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View Full Version : This is a dumb question...



Aimee Wilbury
April 23rd, 2009, 04:10 PM
Hi, I'm new here, just wondering about something. I don't actually collect old computers but I like to read about them. And recently I was talking to two (non-tech) teachers about them and they both groaned when I mentioned the Atari.

I asked my mom about that, and she says you were lucky if you could get one booted up. Yet all the geeks I know back in the 80s said the Atari was a good computer.

Any idea? Thanks. :)

Erik
April 23rd, 2009, 04:29 PM
From my experience with the Atari 800 they were very reliable - moreso than the C64 or TRS-80 and comparable to the Apple ][+ in the "home" market.

They could be a bit finicky from time to time, but usually it was something easy.

Unknown_K
April 23rd, 2009, 04:49 PM
The original 400/800 were built to last forever and were out way before the C64. Early C64s were shipped with a VERY high rate of failure to meet the christmas rush and then repaired/replaced under warrenty. Later 800's were made cheaper and cheaper, but then so were C64's.

The problem with the Atari is that the C64 eclipsed it in sales and then all new titles coming out were for the C64. I remember my friends who had Atari 800's had to go to software etc and order titles that I could just grab off the shelf for the C64.

tezza
April 24th, 2009, 01:36 AM
My Atari 400 is built like a tank!

I never used them back in the early 80s, but I've now got a 400, 800XL, 130XE and 1040STFM. Generally I've found they compare well to equivalent machines of the day.

I've been more impressed than I thought I would be actually.

Tez

nblsavage
April 24th, 2009, 06:49 AM
I found my Atari 400 at a Goodwill outlet, it had obviously not had a good life. It had many dings, scrapes and was pretty dirty. When I got it home I wiped it down, stuck in a BASIC cartridge and it booted right up.
Not a bad little computer. Too bad the cassette drive I found with it doesn't work.

mpickering
April 24th, 2009, 06:59 AM
Hmm, my Ataris work like champs. Only issue my 800XL has is its power light doesn't come on all the time. Otherwise fully functional. Same goes my Atari 1040STF. My experience with Atari hardware is it seems to be pretty well built.

If I recall, one of the chief complaints against Atari 8-bits was their cost because the company wanted to produce quality hardware. Unfortunately, the market preferred cheap over good. When Atari started to cheap out to compete is when their hardware started to suffer a little but this was in the ST era. The 8-bit machines, to my knowledge, were always considered quality hardware.

I can say I prefer my 800XL from a fit-and-finish perspective over my VIC-20 or a C-64. The unit I just acquired looks just the same as one I had over 20 years ago. Same can't be said for my Commodores.

Matt

barythrin
April 24th, 2009, 07:29 AM
lol.. keep in mind us geeks/collectors are enthusiasts so yeah you'll be hard pressed to find someone here saying any vintage system was too bad. I haven't had any problems with mine except for wear and tear on the tape unit also.

They're experience may have varied based on technical experience also. I mean give any kid that computer and a tape cassette drive and tape and say "here's a computer. Load the game/application." they'd stare at you blankly and have no clue what to do.

- John

Terry Yager
April 24th, 2009, 04:21 PM
The complaint here is rather vague. Could the OP be more specific? I don't know of any problems with Atari hardware, they always had a very good reputation.

--T

BuggZ
April 25th, 2009, 12:30 PM
I just picked up an Atari PC3 (IBM XT clone) that still works fine. It has a 5 1/4 floppy, MiniScribe hard drive, 640K RAM and refers to an advanced EGA video during POST.

cosam
April 25th, 2009, 01:07 PM
One thing to keep in mind is that folk are often quick to make sweeping generalisations about products (or manufacturers) after just one bad experience, especially when it comes to things that are unfamiliar to them or work differently than they expect. Computers being as complex and varied as they are, it's easy to dismiss a perfectly good product as useless if one doesn't understand how it works or how to operate it properly.

Chuck(G)
April 25th, 2009, 02:07 PM
I was given an 800 system at one time, but couldn't think of anything to do with it, so I gave it away. I liked the keyboard; OTOH the keyboard on the 400 was a joke.

While the ST was a good "bang for the buck" machine, I despised the cheap keyboard. The ST's also used a hard drive interface that was almost, but not quite SCSI, which limited your options.

No worse nor significantly better than its contemporaries. What system was your mom talking about?

tezza
April 25th, 2009, 03:11 PM
One thing to keep in mind is that folk are often quick to make sweeping generalisations about products (or manufacturers) after just one bad experience, especially when it comes to things that are unfamiliar to them or work differently than they expect. Computers being as complex and varied as they are, it's easy to dismiss a perfectly good product as useless if one doesn't understand how it works or how to operate it properly.

I agree.

Tez

Unknown_K
April 25th, 2009, 11:54 PM
I was given an 800 system at one time, but couldn't think of anything to do with it, so I gave it away. I liked the keyboard; OTOH the keyboard on the 400 was a joke.

While the ST was a good "bang for the buck" machine, I despised the cheap keyboard. The ST's also used a hard drive interface that was almost, but not quite SCSI, which limited your options.

No worse nor significantly better than its contemporaries. What system was your mom talking about?

I think they used that interface because the SCSI standard was not complete at the time of productions. Kind of sucks because if it was SCSI then adding a HD to an ST would be much cheaper then say an Amiga 500 (same vintage).

I have a 1040stf and would like to add a HD to it someday. There are adapters to turn that port to SCSI but they are rare and pricey, atari megafiles are an option (along with a 44mb syquest drive version) but those are hard to find and are showing their age anyway.

leehanken
April 26th, 2009, 01:02 PM
I had an Atari 800 XL with a cassette and I don't know if anyone had my experience but I would often get data corruption while loading a game. Sitting for ten minutes listening to beep beep beep I would be silently praying as the tape neared the end of the file and the program was almost loaded that it would get there without the fatal words...

BOOT ERROR

Seriously though, it worked most times, there were just one or two dodgy tapes that tended to go wrong.

Chuck(G)
April 26th, 2009, 03:33 PM
I have a 1040stf and would like to add a HD to it someday. There are adapters to turn that port to SCSI but they are rare and pricey, atari megafiles are an option (along with a 44mb syquest drive version) but those are hard to find and are showing their age anyway.

It isn't hard to roll your own adapter; mostly random logic. I did one for my ST piggybacking the converter onto an OMTI MFM-to-SCSI converter card. (it was much cheaper to use MFM drives than SCSI back then). It worked fine.

The toughest part was finding the oddball D-sub connector.

Nowadays, it'd probably be even easier than it was 20-some years ago.

patscc
April 26th, 2009, 07:51 PM
Aimee Wilbury said...(non-tech) teachers
I think that says it all. Who knows, maybe these non-techies couldn't find the on-off switch.
patscc

kroogur
June 5th, 2009, 05:34 AM
Not a dumb question at all.

I think the "problem" may be that when talking computers and Atari is mentioned most folks automatically equate Atari with video games and not computers.


With that said Atari computers are very capable,adaptable,and well built they offered a great array of software and hardware and are just as capable as any other home computer on the market during it's time.

The 800XL is probably one of the best computers I have ever owned.