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Would you like to play a game?

In 1978 Atari was working on a new chip set for an all new high end video game system. Ray Kassar became the new CEO of Atari and decided that Atari should produce a line of computers to compete against Apple in the home computer field. It was decided that the new chip set was to be "frozen" and used only for the new computer systems. Atari's all new computer division was born.

Atari would introduce a new line of personal computers based around the MOS 6502 8-bit Processor. Using the new graphics/audio chip set the computer would come packaged with graphics and sound never before seen in a personal computer system. Capable of producing up to 128 colors using the CTIA chip (Colleen Television Interface Adapter) and later updated to 256 colors using a GTIA chip (General Television Interface Adapter) and with a maximum resolution of 320 X 192 the new line of Atari computer systems would have spectacular graphics for a system released in 1979.

The Atari 800 case was designed by Kevin McKinsey of Atari's industrial design group, he wanted to give the Atari computers a warm familiar and friendly look. The new Atari 400 and 800 computers would look very similar to a standard home typewriter. The Atari 400 and 800 got their number designations from their original memory configurations which were 4K for the 400 and 8K for the 800. Also the Atari 400 and 800 were nicknamed after some very well endowed secretaries named Candy and Colleen.

The Atari 800 was designed to be an expandable system with its easily removable top case cover. The original run of Atari 800's had two little plastic latches that you could turn to unlock the top case then you simply lifted it off to reveal the internal system bus slots, a total of 4 slots were available from 0 through 3. Slot 0 was reserve for the OS card, slots 1 through 3 were used for RAM card originally, but many inventive 3rd party companies produced not just RAM cards, but RAM Disc cards, 80 column video cards and even a modem interface card. Later models had the cover closed with 2 screws with washers.

The original Atari OS personality card and Atari 8K and 16K memory cards were packaged into nice plastic/metal cases, this caused an overheat problem in the 800's, service centers received bulletins to remove the boards from their cases and discard the cases when systems came in with overheating problems, later Atari 800's were released from the factory with their OS and RAM cards not packaged into these little cases.

The front of the Atari 800 was equipped with 4 controller jacks which were compatible with all of the Atari 2600 joysticks, paddles, and keypads. These jacks were analog and digital input and output ports and were used for many functions. One company called Corvus designed a hard drive interface which used ports 3 & 4, another company made a modem which plugged into ports 1 & 2, other company's made Real Time clock cards and other companies made robot arms, and Atari itself later had a science lab kit called Atari Lab which could measure temperature, light and sound. Analog magazine, an old Atari 8-bit computer magazine even had a home-brew project to build a voice synthesizer for joystick ports 1 & 2. The Atari 800 was a very versatile and usable computer system.

The Atari 800 computer was sold from 1979 through 1982 and was then replaced by the Atari 1200XL home computer. Boosting 64K it was to be the all new future of Atari computers. Unfortunately it had no expansion slots, no external bus connector and lost 2 of its 4 controller ports.... It was a bomb, Atari 800 sales actually increased because people ran out to buy an Atari 800 before they were all gone.

During the development of a new lower cost Atari computer system to replace the Atari 800, a new motherboard was designed, this new all in one motherboard replaced the seven (7) boards that made up an Atari 800 computer. This new motherboard was nicknamed Collette and was a one piece 64K version of the Atari 800, it was never sold.

Atari also developed a 64K RAM card for the Atari 800 to replace all 3 16K RAM cards, this card too was never sold.

Although the system is now almost 20 years old, the Atari 800 is still one of the most powerful, useful and versatile 8-bit home computers ever produced. Even though it has limited memory capacity and a slow 1.79MHZ 8-bit processor, many tried and true Atari users still fire up and use their Atari 800's to this day.

Now you can enjoy the complete Atari experience! From games to programming languages without having to go out and drop a few hundred on one of the original antiques! I've always hosted a number of Atari-800 emulators, ROMs and software packages -- but today, I re-focused my efforts my incorporating two huge Atari-800 mirror sites (which are rapidly vanishing)!

Check out http://atari.chazhome.com/ today and download the Atari Emulator for Windows (all 656K) and install it. To get you started, may I suggest that you download the following files:

The Windows Atari Emulator

The Atari-800 O/S Rev. B ROM

The Atari-800XL O/S ROM

Disc #1 - Game Loader D.O.S.

Disc #2 - A sampling of games!

Note: Some games require Atari-800 emulation, others require Atari-800XL with Basic turned OFF or ON.

After you install the emulator and assign the ROM imges (a one-time thing), just assign the "GAME LOADER MENU.ATR" as DISC 1, and "GAMES001.ATR" as DISC 2, then hold down "shift" and press "F5" to perform a cold boot on the emulated Atari.

You will now see a menu of games from the first games disc.

I'm sure after you get this running, you'll be back for more!

Use your numkeypad for joystick functions (if you don't have a joystick), or depress F12 to activate/deactivate mouse control (it's not as easy to work as a standard 8 position Atari joystick, but, hey -- you're playing M.U.L.E. again!) Drop me an e-mail or telephone me if you get stuck... Enjoy!

Bonus! Guess which Atari 8-bit game featured this song!



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 11th, 2008 12:11 am (UTC)
OK, what other systems did you get into?

I actually liked the Atari machines but had gone with a Commodore 64 when my Dad got us one. Also the schools I went to were all Commodore shops save for the IBM PCjrs my middle school used.
Jul. 11th, 2008 01:06 am (UTC)
For home use, I was Atari all the way.

I dabbled (as needed) with Beehive Topper II CP/M systems, Cromemcos (running Cromix Unix), Prime Mini-Computers (running PR1MOS), Eagle-PC and Eagle //e, IBM System/370 (VM/370, JES2/JES3, CMS Power) and many, many others -- the Nixdorf Computer was a strange mini.

Now remember, I was one of the first hacker/phreakers online (before there were laws against it) with a 9v powered acoustic modem my Atari-800 and 850 RS232 Interface using X.25 cloud services such as Tymnet, Sprintnet and Telenet to hack into all sorts of corporate systems. Heck, in 1979, many didn't even have passwords!! A lot of their security was based on the fact that not many people had modems, even fewer knew about the X.25 clouds and how to use them, and just a tiny handful were creative enough to write scripts to check and log ports for connections... ;-)

C 416 21B
C 416 21C
C 416 21D
C 416 21E
C 416 21F
C 416 220

Obviously, I upgraded to a "Hayes Smartmodem" (for a meare $259.00 in 1982) quite rapidly, I was spending a fortune on 9v batteries! If you don't recall, $259 was a LOT of money back then. Gasoline cost (on average) $1.362270833
/gallon (and we thought that was expensive!!) The Hayes Smartmodem 1200 (a 1200 baud, external RS-232 modem) cost $699.00 when it came out in 1983.

How did you take a photo of that really cool 8-colour graphic you spent hours "drawing"? We only had dox-matrix printers... Well, we had the "SCREENSHOOTER" -- The Screenshooter was a cone that came with a Polaroid One-Step camera and a special mounting bracket (which will also accommodate most 35mm cameras [digital cameras didn't exist]). Simply press the cone against the monitor screen, snap the shutter and within seconds you have a Polaroid print of your favorite Micro Illustrator picture or anything else you choose.

The cost for this? Cheap at $169.00


Do you really miss the 80s?

Jul. 11th, 2008 01:16 am (UTC)
I do miss the 80s but do agree. My Commodore 64 cost $1000 with a 1541 disk drive and a 1701 monitor. :D My Timex Sinclair 1000 was $69, black and white with 2k. 10 minutes to load Frogger with the 16k ram pack that if it moved, it reset our computer :D

I got caught in the 90s for phreaking with my 64.

Ah those were the days. Things seemed to be so exciting since technology was really exciting. These days, unless someone hypes something, it seems so bland.

I remember my 2400bps modem costing $149 and then upgrading to 14.4k for $100. :)


Jul. 11th, 2008 03:17 am (UTC)

Who caught you?

Phreaking or HACKING with your C64?

What were you doing? MCI codes?

I can tell you some interesting stories from my past... There is a seven year statute of limitations, right? ;-)

Jul. 11th, 2008 03:28 am (UTC)
Phreaking - 2600hz tone with a 2100hz mask. Bell Canada.

And to think that I worked for Nortel Networks years later. :D

Jul. 11th, 2008 03:43 am (UTC)
Ahhhh.... the good ole' 2600 -- sweet.

Did Bell Canada catch you, or was it just your parents?

When I phreaked, I used 'vacant' (read: neighbouring trunk lines) phone lines late night, and swapped pairs often.

I would nest my activities within several shells to prevent detection -- which was easy to do in the old analogue days.

Look where I'm working now, and what I do.

Want great home security? Hire a cat burglar to install your home security system!
Jul. 11th, 2008 04:10 am (UTC)
Actually my mother and some of my family members knew as I talked about it, but Bell actually showed up at the door and wanted $253. That was my birthday present that year.

And I was shitting bricks. :)
Jul. 11th, 2008 02:30 am (UTC)
Playing M.U.L.E. again? i was doing that back in February.... and didn't need an emulator! :P (OK, there's a built in one).

While you and Dan were fiddling with your Ataris, I had to make due with my VIC-20. Hey, Omega Race was kinda cool, at the time.

Jul. 11th, 2008 03:12 am (UTC)
I do dearly miss the days when You, Fencur, Chris C. and Dan would swing by "It's A MicroWorld" and pick me up to go 1) bowling, then pick up 2) pizza, to 3) play M.U.L.E. on all four joysticks, and then 4) watch Dr. Who (they were new shows back then) on a Saturday night...

Then my overnights at WEZO/WNYR started and ruined that...

The VIC-20 was a great computer for what people paid for it. I remember huge battles over "who's computer was better", typicially the C64ers, Atati folks and Apple //e freaks would battle it out -- while folks like me would simply use any computer to 'explore' the online world (pre-internet!)

Did you figure out which game where the soundbit is from? I'll give you a hint, here's the playfield:

Jul. 11th, 2008 04:50 am (UTC)
You can't talk about the Atari 400/800 without mentioning Star Raiders...
Jul. 11th, 2008 12:38 pm (UTC)
Star Raiders
I had the Star Raiders cartridge, but honestly, I preferred more logical yet graphical games than first person shooters.

Obviously, M.U.L.E. was one of my favourites -- it involved Monopoly tactics, with live action -- and imagine the ruckus when a mate playing was out of food, starving, and you collude with someone else to sell your surplus -- RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM. What a heartless game! ;-)

Ball Blaster was wicked! It was the first Atari game I know of to have two separate 3D screens (one from each player's prospective) with awesome music, sounds and graphics. (I don't know it it was every officially released.

Did you know in 1979 I was the AUTHOR of Atari's "CACTUS-800" BBS software? The "CA" were my initials, and the rest stood for: "ConpuTer Users System on an atari-800". It was the first BBS software to have multiple message boards (SIGs) (it was based upon an idea I stole and improved upon from CompuServe). We also were the first BBS to feature ACL protection and the ability to post a message either: with your real name, alias (only one allowed), or anonymously (only the SigOp or Sysop would know who posted it!)

CACTUS-800 used FOUR Trak ATD4 double sided-double density disc drives. Each side of each disc drive was a drive letter (D1: thru D8:), quite non-standard -- which required a change in disc operating systems from Atari-DOS to MyDOS 4.5 (available on http://atari.chazhome.com for those interested!)

CACTUS-800 was the precursor to Multicom (Atari-800), then Multicom II (an Atari-800, and we 'came out of the closet' as the first GAY BBS in the area!), then Multicom III (an Atari-800XL with an external Quantum 20MB HARD DRIVE!!), and finally Multicom-4 (2400BPS, multi-line, hosted on ever upgrading IBM clones, starting with a 80286 in 1993/94 with re-written Galacticomm MajorBBS software).

Multicom-4 eventually had an OC-3 in our office with multiple channelized T1s for incoming V.90/K56flex data calls, a 24 hour automated voice verification and helpdesk system, a dedicated development system (mirror) to test new releases of the system before deployment, a 24 hour system that dialled up and verified that the system was up and running (and if not, would page me), a battery backup system to keep us online all the time, a huge Novell fileserver for our massive databases that made the BBS do it's thing, and a Linux system for use my our members as a command shell and/or web page repository. ...and yes, this was a hobby, which was eventually incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable corporation and recognised by New York State as a 509(a) educational foundation.

I repeat: This was only a hobby!!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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