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T.A.P.

My dad left me his computer collection and I don't know where to start

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For most every game you'll want to play, likely any of the models will work.  Since there is nostalgia value for you, pick the most nostalgic computers/peripherals to keep.

 

If you'll play some 'disk' games (booted from disk, or a modern 'disk' replacement), you'll probably want the max memory.  So that would be a rully outfitted 800, 800XL, 1200XL, 65XE, 130XE or XEGS.

 

The 400 and 600XL only have 16K and need to be upgraded or modified to reach higher memory capacities.

 

Quality of video output can vary by model (and modifications/upgrades can improve virtually any model as well).  So you might want to test the output via your preferred display and connection method (note that the 400 and 600XL only have TV output, and do not have a composite output.  The XEGS has standard audio/video outputs like a VCR vs a DIN jack on the 800, 1200XL, 800XL, and 130XE).

 

As for desirability of certain systems, that depends on the person.  There are people for each model.  The 800XL is probably the most common system.  The 1200XL is not common. 

 

There are different keyboards on the 600XL and 800XL, some better than others.... so if that is important to you, you'll want to try out each system so you can evaluate them to determine your keepers.

 

There is much more info, but hopefully that helps a bit.

 

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4 minutes ago, cwilbar said:

If you'll play some 'disk' games (booted from disk, or a modern 'disk' replacement), you'll probably want the max memory.  So that would be a rully outfitted 800, 800XL, 1200XL, 65XE, 130XE or XEGS.

Agreed, sa far as stock machines go - but it's worth mentioning that modern upgrades for all A8s pretty much level the playing field in that regard.

4 minutes ago, cwilbar said:

The 400 and 600XL only have 16K and need to be upgraded or modified to reach higher memory capacities.

Good point.  Still, it's worth checking what's actually in them as memory upgrades were pretty common back in the day, and without using specific software or opening the machine up there's no good way of knowing what's actually in there.

 

Case in point: I had my 800XL for 20 years before I found out that it had a 256K expansion in it.  Granted, about 18 years of that was keeping it in storage, but, y'know 🤪

4 minutes ago, cwilbar said:

Quality of video output can vary by model (and modifications/upgrades can improve virtually any model as well).  So you might want to test the output via your preferred display and connection method (note that the 400 and 600XL only have TV output, and do not have a composite output.  The XEGS has standard audio/video outputs like a VCR vs a DIN jack on the 800, 1200XL, 800XL, and 130XE).

Modern TVs have fairly terrible RF signal processing.  I have machines that look absolutely beautiful on a CRT TV over RF, but that are appallingly bad over RF on any of the LCDs in the house.

4 minutes ago, cwilbar said:

As for desirability of certain systems, that depends on the person.  There are people for each model.  The 800XL is probably the most common system.  The 1200XL is not common.

And 400s don't seem to get a lot of love; ditto the XEGS.

4 minutes ago, cwilbar said:

There is much more info, but hopefully that helps a bit.

As a rule of thumb, 64K is a good amount of base memory.  It'll let you run pretty much everything a stock machine can handle as well as providing a base for future RAM upgrades, most of which are dependent on the machine starting out with 64K.

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48 minutes ago, gilsaluki said:

If I had posted that, I would have been reprimanded, or banned.

Nah!

 

You will not be subject to such measures for simply addressing a posted Q. with fiscal / geographical realities (well known already, btw)

 

However, you may be subject otherwise if attempting to agitate a debate revolving around political / religious / orientation preferences. We are far from that, though.

 

 

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

Agreed, sa far as stock machines go - but it's worth mentioning that modern upgrades for all A8s pretty much level the playing field in that regard.

Good point.  Still, it's worth checking what's actually in them as memory upgrades were pretty common back in the day, and without using specific software or opening the machine up there's no good way of knowing what's actually in there.

 

Case in point: I had my 800XL for 20 years before I found out that it had a 256K expansion in it.  Granted, about 18 years of that was keeping it in storage, but, y'know 🤪

Modern TVs have fairly terrible RF signal processing.  I have machines that look absolutely beautiful on a CRT TV over RF, but that are appallingly bad over RF on any of the LCDs in the house.

And 400s don't seem to get a lot of love; ditto the XEGS.

As a rule of thumb, 64K is a good amount of base memory.  It'll let you run pretty much everything a stock machine can handle as well as providing a base for future RAM upgrades, most of which are dependent on the machine starting out with 64K.

 

Good point on memory upgrades....  Many 400s were upgraded.... my personal one (1st computer) was upgraded first to 32K, and then to 48K.  You can determine if you have 48K (or more) on a 400 or 800 from basic.  You just can't directly determine how much more than 48K you may have 🙂  (might be able to detect 52K too). 

 

I have yet to run into a 600XL that had been upgraded.  Though I have upgraded mine (base 64K upgrade plus Ultimate 1MB).

 

I was trying to give general advice, but that was a good catch, as if his dad was an experienced Atari user, 400s or a 600XL could well have upgraded memory.

 

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1 hour ago, Faicuai said:

Nah!

 

You will not be subject to such measures for simply addressing a posted Q. with fiscal / geographical realities (well known already, btw)

 

However, you may be subject otherwise if attempting to agitate a debate revolving around political / religious / orientation preferences. We are far from that, though.

 

 

Thanks.  Sometimes I tread on thin ice as it is.  So, there's that.  Just seems, at times, some 'offenses' are an instant death sentence, while others go on and on and are flagrant with no consequences. I once made a joke on a post. Another guy took it wrong and said I "crapped" on the guy's post.  The joke totally went over his head.  I responded in kind with another joke (a movie reference), and BLAM!  Banned for life.   DBM...

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3 hours ago, T.A.P. said:

but out of curiosity, is there one model that people consider the best among the Atari 8 Bit machines?

 

As you navigate through your own experience (and past-affinities), you will soon discover that such question can be answered from different points of view (e.g., architectural, collectibility, past experiences, legacy peripheral/expansions, sw-library, etc.)

 

For me, the hallmark criteria is defined by which system provides the largest functional latitude (when upgraded), thus allowing to run the widest possible range of SW and HW (including most collectible items) right from the real beginning of the entire line-up (400/800). The reason for this is that I do not want to pile up collections of disparate models, configurations, power-requirements, and most importantly, space-consumption (it is limited, here).

 

And, in terms of the above criteria, the 800 is the one that best fits my bill, like no other system on the entire lineup. For once, it has the ability to be a better XL than my own 800XLs, but on the other it will run SW and (very collectible and valuable $$$) HW that the XL simply can't, no matter what upgrade you consider for it. And that is the key.

 

Your mileage may vary, of course, but you can as well define for yourself which criteria will help you identify what HW config. better suits your own expectations and interests. These will vary from user to user and, most importantly, from own past experiences and memories.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, gilsaluki said:

OOOOOOHHHHH.  Did I just read some politics between those lines.  If I had posted that, I would have been reprimanded, or banned.   Shaaaaaammmme.....

No, that's called truth and facts. Politics has nothing to do with truth and facts in any way, shape or form. Never has, never will. And truth and facts don't ever contain anything "between the lines" while politics has tons between the lines of lies.

Edited by Gunstar
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23 minutes ago, Gunstar said:

No, that's called truth and facts. Politics has nothing to do with truth and facts in any way, shape or form. Never has, never will. And truth and facts don't ever contain anything "between the lines" while politics has tons between the lines of lies.

Well, here is the line that some could be offended by: "(being N.Y. the #1 loser together with California), because it [Florida] is very well managed".  Those from the N.Y. could argue that that is putting down the 'management' of their state, thus that gets political because they put those managers in place.  You see, there is a fine line.  Some are VERY thin skinned and take offense at EVERY comment whether based on facts or not.  Just saying, I would be most like reprimanded with such a statement. 

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I'm never offended by the truth. it is and that's all. Offended by the numerical? Never. Losing residents seems pretty clear, it's not like someone called a person a 'loser'... which might offend that person... but I don't think that is the context, as a state is a geographic delineation and devoid of feeling.

Edited by _The Doctor__
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53 minutes ago, gilsaluki said:

N.Y. could argue that that is putting down the 'management' of their state,

We could argue X, or Y, or cry about Z... but since actions have consequences, and such consequences can be tracked and measured objectively (and in time), we can safely ignore whatever is not pursuant to such reality.

 

Be always wary of people that systematically ignore the above principle in lieu of "emotional comfort". 

 

(Now back to that sweet 8bit collection that I would not be surprised if it gets recalled by his now-Floridian ex-owner... 😜😉)

 

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6 hours ago, T.A.P. said:

is there one model that people consider the best among the Atari 8 Bit machines?

Well, they basically all share the same system.

The 400 and 800 were released in 1979, when there were only very few home computer models available (there wasn't the C64 for example, it only came in 1982), and when RAM was still very expensive. I'd consider the 400 and 800 rare (and would keep at least one of them, probably the 800). But not really the "best" for being used.

The Atari 800 XL was released in 1983 and was probably the most common one. I'd consider it the "best" in a sense, it'd be the one, I would want to use today. (And it also was the one, I've used back then.)

In 1984, Jack Tramiel (the founder and former owner of Commodore) left Commodore and took over Atari, which was in big financial trouble at the time.

The 130XE and the gaming console XEGS were released under Tramiel in 1985. The cases had a new look, and the 130XE had 128K RAM, but otherwise, it was still the same system also found in the 800XL. At this time, Tramiel mainly wanted to sell the Atari ST-line, his team had developed, the 8-bit then were only something he had "also in stock". (And he probably wasn't much of a friend of the Atari 8-bit line, because it had been the biggest competitor to his C64 - but that's just my speculation.)

Tramiel was known for massive reduction of production costs, so it is said, that the build quality of the 800XL was still a bit better in the long run than that of the later Tramiel products.

So I'd still go with the 800XL. And keep a 1200XL (ultra rare), 800 and/or 400, because they're rare.

Actually, my memories of my Atari (and other home computers) could be of interest for you. Although they were written for a general purpose, not necessarily for your specific case.

Edited by Pokeypy

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I know for a fact dad upgraded some of this stuff back in the 80s/early 90s, I just sent him an e-mail asking what he did.

 

I talked to my brother. He's taking the 130XE and one of the 1200XLs (those were the ones he remembered playing with as a kid), so that narrows my picks down a little.

 

As for the other systems. Anything I keep I plan to keep as stock as possible, partly to preserve the experience as I remember it, and partly because I'm not tech savvy and would be worried about breaking anything I tried to tinker with.

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9 hours ago, Mclaneinc said:

Grrrr 2 :)

 

Bob, how many more so you have ;)

 

I AM joking.... In truth I didn't know it existed until after the scene was almost dead, we at Maplin obviously never got any POS as it was never coming here, we did get it for the 1400 and XLD but again, like others, I've never seen any of those in the flesh.. (for obvious reasons re the last two)

I have a few 1200XLs, mostly so-so yellow. Most folks want a nice white unit. Hard to find... All the 1200xl keyboards are bad so it's a $50 fix with a Best mylar. Otherwise, you can repair the old mylar with conductive paint. Shipping to the UK is something like $50+. No power supply - uses same as 1050 or 800.

 

 

Bob

 

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Heard back from Dad, this is what he said he remembered doing:

 

"I think I brought up the RAM in the 400 to match the 48K standard of the old 800s.


I think the 800s were already at the standard 48K. 

 

In my original 800XL, I replaced the buggy XL standard Basic B with the corrected Basic C standard in the XEs.

 

As for other stuff, I put a board inside my original 1050 disk drive that let it copy protected software."

 

 

I also went through the box of cartridges he gave me. Anyone know off hand if any of these have compatibility problems with one system or another?

 

Atari Cartridges:
Ace Of Aces
Archon
Asteroids
Ballblazer
Barnyard Blaster
Basketball
Battlezone
Blue Max
Bug Hunt
Caverns of Mars
Centipede
Checkers
Computer Chess
Crime Buster
Crossbow
David's Midnight Magic
Defender
Desert Falcon
Dig Dug
Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong Junior
E.T. Phone Home!
Eastern Front (1941)
Fight Night
Final Legacy
Flight Simulator 2
Food Fight
Galaxian
Gato
Hardball!
Joust
Jungle Hunt
Karateka
Mario Brothers
Millipede
Missile Command
Moon Patrol
Ms. Pac-Man
Necromancer
One-On-One Basketball
Pac-Man
Pengo
Pole Position
Qix
Real Sports Football
Rescue On Fractalus!
Robotron: 2084
Space Invaders
Star Raiders
Star Raiders 2
Super Breakout
Tennis
Typo Attack

 

3rd Party:
Alien Garden
Alphabet Zoo
Atlantis
Beamrider
Choplifter!
Computer War
Congo Bongo
Demon Attack
Frogger
Gyruss
H.E.R.O.
Kaboom!
Kickback
Math Encounter
Miner 2049'er
Pit Stop
Pitfall!
Plattermania
Q-Bert
River Raid
Soccer
Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator
The Activision Decathlon
Zone Ranger

 

Other cartridges:
Atari Basic
Atari Lab Light Module
Atari Lab Temperature Module
Atari Logo
Atariwriter
Basic x2
Demo Cartridge
Editor Assembler
In-Store Demonstration Program Cartridge
Microsoft Basic 2
Music Composer
My DOS On Cart x2
Pilot
Sparta DOS 3.3C 64k
Super Pac-Man
 

Edited by T.A.P.

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2 hours ago, Pokeypy said:

I'd consider the 400 and 800 rare (and would keep at least one of them, probably the 800). But not really the "best" for being used.

The 800 is far more usable than the 400 just by virtue of the keyboard alone.  It's also the only A8 machine to have the right cartridge slot, which is neat but not of a lot of practical value.  Put an Incognito in it and you've got a nicely-flexible machine.

45 minutes ago, T.A.P. said:

"I think I brought up the RAM in the 400 to match the 48K standard of the old 800s.

*Very* useful.  Good move on your Dad's behalf.

Quote

I think the 800s were already at the standard 48K. 

Depending on when and where they were bought, this is very likely.

 

FWIW, if you have a BASIC cartridge, you can at least see how much base RAM is in these machines.  At the READY prompt, type:

 

PRINT FRE(0)

 

Let us know what values you get.

 

FWIW, you can also pop the top cover off and take a look at what's installed.

Quote

In my original 800XL, I replaced the buggy XL standard Basic B with the corrected Basic C standard in the XEs.

Not doubting that he did it, but PRINT PEEK(43234) will return one of two results: 96 if it's Rev. B, 234 if it's Rev. C.  Doesn't hurt to confirm.

Quote

As for other stuff, I put a board inside my original 1050 disk drive that let it copy protected software."

For that one, you'll probably need to open it up and take photos.  There were a number of upgrades that made it possible to do this, and without seeing the guts or having a name to put to it, there's no good way to tell which one it was.

45 minutes ago, T.A.P. said:

Super Pac-Man

Would you mind taking a photo of this one?

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1 hour ago, T.A.P. said:

Atari Cartridges:

 

Ace Of Aces
Archon
Asteroids
Ballblazer
Barnyard Blaster
Basketball
Battlezone
Blue Max
Bug Hunt
Caverns of Mars
Centipede
Checkers
Computer Chess
Crime Buster
Crossbow
David's Midnight Magic
Defender
Desert Falcon
Dig Dug
Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong Junior
E.T. Phone Home!
Eastern Front (1941)
Fight Night
Final Legacy
Flight Simulator 2

Food Fight
Galaxian
Gato
Hardball!

Joust
Jungle Hunt
Karateka
Mario Brothers
Millipede
Missile Command
Moon Patrol
Ms. Pac-Man
Necromancer
One-On-One Basketball
Pac-Man
Pengo
Pole Position
Qix
Real Sports Football
Rescue On Fractalus!
Robotron: 2084
Space Invaders
Star Raiders
Star Raiders 2
Super Breakout
Tennis
Typo Attack

 

3rd Party:
Alien Garden
Alphabet Zoo
Atlantis
Beamrider
Choplifter!
Computer War
Congo Bongo
Demon Attack
Frogger
Gyruss
H.E.R.O.
Kaboom!
Kickback
Math Encounter
Miner 2049'er
Pit Stop
Pitfall!
Plattermania
Q-Bert
River Raid
Soccer
Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator
The Activision Decathlon
Zone Ranger

 

Other cartridges:
Atari Basic
Atari Lab Light Module
Atari Lab Temperature Module
Atari Logo
Atariwriter
Basic x2
Demo Cartridge
Editor Assembler
In-Store Demonstration Program Cartridge
Microsoft Basic 2
Music Composer
My DOS On Cart x2
Pilot
Sparta DOS 3.3C 64k
Super Pac-Man
 

 

Games highlited in blue will only work on the 400/800... Games in orange will work on any machine with at least 48K.. Games in red require an XL or XE with at least 64K. The rest should be good on any A8 with at least 16K.

 

It's late and I've had a few drinks... Take this with a grain of salt and please, other members correct me if I'm wrong.

Edited by adam242
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1 hour ago, T.A.P. said:

As for the other systems. Anything I keep I plan to keep as stock as possible, partly to preserve the experience as I remember it, and partly because I'm not tech savvy and would be worried about breaking anything I tried to tinker with.

 

This rules out an 800 with the modern Incognito installed. Difficult install requiring more advanced electronics skills.

 

I recommend keeping an 800XL and an 800. Much better build quality than the XE's. Since the 800's power supplies are more-or-less reliable you can test those and both 1200's. The 800's have both composite and chroma+luma video out of the monitor jack. A cable or two or three are probably in the collection. Look for a round 5 pin DIN connector on one end and two or three RCA jacks on the other end.  The 1200's have only composite and will work with the same video cable as the 800 or 800XL.

Edited by Sugarland
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53 minutes ago, adam242 said:

 

Games highlited in blue will only work on the 400/800... Games in orange will work on any machine with at least 48K.. Games in red require an XL or XE with at least 64K. The rest should be good on any A8 with at least 16K.

 

It's late and I've had a few drinks... Take this with a grain of salt and please, other members correct me if I'm wrong.

Thank you for that list! It's really helpful.

 

Based on what that says, sounds like I'll need to keep at least a couple machines around to play all my games.

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If I were in your shoes, I would keep an 800 and an 800XL. Depending on your nostalgic memories, of course.. Strictly practically, an 800 with Incognito upgrade, if that's within your wheelhouse.

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5 hours ago, bob1200xl said:

I have a few 1200XLs, mostly so-so yellow. Most folks want a nice white unit. Hard to find... All the 1200xl keyboards are bad so it's a $50 fix with a Best mylar. Otherwise, you can repair the old mylar with conductive paint. Shipping to the UK is something like $50+. No power supply - uses same as 1050 or 800.

 

 

Bob

 

Thank you for the kind offer Bob, but I really was joking as I have no funds to afford shipping or fixing (daughter in Uni and needs 500 UK for deposit on halls, just managed to scrape it together but she cleaned us out, again, but what can you do, she is the most precious thing to us and needs the best future). But again, thank you for the great offer. Wanting a computer isn't the same as needing it, would I use it, yes, but I can do just as much on what I have so it's a nice idea but I have all I need here... 

 

Paul..

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@T.A.P. Nice list of gear your dad passed on to you, I echo the thoughts of most re what to keep except I'd keep the 400 as well as the 800 and 800XL, the 400 will keep its value and increase over time, plus its the first machine and just damn stylish :)

 

Same with the 800 and the XL is a work horse ideal for upgrades...

 

Most importantly, have fun with it all...

 

Paul..

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Hi there, I was sent a link to this topic via a fellow atariage member. Please may I ask if the 1200xl is still available, and if so, how much is it please? 

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Ha ha, Another UK Atarian lusting after a 1200 :)

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