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Writing book on Atari.


Matej
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You can use Atari SIO printer, numerous SIO to parallel boxes. a tiny number of SIO to rs232 devices were used for modems and serial printers. You can use serial and parallel printer via 850, P:R: connection. PBI...both parallel and serial MIO, Black Box.

So long as the printer is epson or other back in the day printer compatible your fine up until a laserjet. We also have USB cart that could drive a printer, some one mucks about with drivers, but you'd have to dig deep if you wanted to use an old epson compatible usb printer.... You could also use APE on many tiny pc on a chip handheld comps and Respeqt and or one of the Pi computers and let them serve to a modern day printer. etc etc etc... I'm sure there's more. but that should get you started

Edited by _The Doctor__
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My friends now passed wife back in the day was one of the people who typed in manuals that got spread around on docs disks, she did hundreds of docs and used Atariwriter, she would have loved Jon's mega Last Word, good luck with the book, computer related?

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To butt in with my two cents, I always find it fascinating how people want to use vintage hardware for writing tasks like this. Writing like that is a very personal experience and some people find comfort in the hardware and process, be it using something like a typewriter or an old computer.

 

Having of course grown up using both typewriters and word processors on computers like the Commodore 64, Coleco Adam, Commodore Amiga, and early DOS, GEOS, and Windows PCs, I of course have enough personal horror stories of crashes and lost work to never want to go back to the old way of doing things again. I'm happy writing in modern environments with 100% redundancy and safety with no need to convert what I've written once it's written to some other format.

 

Good luck with your writing, Matej. Hopefully you can keep us up to date with your progress and challenges.

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I use JFC's The Last Word for my writing. Which includes a novel that's really like 15% done that I've been writing off and on for a few years, at least the basic outline is complete. But I've also used it to do my reviews in Excel issue 4 and the upcoming issue 5. I have not used a printer with it, I transfer my files via APE & SIO2PC and email them. I do have a Microprint parallel interface and an old NLQ Epson compatible dot matrix, or I've also thought about getting one of the early Laser printers for it eventually. But on the printer side, for a writer, there's not a need to print manuscripts and send them in via snail-mail anymore, so it's really a non-issue except for a personal hard-copy maybe. At worst I save the files to my MyIDE II CF card and take that along where there's a modern printer, load it up into Windows Notebook or whatever and print it out that way. (write now if I wanted printouts it would be transferring it to the PC and printing out to my PC deskjet.

 

And yes, Bill, you are right. I have much more fun and a drive to write more, if I'm doing it on my 1200XL. I've never felt a better keyboard then or now, and The Last Word is truely all I'll ever need in functionality and software 80 column (crystal clear with my video upgrade) as a "professional" writer. And it's not like the older Atari WP's that may have a special text format that needs to be converted to be read in another WP on a PC or whatever. The .txt and .doc files from TLWP can be read by my PC word processor just as if it was used to write it.

Edited by Gunstar
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Main reason for me is to have no internet, no windows, no youtube... Simply I will stay focused... Nowadays I use 400mhz thin client with free dos and doc "word" like software...But it makes lot of noise.I have no place for big keyboard on desk... And IBM model M keyboard is super good. But 800XL is even better - keyboard is nearly perfect, design of computer too (like typewriter), it is semi-portable. Maybe I will buy ultimate cartridge or 2x unocart and epson printer for hardcopy (my personal one).

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Well, it goes without saying that there's plenty of distraction-free and focus-based software and tools to make any modern environment exactly the way you need it, and of course even specialized hardware like the Freewrite. And certainly modern mechanical keyboards easily outshine just about any vintage keyboard. Again, though, whatever you need to do to make yourself write is all that ultimately matters, even if you have to do a conversion or two along the way and might lose some work here and there.

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I undertook to write a 100,000 word novel on my A8 in the mid Nineties and managed never to lose a bit of work, and that was with floppy disks (and a reasonable backup strategy, of course). I was outputting direct to printer in those days, but I doubt one would need to burden a creative piece with proprietary formatting directives on the A8. That can all be done during the formatting phase on the PC. For spell-checks, I used to run whole chapters through AtariWriter Plus's proofreader (although I'd typed it up in TextPro, since TLW did not exist), and I had hardback copies of the OED and Roget by my side. The word processor didn't trouble me with grammar suggestions, spelling corrections, I didn't get pop-ups in the notification area from YouTube and Facebook...

 

Of course Bill is correct in saying that there are distraction-free word processors available, but they still minimise right down when the little horned guy on one's shoulder suggests checking Facebook or one's email client. I suppose this tendency towards a lack of focus says more about the author than it does about the word processing equipment, and the world at large is arguably more urgently distracting than it was twenty years ago. But lest we forget that most of us here go out of our way to use ancient 8-bit computers for entertainment purposes, and if we can also use them for creative and productive purposes, all the better. One could argue that modern game controllers are far superior to joysticks from the 1980s, or that CRTs are too inefficient and unreliable, or that floppy disk drives are too noisy and prone to errors... but why would be be here at all?

Edited by flashjazzcat
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I undertook to write a 100,000 word novel on my A8 in the mid Nineties and managed never to lose a bit of work, and that was with floppy disks (and a reasonable backup strategy, of course). I was outputting direct to printer in those days, but I doubt one would need to burden a creative piece with proprietary formatting directives on the A8. That can all be done during the formatting phase on the PC. For spell-checks, I used to run whole chapters through AtariWriter Plus's proofreader (although I'd typed it up in TextPro, since TLW did not exist), and I had hardback copies of the OED and Roget by my side. The word processor didn't trouble me with grammar suggestions, spelling corrections, I didn't get pop-ups in the notification area from YouTube and Facebook...

 

Of course Bill is correct in saying that there are distraction-free word processors available, but they still minimise right down when the little horned guy on one's shoulder suggests checking Facebook or one's email client. I suppose this tendency towards a lack of focus says more about the author than it does about the word processing equipment, and the world at large is arguably more urgently distracting than it was twenty years ago. But lest we forget that most of us here go out of our way to use ancient 8-bit computers for entertainment purposes, and if we can also use them for creative and productive purposes, all the better. One could argue that modern game controllers are far superior to joysticks from the 1980s, or that CRTs are too inefficient and unreliable, or that floppy disk drives are too noisy and prone to errors... but why would be be here at all?

 

To clarify, there is modern distraction-free software that does in fact block access to Facebook and other notifications for a period of time you specify (here's a TechRadar article I wrote on the subject: http://www.techradar.com/news/can-apps-really-eliminate-distractions-and-help-you-focus). Again, I get the desire to use a specific type of hardware, but because a modern environment does or does not do x, y, or z is probably not a good reason, because it almost certainly can be made to function exactly as you need. There's also obviously every type of word processing software, including specialty software like Scrivener, that can be made to have the environment you desire and also enable all kinds of other convenience features.

 

As for not ever losing your work on the Atari, then you're quite lucky. Floppy disks, power hiccups, general bugs, etc., can all be potential failure points on vintage hardware, often through no fault of your own. That's why personally I tend to use vintage computing hardware for gaming purposes. No reason to revisit those days of frustration for me, no matter how "romantic" the environment.

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I also have AlphaSmart3000 with Motorola DragonBall ;).But why not Atari?Neuromancer was written on Amiga500...One of mine friends is coder.He normally run A800xe for few days...Withouth problem.With new interfaces like sio2sd or ultimate is easy to save...Maybe with some freezer even whole snapshot (equivalent to hybernation on modern pcs).

Edited by Matej
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I also have AlphaSmart3000 with Motorola DragonBall ;).But why not Atari?Neuromancer was written on Amiga500...

 

We used the tools of the time because that's all we had. We have better, safer solutions now. Most writers use the tools of their time.

 

The AlphaSmart3000 and related purpose-built hardware (Model 100, etc.) is nice and still have their enthusiasts, but I personally wouldn't use one of those anymore. Again, it's a single point of failure. That's why I tend to recommend the overly expensive Freewrite for people who want to use those devices. At least with that there are fewer failure points and no real need to convert anything.

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Well, I see a compelling argument for not using vintage computers for anything serious. Thanks - glad I came here. I'm off to sell all my stuff on eBay. :)

For whatever reason, moving from the A8 to a PC coincided with the death of any serious creative writing impulse on my part. I'm not gonna blame writer's block on having a better word processor, but I preferred the more limited, focused tools at the time. We're all different, and what works for one doesn't work for someone else. No point in repeatedly overstating the data loss warning for those determined to go retro. I have never experienced a BSOD while using The Last Word on the Atari. :D

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Having of course grown up using both typewriters and word processors on computers like the Commodore 64, Coleco Adam, Commodore Amiga, and early DOS, GEOS, and Windows PCs, I of course have enough personal horror stories of crashes and lost work to never want to go back to the old way of doing things again. I'm happy writing in modern environments with 100% redundancy and safety with no need to convert what I've written once it's written to some other format.

 

Your problem is probably that you never experienced the rock solid Atari 8bit computer line. I do not see it in your list. I am using my a8 for professional tasks. Why? Just because of the stability of the system. From all the computers in my house, there is one system that did NEVER let me down the last 30 years. I still must meet the modern system that comes even close to that achievement. From all the things I wrote and create when I was a kid (on a PC), nothing made it to 2018, except for my papers I wrote on the atari, and stored it (go figure!) on tape.

 

I run a music school, and the entire administration is done in Syncalc on a8. I do some professional writing: The Last Word.

 

Apple had once a billiant line: "It just works" ... well that applies to a8, The Last Word and Syncalc. It just works.

 

No virus

No big brother

No updates that crash your entire system

No software that grows and grows until you need a new and faster computer. What works great now, works great in the next 30 years.

 

Sure there are some downsides. I do admit that, but I am experienced enough to confirm that the a8 is a very handy device to use for some (not all) tasks.

Edited by ProWizard
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I better give up my trusty old '94 Ford Pickup, I can't use it for serious work anymore, it doesn't have Apple play and there aren't a million sensors keeping track of every detail...oh, right, my modern car with all the sensors now has to go to the shop to fix all the sensors, even though it runs fine otherwise..

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Wait a minute.Off course modern PC can be stable for example with Open Solaris or FreeBSD.Plus I also have incredible mechanical keyboard (ozone gaming).Anyways minimalism makes sense to me.I am not pro-writer so no need have LaTEX or something like that.I have buyed non android sony phone made in 90s, I am using simple bike.But on other hand I love latest vr,metaverse,cluster computing,gpu computing trends...Simply it will be tool.Like typewriter.There is also RamCart by Raster...So with sdrive it will be like robust typewriter.When I was on University I lost 20 days of writing project as my HDD crashed during Eset antivirus scanning.So sometimes simple tools are better.I use casio and texas instruments calculators for example.Not that incorporated into Win10...

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.When I was on University I lost 20 days of writing project as my HDD crashed during Eset antivirus scanning.So sometimes simple tools are better.I use casio and texas instruments calculators for example.Not that incorporated into Win10...

 

I get that part, but it's not like that anymore. There was indeed a dark period before all this cloud stuff and redundant saves where one could lose their work.

 

Look, I get it and support the romanticism in using something other than a modern system. Goodness knows I trumpet the joys of vintage consoles and computers as much as anyone. I was merely making the point that it takes a lot of effort - and has inherent risks - in using vintage hardware for something that in many ways is better suited to modern equipment. Again, there are plenty of other people who prefer the simplicity and look and feel of vintage hardware, and certainly don't mind the extra effort and potential risks in bringing the output into something usable outside of that environment. I'm certainly interested in following the progress.

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The cloud has it's inherent risks. It's the fastest way to send your data to the NSA and hackers.

 

Cloud systems have been hacked already despite the claims of security from the people selling them. I think a floppy disk is more inherently secure for the short run (30 years or so).

Wait until the first ransomware attack hits a cloud server. That'll be fun for them trying to figure out who to send the "If you ever want to see your data again..." emails to all the cloud clients.

 

Of course modern systems are more reliable. They have new components, but how many modern systems are going to be around much less usable for anything in 30 years. I don't even have my first, second, or even third PC.

I use PCs for convenience, but for security? You can even begin to know what's on a modern PC. The last time I knew all the software on my PC was WIndows 3.11.

 

I tolerate Windows 7 because of the software I need to use, but Windows 10? That spyware doesn't even pretend to work for you anymore. I'm probably going to Linux or Raspian for my next OS, or I'll keep recycling Windows 7 on new hardware as long as Microsoft allows it.

 

But for my Atari? It'll only get more reliable with devices allowing me to save to modern PC hard disks, SD cards and Flash cards. And I'll never have to be concerned about malware of any kind, because who is even writing any to break into a machine nobody is keeping anything worth stealing on?

 

Any warnings about how dangerous it is to do anything important on a retro PC are going to fall flat on their face because you are likely not saving your work to an antique floppy disk. You are writing to a PC or a flash drive through an SIO cable. I have two floppy disks for the nostalgia of using the old hardware not because I intend to go full retro. It's kind of like how people who drive old British cars install a modern ignition system so that they don't end up on the side of the road too often. But they still keep a spare distributor in the trunk with points for when the modern solid state Chinese crap fails.

 

Part of the joy of driving an old British car is the adventure inherent when doing so. It's not a matter of if you will end up on the side of the road, but a matter of when. When that happens, real men get out and fix it and continue on their way. The rest buy a Prius. It's all about how much risk you are willing to accept. There are no guarantees in life and that's what makes it interesting.

 

So basically, accomplishing something on an Atari is more interesting as is the journey to that accomplishment. The journey makes the accomplishment worthwhile, and vice-versa. Sure you could accomplish the same thing on a Priantosh, but where's the sense of accomplishment?

Edited by Geister
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The cloud has it's inherent risks. It's the fastest way to send your data to the NSA and hackers.

 

Cloud systems have been hacked already despite the claims of security from the people selling them. I think a floppy disk is more inherently secure for the short run (30 years or so).

Wait until the first ransomware attack hits a cloud server. That'll be fun for them trying to figure out who to send the "If you ever want to see your data again..." emails to all the cloud clients.

 

It's not really a major concern for me, but I realize there are people who tend to be on the more paranoid side of things when it comes to cloud usage, social media, smartphones, smart assistants, etc. In terms of cloud usage, I'd rather the ability to have all of my files and data stored both locally across many different systems and in the cloud with version history without any effort on my part than worry about a potential security issue that may or may not ever come. It's a lot better than trusting my important stuff to the whims of a floppy or floppy drive.

 

Anyway, I think this is trending into very off-topic territory. Let's see how Matej fares with his novel writing on his Atari 8-bit.

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Nothing is obsolete, truly obsolete, if it's still useful. Writing papers and keeping accounts on an Atari 8-bit worked perfectly fine for me 35 years ago, and it still works perfectly fine for me today.Just because something is newer, faster and has more features doesn't mean you need it. Obsolescence is a word invented by marketers.

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Nothing is obsolete, truly obsolete, if it's still useful. Writing papers and keeping accounts on an Atari 8-bit worked perfectly fine for me 35 years ago, and it still works perfectly fine for me today.Just because something is newer, faster and has more features doesn't mean you need it. Obsolescence is a word invented by marketers.

 

Indeed. Pen and paper still works great too. It doesn't mean it's the best tool for the job anymore, though. Of course, best tool, versus a tool, are different discussions. An Atari 8-bit or an equivalent vintage technology is definitely a tool that can accomplish said goal, albeit in not the most optimal way. Optimal doesn't have to be the point, though. Ultimately, being productive is what really matters. The rest of the stuff surrounding that is just details, good or bad.

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It's optimal for the person and their purpose. If they're getting it done faster, and more comfortably, it's also more efficient. Just stop trying to be right. You're not going to be. Just realize there are people who can swing a hammer faster and get a roof done more quickly than a person using a nail gun. For most the gun is better or faster. Put up against that fellow with a great skill in what he does, being fed by his partner who knows the Rhythm and flow.... he wins more than enough times over the machine wielding roofer. It's easier for each person to use the tool that suits them.

Edited by _The Doctor__
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