A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Retro Computing: Why Bother? Atari 8 Bit Update 2: Atari 800 Boogalloo!

More Atari fun!  This time another Atari 8 bit computer because one just isn't enough!

For 75 dollars and a 30 minutes drive I got a nice Craigslist find, unlike the deals for an old Macintosh or an Apple IIC+ setup where the sellers stopped communicating as I guess they didn't want my money or someone offered them more.


A lot of mostly pirated disks and a bajillion Ultima 4 player disks made.  A couple original programs but not much.  Gobs of disks and 3 disk cases would cost around 75 total shipped from ebay so a good deal alone.

Dunno if they work but a 1050 Atari floppy drive, a Trash 80 modem bit, some cables, PSUs, and a 410 tape drive.  I need time to test em out.  Like in another post.

And under here?  A 48k uncased RAM expanded Atari 800 in very good condition!  Reinforced with a layer of steel!

And yet another layer.... OF STEEL.

People in #retrochat were hearing me talk about this glorious 1979 designed beast Tuesday evening.  I figured out the issue as to why it wasn't powering up when it did at first.  You have to keep the cartridge port cover LOCKED.

Atari's engineers made it so your dumb ass couldn't rip a cartridge out from one of its TWO PORTS with the power on which would possibly damage your 999 US 1979 dollar home computer.  That looks like a late 60s typewriter.  And has really good feeling keys.  (Though the space bar is a bit uneven and the Start key sometimes needs a bit of a repeat press.  This thing has seen some STUFF man.  Its been in the trenches.  It's been loved.)

It does make it kinda nice that I can undo the lid and shut it off if I just want to swap cartridges.  Glorious top loading cartridges instead of the annoying 130xe's rear port that is finicky.

Its only real drawback is its large, heavy, and the RF cable is hardwired in even if you use a composite cable like I am.  Still get some of those lines on screen even with the monitor so I putzed around a bit with it using the Svideo out I have and on the 32" HDTV in 4:3 mode.  Lines aren't as extreme as say the 130xe was.  There ARE fixes for it, but it involves opening it up.  And the 800 is a giant sexy beast designed to not let you enjoy this:  http://www.pcworld.com/article/181421/inside_atari_800.html

And FOUR joystick ports too!

By and large this will probably become my main Atari 8 bitter and the 130 will be relegated to a storage tub since my game collection has long since outgrown my smaller blue tub.

The command keys are easier to reach and color coded unlike the 130's and it honestly runs more games.  Like Gorf.

I will explain more when I do the next post but in general the 130xe isn't the most fun microcomputer of the Atari 8 bit line to play with.  Lower build quality doesn't make up for 128K of RAM and a number of annoying design choices the original 800 and the 130's XEGS little brother don't have.

This is not a smart way to play computer games.  But it IS funny.  Also Gorf is in the composite artifacted monitor mode thingie that is less crisp and has some bleed but no lines or anything.

LET US GORF.  Not as good as the Colecovision Gorf, but pretty damned good!  Also better than the 5200 version unless you like playing a classical SHMUP Invader game with analog controls with actual analog analoginess.  

Dual cart ports!  BIG AND METAL!  The bits of black fuzz are from the dead glue sticky foam that the lid's top metal RF shield had keeping it up.  It has failed. That is how much fricking mineral action is in this sumbitch.  Metal RF shielding all over the place.

Once we reached Reagan's era the Ataris got cheaper, lighter, and way less metal.  ITS ALL RONNIE'S FAULT.

48K of RAM and the system's ROM all open to the elements.  See the open air and all the venting is all one really needed to keep stuff cool back then.  Originally the RAM AND ROM were in little sealed packs.  But they overheated.  Thus later versions came open to be cooler.

(Dare I say 20% cooler?  No.  I don't wear a fedora.)

I am not good at Q Bert.

Join me again whenever I get more time to play around with my new baby/replacement for a somewhat more advanced machine.  I have a few bits to buy on Ebay to make it mostly replace the 130xe rig first.  And I want to test my new storage drives to see if they work.

Plus all these lovely new games I have bought recently.  And to discover the goodies on all these disks.

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Southeastern CT, United States
I like to play nerd games! I am a nerd! Join our nerd ways at https://www.facebook.com/groups/112040385527428/