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Max_Chatsworth

Using your Atari computers for real work?

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Here in the UK I used my 130XE and 1050 with MiniOffice II to write all my college assignments and Print Shop to do title pages, all printed on a Citizen 120D printer via an SIO to Parallel interface. This was from from Sep 87-Nov 89, then I got an ST and started using 1st Word Plus until I was done with college in 1991.

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This type of topic has come up before. The following one had quite a bit of traction.

 

 

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On 5/6/2021 at 5:13 AM, Mazzspeed said:

I'd prefer not to do work...

 

...Period. 😆

For me the same, although if people want to why not?  In reality, if needs are simple an A8 with some decent office tools may do what a large number of people need. For me, my work needs are a little bit more these days.

 

I work with "normal" IT all day, so the A8 I would like to keep in a little oasis of pure fun for now.

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On 5/3/2021 at 3:29 PM, atarialoha said:

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.

 

Well, we have modern replacements for the Pokey now in the different versions of Pokey Max, and now with V3 it seems everything available in the previous versions were thrown into this one, plus the kitchen sink. In fact, I have V2 Pokey Quad + Covox and V3 on the way for my second machine, which both had dual-Pokey upgrades in them previously, So now I have four back-up Pokeys I can save from further ware-and-tear, though if they fail just sitting in storage because some molecules in them went on holiday, I can't stop that until I finish building my stasis chamber.

 

We also have modern replacements for the GTIA in the VBXE and Sophia 2. There are modern versions of the 6502 or 65816 in 1.77/1.79Mhz mode that can be made to work if not drop in replacements. and boards like Rapidus. There are still manufactured versions of the PIA or even and SIA could be made to work.

 

So really, we only need a modern equivalent or compatible upgrade for the Antic.

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For what it's worth, I'm getting a 600XL together with U1mb & VBXE for  The Last Word and 80 col terminal into a Server to do real work.  However in the 80's I was obsessed with getting a Votrax, the computer voice in wargames.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Votrax

 

I got a VoiceMaster and with a ICD PR connection and X10 Powerhouse. I wrote a version of Alexa decades before it was available to others. 

 

https://archive.org/details/VoiceMasterOwnersManual

 

https://www.x10.com/collections/all

 

With my R-Time8, I had voice control Of Time and 16 devices.  A smart home in the Mid 80's,  The Votrax acknowledged Commands and gave status responses.  

 

I still have all the hardware and I should have the software, only issue is I had over 100 revisions.  It was cool , weird and completely un- needed in a 1 room apartment.

 

I have a "real votrax". It has a VLSI chip running it, I also have a 80's IC with Engineering notes.  I think that counts as real work.  Today I could add commands for it to reach out to another PC and exchange commands and status.

 

Thank you

 

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My retro machines are hobbyist machines, they're my escape from work.

 

I don't want to imply that I just want them to play games, more to the point I want them to learn something other than Linux and Windows - I enjoy the challenge in learning, it's less enjoyable when it's a job.

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8 hours ago, Mazzspeed said:

My retro machines are hobbyist machines, they're my escape from work.

 

I don't want to imply that I just want them to play games, more to the point I want them to learn something other than Linux and Windows - I enjoy the challenge in learning, it's less enjoyable when it's a job.

This x10000000000.

 

Before I left 29 years in various facets of IT behind me a few months ago, the A8s were also an escape from work for myself.  Jaded about and burned-out on the tech industry in general, it wasn't so much that the A8s were taking me back to simpler times or some such trite nonsense - it was that they were one of the very few platforms I felt any remaining connection to.  Looking at the support they had garnered in the time that I had kept them in storage, it was clear that there were others who also felt that connection and were doing amazing things with them.

 

That was something I had missed about how tech has changed over the course of the past four decades: there's no longer a sense of wonder about any of it.  My life consisted of trying to make cheapskates understand that their IT environment was not a cost centre but an investment, as well as the hill that their business could either live or die on.  There are only so many times where you can lead the horse to water followed by some clueless idiot telling you that you should only have ridden it there on three legs, and just stop caring.  It's good to be able to be interested again.

Edited by x=usr(1536)

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10 hours ago, Bee said:

With my R-Time8, I had voice control Of Time and 16 devices.  A smart home in the Mid 80's,  The Votrax acknowledged Commands and gave status responses.  

That is really cool !

 

Today, the mobile-phone may be an ideal "terminal" for smart-home control (and in your pocket), but I always liked the idea of seeing the A8's running as "micro-controllers", in a smart-home environment, where intelligence is still distributed (things can run on their own), but we could shut them on / off on a timed-schedule, monitor environment variables, sprinklers, garage-doors, sending out notifications / alert-messages (SMS or simple emails), etc.

 

The nice thing is that all the SW to do that could be hosted on cartridge, and that means lightning-fast, instant-on access to it, even from a power-off state, which you simply can't beat with anything else. 8-)

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7 hours ago, x=usr(1536) said:

This x10000000000.

 

Before I left 29 years in various facets of IT behind me a few months ago, the A8s were also an escape from work for myself.  Jaded about and burned-out on the tech industry in general, it wasn't so much that the A8s were taking me back to simpler times or some such trite nonsense - it was that they were one of the very few platforms I felt any remaining connection to.  Looking at the support they had garnered in the time that I had kept them in storage, it was clear that there were others who also felt that connection and were doing amazing things with them.

 

That was something I had missed about how tech has changed over the course of the past four decades: there's no longer a sense of wonder about any of it.  My life consisted of trying to make cheapskates understand that their IT environment was not a cost centre but an investment, as well as the hill that their business could either live or die on.  There are only so many times where you can lead the horse to water followed by some clueless idiot telling you that you should only have ridden it there on three legs, and just stop caring.  It's good to be able to be interested again.

Oh yeah, you and me and everyone here and elsewhere on the Internet.

 

You hit the mark when you said IT has lost its wonder. I think it started to lose its wonder maybe around the time I started taking college courses in it, instead of enjoying every minute of experimentation and poring over computer books and manuals as a teenager. So it started to SUCK when you HAD to DO the HOMEWORK and turn it in for GRADES. Then it sucked even MORE when you started to work in the IT INDUSTRY where MONEY is the reason for IT. The ONLY reason for IT. You had to use and promote LOUSY technology (and lousy practices, so called "best practices" yeah right) if that was what made MORE money. And then you have to CHASE the ever evolving IT landscape because of course, it doesn't make money if people can just buy something and use it for 30 years. You need to DRIVE that REVENUE CYCLE (quarterly). EOL, which means kick that old tech into the gutter and replace it so people will upload cash to you. And let's not mention the politics, work environment, idiots, emotions, etc. etc. etc. By the time you finally get the hang of the architecture/API/IDE/workflow, they give you a new one and you need to ASAP "go to market" with it LOL

 

Now finally I am sitting down and reading the PDFs and websites that I WANT TO, according to MY OWN TIMEFRAME and my own "R&D roadmap" (haha), and I am the one to assess what is my ROI (!), which is not even measured in dollars 😛

 

(And I have not even mentioned how technology is being used for EVIL purposes nowadays! Something totally alien to our yesteryear youthful naivety...)

Edited by atarialoha
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@Mazzspeed I like the work you have done.  You can restate your use case as often as you like.  It will in no way change mine.  I see computers as tools.  I often build one to a specific purpose.  I've been doing so for 40 years and have a collection worthy of a museum.  On your mark, get set, go!  Catching up is going to be expensive.

 

I don't see a screwdriver as for work or play.  I see it as, great at it's purpose.  I try to use the right tool for the right job.  Flat blade screwdriver, good for driving flat slotted screws, sucks at painting walls.  I don't think an 80 column display is better or worse because of the OS it is running on.  Issuing a terminal command from any PC is pretty much the same, however being able to switch to a game while waiting a few hours for a transfer is a bonus.  I work at something I'm passionate about, so I don't hate work I enjoy it.  I'm paid to do something I was already doing anyway.   If you do what you love you won't work a day in your life.  It's true.  My wife is happy with the level of comfort my hobbies lead to.  I only have one problem of note, when you live in a 90 year old house it's hard to power on a museums worth of PCs.

 

My goal is to learn, to do better.  It's nice when you have fun while doing it.

 

Thank you

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7 hours ago, Faicuai said:

That is really cool !

 

Today, the mobile-phone may be an ideal "terminal" for smart-home control (and in your pocket), but I always liked the idea of seeing the A8's running as "micro-controllers", in a smart-home environment, where intelligence is still distributed (things can run on their own), but we could shut them on / off on a timed-schedule, monitor environment variables, sprinklers, garage-doors, sending out notifications / alert-messages (SMS or simple emails), etc.

 

The nice thing is that all the SW to do that could be hosted on cartridge, and that means lightning-fast, instant-on access to it, even from a power-off state, which you simply can't beat with anything else. 8-)

This is one of my planned future projects that I will use my dual-PIA and Pokeymax upgrades with 8 controller ports on my 800, to do. Have an 8-bit smart house with the 6502 to manage, and my multiple POKEY and PIA upgrades carrying out the control and communication through the 8 ports, some out to Atarilab interfaces and some ports directly to 9-pin plugs, to connect to the outside world and on to my household environment. I'm also learning to program so I can create the software myself for this and other planned projects.

Edited by Gunstar

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8 hours ago, x=usr(1536) said:

This x10000000000.

 

Before I left 29 years in various facets of IT behind me a few months ago, the A8s were also an escape from work for myself.  Jaded about and burned-out on the tech industry in general, it wasn't so much that the A8s were taking me back to simpler times or some such trite nonsense - it was that they were one of the very few platforms I felt any remaining connection to.  Looking at the support they had garnered in the time that I had kept them in storage, it was clear that there were others who also felt that connection and were doing amazing things with them.

 

That was something I had missed about how tech has changed over the course of the past four decades: there's no longer a sense of wonder about any of it.  My life consisted of trying to make cheapskates understand that their IT environment was not a cost centre but an investment, as well as the hill that their business could either live or die on.  There are only so many times where you can lead the horse to water followed by some clueless idiot telling you that you should only have ridden it there on three legs, and just stop caring.  It's good to be able to be interested again.

It's not just IT, what you experienced happens in many industries nowadays. These days it seems that greed, resulting in cost cutting to maximize profits to the benefit of a select few, along with forcing workers do do more work than one can realistically achieve in the span of one day is all part of our capitalist society.

 

My retro machines are an escape from that. Furthermore, when I buy modern upgrades I take comfort in the knowledge that I'm supporting people that make such products as it's what they love.

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29 minutes ago, Bee said:

I don't see a screwdriver as for work or play.  I see it as, great at it's purpose.  I try to use the right tool for the right job.  Flat blade screwdriver, good for driving flat slotted screws, sucks at painting walls.  I don't think an 80 column display is better or worse because of the OS it is running on.  Issuing a terminal command from any PC is pretty much the same, however being able to switch to a game while waiting a few hours for a transfer is a bonus.  I work at something I'm passionate about, so I don't hate work I enjoy it.  I'm paid to do something I was already doing anyway.   If you do what you love you won't work a day in your life.  It's true.  My wife is happy with the level of comfort my hobbies lead to.  I only have one problem of note, when you live in a 90 year old house it's hard to power on a museums worth of PCs.

My Friend, I did do what I loved. In my previous role of 23 years in the auto trade, I worked my way up from apprentice > tech > head tech > head diagnostician > foreman > workshop controller (a position I loved) and service manager. Along the way I won awards and competitions resulting in all expenses paid trips to Japan, I was arguably the best technician in my country (in all modesty, just based on competition results).

 

Then management changed, among other things.

 

The new guy wanted more of the profits for himself so he could build a bigger house, get a bigger boat, buy a race car (even though he's smashed every car he ever owned) and even buy another property 'as a farm'...

 

As a result I was targeted due to my salary package and there was a never ending push to force more and more cars out the door every day on less competent staff, as they were cheaper than the techs that worked for us for many years in the past. I ended up with misdiagnosed diabetes that I swear was a result of insane stress over many years, and was borderline stroke material (my resting BPM was 112). I also ended up with daily anxiety that was never an issue in the past.

 

These days I work for myself as an IT tech/PC/laptop repairer (and anything else I can repair) and I love it. However, my retro machines will always remain my hobby, as based on experience that's when you enjoy something the most.

Edited by Mazzspeed
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@Mazzspeed I'm sorry to hear of the result of the tension that came into your position.   I have a friend, a CAD Design , he is very good at it.  His story is no so diffrent.  He got a poison at "Big Co Corp."  He exclaimed "I got my dream job."  Then there was ever increasing pressure to work longer.  He came to a point of hiring a girl to clean and wash his things because he didn't have enough time.  He said it was crazy.  He was making gobs of cash but could find time to do anything.  He then had a life changing event that halted his work altogether.  He said it wasn't worth it.  He is still trying to find his path. I'm glad you have one.  I, for a period of 2 years, worked 3 jobs 7 days a week 365 and was a single parent.  One of those jobs was at a fruit named computer company.  I worked there for 10 years as a side gig.  It was difficult for them because there culture was Carrot and Stick.  I had a much better day job, everytime they tried to hire me full time I had to explain they couldn't afford to.  When my wife's mother passed away, I told them what happened and walked out.  Later I had not followed procedure, I didn't clock out, so they said they were going to have to write me up.  I told them that was fine do what you need to.  I now make as much not working as I do working.  So work is a choice not a need.  I'm still a valued employee where I work. They know I choose to work and go the extra mile.  It's the ethic my father taught me.  I've always carved my own path.  I quit high school 2nd year to go to college instead, I entered at 15 and a half, at the time the youngest student in the history of that college.  I wanted to be in a group of people who saw me for what I could do, not what age I was.  I started my college career as a computer consultant and doing IT.  It's not all roses.  But 20 years ago I invested in learning how to prepare my life for, well, now.  That investment is paying off now.  Not just financially but much more mentally.  As I age my responsibilities are getting easier, it allows me more time to mentor my staff.  Investment in them is investments in the future as well.  So I spend more time, on my time, with retro computing and what I call small computing.  Raspberry Pis, or upcycling an 8088 with Linux or CPM, seeing how much I can accomplish with the least carbon footprint.  By working with 5v systems and solar I can almost make a free computer.  It's night time that breaks that model, still the pursuit is fun.  I'm glad to know you.  Keep rocking that 600!

Edited by Bee
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4 hours ago, Bee said:

@Mazzspeed I'm sorry to hear of the result of the tension that came into your position.   I have a friend, a CAD Design , he is very good at it.  His story is no so diffrent.  He got a poison at "Big Co Corp."  He exclaimed "I got my dream job."  Then there was ever increasing pressure to work longer.  He came to a point of hiring a girl to clean and wash his things because he didn't have enough time.  He said it was crazy.  He was making gobs of cash but could find time to do anything.  He then had a life changing event that halted his work altogether.  He said it wasn't worth it.  He is still trying to find his path. I'm glad you have one.  I, for a period of 2 years, worked 3 jobs 7 days a week 365 and was a single parent.  One of those jobs was at a fruit named computer company.  I worked there for 10 years as a side gig.  It was difficult for them because there culture was Carrot and Stick.  I had a much better day job, everytime they tried to hire me full time I had to explain they couldn't afford to.  When my wife's mother passed away, I told them what happened and walked out.  Later I had not followed procedure, I didn't clock out, so they said they were going to have to write me up.  I told them that was fine do what you need to.  I now make as much not working as I do working.  So work is a choice not a need.  I'm still a valued employee where I work. They know I choose to work and go the extra mile.  It's the ethic my father taught me.  I've always carved my own path.  I quit high school 2nd year to go to college instead, I entered at 15 and a half, at the time the youngest student in the history of that college.  I wanted to be in a group of people who saw me for what I could do, not what age I was.  I started my college career as a computer consultant and doing IT.  It's not all roses.  But 20 years ago I invested in learning how to prepare my life for, well, now.  That investment is paying off now.  Not just financially but much more mentally.  As I age my responsibilities are getting easier, it allows me more time to mentor my staff.  Investment in them is investments in the future as well.  So I spend more time, on my time, with retro computing and what I call small computing.  Raspberry Pis, or upcycling an 8088 with Linux or CPM, seeing how much I can accomplish with the least carbon footprint.  By working with 5v systems and solar I can almost make a free computer.  It's night time that breaks that model, still the pursuit is fun.  I'm glad to know you.  Keep rocking that 600!

I also worked at some "big name" companies. My advice is, enjoy being their customer, not employee, hahaha. But maybe 1 or 2 years in those companies will be good for you. They do train you to be "world class" but your brain will be overclocked with no heat sink. Haha.

 

I also eventually figured out that it was better to move from being technical to being on the business side. So, now is the time for me to get back into the technical stuff, but on my own terms.

Edited by atarialoha

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1 hour ago, atarialoha said:

I also worked at some "big name" companies. My advice is, enjoy being their customer, not employee, hahaha. But maybe 1 or 2 years in those companies will be good for you. They do train you to be "world class" but your brain will be overclocked with no heat sink. Haha.

 

I also eventually figured out that it was better to move from being technical to being on the business side. So, now is the time for me to get back into the technical stuff, but on my own terms.

The problem is: I always loved the technical side, more than the management side. But, not good complaining, no one listens!

 

'Overclocked with no heatsink'...I like that analogy. ;)

Edited by Mazzspeed

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38 minutes ago, Mazzspeed said:

The problem is: I always loved the technical side, more than the management side. But, not good complaining, no one listens!

Haha exactly. At the end of the day, usually the Sales team will have the priority for key decisions. Excepting some random CEO whims, haha

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