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Things that make it go SCREEEEEEEEEE (and use up desk space)



If there was one thing that home computer manufacturers understood in the early part of the 1980s, it was that their machines - powerful as their respective computing capabilities may have been for the time - had some limitations right out of the box.  Typically, there was no external storage included; at best, you may get a machine bundled with a cassette drive as part of a promotion or sale.  Printers, then as now, were usually optional unless you were buying something along the lines of a Coleco Adam or certain Amstrad models.  Modems were expensive and somewhat exotic, and more or less a lower-priority consideration as a peripheral - until you got your first one.


This led to a wealth of aftermarket peripherals being introduced for every major platform.  Cassette drives, disk drives, printers, and modems were sold by nearly every first-party company as a complement to their computers.  Occasionally more niche items would be offered, such as touchpads, environmental sensors, plotters, and digitisers.  Third parties covered just about every base possible, with far too many categories of devices to list adequately, let alone comprehensively.


Getting older has two advantages: a) you're not dead yet, and b) technology will progress and improve during your lifetime.  Modern technology allows for the creation of devices such as the FujiNet, which roll several traditional Atari peripherals into one WiFi-enabled plug-and-play device.  It largely eliminates the need for original cassette drives, disk drives, hard disks, printers, serial interfaces, and more simply because it can emulate all of those devices in a way that the A8 recognises and can interface with as though they were physically-connected.  It's the one peripheral that every A8 owner should have.


However, if you're inclined to keep up with the necessary maintenance and troubleshooting, there are some good arguments in favour of having old peripherals laying around.  These can range from needing to read and/or recover old media to 'I just like them'.  Frankly, any argument for or against is just as valid as any other in my view; there is no interest on my behalf in trying to persuade or dissuade someone from owning and/or using them.  As much as I personally like to travel light by way of the FujiNet, the Atari desk in my office is covered in peripherals as well.  Some are there out of necessity, some out of specific reasoning, and some just because they were inexpensive on the day that I ran across them.


Thus, moving on to the list of what's currently plugged into the daily-driver 800XL and/or awaiting attention:


  • 850 Interface
    • Fully-working
  • 1010 Cassette Drive (Sanyo model)
    • Fully-working
  • 1020 Plotter
    • Status unknown
      • PSU possibly dead, need to test
      • Have brass replacement for plastic sprocket that always strips; awaiting installation
  • 1030 Modem
    • Fully-working
  • 1050 Disk Drives (2)
    • 1 working, 1 awaiting troubleshooting and repair
    • Both completely stock
  • 1064 Memory Module
    • Fully-working
  • FujiNet (2)
    • Fully-working
  • Controllers
    • Joysticks (a variety)
      • Fully-working
    • CX22 Trak-Ball (round buttons)
      • Fully-working
    • CX78 Joypads (2)
      • Fully-working
  • KoalaPad (touchpad)
    • Mostly-working
      • Has the usual bubbling on the touchpad surface, but not extensively
  • Light Pen (Atari CX75)
    • Fully-working
  • Numeric Keypad (Atari CX85)
    • Fully-working
  • 80-Column Interface (Atari XEP80)
    • Fully-working


Seeing it written out for the first time in this way, the rate of failed to functional devices is better than I'd expected.  That's actually rather encouraging, since it means that once I've got the machines themselves sorted out there'll be no shortage of other things to fiddle with, which means that the forecast for the Enjoyment Factor looks good ? 


In the next installment: what the hell does all of this actually do - or, more to the point, what does one do with it?


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