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Steve Mynott

New Atari 1600xl prototype pics on Twitter!

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The Atari engineer who worked on the 1600 (cross between 8bits and PC) has posted some new pictures on Twitter.

 

 

EfWM5NbUEAMZvW7?format=jpg&name=medium

 

The keyboard seems to say "Toshiba" and look similar to the T200 one.

 

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On 8/16/2020 at 1:41 PM, Steve Mynott said:

The Atari engineer who worked on the 1600 (cross between 8bits and PC) has posted some new pictures on Twitter.

 

 

EfWM5NbUEAMZvW7?format=jpg&name=medium

 

The keyboard seems to say "Toshiba" and look similar to the T200 one.

 

That is unbelievably cool.  Makes one wonder what might have happened if Atari had jumped on the PC (gravy) train early on.

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19 minutes ago, Hwlngmad said:

That is unbelievably cool.  Makes one wonder what might have happened if Atari had jumped on the PC (gravy) train early on.

I still want one of their PCs... They were higher end than the other ones at the time they were worked on, and maybe for a short while after they were released.  One of the things I thought though that Atari kind of failed on is that they were pretty much known as a games company, but when Tramiels took it over, they weren't interested in gaming... Makes one wonder why buy the Atari talent at all... anyhow, past is past...

 

This thing would have been an interesting frankenputer!

 

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13 minutes ago, leech said:

I still want one of their PCs... They were higher end than the other ones at the time they were worked on, and maybe for a short while after they were released.  One of the things I thought though that Atari kind of failed on is that they were pretty much known as a games company, but when Tramiels took it over, they weren't interested in gaming... Makes one wonder why buy the Atari talent at all... anyhow, past is past...

 

This thing would have been an interesting frankenputer!

 

100% agreed.  Also, it can make one wonder why didn't Commodore go this route to considering they had the Amiga and were building PC compatibles too.  Regardless, another case of could've, should've, would've.

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5 minutes ago, Hwlngmad said:

100% agreed.  Also, it can make one wonder why didn't Commodore go this route to considering they had the Amiga and were building PC compatibles too.  Regardless, another case of could've, should've, would've.

They did! The Amiga 2000 had a PC compatibility card (basically an 8086 with some support chips) which let you use it as a PC, I think they even sold a model with the card preinstalled. IIRC the PC "display" was a screen on the Amiga, so you could switch between it and Workbench pretty easily.

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1 minute ago, Eyvind Bernhardsen said:

They did! The Amiga 2000 had a PC compatibility card (basically an 8086 with some support chips) which let you use it as a PC, I think they even sold a model with the card preinstalled. IIRC the PC "display" was a screen on the Amiga, so you could switch between it and Workbench pretty easily.

Well, not quite what I was going after as I was thinking a PC clone with Amiga graphics and sound graphed onto it.  Still, if they could have developed better and more efficient PC compatibility cards (or heck just baked them into the hardware) it could have been something.

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4 minutes ago, Hwlngmad said:

Well, not quite what I was going after as I was thinking a PC clone with Amiga graphics and sound graphed onto it.  Still, if they could have developed better and more efficient PC compatibility cards (or heck just baked them into the hardware) it could have been something.

The Amiga had such a great architecture for doing such a thing too.  Using something like the Emplant card, I supposed if you had a couple, you could feasibly run PC / MAC / Amiga stuff all at once...

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1 hour ago, Hwlngmad said:

That is unbelievably cool.  Makes one wonder what might have happened if Atari had jumped on the PC (gravy) train early on.

Sure: they would have produced the PCjr, version 0.2. I mean, yes -- this is all very cool, but even if Atari morphed a bargain-basement PC clone company, it still would have disappeared by the mid-'90s; the margins were too thin and it would have had too many competitors. I actually think that Atari and Commodore did the best that they could given increasingly hostile market conditions for both companies in the early '90s.

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39 minutes ago, davidcalgary29 said:

Sure: they would have produced the PCjr, version 0.2. I mean, yes -- this is all very cool, but even if Atari morphed a bargain-basement PC clone company, it still would have disappeared by the mid-'90s; the margins were too thin and it would have had too many competitors. I actually think that Atari and Commodore did the best that they could given increasingly hostile market conditions for both companies in the early '90s.

Nah, they would have been bought by HP, and then nothing done with their IP, like so many other companies.  :P

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1 hour ago, leech said:

but when Tramiels took it over, they weren't interested in gaming... Makes one wonder why buy the Atari talent at all... anyhow, past is past...

They wanted the name!   Who was going to buy an ST from Tramiel Technology LTD?    They knew they'd have better success selling it under a known name.

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Just now, zzip said:

They wanted the name!   Who was going to buy an ST from Tramiel Technology LTD?    They knew they'd have better success selling it under a known name.

Ha, could have gone with "Kill Commodore"  As I'm pretty sure it was out of bitterness that they bought Atari :P  It's also nuts that they didn't keep Atari Games under the same ownership.  Then borrowed some hardware designs from the arcade machines.  Oh well, unless I can find a portal to the alternate timeline, like Blade Runner, then I guess we'll never know.

 

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4 minutes ago, leech said:

Ha, could have gone with "Kill Commodore"  As I'm pretty sure it was out of bitterness that they bought Atari :P  It's also nuts that they didn't keep Atari Games under the same ownership.  Then borrowed some hardware designs from the arcade machines.  Oh well, unless I can find a portal to the alternate timeline, like Blade Runner, then I guess we'll never know.

 

Well a lot of the ST design work was done before he bought Atari,  that's why it relies so little on tech developed at Atari prior to the sale.   Jack wanted to be in the computer business, he wasn't that interested in games at first except as a cash cow to help fund the computer side.  This left a big opening in the market for Nintendo and Sega to come in and dominate.

 

I sometimes wonder how the videogame industry would look today if Atari was still owned by Warner or another buyer serious about defending Atari's gaming market position.   I know this was a time of great doom-and-gloom for videogames and it may have been hard to see over that horizon.

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2 minutes ago, zzip said:

Well a lot of the ST design work was done before he bought Atari,  that's why it relies so little on tech developed at Atari prior to the sale.   Jack wanted to be in the computer business, he wasn't that interested in games at first except as a cash cow to help fund the computer side.  This left a big opening in the market for Nintendo and Sega to come in and dominate.

 

I sometimes wonder how the videogame industry would look today if Atari was still owned by Warner or another buyer serious about defending Atari's gaming market position.   I know this was a time of great doom-and-gloom for videogames and it may have been hard to see over that horizon.

For sure.  On that note, yesterday I was playing some SMS games on my MiSTer, and I have to say once again, that Sega should have been the dominant one, had Nintendo not cheated with their crap exclusivity deals, and bullying of shops.  The Sega Master System was by far the superior system.

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10 minutes ago, zzip said:

I sometimes wonder how the videogame industry would look today if Atari was still owned by Warner or another buyer serious about defending Atari's gaming market position.   I know this was a time of great doom-and-gloom for videogames and it may have been hard to see over that horizon.

If Atari Inc. had been that serious about defending Atari's gaming market position, they would have dumped the home computer line completely (which was a money loser for them) and gone directly to the 7800 without stopping off at  5200ville. I would have hated this personally, as the A8 is the best thing any version of Atari ever put out, but it would have made for better business. I know that the Tramiels have been correctly critcized for some of their choices at Atari Corp., but the decision making at Atari Inc. was downright disastrous at the end, too.

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37 minutes ago, davidcalgary29 said:

If Atari Inc. had been that serious about defending Atari's gaming market position, they would have dumped the home computer line completely (which was a money loser for them) and gone directly to the 7800 without stopping off at  5200ville. I would have hated this personally, as the A8 is the best thing any version of Atari ever put out, but it would have made for better business. I know that the Tramiels have been correctly critcized for some of their choices at Atari Corp., but the decision making at Atari Inc. was downright disastrous at the end, too.

The 8-bit line was conceived of to be a replacement console for the 2600, because they had the foresight in the 70s to know they would need a replacement within a few years.   But in 1979 it was too expensive for a console, so they made it into a computer first.   Then a few years later when they made it into the 5200, they were faced with the twin disasters of videogame crash, and Commodore's price war that made it impossible for the 8-bit line to be profitable.   I think technologically they were moving in the right place, but they weren't prepared for the market conditions.

 

The 7800 was created in reaction to the Colecovision and a response to the criticism of not having backwards compatibility..   That's the system that never should have existed IMO.  It was meant to be released only two years after the 5200, which would have been a slap in the face of 5200 buyers.  Also waiting until 1984 to have a response to Intellivision and Colecovision would not be a good move, they needed something sooner.

 

They should have created something less reactive and more forward looking than the 7800--    like a system that could comfortably handle games in 320-mode and have a real soundchip, and decent controllers, for starters.     Also they had the option on the table to release NES under their brand, which would have completely changed the industry in ways we don't even know.

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1 hour ago, zzip said:

Also they had the option on the table to release NES under their brand, which would have completely changed the industry in ways we don't even know.

Given current history and how they pretty much bungled everything post 2600, it's a safe bet to say the console would have been crap and not re-kindled the industry :)

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1 hour ago, zzip said:

The 8-bit line was conceived of to be a replacement console for the 2600, because they had the foresight in the 70s to know they would need a replacement within a few years.   But in 1979 it was too expensive for a console, so they made it into a computer first.   Then a few years later when they made it into the 5200, they were faced with the twin disasters of videogame crash, and Commodore's price war that made it impossible for the 8-bit line to be profitable.   I think technologically they were moving in the right place, but they weren't prepared for the market conditions.

 

The 7800 was created in reaction to the Colecovision and a response to the criticism of not having backwards compatibility..   That's the system that never should have existed IMO.  It was meant to be released only two years after the 5200, which would have been a slap in the face of 5200 buyers.  Also waiting until 1984 to have a response to Intellivision and Colecovision would not be a good move, they needed something sooner.

 

They should have created something less reactive and more forward looking than the 7800--    like a system that could comfortably handle games in 320-mode and have a real soundchip, and decent controllers, for starters.     Also they had the option on the table to release NES under their brand, which would have completely changed the industry in ways we don't even know.

Well you know that I love the A8 line to death, so I'm the last person who would argue that it shouldn't have existed. You've got to admit, though, that the 5200 had bigger problems than the video game crash and Commodore (which wasn't even competing in the same market; and the C64 didn't really take off until the end of '83, when the 5200's fate had been sealed). 

 

I don't see anyone suggesting that the failure of the 7800 was directly tied to its performance or hardware. I still think that it might have been a hit if it had been released in early '82, and if the 5200 had never been released, but the window for success was actually very small, and ultimately missed. And the Nintendo (which was hardly a known quantity in North America at the time) side deal went sideways for lots of reasons, some of which were out of the control of Atari.

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8 minutes ago, Stephen said:

Given current history and how they pretty much bungled everything post 2600, it's a safe bet to say the console would have been crap and not re-kindled the industry :)

Yeah, I'd say there was an 80% chance of that happening.   Still though, if the Atari NES didn't revitalize the industry, what would have?   Sega?   TG16?   Success or fail, things would be pretty different today.

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4 minutes ago, davidcalgary29 said:

Well you know that I love the A8 line to death, so I'm the last person who would argue that it shouldn't have existed. You've got to admit, though, that the 5200 had bigger problems than the video game crash and Commodore (which wasn't even competing in the same market; and the C64 didn't really take off until the end of '83, when the 5200's fate had been sealed). 

 

I don't see anyone suggesting that the failure of the 7800 was directly tied to its performance or hardware. I still think that it might have been a hit if it had been released in early '82, and if the 5200 had never been released, but the window for success was actually very small, and ultimately missed. And the Nintendo side deal went sideways for lots of reasons, and I can't really blame Atari for any of it.

It would have been nice if the 5200 had better sprite hardware like the 7800 when it released, and built-in backwards compat.   But it's always the games/marketing that decide the fate of a system, not tech.

 

As to whether it could have been a hit-  the 7800 software library was another problem.   Even when the 7800 was announced in 84,  the titles they announced for it were Asteroids, Dig-Dug, Ms. Pac-Man, Centipede, Robotron, Xevious and Joust.   Most of these were already old-hat in 1984, let alone 86.    The only new titles they announced were Nile Flyer (renamed Desert Falcon) which was a Zaxxon clone,  and the Lucasfilm games-  Ballblazer and Rescue.    These were the only two that were really fresh.

 

One of the reasons for the crash was people were tired of the same-old

 

So they needed a better library.   They focused the 7800 too much on beating Coleco, but Coleco wasn't able to survive the market for long.  I don't think the 7800 would have sold particularly well Christmas 84 because of the library, and it was still in the middle of the crash years.  It would have been nice if they had designed a true 5200 successor instead, with the sprite engine, but better graphics and sound.  Something that would hold up against the competition until the 16-bit era.

 

Also when Tramiel declined the Atari Games division, they lost the arcade-to-home pipeline that had boosted early Atari.  They could have had games like Gauntlet, Star Wars Arcade, STUN Runner, Klax and any other late 80s Atari arcade games as system exclusives instead of coming to multiple systems like they did

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41 minutes ago, zzip said:

It would have been nice if the 5200 had better sprite hardware like the 7800 when it released, and built-in backwards compat.   But it's always the games/marketing that decide the fate of a system, not tech.

 

As to whether it could have been a hit-  the 7800 software library was another problem.   Even when the 7800 was announced in 84,  the titles they announced for it were Asteroids, Dig-Dug, Ms. Pac-Man, Centipede, Robotron, Xevious and Joust.   Most of these were already old-hat in 1984, let alone 86.   

 

 

I don't know...those were all the games I was playing in the arcades in '84, so I can't say that I was looking for "something better" at the time. 1986 was certainly a different story, but the 7800's launch library was perfectly fine for a North American home console in '83-'84.

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I have a question - and its one I’ve kept for quite some time.. 

 

I have always ASSUMED that atari/tandy/commodore/TI99/etc - meaning everything of that timeframe - the software was mainly written by folks in North America - perhaps the UK... Then - when things like the Nintendo, sega, etc started showing up - it seemed like more of an “asian” influence...

 

Does anyone agree with this observation? And - I apologize if this is totally obvious and I’m an idiot for even asking for agreement... 

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1 hour ago, doctor_x said:

I have a question - and its one I’ve kept for quite some time.. 

 

I have always ASSUMED that atari/tandy/commodore/TI99/etc - meaning everything of that timeframe - the software was mainly written by folks in North America - perhaps the UK... Then - when things like the Nintendo, sega, etc started showing up - it seemed like more of an “asian” influence...

 

Does anyone agree with this observation? And - I apologize if this is totally obvious and I’m an idiot for even asking for agreement... 

A lot (and I mean a LOT) of stuff was just Japan making games and then Atari slapping their logo on it for distribution.  Like Pac-Man being Puck-Man.  Cover up a bit of the lettering.. and you see why we got Pac-Man instead.

Could be an interesting article to really list out the origin of some of the most famous games. 

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