Atari Computers

    Yep, I am a fan of Atari Computers.  I no longer really use them much any more.  Only the Atari Mega ST4 is still hooked up ready to be used.  And that is only to use as a Midi Sequencer.  I am runnin a now ancient copy of Cubase, I think it is version 2.  But, my history with Atari Computers runs back right to the beginning for all intents and purposes.

    I am pretty sure it was January of 1980 that I purchased my first Atari computer.  It was an Atari 800 with 8K of ram (yes, 8K, not 8M).  With it I purchased the still yet unreleased 850 serial/printer interface and an 810 floppy drive (90K).  All of this run to about $2200, a lot of money back then.  Why did I purchase an Atari computer.  Well, that was quite by accident.  I actually went to the computer store where I purchased my previous computer (a Polymorphic 8813, a dual floppy, 32K S-100 machine) raring to purchase an Apple ][.  What can I say.  The idiots at that store could not answer my questions about the software I needed.  I wanted an assembler and editor so I could write programs for my polyphonic synthesizer projects.  A year earlier, I had switched from using the 8080A to the 6502 because it was just tons easier to use.  But the idiots at this store could not tell me where I could purchase an editor or an assembler.  I only got vauge answers that they did exist, but they were unable to come up with any names, period.  I told them I would purchase my computer from somebody who could answer these questions.

    As I was leaving, I was headed down state street, and happened to pass a computer store I had never seen before, about 2 blocks down from where I was.  I figured, what the heck, I went around the block and went on in.  Computers Plus, as it was called, run by Gene Christianson (I hope I spelt your name correctly) inquired as to what I needed.  He informed me that he was not an Apple dealer, but he said he just started carrying the Atari Computer, which was also 6502 based.  I was very skeptical.  Atari made games, not computers.  He showed me the computer, including a port of Forth that he had running on it.  I asked about an assembler editor.  He informed me that while it was not availiable, Atari did have one in the catalog.  This was good enough for me.  I purchased it on the spot, and was never sorry.  I still have that Atari 800 and the original 850 interface (mine is in an aluminum box, a real collectors item).  The 810, sadly to say, died a long long time ago.  I used that Atari computer for a long time, until the ST came out.

    Another item I have that goes with the 800 is an ATR8000.  This was a Z80 based box that could function either as a CP/M computer or as a disk drive/printer/rs232 interface for the Atari.  At one time I had two 8 inch floppy drivers and two 360K double sided floppy drives connected to this.  Latter, I switched to a pair of 3.5" single sided floppy drives, which I mostly used until the system was retired.

    Here is a list of the various Atari computers and peripherals I have owned over the years.  It is probably not complete, as I am sure there were a few things I don't remember.

    Atari 800 (expanded eventually to 48K)
    Atari 800XL
    Atari 130XL
    Atari 810 (at one time, I had two)
    Atari 1050
    Atari 850 (in original aluminum box, black anodized)
    Atari 520 ST (I had two of these, I killed the first one attempting to expand it to 1M)
    Atari 1040ST
    Atari ST4
    I also had a letter quality Atari printer, don't remember the model number, but is was a peice of crap.
    I also had two of the Atari 20Meg hard drives, again, don't remember the model number.
    FS-50 50 Meg hard drive, I have no idea who made this, there is no name on it.


    Santa Barbara Atari Computer Enthusiasts was organized by David Corbello (hope I spelt your name correctly Dave).  I am not positive about the year, but I seem to think it was about 1982 when we had the first meeting, at Computers Plus.  The next meeting was held at the Goleta Public Library, where we organized, laid the groundwork for selecting officers, etc.  I am pretty sure I was the first Treasurer, as I opened the account at the bank I did business with.  What I am not sure about is if I was also the first news letter editor or not.  I remained treasurer for almost the entire time the club was in existance.  There was a breif time when somebody else was treasurer, during the time I was president for the first time.  As time wore on, and the popularity of the Atari waned, member ship dropped off.  The most heavily attended meeting was when I brought in my Atari 520 ST.  It also marked the beginning of a sharp decline.  The 520 did not really bother me much, as I mostly did computer hacking on it, just like I did with the Atari 800.  Many people in the club were disapointed with it.  In many ways, the graphics and sound capabilites were less than that of the old 800.  Most of these people wanted more, not less.  Commodore, at the same time, was bringing out the Amiga, which for most of these people was the next logical step up for the 8 bit atari.  And they did.  After about 2 years, the club was reduced to a hard core of about 35 members.  And it still continued to dwindle.  Sometime people would move away, sometimes, they just out grew what the atari could do and went either to Apple Macintosh or the PC.  By about January of 1994, we had our last meeting.  I was the defacto president for several years already.  And that fateful night, only one person showed up.  I had better things to do with my time.  I put a motion on the floor to disband the club.  The motion was seconded, and the vote was unanimous.  It was the last meeting.  I kept the club BBS running for quite a while (although, it had long been moved from an Atari computer to a PC).  When the computer gave out about 3 years ago, even that went off line.  It was at this point the SBACE was truely dead.


    Well, not quite.  We are attempting to get a hold of ex members of the club to have a sort of reunion.  If you used to be in this club and run accross this Web Page, send me an e-mail.  We will see what we can get going.

    Atari Club Reunion

The Atari Duplicator
    Here is all I have on the atari duplicator.

Photos of some DIY projects I did
    Here is some stuff I did for my Atari Computers.

Photos of some of my more odd Atari equipment

     Atari 850 interface in an aluminum box

    The above photo (well, scan actually) is of the Atari 850 interface I purchased when I got my Atari 800.  This one is unique in that it was in an aluminum case.  Later ones were in a plastic case.  I have no idea how many like this were made.  I ordered it when I got my 800, which, if I remember correctly, was late in 1979.  The 850 was not availiable at the time.  It arrived sometime in early 1980 (I sure hope I got those years correct.  Mine is serial number An000418.

     Atari 1090XL expansion box
     Inside the Atari 1090XL

    The above pictures were made by putting my 1090 on my flat bed scanner.  I am surprised the the one of the insides turned out as well as it did.  I picked this thing up at an ACE Electronics surplus store probably around 1984 or so.  I had intended to use it, but never got around to it.

     Return to my Homepage