plugged into a 1090 chassis.  If that had existed BITD, only a relatively few apps and games would have supported it.

 

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2 minutes ago, Mclaneinc said:

You cannot make a new Atari, whatever you make is a bastardised version..It will cheat to add things the original never had....Emulation can be changed very fast but emulation never claims to be a single machine, it's a fluid

system. The only true system is the original for all the failing it has.

You CAN make a new Atari. You just have to do it. Follow the circuit design. Don't add stuff because today's tech allows for it. Don't be creative, just dupe it rote. No need to add extra memory slots, no need for extra video-out options. Just. Dupe. It.

 

Emulation is wonderfully flexible. With Altirra I have several pre-configured machines from different parts of the era. Because as Atari's 8-bitters evolved, so did compatibility and requirements. This is even more pronounced in the Amiga sphere.

 

What I'm saying is that it's nice, very nice, to be able to run software from the early days and the latter days equally well without having to have a desk full of 2 or 3 machines representing different points along the ladder.

 

This applies in the Apple II world too. Some software wants a II, or II+, or //e. And sometimes different memory sizes, explicitly. Apple II hobbyists solved those problems several ways.

 

1- Emulation

2- Patching the software itself

3- Making a pre-booter disk like Anti-M

4- Cracking/removing the copy protection

 

..rarely if ever would changes or modifications be done to the machine itself.

 

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I'm just saying that when these projects start they almost always expand on the original, I can understand cleaning up the video signal but do you allow OS swapping so it's totally compatible or is that considered a bodge. If we were to make an 800 (not XL) and it was just what its meant to be I'd save up and get one, I'd want the beast that I know, 48K, single pokey, proper keyboard as with the 800, a carbon copy.

 

Then do the same with the XL...Not sure I'd want a 130XE (personally).

 

I just think the temptation would be to expand it....

 

Maybe its just me being me.....

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We already have plenty of hardware recreations.

 

Though it would be nice to have new injection moulded plastics and a custom keyboard.

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13 hours ago, Mclaneinc said:

You cannot make a new Atari, whatever you make is a bastardised version..It will cheat to add things the original never had....Emulation can be changed very fast but emulation never claims to be a single machine, it's a fluid

system. The only true system is the original for all the failing it has.

Ah, the "No true Atari" fallacy. I've seen them made on Spectrum and Commodore fourms too. So I guess Amiga 1200 is not a true Amiga, C128 not a true Commodore, etc. And, sorry Keatah, emulation has zilch to do with this subject.

 

Spectrum Next or Mega 65 are no more or less true than the old timers. They're just new machines compatible with the old line. The idea behind them is to gather all the modern QoL improvements under one roof and adding some extra possibilities, while still being compatible. For the mainstream users it's much easier than maintaining old hardware and installing new add ons. In theory it also has added bonus of unifying the scene which might result in more soft being written which utilises the extras.

 

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Fallacy, I beg to differ, of course I see officially produced lines as being part of the family, as a C64 and Amiga (1200 + 500) I see them as totally legitimate products. All I'm saying is that all in one projects are all nice but I'd just like to see a proper remake of an XL and an 800 that were true to the line apart from cosmetic changes ie the video cleaned up. The temptation is always there to change the machine up to make it an all in one. Great for those that want that but I'd rather have a factory condition 800.

 

We are talking different paths of retro rebuilding..

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Well this is quickly breaking down into a “religious” discussion, or perhaps a better term is “political”...

 

🍿

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18 hours ago, Mrarkus said:

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.

Thank @Mrarkus for the new rabbit hole this sent me down for three hours last night! Had not heard of this yet...

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21 minutes ago, mdivancic said:

Well this is quickly breaking down into a “religious” discussion, or perhaps a better term is “political”...

 

🍿

 

Only for those that want to see it that way, for me its all about what sort of rebuilt Atari I'd like...

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5 hours ago, Mclaneinc said:

All I'm saying is that all in one projects are all nice but I'd just like to see a proper remake of an XL and an 800 that were true to the line apart from cosmetic changes ie the video cleaned up. The temptation is always there to change the machine up to make it an all in one. Great for those that want that but I'd rather have a factory condition 800.

 

We are talking different paths of retro rebuilding..

Yes, it is a different path. Neither is "wrong", and there is space for both:)

 

Are there no clones like that for 8-bit Atari? Genuine question. I know there are for other micros (C64 Reloaded, Just Speccy (and few others), Just CPC).

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Yes there are clones but as far as i know they are based on emulation based cores and as brilliant as the emulation cores are they are only as good as the detailed info out there for them to build from. I'm not going to go down the path of hitting on the emulation as I'm in awe of it, I've been a huge fan since before Atari800win, people like Avery, the A800 team, and Slor etc are emulation royalty in my book.

 

I just wish that a deal could be made with whoever owns Atari to allow for proper clones to be made, obviously in the market at this moment almost everyone is struggling but later on if we recover I'd just love to see actual clones of the old gear. Is it likely to happen, no but its a lovely dream....And as far as I know I'm allowed to dream still before someone says its "religious" or "political"...SIGH...

 

And yes, I totally agree, room for both sides, projects like the 1088XEL are wonderful and all credit to those that made it happen, I'd just like to see a perfect Atari 800 out there as well...It's all good..

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I don't have any problem at all personally with modern FPGA recreations, I own both a Just Speccy and an Ultimate 64 Elite with both SIDs. They've done a good job with the Next right down to Rick Dickinson (RIP) designing the case. Extending on the platform with full backwards compatiblity including peripherals is a great thing in my eyes. I was lucky enough to get to play around with the pre-production Spectrum Next and have a chat with Jim Bagley at the last couple of Expos 2018/19. Of course we already have modern updated recreations of the A8 although if somebody was to produce a board in the 800XL form factor with the modern upgrades integrated and in a new high quality injection moulded XL case along with a mechanical keyboard, yes please count me in.

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I absolutely would be interested in it, if there was an evolution of Pokey chip included, not just simply stereo or quad pokey.

 

I found this document: ATARI 64-bit Project - it seems it includes a further developed Pokey chip, Pokey 64 ("...exemplary FM on 32 independent channels sound with generator 64...")

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The EclaireXL was probably the closest (FPGA based) clone with all ports including cartridge port. I had one and loved it. Unfortunately, there was an issue with my FPGA chip & board. I sent it back to Panos @santosp to look it over. If he decides to start producing them again, I WILL be purchasing another one. It truly is a wonderful product and did everything I could have wanted in a 8-bit.

 

I miss that thing...

Edited by NISMOPC
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On 8/18/2020 at 6:25 PM, Keatah said:

 

Eventually hardware will have to be recreated 100%, circuitboards and parts and housings. It will simply degrade over time. Maybe another 25 years? 50 years? 100? Who here has done long-term studies and predictions on the lifespans of all the parts used in an Atari 400/800 rig?

 

Eventually we'll all be playing on new recreated hardware or through Virtualization & Emulation on a contemporary PC.

 

 

It sounds like you expect to live for quite a while...another hundred years maybe? Eventually, and most likely within the next 25-50 years we will all be dead. Future generations won't give a crap. All we need is the hardware and components or modern replacements for them to last us the rest of our lives, which I can pretty much guarantee isn't going to be more than a quarter century for most of us since the average human life-span is about 75-80. I don't see a lot of people running around trying to find parts and components or making them for computers from 50 or more years ago. They are strictly museum pieces as will be our home computers shortly, after we are gone.

 

The way I see it is most of us are generation X. There may be a small percentage that were the tail end of the baby-boomer generation, and a small percentage of mostly ex-eastern block Europeans who are millennial's that got in on the end of the 8-bit era with XE's. But most millennial's grew up with 16/32-bit machines and the latest generation 64-bit+ machines, and the vast majority don't give a damn about 8/16-bit antiques. We are it, when we are gone, our machines will end up in museums, attics or the landfill and no one will care except for a very few antique collectors, and even they won't be collecting to use these old machines, just to display as museum pieces. The hardware only needs to last for us, and I'm sure I can keep my original equipment running as long as I am able, and when I'm no longer able, if still alive, it won't matter, because if I am not able to fix it, I most likely will also be too old to use it physically or mentally. We are it, bottom line.

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Someone is bound to continue tinkering with this stuff even as the original users‘ generation is slowly dying out. 
 

There are people keeping 1900‘s cars and pre-WW2-aircraft and all sorts of early household machines, old clocks and watches, etc. alive. While I doubt that they will care as much for a 2020 FPGA as for a mint 1980s machine, such a thing will probably be considered to nicely accompany a classic collection. 
 

Even if pre-Tramiel Atari had cared more about an upgrade path, the speed of technological development at the time was so fast that incremental upgrading would have meant squandering opportunities. When designing the next machine Jay Miner & Co. did not go for an 800GS but for something more radically new. While the GS was impressive and would have been more so with a faster CPU, the 65816 required for backwards compatibility isn‘t half as elegant to handle as the 68000. 

 

For Atari there was even less room between the much cheaper ST and the XEs for an XE plus with VBXE-like graphics. 

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I have no doubts this hobby will continue well after the first generation (which is us, or "it" :)). There are already many people who have never owned these machines because they were too young and yet still have a great interest in them. Also, the pre-clone PC era being the beginning of the history of computing, programming and videogames, it will be revisited for as long as humans are around, it's only natural.

 

100 years from now people will be able to 3D print (or some use some other magical recreation process)  exact working replicas of the entire machines, down to the transistor level. Up till then FPGA recreations are the best modern solution, nicely positioned between the OG HW and emulation.

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