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What caused you to change (Atari/non-Atari) platforms?


Xebec

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Uniterm also helped get me to finish my degree and kept my ST useful far longer than it might have. Nice seeing I wasn't the only one it helped. :)

 

On topic: My time as a dedicated Atari user came to an end the moment I saw PCs with VGA adapters and sound cards... If you wanted to play the latest computer games at their best the PC was the place to be. TTs and Falcons barely made an appearance here in Australia from what I could remember so there was little incentive to upgrade which was sad.

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On topic: My time as a dedicated Atari user came to an end the moment I saw PCs with VGA adapters and sound cards... If you wanted to play the latest computer games at their best the PC was the place to be. TTs and Falcons barely made an appearance here in Australia from what I could remember so there was little incentive to upgrade which was sad.

 

While I was there to see the very first VGA adapters and sound cards, it still took a little convincing that this would be the way to go for gaming. Not that I was aware of the need for a "new way" of gaming. I was still holding out hope that Amiga or Atari were working on something secret and would experience a new resurgence in the marketplace.

 

Things didn't change till there was real software that was making real usage of those boards. But it didn't take exotic hardware to do it. Just a 1MB VGA adapter and a SoundBlaster 16. And a couple of decent games. I was burned by the promises surrounding the Amiga, so I had to watch and wait to be absolutely sure, but it didn't take long.

 

The 1MB VGA board was nice because it had all sorts of modes for serious text processing, and yet it seemed to have unlimited sprites and unlimited colors compared to the cartridge-based consoles of just 10 years ago. Other evolutionary advancements in the PC field that justified moving away from Commodore/Atari (or anything 8/16 bit) were:

 

1- Industry standard file formats

2- Industry standard hardware plugin cards

3- High quality keyboards

4- Variety of sound generation methods

5- High-resolution graphics

6- Standardized hard disks, both old-school MFM/RLL ST-506, and the new IDE.

7- Hundreds of manufacturers and clone makers, and DIY, made one feel secure about the platform.

8- No custom chips to lock one into a certain manufacturer/platform.

 

And more. Much much more.

Edited by Keatah
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PC was, and is, collection of second-hand, second-rated technology.

 

Amiga had Zorro slots - PC ISA

Apple use OpenFirmware - PC use BIOS until recent

Apple use SCSI - PC have IDE with DMA 10 years later

Apple make FireWire - PC wont accept even USB

Apple support dual monitors with Radius card - PC do not have GUI

 

or if you look at IBM Power CPU, they invent new stuff, and Intel after x years bring them to masses :D

 

PC was, and is, collection of second-hand, second-rated technology.

PC is like Communism - they bring everything same to everybody. Problem is that they bring crap.

 

Douglas Adams put it nicely: "The idea that Bill Gates has appeared like a knight in shining armour to lead all his customers out of a mire of technological chaos neatly ignores the fact that it was he who by peddling second-hand, second-rate technology, led them all into it in the first place."

 

Ofcourse, Atari or Commodore was not answer, but at least they, with Mac, bring some of best software that we use today on PC (when they were ported to Windows after collapse of original platforms): Logic, CuBase, Photoshop, Illustrator, Excel (crap, try Quantrix instead), 3D Max, Cinema 4D...

Edited by calimero
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But the PC put them all together in one standardized package which was usable.

 

And while other platforms from the likes of Commodore and Atari may have developed interesting and nice technology, those technologies were limited by the shortsightedness of the rest of their host platform.

 

Does me no good to have a SCSI interface I can't afford. It may have been included in systems for little extra cost, but all the drives were ungodly expensive compared to the IDE drive. The IDE standard allowed me to afford myself a 200MB disk back in the day. SCSI could never do that.

 

Does me no good to have Zorro slots when the peripherals and expansions plugged into them were niche, hard to find, and expensive and supported by one or two pieces of software. ISA was everywhere. And while both slot standards had several years of being on the market simultaneously, there were thousands of ISA boards available. Next to nothing for the Zorro.

 

Today, you can build gaming rigs with 6 monitors. So dual monitors might have been an interesting plaything even when new. And I've declared Firewire to be a dead technology since just before 2010. Nothing uses it.

 

Having the best technology or being first to market doesn't guarantee success.

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Atari ST was far more usable then PC in 80s.

 

If PC accept SCSI as standard, then price for SCSI would go down. But PC opted for cheapest solution (so we had to wait 10 years for DMA to replace PIO). or 10 years to PC copy Atari SL804 concept.

 

Same goes for ISA. (Eventually PC slots (PCI) catch up with NuBus and Zorro but years latter...)

 

PC was (is?) like trashcan - all cheapest and crapiest technology but for PREMIUM price.

 

---

 

Today you even do not know how bad PC is because you do not have anything else to compare it! (only Apple left :/ )

You can see how e.g. crap Intel CPU are if you take a look at IBM Power CPU - what IBM Power have today, Intel will have it in 3-5 years.

 

PC destroy versatility and possibility for something different and better. I guess this is the price for "standardization".

PC also slowdown advancement by choosing cheapest crap. I really can not understand how people call this a "good thing" and "progress"...

Just look how long it took for PC to migrate to USB from PS/2, RS232(422) and Parallel ports!

 

---

 

I need to wrote this since many users praise PC for "lead all his customers out of a mire of technological chaos" but "neatly ignores the fact that it was he who by peddling second-hand, second-rate technology, led them all into it in the first place." ;)

Edited by calimero
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Folks, you should not create new type of flame war here - PCpro vs PCcon . But it is here, and as usual arguments are very shallow and inaccurate often.

For instance, in years around 1990 SCSI and IDE drive prices were not much different. SCSI was just little more expensive, some 10-20% , And that was normal, since SCSI protocol is more complex. Manufacturers offered same models with IDE and SCSI connection. It was simply so, because IDE ports were not much spread.

What caused later segmentation - IDE for masses, SCSI for professionals is simple reason: IDE adapters in computers are much cheaper. Falcon is good example of computer in that transition period: there are both types of interfaces in it. But SCSI is there mostly because some tradition, compatibility. SCSI adapter in Falcon is simplified, slow. By time, advantages of SCSI disappeared - DMA mode was used by IDE - now called rather ATA, and so on. Today new SCSI is really rare bird, and really no reason for ...

IBM Power PC ? Isn't that CPU what Apple replaced with so poor Intel one, some years ago ? I should stop here, but I will give some more arguments. Some people, who consider self as computer experts still talk how Apple CPUs can same as Intel ones, by much lower CPU clock. Now, that's just obsolete. Yes, RISC architecture was pretty more efficient some 10 years ago. But things changed, and new CPUs have same efficiency without bring RISC - so basically can execute instructions in less cycles.

I made some speed comparisons between new 4x4 GHz AMD CPU and older P4 at 2.66 GHz and AMD Sempron at 1.8 GHz. With SW using only 1 core. With 4GHz execution time was 7 seconds in average, with Sempron 57 and with P4 59 secs. That is huge difference, since clock rates are much smaller. So, no, Apple is not dumb. They just choose better technology. Competition is good thing. Without it, we would be not at this level.

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IBM Power PC ? Isn't that CPU what Apple replaced with so poor Intel one, some years ago ? I should stop here, but I will give some more arguments. Some people, who consider self as computer experts still talk how Apple CPUs can same as Intel ones, by much lower CPU clock. Now, that's just obsolete. Yes, RISC architecture was pretty more efficient some 10 years ago. But things changed, and new CPUs have same efficiency without bring RISC - so basically can execute instructions in less cycles.

I made some speed comparisons between new 4x4 GHz AMD CPU and older P4 at 2.66 GHz and AMD Sempron at 1.8 GHz. With SW using only 1 core. With 4GHz execution time was 7 seconds in average, with Sempron 57 and with P4 59 secs. That is huge difference, since clock rates are much smaller. So, no, Apple is not dumb. They just choose better technology. Competition is good thing. Without it, we would be not at this level.

 

 

IBM Power is not PowerPC.

 

Apple switch to Intel in 2005. because it was cheaper to use x86, not better.

Massive use of x86 bring the price down.

 

Apple need to wait for Intel CPU to improve SIMD SSE instructions and executions be on pair (equal) with PowerPC SIMD AltiVec (introduced in 1998.)

This was very important for Apple because Mac OS X use AltiVec for OS GUI acceleration (AltiVec SIMD was designed in cooperation with Apple software OS group) so Apple could not port Mac to x86 until SIMD on x86 become good enough (e.g. on pair with SSE) otherwise.

So we see that x86 was few years late in implementing proper SIMD.

- side note regarding "x86 is better" notion: another, much bigger problem, is software-wise: Apple had composite desktop, Quartz accelerated by SIMD in early 2000. (soon after Quartz Extreme accelerated by GPU) while Microsoft did not bring composite desktop to PC until Vista ... 2007.?

 

I am not "computer expert" but I do follow closely evolution of PC and computers. And PC is exactly what Douglas Adams describe in one sentence.

 

btw

IBM Power CPU was first to bring many things that are common today like two cores on single die, integrated memory controller, decimal floating-point (not yet in x86 hardware), transactional memory (which appear defective in Intel SkyLake CPU so it is disabled)... basically look at IBM Power today and you see what Intel will bring in x86 tomorrow :)

Edited by calimero
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I just say that PC is not best for world and consumers.

 

PC is lowest common denominator = good enough to be usable.

 

In the process, Wintel kill all competition.

Fortunate we still have ARM, Apple, IBM... so we can compare PC to something else. IBM still make new hardware but it is not for mass market.

 

What we lack today is:

in 1985. you could buy better computer for half of competitors price - it was ST. ST was more usable then PC or Mac for fraction of price.

Today we do not see this tremendous jumps in technology, we see 50% faster PC every year with same old Office.

 

 

Keatah nicely put it in words: "Early non-PC computers threw shit at the wall to see what would stick." but it was good time.

Edited by calimero
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Today you even do not know how bad PC is because you do not have anything else to compare it! (only Apple left :/ )

You can see how e.g. crap Intel CPU are if you take a look at IBM Power CPU - what IBM Power have today, Intel will have it in 3-5 years.

 

I don't think I'll ever be able to buy an IBM Power system at retail and have it work with all my software and file formats. And certainly not in a way that is compatible with how I work.

 

 

PC destroy versatility and possibility for something different and better. I guess this is the price for "standardization".

PC also slowdown advancement by choosing cheapest crap. I really can not understand how people call this a "good thing" and "progress"...

Just look how long it took for PC to migrate to USB from PS/2, RS232(422) and Parallel ports!

 

That's ok. Because different and better in the tech world is not always adopted by the masses. Different and better can have a very short shelf-life. That's something I'm not interested in.

 

 

 

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I don't think I'll ever be able to buy an IBM Power system at retail and have it work with all my software and file formats. And certainly not in a way that is compatible with how I work.

 

 

 

That's ok. Because different and better in the tech world is not always adopted by the masses. Different and better can have a very short shelf-life. That's something I'm not interested in.

 

 

 

 

I think I see your philosophy here: if you keep your expectations low, you are rarely disappointed.

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While I was there to see the very first VGA adapters and sound cards, it still took a little convincing that this would be the way to go for gaming. Not that I was aware of the need for a "new way" of gaming. I was still holding out hope that Amiga or Atari were working on something secret and would experience a new resurgence in the marketplace.

The first VGA were ISA and rather slow. Sure they could draw prettier graphics, but the refresh was usually pretty bad for gaming.

 

It wasn't until VLB and PCI that they had cards with decent performance that really outperformed Amiga and ST by a wide margin.

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The first VGA were ISA and rather slow. Sure they could draw prettier graphics, but the refresh was usually pretty bad for gaming.

 

It wasn't until VLB and PCI that they had cards with decent performance that really outperformed Amiga and ST by a wide margin.

True. I had true color (24 millions) Trident VGA card with slow RAM, ISA . It was very slow in true color mode.

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It wasn’t an app/game, but a decision my parents made. I was fully on board the Atari train, having received a 2600 for Christmas a few years prior. For Christmas 1983, I asked for an 800XL, but my dad said they were planning on getting me a Commodore 64 instead. I remember writing an impassioned letter, asking him to change his mind.

 

I don’t remember what his response was, but sure enough, Christmas morning there was a C64 under the tree. I don’t think I was upset about it.

 

Now, *why* my dad insisted on the c64 rather than the Atari is a mystery. He wasn’t terribly tech savvy. He died many years ago, and my mom has no recollection.

 

My guess is he ran the idea by one of his friends that was in the know; by late 83 it would’ve been obvious to someone who followed the industry that Atari was having difficulties, while Commodore’s star was rising. But who knows for sure...

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The first VGA were ISA and rather slow. Sure they could draw prettier graphics, but the refresh was usually pretty bad for gaming.

 

It wasn't until VLB and PCI that they had cards with decent performance that really outperformed Amiga and ST by a wide margin.

 

My early 1992 ISA graphics card could play Duke3D at 320x240 at 30 FPS or thereabouts. It was a budget card at about $150. If I played it at 640x480 it dropped to 15-20 FPS. It is a Cirrus Logic CL-5422 with 1MB RAM.

 

in 1997 I got a Riva-128 based board, it was PCI. Duke3D became playable at (I think) 800x600 or 1024x768 at 60+ FPS. I found it was processor bound and when I tried it with something faster, it again increased to nearly 100 FPS. As a bonus it generated 3D graphics in a window, or multiple windows. This card cost me either $199 or $299, don't recall. Eventually I would run some emulators on this card. For sure it handled the Atari 400/800. And I think I did ST & Amiga, too.

 

This is the kind of ramp-up in performance I and the consuming public wanted. Despite the Amiga's expansion capability we simply weren't seeing progress like we did on PC. I watched and followed the Amiga's journey through broadcast video and it was pretty cool. I was still pretty green with "bigger" computers and the industry then, but my still-infantile mind asked, "If the the Amiga could push graphics around, wouldn't text be even easier?" It was a question I couldn't find an answer to. The only answer was "industry politics" and I didn't understand all that. I wasn't interested in that.

 

I, too, at one time wanted the Amiga or some of the other classic rigs to come out ahead, but it never happened.

 

I really hate to fall back and blame it on custom chips. It's getting to be and old & dry rhetoric, even for me, but I still believe the propriety architecture of most early classic computers seriously hindered their ability to grow their performance envelope. They may have started the race ahead, but they never could shift to the higher gears. New custom chips always meant new motherboards, and this (in thinking about classic computers) meant a whole new computer.

 

See, when I upgraded from the 486 DX2/50 to a Pentium II 266 I was able to bring my sound card, modem, ISA graphics card, and a few other bits and pieces to the party. Especially software! A lot transfered over. I eventually put in "proper" Pentium II era parts. The temporary savings of hundreds of $$$ was enough to help a struggling college kid make a big upgrade.

 

I have long since put those parts back into the 486 in their entirety and it sits in the closet at the moment. I still have the Pentium II parts. And many live on in my classic Pentium III legacy rig. Think HDD, SoundBlaster AWE 64 Gold, 56.6K Supra Modem, InWin case, Antec power supply, floppy, a Plextor CD-R/W, 3Com 10/100 network card, FireWire card, and various fittings and screws and other assorted sundries.

 

Back then hardware was somewhat longer lived and continuous and some of it could ride the river of piecemeal upgrades. Today when it comes to the system proper, it is less so. Too many things are becoming integrated and on-chip - back to the custom chip syndrome I mentioned earlier. Hopefully software will remain the last bastion of expansion continuity without calling in the big guns of emulation and virtual machines.

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I think I see your philosophy here: if you keep your expectations low, you are rarely disappointed.

 

If it means anything I always like to stay a little bit behind the cutting edge of whatever the industry is doing. I like simple quiet compatibility. If all of a sudden Power was to explode onto the consumer market I would still have to wait till all my existing software was ported over. Then I would preach its virtues.

 

It's like with the Amiga. I loved PhotonPaint and learned a lot about graphics and paint programs. My Apple II tried, but simply didn't have the hardware to handle many colors at higher resolutions, nowhere near the Amiga. I also looked into Mac and MacPaint or whatever were the popular paint programs for it, but it still lacked color and resolution. In fact it was all monochrome. Most of my art consisted of blended shades and such, the Mac would simply not do. I would've stuck with DHGR on the Apple II if I didn't have a choice.

 

So Amiga it was for several years. Whatever got the job done. And the job then was drawing sci-fi and porn and learning how to use a digitizer.

 

Eventually I got into PaintShop Pro and PhotoShop. I still continue to use my early version of PSP from the 486 days! From the days of sending a check in the mail and waiting for a disk to arrive back.

Edited by Keatah
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Nothing > 800XL: first computer of my own. Dad got it to keep me off his Northstar

800XL > Amiga 500: Deluxe Paint and designer loyalty.

Amiga 500 > Amiga 3000UX and Toshiba T3200SX: College bound for a computer engineering major.

Amiga 3000UX > 486DX4-120 PC: Lightning strikes suck

486DX4-120 > Compaq Pentium 120 laptop: Linux Laptop!

Compaq P120 Laptop > P3 600 PC > P4 3.06 > PentD 3ghz > Core i7 3ghz > Core i7 Extreme Edition 4ghz

Edited by ZeroPage
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The Atari 8-bit had been the platform on which I cut my teeth (there were a couple of others before that, but nothing as significant), so moving up to the ST was a fairly natural progression. That happened around 1987, if I recall correctly.

 

The ST served me well through about 1994 or 1995, but it was becoming increasingly inconvenient while at University to not have a PC. The ultimate killer was the lack of OS alternatives for the ST, and I really wanted to get into Linux having played with it a bit on a couple of the University's machines. That led to buying a P90, which was pretty much immediately overclocked to 120MHz and set up to triple-boot between Windows 3.11 (later Win95), OS/2 2.11, and Yggdrasil Linux (installed from a cover CD).

 

One thing that sticks in my head about that PC: I traded off equipping it with the standard 850MB HDD in favor of a 540MB unit plus 28.8Kbps modem. It also received a 10Mbit Ethernet card (3Com, I believe; it did both 10bT and 10b2) that the University had surplussed shortly after I bought it, which was unusual to have in a personal computer at the time. There were a few instances where I brought the entire thing with me into one of the less-monitored labs and hooked it up to the network in order to improve my FTP transfer rates ;)

 

I can't say that I ever developed any great affection for the x86 / x64 platforms - I've always felt that they were more utilitarian (in the sense of just getting the job done) than anything else. That's not a bad thing in and of itself, but other architectures have always had more appeal to me. The irony here is that I'm typing this on a Macbook Pro that's basically just Apple's arrangement of Intel hardware :)

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I was born in 1991 - my dad had always used Intel and IBM together. He had an IBM PC with a 8088.

 

Personally I find the x86 Intel platform ugly and unparsimonious. The design philosophies of the Ataris and the Amigas were much more beautiful.

 

The reason why we have enormous critical failure points and security weaknesses in Intel CPUs goes right back to the design concepts Intel used in the 70s.

 

I wish the 68000 had become the ancestor of our CPU hardware because it was a very beautiful design.

 

I have always hated PCs despite their fame and wide use. The reason they are widely used is not because they're any better but because the effort of training yourself to use a different system is too high.

 

Microsoft and Apple both rely on the affective familiarity people have with their systems.

 

Personally, I would like to see more hardware diversity, less monopoly, and more cooperation.

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All the reasons why I switched can be simplified into standards & compatibility. Everyone doing serious work was using x86, and if I was to be a part of it I had to get one as well.

 

As a kid I wondered why 68000 or PowerPC stopped scaling in frequency while x86 jumped ahead in leaps and bounds.

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I don't think that CPU can do much in security. It's on OS and anti-virus, anti malware SW. For instance there is user and supervisor mode by 68000 CPUs, but OS must allow user SW to switch to supervisor mode, otherwise SW could not to do many things. And then nothing from protected areas and similar.

Android is Linux based, running on ARM based CPUs, and that's just poor with security. Main reason is simple: large user base attracts those with ideas to harm people, to steal, cheat and like.

We can say that 68000 is 'beautiful design' - it's instruction set is pretty well structured and consistent in big part. But that is in my opinion exactly the reason why it could develop well in later years (after 1995 approx) - there was no space to add new things in opcode range. No wonder that Motorola self abandoned it.

 

Considering CPU freq. - we are already at limit. Actually, there is no much freq. raise in last 10 years. We had already some CPUs over 2 GHz 10 years ago, and now top is some 4.5 GHz. It is not freq. what advancing last years, but efficiency, number of cores. Silicon technology is not the way for decades ahead us.

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You should check out the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities in all the Intel CPUs since 2006 - hardware and CPUs are just as vulnerable to security exploits as software. The way Intel CPUs have been botched in their construction allows you to hack them at a very low level and get complete control of them.

 

I agree about clock speeds. The way forward is RISC. We have many cores but very little industry effort put into parallel processing.

 

Anyway this is getting off topic isn't it... My fault!

 

Personally I think the PC metaphor is terrible, and the Microsoft/Intel/Apple monopoly is ruining everything hahahab

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You should check out the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities in all the Intel CPUs since 2006 - hardware and CPUs are just as vulnerable to security exploits as software. The way Intel CPUs have been botched in their construction allows you to hack them at a very low level and get complete control of them.

 

 

Here is video where fellow Atarian explain Meltdown and Spectre:

 

 

if you miss, Steve Bagley talks about Atari at Computerphile channel:

 

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