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Comparison of Apple and Atari ST models for compulsion buy


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Okay, so. I am compelled to add to my collection. Or to at least consider the additions, considering I have enough to do as it is. As such, I ask my AA brethren who are in-the-know.

 

Apple: Should I get a //e or //c, and if the latter should I get a real Apple or a Laser 128?

 

Atari ST: Should I get a 1040STE or a MegaST? I was considering a Falcon 030 at some point, but realized those prices are rather excessive compared to the use I would most likely get from one.

 

My purposes are minimal. Probably just games for both, some productivity for curiosity sake (for instance, GEOS on the Apple.) I do have some old disks from my grandfather's Atari 520ST I would not mind resurrecting. I am curious about the ST's MIDI capabilities and to compare against what my Amigas and Commodores offer. Programming would be minimal -- I am better versed in 6502 than 68000, though I have enough C under my belt to possibly do something on the ST (and I very much enjoy GFA BASIC, if that is not too much blasphemy,) and right now my focus has been TMS-9900 for my 99/4A.

 

FWIW, I am not leaning toward Apple or Atari as I have previous experience with both, and as such a small personal collection of programs and projects for both. I am not inclined to get both, however. I am hoping to put my lust to bed after this escapade.

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I don't believe an Apple II is the right fit for you.

 

Honestly, I was thinking the same thing. I have a fairly good Apple emulator on the Amiga that has done a swell job of most things I have thrown at it. Pretty much why I was thinking about the Laser 128, as it would give me Apple compatibility without all the "fun" of the real thing, if that makes sense. Even so, I am interested in what people think about my predicament.

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Well, the Apple IIe would offer something quite different than what you already have.

 

With an Atari ST series of machine, you might be creating quite a bit of overlap. The Falcon and the Apple are very different experiences. Would you really make use of an Atari Falcon, or would that machine best be in the collection of a former Falcon user?

 

The other question is the kind of experience you want. If you go with the earlier Apples, then you're looking at more of a command-line universe. If you're cool with that, then maybe that's the way to go. But if you're big into graphics and really dig the idea of integrated MIDI, then perhaps the Atari (maybe an STe)? Then-again, it sounds like you already got MIDI running on the C64 and Amiga. So maybe that's not such a priority since you seem to have that covered.

 

Go watch Alien. If the idea of working on a computer with an interface like the one you see in that movie appeals to you, then an Apple II is likely the way to go.

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Also depends on the games you play, apple II's are not that great for the arcade experience (mind you its got amazing ports considering its got a beeper for a speaker and a shift register for a vdu) It does how ever have a good selection of western style RPG's and other more involved games

 

if you just want a box that plugs in and runs programs i would get a //c or laser (not that much of a difference really) and when your done its really easy to find a place to store them.

 

if you want a desktop with an external drive but room for expansions like CF cards and yadda yadda then get the //e

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Are you looking to get both? I would skip the Apple II and get an Atari 130XE and 1040STFM. Or STE (make sure it has an Rf modulator so you can use the composite). Much easier to transfer software on PC formatted 720k disks! and it's 16-bit which comparable graphics to the Amiga.

Edited by tjlazer
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I have experience with most of those machines (not the MegaST or Falcon). I agree with those who say they're very different beasts. That's really true of any of the early 8 bit vs. 16 bit machines.

 

Between the IIe and IIc, there's really no reason to get a IIc anymore. At the time the advantages were portability and overall cost. (The initial outlay wasn't that much different if I remember, but the IIc had all the add-on stuff that you really needed with the IIe built in.) Those advantages basically disappear when you're talking retro computing, though. Technically, I'm not aware of anything the IIc could do that the IIe couldn't, but there were various things the IIe could do with add-on cards that the IIc couldn't, because it didn't have any slots. I guess the IIc still takes up less space on a desk, especially if you use the matching monochrome monitor and stand.

 

As for the Laser 128, I'd probably consider these more for a real Apple collector/completist than someone who wants one and only Apple II. They are not 100% compatible, for one thing. At the time they were half the price of a IIc so they were a good deal even if they were only 80% or 90% compatible, but nowadays you may as well just spend an extra $20 and get an actual IIe. That would have been a no-brainer if it were possible in 1986. People bought these things basically because they were cheap.

Edited by spacecadet
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Before going with a IIe, spend some time with emulation. If you don't find something you must have then there's no point in buying one.
It's a good platform for unique RPGs, adventure games, and educational stuff.
I have a Laser 128 as well as most other Apples, and it's mostly compatible. I think ProDOS requires a patch because it looks for the Apple copyright.
I could be persuaded to part with the Laser 128 pretty cheap. It's missing a function key, but a regular Apple keyboard doesn't have any and it's in good shape otherwise.
The IIc is nicer for the size. If size isn't a concern, a IIe has a lot more options due to card slots. A CFFA card won't work in a IIc or Laser 128.
Personally, I prefer the IIgs but that's just me.

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Okay, so. I am compelled to add to my collection. Or to at least consider the additions, considering I have enough to do as it is. As such, I ask my AA brethren who are in-the-know.

 

Apple: Should I get a //e or //c, and if the latter should I get a real Apple or a Laser 128?

 

Atari ST: Should I get a 1040STE or a MegaST? I was considering a Falcon 030 at some point, but realized those prices are rather excessive compared to the use I would most likely get from one.

 

My purposes are minimal. Probably just games for both, some productivity for curiosity sake (for instance, GEOS on the Apple.) I do have some old disks from my grandfather's Atari 520ST I would not mind resurrecting. I am curious about the ST's MIDI capabilities and to compare against what my Amigas and Commodores offer. Programming would be minimal -- I am better versed in 6502 than 68000, though I have enough C under my belt to possibly do something on the ST (and I very much enjoy GFA BASIC, if that is not too much blasphemy,) and right now my focus has been TMS-9900 for my 99/4A.

 

FWIW, I am not leaning toward Apple or Atari as I have previous experience with both, and as such a small personal collection of programs and projects for both. I am not inclined to get both, however. I am hoping to put my lust to bed after this escapade.

 

You know I'm a Commodore guy and never owned an apple computer until my 2010 macbook pro, but I really like my Apple IIe, dual disk, green mono monitor set up. I picked up the set for $60. It proudly sits next to my c128. As someone else said, it really is a different direction than what we usually collect (more than the atari st I think).. and the infocoms on that monitor just feel so natural..

Edited by dudeslife
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With the amount of discussion going on, this is hardly a compulsion buy

 

Everyone knows I prefer Apple II above all else when it comes to classic computing. If you don't now you do. And while I have a nice stash of material I don't necessarily consider it a collection. More like an accumulation of stuff and the paraphernalia I had as a kid. I consider it a family member in a roundabout way I suppose.

 

If you have decided on the Apple II series.. then.. I'd go with an enhanced Apple //e (or platinum model), with extra 64K/80column card, 2 disk drives and controller, a Super Serial Card, and a monitor of your choice. This represents a common setup and will run a ton of software.

 

I suggest an Apple //e because I am biased toward the 2-series AND because a lot of people know a lot of tricks and hints to get it running and doing things. It's also more or less a standard. You're getting the original roms and it'll just be a less-troublesome experience all-around.

 

For people that are already familiar with the Apple II a Franklin-something or Laser128 would be interesting 2nd units to play around with.

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Perhaps I haven't dipped my toes deep enough into the Apple lake, but so far I don't consider the format that much different than anything else. I'm not saying it doesn't have merits, just that to me it isn't that out of this worldly as some others may put it forward as.

 

On the other hand, I owned a boxed Atari ST for six months or so. I can't even remember if it was a 520 or 1040, but it was a STM model without floppy drive which led me to borrow a drive from a friend just to test that it worked. While several of my friends have grown up on Atari 16-bits, they seem very distant to actually using them or even more showing off to someone like me, who has a genuine vintage computing interest, what an Atari ST can do that e.g. an Amiga can't. Thus to me it is mostly a parenthesis, something of a low end Macintosh (another format I can't bother about), but YMMV and I'd love to be proven wrong.

 

So yes, if the choice would be either an Apple 8-bit or an Atari 16-bit to add to your collection, I would also recommend the Apple. If you let your wallet speak, perhaps it says otherwise as I get a feeling that at least genuine Apple hardware is starting to reach questionably high prices.

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Perhaps I haven't dipped my toes deep enough into the Apple lake, but so far I don't consider the format that much different than anything else. I'm not saying it doesn't have merits, just that to me it isn't that out of this worldly as some others may put it forward as.

 

It's always hard to see the original appeal of things in hindsight. At the time, the II line was really a jack of all trades. It wasn't really the best at any one thing but it could do absolutely anything and at least do it well, which isn't something any other computer line could really claim. Other computers were either way more specialized to a particular task (like the IBM PC for business tasks or the C64 for home use and games) or they tried to be versatile but they just weren't very good at a lot of stuff (like the TRS-80). The II line was the only computer line that you could legitimately buy and then customize for basically any sort of use. Businesses, schools and homes all ran Apple II's in large numbers, and consequently it grew the largest software library and the largest number of hardware add-ons of any computer line.

 

It also was backward compatible, which some other manufacturers tried but not to the extent Apple did. As far as I know, there's not really much of anything you could run on an original ][ that you *couldn't* run on a IIGS. (I'm sure someone will post a few examples to prove me wrong, but all the early software I've tried on my IIGS has worked without any problem.) So that had the effect of increasing the size of its software library even more, simply because there ended up being 16 years worth of stuff there. It's similar to the PC in that way.

 

Lastly, while other manufacturers treated their computers like game consoles, keeping them on the market as-is for 5 or so years before replacing them with a new or upgraded model, the II line was just constantly iterative and expandable. The IIe lasted for 10 years, but it was not the same machine at the end as it was at the beginning. In between, you could easily upgrade an older IIe yourself (or in many cases even a ][+) to match whatever current IIe was on the market. You could even upgrade a IIe to a IIGS! That made them seem more future-proof than other computers.

 

Of course much of this loses meaning today, but I think the important thing is that all of these aspects combined to increase consumer appeal at the time, which means today you have a giant pile of software and hardware to play with if you go with an Apple II. I don't think anyone's going to argue that it has better graphics or sound than an Atari ST or even a C64 (well, except the IIGS). But there's just so much more *stuff* out there for the Apple II, and that's as true today as it would have been in 1987.

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Perhaps I haven't dipped my toes deep enough into the Apple lake, but so far I don't consider the format that much different than anything else. I'm not saying it doesn't have merits, just that to me it isn't that out of this worldly as some others may put it forward as.

 

You haven't. The Apple II has the least tedious and least cumbersome disk subsystem of all the 8-bit micros. It simply work as you'd expect. No funky abbreviated commands needed.

 

The Apple II doesn't have any special superhero powers other than its practicality and versatility.

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So yes, if the choice would be either an Apple 8-bit or an Atari 16-bit to add to your collection, I would also recommend the Apple. If you let your wallet speak, perhaps it says otherwise as I get a feeling that at least genuine Apple hardware is starting to reach questionably high prices.

 

In most cases yes. And a lot longer than just recently, more like the past 5 years.

 

Bucking the trend is the Apple Graphics Tablet, these trade at like 50 or 60 bucks. Maybe 100 for complete and nice ones. And yet are quite historical and interesting.

 

Page-78

http://mirrors.apple2.org.za/Apple%20II%20Documentation%20Project/Companies/Apple/Documentation/Apple%20In%20Depth%20-%201980.pdf

post-4806-0-70414400-1471037700_thumb.jpg

 

Another underpriced item is the Hayes MicroModem II. This was the start of telecommunications and one of the best 300 baud modems around. It also has an S100 bus version!

post-4806-0-83941000-1471038398_thumb.jpgpost-4806-0-47888000-1471038503_thumb.jpg

 

But as long as you don't get caught up in the serial number race and period-correct date code thing, you should be able to find the occasional bargain. Classic computing should be fun and rewarding, not stressful. And I can't imagine anything more stressful than looking at a rig and not being able to sleep at night. Tossing and turning in a fitful schism because a socketed chip was manufactured after your computer was officially assembled and shipped. 1st world problems!

Edited by Keatah
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