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5200 same as 800


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http://www.atarihq.com/5200/5200faq/04_12.html

 

Note the words... but most of the chips are at different memory locations.

 

Short answer is there are enough differences that modding a 5200 console to be compatible with the computers would not be worth the effort.

 

People who convert software from 8 bit to 5200 have to reorganize the code to fit 5200 memory and point to the proper address. Not all 8 bit programs will fit or work.

Edited by SIO2
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You would think it would be part of the design process to have user feedback on it during testing - or even forecast what areas are weak and need further finetuning - so as to make the best product possible? Of course - they could not imagine that users would be still using the same product some 30+ years later - and still expect it to function flawlessly.

 

You can see the same kind of shortfalls in the latest TVs - how the remote control is too fiddly to use - and even basic functions are still not implemented the best that can be done - eg. photo viewing is an eye sore to use and not great quality viewing - that a few more tweaks here and there could produce a quality product. But no - they just want to kick it out the door just to release it.

 

Harvey

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To me, as a kid, back in the day.. The 5200 was/is a castrated 8-bit rig. There are far more similarities than there are differences. Especially with the games, seemed like the same games in a differently shaped cartridge. Once I realized that I more or less stopped paying attention to it. Felt like excess baggage.

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@Keatah - BITD a local Radio Shack dealer tried to sell me a 5200 but, I had the same thoughts about it. IIRC, you could buy a 48K 800 cheaper and play more games plus do word processing. The RS guy couldn't talk fast enough to get me to buy a 5200 back then.

 

I have a 5200 now though. It even has its own embroidered black pleather jacket.

Edited by SIO2
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they're the same thing. why couldn't Atari just market the 800 with the ability to play 5200 games or add the option at release? the base system is okay but the controller is hideous. fix that, no problem. I just don't understand why they can't be cross compatible or modded to be

My guess is Atari wanted the perception that they were different. People might take their computer line less seriously If they knew the same tech was used in a game console costing hundreds less.

Edited by zzip
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but why not make a different, better controller?

The video game companies of the early 80s didn't really know what they were doing. They didn't know a lot about ergonomics, and produced more poor controller designs than good ones. They didn't seem to know what the consumer wanted- because the consumers themselves didn't really know what they wanted yet. Instead they just copied each other. (They have a keyboard attachment? we need a keyboard attachement too!, etc). So the 5200 controller seemed like a reaction to the Intellivision keypad. They just one-upped it by adding an actual stick. Why it wasn't centering, I have no idea.

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The video game companies of the early 80s didn't really know what they were doing. They didn't know a lot about ergonomics, and produced more poor controller designs than good ones. They didn't seem to know what the consumer wanted- because the consumers themselves didn't really know what they wanted yet. Instead they just copied each other. (They have a keyboard attachment? we need a keyboard attachement too!, etc). So the 5200 controller seemed like a reaction to the Intellivision keypad. They just one-upped it by adding an actual stick. Why it wasn't centering, I have no idea.

It was the time of experimentation. Atari could do a Atari 5200 console, so they did, and why not. Analogue controllers without self centering. Could've worked, but it didn't.

 

Look at that Glove thing from Nintendo or the U-Force (for NES) from Broderbund, maybe customers wanted them or they didn't. Both failed, didn't Nintendo know what they were doing?

Edited by high voltage
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It was the time of experimentation. Atari could do a Atari 5200 console, so they did, and why not. Analogue controllers without self centering. Could've worked, but it didn't.

 

Look at that Glove thing from Nintendo or the U-Force (for NES) from Broderbund, maybe customers wanted them or they didn't. Both failed, didn't Nintendo know what they were doing?

Except, you know, for the fact that that the U-Force or the power Glove were optional peripherals and not one game was ever mandated to use them. Unlike say the 5200 controller which came with the damn console and there weren't many alternatives to the damn thing.

Edited by empsolo
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Re: the controllers, they--like the Atari 5200 itself--were essentially a reaction to the Intellivision. One of the Intellivision's big selling points was that its controller offered 16-way movement and therefore twice the precision allowed by Atari's joystick design. So Atari fired back with full 360-degree joystick movement--that was the impetus for the analog joystick design.

As far as the keypads and fire buttons were concerned, every controller equipped with a keypad at the time used a flex circuit design. It was the only cost-effective AND reliable way to stuff that much functionality into a handheld controller at the time. Even computers like the Timex/Sinclair used them for their keyboards (okay, bad example :P). The 5200 shouldn't be knocked for also going that route, but it's worth noting that the flex circuits were proven to be unreliable and prone to oxidation even during development. My understanding (correct me if I'm wrong!) is that even the designers felt it was unsatisfactory and did not want that controller to ship as it was, but the 5200 system's development had already been protracted several years and Atari needed the thing out ASAP (especially with the Coleco just around the corner), so the powers-that-be decided it was good enough. The fact that the controller went through something like nine design revisions during a span of two years suggests Atari knew from that start that it wasn't good enough.

HOWEVER...IMO the design is vindicated by gold dot or DIY tin-foil mods and upgrades. When the controller works, and especially if the game is optimized for its analog control (such as Star Raiders, Choplifter, or River Raid), it's actually a very nice controller. Yes, seriously.

But as it was, if nothing else, the Atari 5200 showed hardware designers how *not* to make a game controller, and if not for the likes of controllers such as that, we may have suffered through several more regrettable controller designs before we finally entrenched into the SNES/PlayStation-derived designs that have been standard and ubiquitous for the past 20 years.

(And by the by, when people say Atari should have incorporated hard plastic fire buttons, a centering digital joystick, and a more reliable flex circuit into the 5200 controller design, they're essentially describing a Colecovision controller. And then in the same breath, they will also complain about the Coleco controller. :P )

Edited by BassGuitari
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before we finally entrenched into the SNES/PlayStation-derived designs that have been standard and ubiquitous for the past 20 years.

 

Oh, and how I lament that development. I really wish the Sega Saturn controller would have become standard, it's a far superior design. The best gamepad ever, dare I say.

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they're the same thing. why couldn't Atari just market the 800 with the ability to play 5200 games or add the option at release? the base system is okay but the controller is hideous. fix that, no problem. I just don't understand why they can't be cross compatible or modded to be

 

Because the home computer division of Atari didn't want 800 carts run on a video game console so the 5200 was forced to relocate regster locations to be incompatible. As for the controllers it was "designed' by the marketing group who wanted to one-up the Intellivision and never listen to the engineers who said their would be problems later on. And people wonder why Warner's Atari got sold off...

 

You can get cross-compatilbity with Atari 8-bit computers by downloading Dan The 5200 Man hacks of 5200 exclusives & improvements. :)

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The 3D ones maybe. :)

 

I'm a big fighting game player, and the Saturn pad was the last great stock controller for fighting games. Modern gamepads are just garbage for fighters, if you want to play fighters on modern consoles you pretty much have to buy dedicated controllers.

 

It really sucks.

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Because the home computer division of Atari didn't want 800 carts run on a video game console so the 5200 was forced to relocate regster locations to be incompatible. As for the controllers it was "designed' by the marketing group who wanted to one-up the Intellivision and never listen to the engineers who said their would be problems later on. And people wonder why Warner's Atari got sold off...

 

You can get cross-compatilbity with Atari 8-bit computers by downloading Dan The 5200 Man hacks of 5200 exclusives & improvements. :)

 

Glenn the 5200 man. :)

 

Atari was trying to keep the two divisions separate as they catered to different markets. The 800 was billed as a serious home computer. The consoles were toys. Even if they shared the same technology they needed to be perceived as completely different. They weren't really supposed to be compatible anyway. The 5200 as we know it only happened because previous attempts at an expanded 2600 console weren't successful:

 

http://www.atarimuseum.com/videogames/consoles/sylvia/sylvia.html

 

It's definitely true about the consoles copying each other. No one really knew what would grab consumers so the consoles just got more and more feature laden. Had the crash not happened I shudder to think what kind of contraptions would have come along next. The NES was a much needed back-to-basics design (although that stupid front loading mechanism was an attempt to copy VCR's).

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  • 2 weeks later...

To me, as a kid, back in the day.. The 5200 was/is a castrated 8-bit rig. There are far more similarities than there are differences. Especially with the games, seemed like the same games in a differently shaped cartridge. Once I realized that I more or less stopped paying attention to it. Felt like excess baggage.

I was soooo disappointed when I finally got a 5200 around 1991. At least one game I tried (Star Wars Return of the Jedi Death Star Battle) was literally identical to the Atari 2600 version. What a piece of junk!

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Glenn the 5200 man. :)

 

Atari was trying to keep the two divisions separate as they catered to different markets. The 800 was billed as a serious home computer. The consoles were toys. Even if they shared the same technology they needed to be perceived as completely different. They weren't really supposed to be compatible anyway. The 5200 as we know it only happened because previous attempts at an expanded 2600 console weren't successful:

 

http://www.atarimuseum.com/videogames/consoles/sylvia/sylvia.html

 

It's definitely true about the consoles copying each other. No one really knew what would grab consumers so the consoles just got more and more feature laden. Had the crash not happened I shudder to think what kind of contraptions would have come along next. The NES was a much needed back-to-basics design (although that stupid front loading mechanism was an attempt to copy VCR's).

 

The 5200 has its GTIA mapped at $C000 instead of $D000, and the Pokey mapped at $E800. The PIA check was removed. The keypad is read by the pokey chip using the keyboard inputs, but only used 4 bits.

 

I have been trying to find more information about that 3200x (sylvia) trying to see whats its graphics and sounds capabilities would been. I estimated with STIA (or Super TIA) and FRANTIC being a version of ANTIC probably would had been something similar to ANTIC/GTIA modes. No mention of sounds.

 

Many do argue that Atari could had just took a 400, put it in a different case and just sell that as a game system. Maybe detachable keyboard. Similar to what had been done later with the XEGS. Maybe could had did the 32k cartridge port with an 8-bit converter to play the existing line of 800 games.

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The 5200 has its GTIA mapped at $C000 instead of $D000, and the Pokey mapped at $E800. The PIA check was removed. The keypad is read by the pokey chip using the keyboard inputs, but only used 4 bits.

Right. Atari made the 5200 cheaper than the computer and that meant remove as many chips as possible. The new memory map is part of the simplification. Antic stayed put because it decodes itself.

 

Sylvia was supposed to be 2600 compatible while having new DMA modes. The 7800 probably used the Sylvia spec as a jumping off point.

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