Jump to content
IGNORED

The Atari interview discussion thread


Savetz
 Share

Recommended Posts

17 hours ago, Mclaneinc said:

Methinks Jason has an overly active imagination :)

It's probably one of those... 

 

 

OMG, why on earth did I say THAT? moments and once it was in print, damage was done. 

 

Chris at least deserves credit for giving the more credible account and one which goes a long way towards putting things right. 

 

 

Rebellion have come a long, long way. 

 

Just wish they'd announce what they plan to do with the Bitmap Bros I. P's in the future. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Oh, they have them, interesting..

 

Hmm... More Chaos Engine, more Xenon, more Gods... Not sure any of those would really work, maybe a Chaos Engine..Dunno.

 

Reminds me of when Team 17 decided to put Project X on the PSX, the game on the Amiga was given much love but the PSX version just was meh, don't think it sold well, mind you, shooters can be a tough sell in certain places.

Edited by Mclaneinc
Link to comment
Share on other sites

35 minutes ago, Mclaneinc said:

 

Oh, they have them, interesting..

 

Hmm... More Chaos Engine, more Xenon, more Gods... Not sure any of those would really work, maybe a Chaos Engine..Dunno.

 

Reminds me of when Team 17 decided to put Project X on the PSX, the game on the Amiga was given much love but the PSX version just was meh, don't think it sold well, mind you, shooters can be a tough sell in certain places.

I could see Cadaver having the potential to work, someone did a remake  of Gods, not so long ago I hated the look of it. 

 

Magic Pockets was indeed tragic pockets. 

 

I found The Chaos Engine and Xenon II to be all style over substance. 

 

 

Ahh yes.. 

 

X2, a PlayStation exclusive after Acclaim dropped the Sega Saturn, way too difficult to be any fun ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

I've forgotten to list my last few interviews here. Catching up!

 

Tom Zimmerman, AMY chip

Tom Zimmerman worked at Atari from 1982-1984 where he was on the digital audio research team in Atari's Corporate Research Lab in Sunnyvale. There he worked on the AMY chip — a next-generation audio chip. Tom, one of four AMY team members, wrote the 8051 code to control the TTL prototype of the chip. The chip was never released.

 

AMY, which stands for Additive Musical sYnthesis, was originally intended to be part of the Rainbow chipset, which was the core of Atari's next generation of 16-bit microcomputers. Those computers were never finished. Then, the AMY chip was announced to be the centerpiece of the Atari 65XEM, an Atari 8-bit computer with advanced sound capabilities. A prototype of the 65XEM was shown at the 1985 Consumer Electronics Show, but ultimately it was another computer that didn't make it to market.

 

Also: in 1982 Tom filed a patent for a “Data Glove,” a glove with optical sensors to measure the bend of the wearer's fingers. He turned down a $10,000 offer from Atari to buy the rights to the Data Glove. The product would eventually end up at Nintendo, where it became the Nintendo Power Glove.

 

Audio: https://ataripodcast.libsyn.com/antic-interview-431-tom-zimmerman-amy-chip

Video: 

 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anthony Ramos: Parrot, Creepy Caverns

Anthony Dandrea is better known to Atari computer enthusiasts as Anthony Ramos.

 

Anthony programmed Creepy Caverns, a type-in BASIC game that was published in Antic magazine's August 1984 issue. Anthony also created the software for Parrot, a $40 4-bit sound sampler and playback package that was marketed by Alpha Systems.

 

In this interview, we discuss George Morrison of Alpha Systems, and Peter Langston of LucasArts, both of whom I have previously interviewed.

This interview took place on April 8, 2022.

 

Audio: https://ataripodcast.libsyn.com/antic-interview-432-anthony-ramos-parrot-creepy-caverns

Video: 

 

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Scott Savage: Lefty, the Checkers Playing Robot

"Lefty" was the name of the world's first checker-playing robot, which was located at the Omniplex science museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The robot arm would play games of checkers against museum visitors, picking up and moving pieces on a physical checkerboard. Lefty's game logic ran on an Atari 800 computer, which controlled the robot through the joystick port. Lefty was programmed by Scott Savage, the subject of today's interview.

Before the interview, Scott digitized his Atari cassette tape with the code for Lefty. The tape had some problems, but Atari community member "atarigrub" successfully recovered the data. Scott also provided scans of several newspaper and magazine articles about Lefty. Both the Lefty program and those articles are available at Internet Archive.

Also, be sure to watch the only known video of Lefty in action: Scott and Lefty appeared on the TV show "Dannysday" which aired on KOCO TV in spring 1984.

This interview took place on April 14, 2022.


Audio: https://ataripodcast.libsyn.com/antic-interview-433-scott-savage-lefty-the-checkers-playing-robot

Video: 

 

Edited by Savetz
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 4/30/2022 at 8:51 AM, Savetz said:

Scott Savage: Lefty, the Checkers Playing Robot

"Lefty" was the name of the world's first checker-playing robot, which was located at the Omniplex science museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The robot arm would play games of checkers against museum visitors, picking up and moving pieces on a physical checkerboard. Lefty's game logic ran on an Atari 800 computer, which controlled the robot through the joystick port. Lefty was programmed by Scott Savage, the subject of today's interview.

Before the interview, Scott digitized his Atari cassette tape with the code for Lefty. The tape had some problems, but Atari community member "atarigrub" successfully recovered the data. Scott also provided scans of several newspaper and magazine articles about Lefty. Both the Lefty program and those articles are available at Internet Archive.

 

@Savetz the lefty.atr disk image file that was uploaded to archive.org is not an Atari disk image;

$ wget https://archive.org/download/lefty-the-checker-playing-robot/lefty.atr
$ file lefty.atr
lefty.atr: MacOS Alias file

The BASIC listing file lefty.txt is the correct file, so if someone wants to see the BASIC source it before lefty.atr is re-uploaded (hopefully?) to archive.org, you can download the text file and move it into an Atari disk image using your favourite Atari disk image tool.  I did not check the cassette image file, so that might work as well.

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 minutes ago, spicyjack said:

 

@Savetz the lefty.atr disk image file that was uploaded to archive.org is not an Atari disk image;

 

Oops. Fixed, thanks for letting me know. Repaired at Archive.org, and here it is for good measure.

 

If someone wants to have fun turning the data statements back into assembly code, have at it. Scott doesn't have the source code anymore.

 

-K

 

lefty.atr

Link to comment
Share on other sites

20 minutes ago, Savetz said:

Oops. Fixed, thanks for letting me know. Repaired at Archive.org, and here it is for good measure.

Thanks for the fix ? and for doing all of these interviews!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 4/30/2022 at 8:51 AM, Savetz said:

Scott Savage: Lefty, the Checkers Playing Robot

I watched the interview video with Scott Savage; he didn't mention this in the interview, but apparently he was/is behind the SpeakJet and Soundgin phoneme speech synthesis/programmable sound generator (PSG) chips.  The SpeakJet is still being sold today by SparkFun and a few robotics shops online, and is what is being used by the AtariVox+ Speech Synthesizer to produce speech for the homebrew games that are programmed to use it.

 

These two chips are similar in programming and speech output to the General Instruments SP0256-AL2's chips that Radio Shack used to sell, but both of these chips have a PSG in addition to the phoneme speech synthesizer.

 

He has also announced on eBay that he is looking to produce a clone of the (in)famous Votrax SC-01 speech synthesis chip for sale that is pin-compatible with the original.

 

If you have thought about doing a speech synthesis project for your Atari and the SpeakJet or Soundgin chips sound interesting, Scott is also currently (May 2022) selling new old stock (NOS) SpeakJet and Soundgin chips on eBay, search for eBay user smsavage or for "SpeakJet" or "Soundgin".

 

You can find the datasheets for all of these chips online if you're curious.  If you buy one off of Scott on eBay, he can email you the datasheets directly if you give him your email address through eBay, as well as a color block diagram in the case of the Soundgin chip.

 

For you speech synthesis/PSG project hackers...

Spoiler

The SpeakJet requires serial data inputs from 2400 to 19200 baud and is NOT +5v TTL compatible, the Soundgin requires serial data at either 9600 or 2400 baud and is also NOT +5V TTL compatible.

 

The SpeakJet can be run in "stand alone" mode, where you can use to store sequences of phonemes in the chip that fire off when you trigger one of the dedicated output pins on the chip.

 

The Votrax SC-01 takes 6-bit parallel input with a strobe latch (max input voltage is +20v), and the GI SP0256-AL2 takes 8-bit parallel input with a strobe latch and will run on +5v no problem (max input voltage is +8v).

 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 5/3/2022 at 12:41 PM, spicyjack said:

I watched the interview video with Scott Savage; he didn't mention this in the interview, but apparently he was/is behind the SpeakJet and Soundgin phoneme speech synthesis/programmable sound generator (PSG) chips.  The SpeakJet is still being sold today by SparkFun and a few robotics shops online, and is what is being used by the AtariVox+ Speech Synthesizer to produce speech for the homebrew games that are programmed to use it.

 

These two chips are similar in programming and speech output to the General Instruments SP0256-AL2's chips that Radio Shack used to sell, but both of these chips have a PSG in addition to the phoneme speech synthesizer.

 

He has also announced on eBay that he is looking to produce a clone of the (in)famous Votrax SC-01 speech synthesis chip for sale that is pin-compatible with the original.

 

 

If he clones the SC-01 [and/or SC-02(?)], he'll have plenty of Apple II buyers looking to populate their Mockingboard clone boards, not to mention various arcade cab enthusiasts, plus any Atari 8-bit fans interested in re-creating the 1400XL/1450XLD. Maybe some C64 fans too although perhaps cloning Commodore's own speech synthesis chip - which sounds a lot like TI's wares since they used the same engineers - might be of more interest to them... Now by "clone", do you mean rolling out actual chips, using ARMs to emulate them, or go the FPGA route?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Lynxpro said:

 

If he clones the SC-01 [and/or SC-02(?)], he'll have plenty of Apple II buyers looking to populate their Mockingboard clone boards, not to mention various arcade cab enthusiasts, plus any Atari 8-bit fans interested in re-creating the 1400XL/1450XLD.

Someone has already done this using an ARM STM32F334;

 

http://www.virtualnextpoint.it/pinball/sc01.php

 

I've seen these on eBay for about 9 months now.  I can't speak for how well the work.

 

Quote

Now by "clone", do you mean rolling out actual chips, using ARMs to emulate them, or go the FPGA route?

The SpeakJet and Soundgin are built using PIC chips, so I would guess he would go the same route for the Votrax SC-01, assuming the pinouts of a PIC are friendly towards replacing the SC-01s.  I'm not sure you can get a PIC to do the work at the same voltages that the original SC-01 can handle without a voltage converter though... (see the "Reveal hidden contents" block above for more info)

 

Edited by spicyjack
Added chipset for SC-01 clone
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 5/3/2022 at 3:41 PM, spicyjack said:

... apparently he was/is behind the SpeakJet and Soundgin phoneme speech synthesis/programmable sound generator (PSG) chips....

  Reveal hidden contents

The SpeakJet requires serial data inputs from 2400 to 19200 baud and is NOT +5v TTL compatible, the Soundgin requires serial data at either 9600 or 2400 baud and is also NOT +5V TTL compatible.

 

The SpeakJet can be run in "stand alone" mode, where you can use to store sequences of phonemes in the chip that fire off when you trigger one of the dedicated output pins on the chip.

 

The Votrax SC-01 takes 6-bit parallel input with a strobe latch (max input voltage is +20v), and the GI SP0256-AL2 takes 8-bit parallel input with a strobe latch and will run on +5v no problem (max input voltage is +8v).

 

That is correct.  I am.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Michael Park: Swan and Fujiboink Demos, MIDI Maze
https://ataripodcast.libsyn.com/antic-interview-434-michael-park-swan-and-fujiboink-demos-midi-maze

 
Michael Park created two well-known demos that are familiar to many Atari enthusiasts: the Swan Demo and FujiBoink. In the Swan demo, a bird flies gracefully across the screen, in front of a spinning fuji logo. In FujiBoink, the Atari fuji spins and bounces over a red and white checkerboard, reminiscent of the Amiga Boing Ball demo.
 
Michael also helped create MIDI Maze, an early first-person shooter that used the Atari ST's MIDI ports to network up to 16 computers. He also worked on the 8-bit version of MIDI Maze, which was never officially released but became available nonetheless. Michael also created Shiny Bubbles, another demo for the Atari ST.
 
Michael was a friend of the owner of Xanth Computer Systems, an Atari dealer in Seattle, Washington. A 2013 article titled "Computer Dealer Demos: Selling Home Computers with Bouncing Balls and Animated Logos," published in the IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, stated:
 
"During the 1985 Winter CES, Atari presented the 130XE... This computer was promoted with a demo that included three animations—Atari Robot, Atari Swan, and Fuji Boink—made by a small software company named Xanth FX. The company’s representative claimed in ANALOG Computing magazine, 'We are a large ST retailer. Our F/X division churns out demos for the betterment of Atari.'  According to the testimonies of Atari users in Seattle, it was actually a 'small computer store in downtown Seattle' and a small software company that employed a few people, among them programmer and graphic designer Michael A. Park."
 
"Xanth Park" (a play on Xerox PARC) and the "F/X division" were deliberate tricks to make the little company and a one or two great coders, seem like a big company.
 
Michael told me that neither he nor "Xanth Park" created the walking robot demo, another popular demo of the era. "I think we did combine robot/spaceship with the bouncing ball so they'd play sequentially, at Atari's request," he told me. He extracted the rotating fuji code from the Robot demo for re-use in his Swan demo. 
 
After the interview, Michael sent an email: "Every now and then I hear from people who have enjoyed the Atari software that I was involved in way back when, and every time, I am reminded of the fun and excitement of those days. To those who have kept the Atari spirit alive all this time, I salute you!"
 
This interview took place on April 6, 2022.

 

If you prefer to watch on YouTube (audio interview only this time) it's here: 

 

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, Savetz said:

I was hoping he may have the source code, but when I saw he took the rotating Fuji from the Robot demo - bummer.  I played the crap out of those demos, lovingly downloaded from some local BBS at 300 baud.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for tracking Michael down @Savetz. It's odd how some people you interview can talk for hours about the stuff they did 40 years ago and others barely remember anything at all. I'm also surprised there's not been more comments in here about you finding and talking to him. These 8-Bit demos were, to my mind anyway, seminals elements of the era.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
On 5/14/2022 at 6:16 PM, Savetz said:

 

 

funny part in 5:55, he mentioned that his Atari boink is a fake and "amiga thing is really doing something". 

nowadays we know amiga boink is also a fake, just an animation

Edited by Cyprian
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 5/11/2022 at 1:18 PM, Stephen said:

Welcome!  Had great fun with the SpeakJet chip.


I am making a new YouTube tutorial for the Soundgin and discovered that there is a POOR selection of Votrax images out there.

So I made one.  I'm tossing into the Public domain.  Just uploaded it to Wikipedia, but I will attach it here too.  Feel free to use as needed.

 

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Votrax_SC-01.png
 

VTbig.png

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...