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Max_Chatsworth

Using your Atari computers for real work?

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I am looking to either press my 400 or 800XL into service in some sort of simple home automation management tasks, and it got me to thinking...

 

What are people using their Atari 8 bit computers for that does real work?  Whether you still run your business on it, or you do some soft of home automation like I am planning, or something completely different?

 

I'm looking for stuff outside of using it to write Atari 8 bit games/programs or stuff for the hobby itself, but I'd be interested to hear about it no matter what you use it for for real work. 

 

 

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Not now, but when I was younger I used it to do all my College project work on, also used Home Filing Manager

for an address book etc.

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19 minutes ago, Max_Chatsworth said:

I am looking to either press my 400 or 800XL into service in some sort of simple home automation management tasks, and it got me to thinking...

When you say 'home automation', what are you thinking of doing and with which home automation protocols (e.g., X10, Zigbee, Z-Wave)?

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3 minutes ago, x=usr(1536) said:

When you say 'home automation', what are you thinking of doing and with which home automation protocols (e.g., X10, Zigbee, Z-Wave)?

I was actually thinking of something really simple like running my sprinkler system on it.  I was thinking of taking advantage of the Fujinet in some way to make it network comms capable. 

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22 minutes ago, Max_Chatsworth said:

I was actually thinking of something really simple like running my sprinkler system on it.  I was thinking of taking advantage of the Fujinet in some way to make it network comms capable. 

If the sprinkler system is Wi-Fi controllable and has an exposed API, that should be doable.  Go for it :D

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2 minutes ago, x=usr(1536) said:

If the sprinkler system is Wi-Fi controllable and has an exposed API, that should be doable.  Go for it :D

The other thing I had considered, before Fujinet came along, and I know others have done, is just run the basic management logic on the Atari, but it outputs via serial then do some sort of TCP bridge or middleware on another device that handles the communications, etc.   This is sort of how the Atari 800 web server years ago was done.  

 

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3 minutes ago, Max_Chatsworth said:

The other thing I had considered, before Fujinet came along, and I know others have done, is just run the basic management logic on the Atari, but it outputs via serial then do some sort of TCP bridge or middleware on another device that handles the communications, etc.   This is sort of how the Atari 800 web server years ago was done. 

Yup, I remember that.  Funnily enough, I'm waiting for cables to arrive so that I can do a direct serial connection from the 850 back to one of the boxes here.

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Using a combination of SynCalc, SynGraph, MagniPrint ][ v4.1, and The Bank Street Writer I review and manage my investment portfolio. Switching between the apps is a little cumbersome but the slowdown is actually healthy for me. Makes me think more about what I'm doing - not so much with the software and hardware but with my money.

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Had a buddy whose Dad used an 800 and 400 to capture seismic data and also radio signals from space.  Had the appropriate equipment connected through the joystick ports to send real time data.  We live on the East Coast and he was able to capture the seismic wave Mt. St. Helens sent through across the NA mantle when it blew.  The 400/800 were perfect for these type operations as they ran 24x7 with barely a problem.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, TGB1718 said:

Not now, but when I was younger I used it to do all my College project work on, also used Home Filing Manager

for an address book etc.

I used mine in high school, wrote my school papers using the Datasoft Text Wizard (which came in a mini 3-ring binder) and later the AtariWriter cartridge.

 

https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/atari-text-wizard-software-datasoft-1886854274

 

Nowadays, I think the Atari 8-bits are better suited to distraction-free work without Internet connections. A lot of writers are now buying purpose-built typing devices (I have none of them). You could also argue the case for these vintage computers being actually "personal computers" instead of the spyware/adware laden systems we all use nowadays.

 

Just personally speaking, I would not want to have my vintage machines connected and powered on 24x7 just running as an appliance (which many other devices can do nowadays including Arduino and Raspberry Pi, or even just a few PIC and Atmel chips), as there is still a finite lifespan for the components.

Edited by atarialoha
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It just occurred to me that there is of course The Last Word, word processor, for the Atari 8-bits.

 

https://atari8.co.uk/the-last-word/

 

and regarding the device lifespan, what particularly concerns me are the irreplaceable components, namely the ASICs: POKEY and ANTIC.

 

Semiconductors can age, and then eventually fail in various failure modes. I remember reading some papers on it ages ago (haha, no pun intended) and lifespan is measured in decades, not centuries. I am not 100% sure if running electricity through them has any extra detrimental effect, or it is just a matter of molecules slowing moving around through the years. Generally, heat is the great destroyer of electronics, but I do recall that there is a concept of "photonic friction" which is the stress of photons (light!) that actually wear out the precision lenses used in semiconductor lithography. There's a YouTube of it I think called "Indistinguishable from Magic" by a guy who did a really super presentation (watched it years ago but still remember the title). So if photons can do that, maybe electrons do something similar to the teeny chip inside the DIP package.

 

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Posted (edited)

Electromigration. That's the word IIRC. It is the atoms doing the migration, not the electrons. The latter is the force.

Edited by atarialoha

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Use the FujiNet to hook up to your wifi and go from there, you can send data to an API to do the controlling. 

 

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Well, if art considered real work :D (never did any other kind of job) then yes, I did use my 600XL for sound on a song I released & visual effects on the music video, posted on this forum earlier!

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I do a fair bit of "creative writing" on TLW.  I made a concerted effort to use Syncalc for household finances (24 months), but found it just a little too limiting and moved that to the ST.  If you include communications as work and not play...BBSing with Fujinet, checking email (via a shell account), and IRC.  

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I use this TurboBasic program and the Altirra Emulator on my tablet at work every day for simple calculations.

I'm a machinist in the Dayton, Ohio area.

Dayton.atr

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I don't know if it's real work, but, and believe this or not..I am just now learning how to use Batteries Included Paperclip word processor.  I have always favored Atariwriter and AW+ (ease of use, menu-driven).  I have always wanted to learn what was once called the BEST WP for the Atari 8, Paperclip.  The manual is almost 150 pages, that put me off for years.  Covid made me finally get to it sort of learn it here recently.  There are a ton of command key combos required with this WP, but I am finally getting the hang of it.  I had to create my own Cheat/Quick Reference cards (Atariwriter came with one).  It is a good program, but to say it had something better than AW, well, there was some hype from Antic Magazine and others.  Some things AW will do better than P.C., some P.C. will do better.  Overall, I like it though.  Now that I have learned how to use it, there is no one I write to these days (after Uncle Bob was released from prison in 2005).  Shame.

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And Oh, I have been using Silent Butler for the past year.  Not that I really need to (my bank does a better job), but it is fun to use.

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Honestly? My retro computers are a way for me to enjoy the retro experience I enjoyed as a kid with a few modern upgrades thrown in that I would have died for in the day. I'm not at all interested in doing work on them...

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11 minutes ago, Mazzspeed said:

Honestly? My retro computers are a way for me to enjoy the retro experience I enjoyed as a kid with a few modern upgrades thrown in that I would have died for in the day. I'm not at all interested in doing work on them...

I know what you mean - but I'm starting to find niche uses for them.  Part of that is down to today's killer upgrades, but part of it is also down to a broader base of software.

 

Years ago, I ran a Mac SE/30 as a network terminal.  It's entire job was to let me ssh into various devices around the house and do whatever I needed to do on them.  It was more of a novelty than anything else, but I'm planning on recreating that experience with the A8s.  Is it 'work' in the strict sense?  No, not really - but it will let me do stuff from the A8 that I only could have dreamed of back in the day, even if it is just running 'sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade' on a few of the local appliances.  It's one less terminal window to have open on the laptop is how I look at it :-D

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Back in the day, Bruce Jordan (of Novagen software) used to use an Atari 800 running Atariwriter to do all the company mail... ;)

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I did "real" work on my 8-bit back in day, doing college work, projects and term papers, etc. on one, but I certainly wouldn't want to try and do any real work on one today. There are just much better tools available today for the work that I do. Today I want to enjoy my 8-bits, not work with them. Also, these old machines have a finite lifespan and I don't want to waste it away attempting to create spreadsheets and do word processing on them.

 

To each their own, of course.

 

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Posted (edited)

As a kid, I couldn't afford all the books and magazines and other stuff related to the Atari. I could buy some but not all. Then came busy time with college and then work, for decades. Now, I have begun to simplify my life. About ten years ago I sold almost everything I deemed unnecessary for my future self, using eBay. You'd be amazed how many people browse eBay and buy all sorts of things. If it was maybe worth $10 then I sold it. Below $10, I listed it for $10, and some still sold! Haha! I also gave away various things to people who I determined would benefit from them. So, basically, it's not minimalism (not by far!) but I've streamlined my life now and spend little time and money on things I don't really want to do. With the COVID thing, business activity has decreased and so I have more free time and less money. However, this gives me the opportunity to read and enjoy the aforementioned books and magazines, etc. with just a few clicks to download PDFs. And, as some of you know, going back to play Infocom games is also very enjoyable now for me, especially since several years ago I decided I just am no longer young enough to play action video games (vision issues, RSI trauma on hands from years of typing/mousing, etc.). So, the Atari 8-bit is a perfect "hobby" for me right now. It doesn't even cost money, thanks to the amazing contributions by so many talented and passionate individuals. I don't have any physical Atari stuff (not even a floppy of my old D&D program I wrote!) although I do want to consider it but it's not only the cash, it's also the physical space it will take up in my apartment (I have even downsized my paper books collection). So, all in all, I don't want to do work on vintage computers, but experimenting with and playing with them, yes!!!

Edited by atarialoha

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OK I have to add a caveat, and that is I am a bit stuck now at the Infocom game so it is starting to feel like a little work. (But I was doing so well up to now!) 😆

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