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"Oh, hey, I completely forgot that I own one of these!"



Perhaps at some point, I'll write something about my early involvement with Atari's computers and, later on, their consoles.  Really, though, that's not the main focus here: concentrating on the current menagerie and what's happening with it at the moment is.  Thus, diving in in reverse order, The Master Plan seems like an appropriate place to start.


There is no Master Plan.  At least, there isn't one in the sense that everything is roadmapped, itineraried, and checkpointed eight ways from Sunday, or even partway through this afternoon.  The general idea is to enjoy the machines for what they are, both in stock and modified form.  Stock machines remain exactly that - stock, and kept that way for reference.  Modified machines are the ones that get all the nifty modern upgrades, and generally serve as the daily drivers.  As things require attention or repair, they receive it.  Enjoyment is key.


Modern upgrades are tossed into two broad categories: internal and external.  In general, an internal upgrade is considered to be one that requires permanent (though possibly-reversible) alteration to the system in order to work; an external upgrade would be one that utilises factory-provided connection points (joystick ports, PBI, SIO, etc.) and can be installed and removed without the need for any modification at all to the system itself.  As examples, a UAV would be considered internal, but a FujiNet would be external.  Of course, this can all be somewhat fluid at times, but as a general rule of thumb these are the descriptors that will be used.


As an aside, none of the preceding prohibits the use of external upgrades with stock machines.  Plugging a FujiNet into a 600XL with a 1064 attached?  Perfectly fine.  SIDE3 in an 800 with 48K of RAM?  Go for it.  The point is to preserve as much of the stock experience as possible while acknowledging that we have improved upon how we can do certain things.  Back when these machines were still current and in common use, upgrading from a tape drive to a floppy drive was a natural progression, both in terms of storage capacity and data transfer speed.  Later upgrading that floppy drive with aftermarket ROMs that increased speed and / or storage capacities was a logical next step, as was eventually supplanting that floppy drive with a hard disk.  A FujiNet is just today's continuation of that upgrade path.  Ditto the SIDE3.


With the (I hesitate to call it) philosophy out of the way, this would be a good time to go over the systems.  For now, just the A8 stuff will be covered, though that is being left a loose enough description that the 5200 and 7800 are being lumped into that category as well.  The Jaguar, STs, dedicated consoles, etc. will be considered at some point, but there's only so much that can be focussed on at one time.

  • 600XL:
    • Stock machine acquired
      • Includes 1064
    • Modified machine: 64K upgrade, Rev. C BASIC
      • UAV and monitor port to be installed as next upgrade
  • 800XL:
    • Need to acquire stock machine
    • Modified machine: 256K upgrade, Rev. C BASIC (socketed), UAV
      • Daily driver
      • Likely finished for now unless a U1MB starts sounding tempting
  • 1200XL:
    • Need to acquire stock machine
    • Modified machine: UAV, +5V SIO mod
  • 5200:
    • Need to acquire stock machine
    • Modified machine: 2-port motherboard in 4-port shell
      • Still dead and haven't touched it since last November
      • UAV candidate if salvageable
  • 7800:
    • Stock machine acquired
      • Includes Concerto
    • Need to acquire candidate for UAV & Asteroids BIOS


Next time: fun with peripherals!


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