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daveculp
October 24th, 2013, 12:28 PM
I do not know much about old Atari 8 bit computers. My collections is primarily Commodores and Apples. I am thinking of getting an old Atari 8bit to play around with but I would like to know if the 800 and the 800XL are compatible?

cjherr
October 24th, 2013, 05:37 PM
Mostly. The 800XL has more memory, built in basic, and a few other differences. It can run pretty much everything that the 800 can, plus things it can't. Of course, there will be a few pieces either way that won't run on one or the other, but for the most part, yes, they're compatible.

carlsson
October 27th, 2013, 11:50 AM
As far as I know, the 800XL will run 90+% of older Atari 800 software, perhaps closer to 95%. For some programs, you will need to hold down the OPTION key to disable BASIC on power on. Supposedly there are a handful of programs that won't be compatible, but you'd have to seek those up to find which ones are not compatible. In the other direction, I'm not so sure but it'd be a matter of available RAM (48K vs 68K) and perhaps DOS version.

vwestlife
October 27th, 2013, 01:43 PM
If you're just a casual user mostly playing games, you won't notice any problems. It was really only the more advanced disk-based applications and utilities that had compatibility problems with the XL/XE computers.

On the other hand, some people say a lot of the newer games won't run on the 800 because it only has 48K RAM instead of 64K. I can't verify that because I don't have an 800, but I do know that most of the later game cartridges that were sold during the XE era (1985+) won't run on my 400 because it only has 16K RAM.

barythrin
October 28th, 2013, 11:31 AM
I think for general purpose you're probably fine with whichever you can find. I never knew until recently that the 800xl (more "common" model) has built-in basic which is probably nice to have. The other difference other than RAM is the 800 has 2 cartridge slots while the 800xl has 1. I'm not a savvy enough Atari user to know if there are many benefits to that or if there are cart based hardware upgrades like memory or accelerators like the c64 would use. I was happier with the 800 but that was more from a collecting perspective as it was the original but I was immediately met with a piece of hardware that I couldn't use when I turned it on until I found a basic cart lol.

amadama
October 28th, 2013, 02:00 PM
A fun and quick way to get into the 8 bit Atari computers is to get an 800xl, 130xe or XEGS with an SIO2PC adapter (and an SIO cable) and the APE software for your PC:
http://www.atarimax.com/sio2pc/documentation/index.html

The SIO2PC will interface the Atari with your PC and the PC will emulate a floppy drive, modem and printer services (I have actually written and printed letters from Atariwriter to my Brother inkjet printer using this setup)

Also, the Internet Archive has most of the Atari software you will ever want:

https://archive.org/details/Atari_8_bit_TOSEC_2012_04_23

(TOSECs for other platforms are available there)

vwestlife
October 28th, 2013, 06:14 PM
The 400 and 800 also have four joystick ports, while the later models only have two. However, there were not many four-player joystick games available. (Warlords is four-player, but only needs two joystick ports because it uses paddles, and each port connects to a pair of paddles.)

njroadfan
October 29th, 2013, 03:37 AM
Warlords is a good party game, ever after all these years. I've only played the 2600 version though.

barythrin
October 29th, 2013, 09:27 AM
I could be misremembering but I recall multiple games called "Warlords" that aren't similar. The Atari or Intellivision had one which I'm not sure what it is, then the early PC/8-bit computers had another that was a fun but difficult war game. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warlords_%28game_series%29)

vwestlife
October 29th, 2013, 11:29 AM
I could be misremembering but I recall multiple games called "Warlords" that aren't similar. The Atari or Intellivision had one which I'm not sure what it is, then the early PC/8-bit computers had another that was a fun but difficult war game. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warlords_%28game_series%29)

Atari's Warlords was basically a 4-player version of Breakout, with each player occupying (and defending) a quadrant of the screen. There is a clone of it for the Atari 8-bit computers called "Castle Crisis".

http://www.newbreedsoftware.com/bill/photos/vcf70/img_2888.jpg

Hatta
December 3rd, 2013, 05:56 PM
However, there were not many four-player joystick games available.

M.U.L.E. This is the reason I need an 800. Still one of the best 4 player games of all time.

fatwizard
December 5th, 2013, 03:32 PM
M.U.L.E. is a good reason to have an 800. I'm with Hatta on this. Just about the best four player game I ever played. I still have the original copy protected disk from EA.

One issue I believe that cropped up with the 800XL and other later Atari 8bit machines, is that some programs that were written for the 800 addressed hardware directly, not using the software vectors that Atari supplied. These programs won't function on later Atari 8bit machines.