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NathanAllan
June 30th, 2008, 06:39 AM
Hi y'all,

I just acquired an Atari 400 with the membrane keyboard, and realised it has 4 controller ports. Were there any games for this thing made for four players? Or accessories to make a large rig, that took up all four of the ports?

Funny story about how I came to this system. Or rather how I came to fire it up. A while back, I commented about getting a 15lb. box of Atari stuff, and in it was an odd power supply that seemed to be just derelict, or I thought at the time broken. So I just stashed it. It was the power supply for this 400 I just picked up, ironically from the same place.

It's still up in the air if I want to keep it, it looks almost new but I already have a 600XL and an 800XL, and I can't really justify keeping this one. I happened on it by chance, my favorite thrift store (Discovery Shop) had it donated to them.

On that note, is there any interest here for this machine? I give the people here first shot at anything computer related and vintage, always (my main question is about the accessories, else I would have posted it in the Marketplace).

Nathan

carlsson
June 30th, 2008, 09:11 AM
Atari 400's tend to (or at least used to) be relatively attractive among collectors, so you shouldn't have a problem finding a buyer.

When it comes to games utilizing four joysticks, I'd suspect those were 1983 and earlier titles since the 400 and 800 have four ports each while the 600XL, 800XL and so on only have two ports. I don't know about the 1200XL how many ports it has. I know my favorite game M.U.L.E. supports four joysticks on an Atari 800.

I like Atarimania's database over games. While I can't find a search parameter for number of joysticks, it can display all games where you can play two or more people. One can assume that any game using three or four joysticks was meant for as many players too.

http://www.atarimania.com/lst_soft-MENU-8-TYPE_CODE-G-PLAYER_ID-8.html

Bill_Loguidice
June 30th, 2008, 11:34 AM
Here's a decent list: http://www.atarimania.com/faq.php?p=66

NathanAllan
June 30th, 2008, 12:03 PM
Thanks for the list, Bill. Of those games I have Asteroids and now really want Mule :) That's a big list of games, thanks Carlsson. I'm getting really close to getting that interface cable from Atarimax!

It would have sure been nice if Atari had built in communications between all their computers (ST/Mega, dos boxes, XL's). Kinda like what Apple did (afaik).

Thanks for the pointers!

Nathan

barythrin
June 30th, 2008, 12:49 PM
I like the 400 but already have one (ironically with a replacement keyboard lol although they stored the original membrane keyboard in the box too which is cool).

Still, I personally like having the 400 and 800 vs the XL (widely distributed models). The 600 was just the commercial update for the 400 although I suppose if you're really using them may be more practical than the 400 to keep.

- John

Bill_Loguidice
June 30th, 2008, 12:58 PM
I have one 400 with original keyboard and one with a fairly elaborate replacement keyboard and extended memory. I also have an 800, 800XL, 1200XL and an XEGS, along with a 130XE. For general usage, I'd have to recommend an 800XL, XEGS or 65XE/130XE, since they all have a minimum of 64K memory and can use software that the 400/800 can't. Of course you'd still want a translator cartridge or disk to make the few titles that are only compatible with the original 400/800 work with the newer systems (if you're not going to use fixed ROMs).

The 1200XL probably looks the best and has the best keyboard, but has a few compatibility quirks and can be tough to find. The XEGS is the only one with a removable keyboard, though the keyboard is rather poor like it is on the entire XE line. It's a very interesting line of systems, regardless. If I only had to have two, I'd go with the the 800 and the 130XE, so I'd have the widest range of compatibility, power and features (and I personally love how the 800 looks). Obviously only the 400/800 have the four controller ports and only the 800 has the two cartridge slots (though good luck finding anything to work in the other slot).

By the way, the last excerpt from my upcoming book will run on Gamasutra sometime in the near future, and it just happens to be on the Atari 8-bit line.

carlsson
July 1st, 2008, 06:12 AM
The 1200XL has one major quirk: it is only available in NTSC version. ;-)

Nathan: If you look for communication and networking, you should take a look at Acorn BBC computers with their Econet, years ahead of their time for being a home computer. It is said even Bill Gates was mightly impressed when he saw it in the mid 1980's.

NathanAllan
July 1st, 2008, 06:38 AM
I have one 400 with original keyboard and one with a fairly elaborate replacement keyboard and extended memory. I also have an 800, 800XL, 1200XL and an XEGS, along with a 130XE. For general usage, I'd have to recommend an 800XL, XEGS or 65XE/130XE, since they all have a minimum of 64K memory and can use software that the 400/800 can't. Of course you'd still want a translator cartridge or disk to make the few titles that are only compatible with the original 400/800 work with the newer systems (if you're not going to use fixed ROMs).

The 1200XL probably looks the best and has the best keyboard, but has a few compatibility quirks and can be tough to find. The XEGS is the only one with a removable keyboard, though the keyboard is rather poor like it is on the entire XE line. It's a very interesting line of systems, regardless. If I only had to have two, I'd go with the the 800 and the 130XE, so I'd have the widest range of compatibility, power and features (and I personally love how the 800 looks). Obviously only the 400/800 have the four controller ports and only the 800 has the two cartridge slots (though good luck finding anything to work in the other slot).

By the way, the last excerpt from my upcoming book will run on Gamasutra sometime in the near future, and it just happens to be on the Atari 8-bit line.


Let us know when it goes on sale, I want a copy! Can I get an autographed copy? :)

Agreed, the 800XL has the best workability, I have used it not only for gaming but letters and such. One of these days I'll send either the 600 or 800 (both XL's) off to Atarimax to get them upgraded, then I'll really be ready to roll.

I'm not that great of a collector, and really don't go out of my way to find neat machines. If they find their way to the thrift store I'm all over it though.


The 1200XL has one major quirk: it is only available in NTSC version. ;-)

Nathan: If you look for communication and networking, you should take a look at Acorn BBC computers with their Econet, years ahead of their time for being a home computer. It is said even Bill Gates was mightly impressed when he saw it in the mid 1980's.

I'll look into it, cause networking is what to look for! I'm honestly surprised that more people/companies didn't use networking more intensively in the 80's. Not only was there Econet (will read about it) but Atari was experimenting with wireless and countless other projects were being looked at and eventually discarded(Seganet, WorldCom, etc.).

Can you imagine where networking would be if some of these things had been achieved? The bar would have been raised profoundly. Must look more into European computer news.

Nathan

Bill_Loguidice
July 1st, 2008, 09:12 AM
I'm not sure how much of a market there was back in the 80's for home networking, since it was rare enough for there even to be one machine in the home. With cartridge, tapes and disks, it wasn't like you needed to move large amounts of data anyway, and certainly the non-BBS online services were prohibitively expensive, charging by the hour. Hell, even networking into the 90's was complicated and error prone. Today, obviously, things are much, much simpler, and even the classic systems have been given nifty homebrew add-ons to make them work in such environments.

As for the book, I've got to finish one for Focal Press on the Greatest/Most Influential Games by August, then I can start to finish off the aforementioned "first 15 years of home computers and videogames" book (finally) for Hiive Books. I'll of course post about it around here when they're ready for purchase at major retailers and will accept requests for personalization if anyone wants anything like that.

NathanAllan
July 11th, 2008, 02:30 AM
Well, the Atari 400 is up on the VCGM, I cannot justify keeping it. Since I already have a 600 and 800 XL and limited space, off it goes. Hope it goes to a good home (I know it will from this audience!) I'm also going for one of those 130's, so I have to make room for it :)

Nathan

Dore
August 4th, 2008, 06:38 PM
Question. I haven't fired up my 800XL in a LONG time, and I want to use some old 5.25 floppies with the 1050 disk drive I have. Do you just pop the disk in and the system reads it, or is it like the C-64 where you have to type in a load command. Just curious before I dig it out.

NathanAllan
August 4th, 2008, 10:22 PM
As far as I know, it will boot to the disk when the drive is on and disk is in. Mine isn't hooked up right now, else I would try it (and can't remember very clearly). And I think you can also tell it to boot later, also. Those drives have the most inconvenient jumpers... distinctive Atari.

The 400 sold to a good home and is now languishing with its new owner. Along with bonus disks. Hooray!

Nathan

/edit DOH!!

Terry Yager
August 5th, 2008, 01:05 PM
Languishing???

--T

carlsson
August 5th, 2008, 02:04 PM
Yes, the Atari can (will?) autoboot disks.

tezza
August 5th, 2008, 02:26 PM
I bought my 800Xl with loads of disks. Nearly all of them auto-load.

Very simple and convenient.

Tez

Druid6900
August 5th, 2008, 06:53 PM
Languishing???

--T

Yeah, it's a program built into the ROM. Sorta like the Apple IIe diagnostics, but, it does less.

Terry Yager
August 5th, 2008, 07:09 PM
I think I know that program. I seem to have it built into my wetware.

--T

NathanAllan
August 5th, 2008, 09:30 PM
uh, oops, maybe languishing was not the right word.

"to undergo neglect or experience prolonged inactivity; suffer hardship and distress: to languish in prison for ten years." DOH!

yep, DEFINITELY not the feeling I was trying to convey-- I meant something like "living the good life" but not <gulp> languishing.

Maybe it's cause it's late or maybe it's cause I had a lot of fluids drained out of me but I'm getting a great laugh out of this- I can barely type!

vwestlife
August 7th, 2008, 08:44 PM
The Atari 400 is an endearing little machine, extremely solidly constructed and great for classic four-player games. But its video quality is definitely not the best; the XE series has a much brighter, crisper, and more vivid display, even when using the same Channel 3/4 TV RF output that the 400 is limited to.

The ability to use games and other programs on the 400 is almost always more restricted by its 16K memory capacity, than by it having the older 400/800 OS, versus the newer XL/XE OS. But my favorites like Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Frogger, Pole Position, etc., all work fine on the 400. And with an AtariWriter cartridge, you can even do word processing in only 16K of RAM!