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Atari XL/XE vs ZX Spectrum... And the winner is...

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24 minutes ago, _The Doctor__ said:

You know it can... You'd be one to do so just for the fun of it!

So true :D 

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2 hours ago, xxl said:

Atari XL vs ZX Spectrum? which is better? better to have both.

Here I agree.  These old computers are like women.  We all have a favourite, we would like to have every single one.  But alas, there can only be one, which we must defend :)  Do we wonder why all Atari machines are named after women?  Treat them kindly and they will love you back.

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6 minutes ago, Stephen said:

Here I agree.  These old computers are like women.  We all have a favourite, we would like to have every single one.  But alas, there can only be one, which we must defend :)  Do we wonder why all Atari machines are named after women?  Treat them kindly and they will love you back.

and upgrades to Atari are like other people's wives - it's fun to play for a while... but you always come back to standard, because the standard is timeless. ;-)

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Just now, xxl said:

and upgrades to Atari are like other people's wives - it's fun to play for a while... but you always come back to standard, because the standard is timeless. ;-)

I dunno, I like the newer upgrades. If I could have had an A8 with all the newer hardware being developed now back in the day and actually be able to afford it - I would have been on it in a heartbeat.

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1 hour ago, xxl said:

and upgrades to Atari are like other people's wives - it's fun to play for a while... but you always come back to standard, because the standard is timeless. ;-)

0A1B2032-1867-4E6D-94F2-ED81B29180A5.jpeg.049f45bb3754f71758d573766bc80772.jpeg

 

 

Should I get you playing with my better-half and you will be chewing 130XE PCBs until your last tooth...

 

Now, there are upgrades worth keeping, I can asure you... 

22EAC958-E927-4313-BD2E-713B2219C711.thumb.jpeg.6f8c818b8404bd74f3dc0a771529b1ed.jpeg

 

That´s Colleen's grand-daughter... ;-)

 

I could not find her Commodore counterpart... dońt know why... 😃

 

Edited by Faicuai
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6 hours ago, Stephen said:

Do we wonder why all Atari machines are named after women?

It takes at least some 30 years to fully figure them out?

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6 hours ago, xxl said:

and upgrades to Atari are like (...)

2c57142732ae7ba5c83f326539583350.jpg

 

She wanted to be a Lion :D 

Edited by zbyti
upgrades
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14 hours ago, zbyti said:

You break my had... ehkm... heart :]

To summarize... I just wanted to emphasize that there is no clear winner. A8 and C64 are very similar in features and ZX Spectrum is great considering what architecture it is built on. I would say it is very distinctive from other machine platforms (color clash, which gives it special look, beep sounds in older machines :). Not to mention, other machine platforms are great too (BBC Micro, Amstrad series, MSX, Apple 2 series, Oric, Adam and so on).

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@Gury I don't have a problem with: which is better. I love any 8-bit system :]

 

Atari Lion below :]

 

server1.jpg

 

Edited by zbyti
upgraded atari
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Out of curiosity, I picked a magazine in the virtual pile and found Your Computer from October 1983. On pages 4-5 there is a two page advertisement for a chain called Computers for All with 52 stores across the UK. Since they advertised STOP PRESS PRICES, I assume those were competitive.

 

Laser 200: £69.95

ZX Spectrum: 16K £99.95, 48K £129.95

COMX-35: £119.95

VIC-20: £139.95 including tape recorder, BASIC course (?) and 4 cassette games

Oric-1 48K: £139.95 with £40 voucher for Oric printer

Atari 400: £149.99 including programming pack

Dragon 32: £175.00

Commodore 64: £229.00

Atari 800: £299.99

BBC Micro: Model A £299.00, Model B £399.00 (Acorn Electron coming soon, RRP £199 as per other advertisement)

Seikosha GP-100A printer: £247.25

Epson FX-80 printer: £460.00 (!!)

Epson RX-80 printer: £343.85

 

This was right after the price wars had begun, but before the 600XL and 800XL models were released. I've read elsewhere that while Atari announced those in the spring-summer of 1983, those models didn't reach customers until very late 1983, possibly even early 1984?

 

Note that you could get two ZX Spectrum 48K (or a bunch of peripherals like microdrives, software, perhaps a printer) for the price of one Atari 800 so it is a bit imbalanced to compare the two while those still were prime on the market. However although I am fond of the BBC Micro, I believe it was quite a bit overpriced for its capacities (but perhaps you paid for build quality?) compared to both the Atari and C64.

 

https://archive.org/details/your-computer-magazine-1983-10/page/n3/mode/2up

 

See also the Sinclair offer on page 18: a ZX-81 with 16K RAM and a cassette game for £45 (worth £75), a ZX Printer for £40 including five free rolls of paper.

Edited by carlsson
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1 hour ago, carlsson said:

Out of curiosity, I picked a magazine in the virtual pile and found Your Computer from October 1983. On pages 4-5 there is a two page advertisement for a chain called Computers for All with 52 stores across the UK. Since they advertised STOP PRESS PRICES, I assume those were competitive.

 

Laser 200: £69.95

ZX Spectrum: 16K £99.95, 48K £129.95

COMX-35: £119.95

VIC-20: £139.95 including tape recorder, BASIC course (?) and 4 cassette games

Oric-1 48K: £139.95 with £40 voucher for Oric printer

Atari 400: £149.99 including programming pack

Dragon 32: £175.00

Commodore 64: £229.00

Atari 800: £299.99

BBC Micro: Model A £299.00, Model B £399.00 (Acorn Electron coming soon, RRP £199 as per other advertisement)

Seikosha GP-100A printer: £247.25

Epson FX-80 printer: £460.00 (!!)

Epson RX-80 printer: £343.85

 

This was right after the price wars had begun, but before the 600XL and 800XL models were released. I've read elsewhere that while Atari announced those in the spring-summer of 1983, those models didn't reach customers until very late 1983, possibly even early 1984?

 

Note that you could get two ZX Spectrum 48K (or a bunch of peripherals like microdrives, software, perhaps a printer) for the price of one Atari 800 so it is a bit imbalanced to compare the two while those still were prime on the market. However although I am fond of the BBC Micro, I believe it was quite a bit overpriced for its capacities (but perhaps you paid for build quality?) compared to both the Atari and C64.

 

https://archive.org/details/your-computer-magazine-1983-10/page/n3/mode/2up

 

See also the Sinclair offer on page 18: a ZX-81 with 16K RAM and a cassette game for £45 (worth £75), a ZX Printer for £40 including five free rolls of paper.

The BBC model B had the best DOS of any 8 bit machine of the era, it still has the best DOS of any 8 bit machine, especially with Econet. Not only that, I believe it was the fastest machine with its 2Mhz 6502 and corresponding bus and memory speeds. It had the capability for built in ROMs selectable via DOS, a number of graphics modes, and more inputs and outputs than any 8 bit machine out the box that I've ever seen - And the Tube port for a dedicated coprocessor that makes it the fastest 8 bit machine even today using a simple Raspberry Pi (the BBC model B was used as an ARM development platform).

 

It's build quality was also only second to the original Atari 800, as it was built to withstand school kids.

 

Yeah, it had 32K of ram, but based on first hand experience that never seemed to limit it noticeably. Basically it was bloody fast.

 

Oh yeah, the A8 ain't the only machine with fast parallel bus storage access, that's transferring data to and from a mounted D64, so that's what you can expect in real usage cases via DOS. No screen blanking or other trickery used.

 

aiY4tgt.jpg

Edited by Mazzspeed

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4 minutes ago, Mazzspeed said:

The BBC model B had the best DOS of any 8 bit machine of the era, it still has the best DOS of any 8 bit machine, especially with Econet.

Write that in the Apple II subforum and you'll get a bunch of heated replies. :) But yes, it was highly expandable and perhaps never intended/priced as a gaming machine like the others in the list. Compared with an Apple //e, the BBC Micro Model B 32K still was quite affordable, that is true.

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2 minutes ago, carlsson said:

Write that in the Apple II subforum and you'll get a bunch of heated replies. :) But yes, it was highly expandable and perhaps never intended/priced as a gaming machine like the others in the list. Compared with an Apple //e, the BBC Micro Model B 32K still was quite affordable, that is true.

You'll get heated replies from users in the USA as they didn't have the BBC in schools, they had the Apple IIe. In the UK and Australia/Tasmania we got the BBC and its outstanding Econet implementation.

 

Was the BBC sold in the US?

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Yes, the BBC Micro was briefly sold in the US. They had to add about 1 - 1.5 kg of metal shielding in order to get it FCC approved. Even on the Beebs sold in Germany, Acorn had to add shielding to get it certified but not quite as much as the US models. If you have both an UK and an US machine, you can actually tell which is which only by weight.

 

Here in Sweden, the BBC Micro had some trouble getting cleared by the state phone company in order to be sold. For the longest I thought it was a business move because the phone company had a daughter company making their own school computer (Compis) and wanted to avoid competition, but after reading about Germany and the US, perhaps the RF noise really was a problem for the Beeb except that in the UK they didn't care.

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How bizzare.

 

Considering the BBC was aimed more at the educational market and not specifically a gaming machine, no different to the Apple IIe, you would think Acorn would pull an Apple and ship it without an RF modulator selling it as an aftermarket 'accessory'.

 

I know that at my school every beeb was connected to a green or amber screen monitor, not an RF lead in sight.

 

Interesting insight however, thanks Carlsson.

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No idea, perhaps BBC (the broadcasting company) required a RF modulator on UK sold machines and it would take even more work redesigning the motherboard to get rid of it than adding shielding? I suppose the US models output NTSC anyway. Also I have a memory about FCC easing their requirements shortly after the Atari 800 was released, or at least before the C64 was released which should pretty much have coincided with the US launch of the BBC Micro. I thought it was for space reasons the VIC-20 (and TI-99/4A) have external RF modulators, but perhaps it was for RF reasons as it would put the computer in a different class? I remember the Apple story you're referring to, them not including it inside the computer.

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1 hour ago, Mazzspeed said:

You'll get heated replies from users in the USA as they didn't have the BBC in schools, they had the Apple IIe. In the UK and Australia/Tasmania we got the BBC and its outstanding Econet implementation.

 

Was the BBC sold in the US?

My old high school in Ohio had a lab of them, this was the late 80s/early 90s. I have no idea what model they were, but I saw it on a visit after I graduated. All of them were networked to use the floppy drive (or two?) that was connected to one of them. I was blown away. 

 

Alas, I don't know what happened to them. Probably shipped off to the dump. 😢

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2 hours ago, Mazzspeed said:

You'll get heated replies from users in the USA as they didn't have the BBC in schools, they had the Apple IIe. In the UK and Australia/Tasmania we got the BBC and its outstanding Econet implementation.

 

Was the BBC sold in the US?

 

You will get them because for basically two (key) reasons, which make all the difference:

 

1. The kind of system you could build with the Apple/Ii's  architecture and design (introduced in 1977)  are wet dreams even with anything the BBC / Micro came out out of the box in 1981 (FOUR years later !!!). When I read about the "tube", the tiny expansions ports underneath the keyboard and then look at the MONSTER plug-and-play cards available for the Apple/II on eBay (from back in the day), I actually chuckle... :-)) The BBC/B can't compare with the space, expandability and power-handling the Apple/II offers without ever leaving its own chassis / case!

 

2. The SW library built for the Apple/II, especially for education and productivity, essentially dwarfs that of the BBC (four years of market advantage is a LOT of time). Personal computing productivity and office-computing really took-off with VISICALC, which was a masterpiece of ingenuity and development and was launched first for the Apple/II, and required 48 KB to actually run in a more productive manner. 32KB of RAM on the BBC/B did not help much, though. Networking took a very different approach in the US, mostly driven by office-computing, where a product like the BBC would hardly carve a place (unfortunately). 

 

3. From what I have seen and used today, and by reading at the Programming Guida, the best 8-bit DOS (bar-none) is SDX. But I would definitely agree that the BbC had a pretty solid OEM DOS, probably much better than Apple's. SDX file-system's limits are a key indicator (1,421 files or folders PER FOLDER, and only storage limits beyond this !!!) That is without mentioning memory management, extensibility, relocation facilities, user-interface and batch-processing facilities, you name...

 

Having said all of the above, I am actually a big fan of the BBC / Micro. From and industrial design point-of-view, it is a bit awkward and painful to look at, BUT such design very well met some key form-and-function  goals at the market it was aimed, and (internally, what matters the most) it was put together in a way that brought out uncompromised 6502-centric performance... probably better than any other out-of-the-box 6502 system. I think it would still choke with Atari demos like the Impossible and Super Boink, where the Atari's distributed architecture shows its raw strengths, but there was a TON of potential with the BBC.

 

The BBC is a SOLID piece of work and engineering (on its class and time), and the only piece of Hw I would consider adding beyond an Apple/Ii or Atari 800. I can't decide myself between the better BBC master HW or the nimbler / nicer looking BBC /B... 😄

 

Edited by Faicuai
Clean-up, typos, etc.
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What amazes/amuses me the most is that BBC in the procurement supposedly posted a blueprint of the Grundy NewBrain specs (a company to soon afterwards disappear). The ZX Spectrum to a great deal matched the spec, while the Acorn Proton differed on almost every point, most notably CPU. Although I believe the Micro Men TV feature exaggerated the reality a few notches, I can understand if competitors were not too happy to see that the winning bid was for a machine pretty different from what they had asked for. Perhaps with a full size keyboard and some more advanced interfaces (how about floppy drives?), Sinclair could have won the bid and changed a good part of the history?

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3 hours ago, carlsson said:

This was right after the price wars had begun, but before the 600XL and 800XL models were released. I've read elsewhere that while Atari announced those in the spring-summer of 1983, those models didn't reach customers until very late 1983, possibly even early 1984?

The 600/800XL's definitely came out in 1983, at least in the US.  I got one for Christmas that year

 

2 hours ago, carlsson said:

Here in Sweden, the BBC Micro had some trouble getting cleared by the state phone company in order to be sold. For the longest I thought it was a business move because the phone company had a daughter company making their own school computer (Compis) and wanted to avoid competition, but after reading about Germany and the US, perhaps the RF noise really was a problem for the Beeb except that in the UK they didn't care.

I don't know how much of a real problem it was, I think sometimes regulatory agencies look at what other regulatory agencies do, and copy them.   the FCC eventually relaxed those rules, making the C64/XL line possible

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Actually in the December 1983 issue, Maplin advertised the new 600XL for £159.95 (C64 £229, Dragon 32 £175, Sord/CGL M5 £149.95). In that advertisement they have the following fine print:

 

The Atari 800XL is unlikely to be available before Christmas, but is in any case no different from the 600XL except all 64K RAM is built inside box.

 

Quite possibly Atari primarily supplied the US market with the 800XL and Europe had to wait a bit longer. Atari UK themselves in December 1983 had a two page advertisement of the 600XL without any mention of the upcoming 800XL. The Silica Shop had neither for sale.

 

However several years ago when I went through Swedish computer magazines, I did find price references to both 600XL and 800XL around October 1983. I can't recall though if those were future RRP or actual advertisements. The 600XL was for sure advertised in November.

 

Also in the October issue of Your Computer, on page 42 there is a crossword where you could win a brand new 600XL.

 

Edit: Your Computer has a review of the 800XL in January 1984 (they reviewed the 600XL in November 1983).

 

Here are their conclusions:

 

Quote

The Atari 800XL, Commodore 64 and BBC Model B are three micros that stand out as being far superior to the Dragons, Tandys, Orics and Lynxs. The Spectrum is just

too expensive when raised to the same specification. These three have better hardware, better keyboards, better Basics, more peripherals and better software. The average user would probably be delighted to own any of them. But if you have to choose:

 

  • The Atari has the best games as well as a wide selection of good software, languages and peripherals, though there is very little U.K. business software. The real catch is, the software is expensive.
  • The BBC has the best Basic and is best both for education generally and for learning to program. Also, it does not need a dedicated cassette recorder, like the other two. The catch is that, including the disc chip, it is twice the price of the others. Also it has the smallest available RAM.
  • The Commodore 64 is cheapest of the three, is well supported, and looks the best bet for home/small business software, though it currently has less software than the other two. The catch is, it has a primitive Basic and you would have to be batty to choose it for learning to program.

 

The old advice remains the best advice: find the software you want, and buy the machine it runs on.

Edited by carlsson

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17 minutes ago, carlsson said:

Actually in the December 1983 issue, Maplin advertised the new 600XL for £159.95 (C64 £229, Dragon 32 £175, Sord/CGL M5 £149.95). In that advertisement they have the following fine print:

 

The Atari 800XL is unlikely to be available before Christmas, but is in any case no different from the 600XL except all 64K RAM is built inside box.

 

Quite possibly Atari primarily supplied the US market with the 800XL and Europe had to wait a bit longer. Atari UK themselves in December 1983 had a two page advertisement of the 600XL without any mention of the upcoming 800XL. The Silica Shop had neither for sale.

 

However several years ago when I went through Swedish computer magazines, I did find price references to both 600XL and 800XL around October 1983. I can't recall though if those were future RRP or actual advertisements. The 600XL was for sure advertised in November.

 

Also in the October issue of Your Computer, on page 42 there is a crossword where you could win a brand new 600XL.

 

Edit: Your Computer has a review of the 800XL in January 1984 (they reviewed the 600XL in November 1983).

According the wikipedia, Atari didn't produce enough 800XLs to meet demand, so it was hard to get in 1983

 

Edit: If a magazine had a cover date of January 1984, then it would have been on newsstands in December 83, and written by October

Edited by zzip

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True about publication dates, but in that case Maplin back in September-October already feared they would not get any computers before Christmas. It would also mean that the 600XL review was written in August in order to get published in November.

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3 minutes ago, carlsson said:

True about publication dates, but in that case Maplin back in September-October already feared they would not get any computers before Christmas. It would also mean that the 600XL review was written in August in order to get published in November.

Yeah, It's also possible that Atari sent the press pre-release models for review too

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