Category Archives: Atari

Not Apple: Atari 800 : Oddity in Finland

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No the blog is NOT GOING TO turn into “FinAtari” -anytime soon, like it or not. This time i just quickly, present the latest addition (or addiction?) of 8-bit era i so much love.
The original Atari 800.

atari_800_logo_s

Finding Atari 800 isn’t really difficult from USA, but elsewhere, it feels that it’s closer to
Impossibility. That is if you want PAL and 220/240v model for some reason. I’ve wanted to
find the original 800 for ages and now it finally became possible. They are not easy nor cheap
like mentioned, so when they do come available, you’re battling with moral issues, to pay
or not to pay (too much). Depends on you.

psu_240v_sThis Atari 800 i got was boxed, international PAL-version with 240v 50hz powersupply (non
atari original however but i’ve seen this type before in europe, heavy bulky almost like industrial)  with boxed casette drive 410, few joysticks and modules “Basic” and “k-Razy Kritters”. It does have the 48k RAM and 10k ROM modules. It does kind of need the floppy drive, Atari 810 of cos.

atari_800_gaming_s
The unit itself is in *great* condition! No yellowing, no cracks, everything is there. I feel this wasn’t used much by the previous owner (sorry for bit darkish picture).

It came with all kinds of documents, Atari club letter, price lists from british Atari dealers, handwritten sales offer from the shop for the previous owner (!), few Atari IO magazines, manuals for Basic, Atari 800 International brouchure etc. I’ll scan those that needs to be scanned for. You can find those from the internet archives now.

owners_guide_sThe Atari 800 Home Computer Owner’s Guide International

atari_io_mag_sAtari Imput/Output -magazine (Spring 1984)

software_price_list_sSoftware pricelist from British microcomputer shop.

I have not been able to found out anything (!) about the Atari 800 history in Finland (or Sweden) like when it was introduced, any advertisements, games or units itself sold etc. That’s something to i need to work with. I remember seeing ONE unit sold few years ago in Finland, but i think it reached quite high prices even without PSU & it was untested. It was way too risky of a deal. So far i’ve gathered information, the Atari 400 and 800 were not sold or imported by any larger companies, they might have been imported in low ammounts by some smaller companies who did not advertise them heavily. Let’s remember. There were no Micro-Computer magazines in late 70’s yet, only professional Computer magazines over here. I’ll try finding those more “serious” computer magazines if there’s any mentioning of the Atari 400/800.

UPDATE:
I recently found an Finnish Tech-magazines “Tekniikan Maailma” issue 20/1982 that had an Atari 400 preview. The Atari 400 was imported to Finland by company called “Sivenin Koneliike Oy, Höyläämötie 3, Helsinki“. The same issue had ad for ATARI 2600 gaming console as well.

I’ve tried to search about the company but only could find references to it till 1977, then, nothing. I hope the Atari 800 was reviewed also by the magazine. I know 800XL was of cos but that’s an another story all together.

fin_prices_s
Some prices from 1982:
-Atari 400 / 3390 fim
-Atari 800 / 7360 fim
-Powersupply / 155 fim
-Basic-ROM cardridge / 800 fim

The Atari 800XL was sold in quantities and more material about it is available. Atari itself wasn’t
the most popular 8-bit computer over here. I am not sure why, possibly the retailers didn’t carry as much software for them, or as i assume, the pirated software wasn’t available so easily as for Commodore 64 specially. “Everybody had 64”. That’s what Commodore 64 was called, just “64”. Everybody knew what it was referred to. It was kind of sad situation if somebody had anything else than “Commodore 64”. You were pretty much alone.

So, while waiting the 800 to be delivered to me, i ordered SD-card reader “SIO2SD” for it from http://www.lotharek.pl. The SIO2SD -supports few different disk/rom-image formats as of ATR (rw), XFD (ro) and COM/XEX (ro). It have 16×2 LCD display which allows you to walk thru the catalog tree and choose files to load. I only recently noticed that the unit supports on-screen menu as well, it just reguired one file dropped to the SD-card and some configuration to the device itself and you could choose the files from the screen using joystick or keyboard. NEAT! This is what i was after for. The device came with the SIO-cable but i didn’t opt for the SD-card itself. I have those plenty of & images are readily available if you look (hint: TOSEC).

sd2sio_s

Also picked up an video cable from ebay. Those are cheap and easy to get. This should provide better picture and audio quality. Works on most if not all, Atari 8-bit computers.

cables_s

Usage & thoughts:

The 800 does sound more like MSX than C64, but in more clear, MIDI kind of way. I might be objective but i do like SID bit more. It’s more rough so to speak. But, the 800 does sound GOOD. Of cos there’s no comparing to Apple II.. there’s no.. sound per say, expect Mockingboard.

Graphics, the Atari 800 is fast and hey, the spites (player/missile) are just MUST HAVE just like in Commodore 64, the sprites. MSX-graphics reminds me of Spectrum a lot even they are far better (IMO). I’ve never been too much into Spectrum’s for some reason. Those MSX-module games released by Konami were stunning in every aspect however, expensive however. They had the real coin-up feeling on them compared to any other game i’ve played. But..i m not an MSX-expert (currently do not have any working MSX computers in my collection).

pile_of_800_800xl_s

..and of cos this happens:
After a week i got the original ATARI 800, i was able to find a fully boxed set of ATARI 800XL with 1010 casette drive, 1027 printer, and even boxed Atari 2600 joystick, few boxed Atarisoft cartridges and casette games among other things even with original receipt from 1985. I had an idea to get one 800XL later, someday, in the future for sure but this was too good of a possilibity to walk by.

atari_800xl_pile_s

The unit was in great shape, not ANY yellowing and even the protective sticker in top of the logo badge and even the module port itself. Very nice!

atari_800xl_logo_s

Also picked an boxed Atari 1050 floppy drive right after to make the set more complete. It’s with UK power supply but those adapters are easy to get and the electrical current is the same.

800xl_gaming_set_s

So, i’ve replaced the 800XL as my main ATARI for now, as 800XL is easier to replace than the classic (and specially PAL version of it) original 800 (PAL).

LET’S ATARI! (no booo! atari from me)

(C) FinApple 2017
Apple ][ forever

LINKS:
Podcast
: Antic-The Atari 8bit Podcast by Randy Kindig, Kevin Savetz, Brad Arnold
http://ataripodcast.libsyn.com/
Forums: http://Atariage.com
Facebook group : Atari 8-bit Computers

Thanks to Kevin, I Want Atari 800!

God heavens what Kevin Savetz have done to me! Boo Atari. I am actually wanting to own an Atari! Even in the 80’s i thought Atari was lame, no (pirated) software around and everybody had an  Commodore 64 over here. Unless, you were one of those unlucky kids with their parents choosing the computer model for you, you had then Spectravideo, Spectrum, MSX.. or.. Atari. And so not so much games for you. Reminder, it was all about pirated software back then what was available in your circle-of-friends.

atari-800-computer-fl

No. Seriously. Atari 800 8-bit is very interesting. I’ve wanted the original 800-model for ages but
after listening more and more of the ANTIC-podcast, http://ataripodcast.libsyn.com by Kevin Savetz, i think the time is right. Just now where to find one? NTSC units are found rather easily from the eBay, but here in Finland, we have 230v AC current that makes it bit difficult as no power supplies around so easily. I could of cos,  buy the US-115v model and get an convertor box from 115v to 230v. Easy. Looks like that’s the only option. However, i’ve heard the http://www.lotharek.pl is soon (?) building 230V power supplies for the 800….

I think the matter of NTSC vs PAL is trivial, or is it? Modern LCD’s should accept the signal easily (depends of the model and brand a bit). I’d be using most likely the 4:3 LCD TV model with Composite input that i have (those are getting harder to find as well now). The vintage CRT’s wont work well with NTSC machines, you’d  most likely end-up having black & white video.

If i would make things easy, i’d get Atari 800XL that is available so easily in Europe and no these “problems” would occur. But. It’s not as COOL. I don’t like much the design of the XL-serie. They look cheap to me.  Maybe i should look around if i could find one cheap enough to play around awhile at first… hmmmmmmmm.

SONY DSC

 

Then of cos, the sd-card reader is needed, i think SIO CD by Lotharek is the best one for Atari.
http://www.lotharek.pl/product.php?pid=23

Joysticks.. i have plenty of those.

So.. what’s stopping me?
Let’s do it.
Let’s Atari!

NO. It’s not going to be FinAtari anytime soon 🙂