Even though Jack Tramiel is now dead, he’s still causing more problems for me, but this time they’re not connected with the Commodore 64!

In 2012 I bought an Atari 65XE 8 bit computer, complete with Atari XC12 cassette based data recorder. I knew this was a compatible system to the Atari 800XL (which was nearly my first computer), but that it had been given a makeover after Jack Tramiel took over Atari in 1984, then brought out the Atari ST and XE lines in 1985. His price war while with Commodore had pushed Atari to the verge of bankruptcy. He left Commodore because he could no longer have it all his own way. Part of the sale agreement with Warner Bros was that he must continue to support the Atari 8 bit computers. This was why he continued to produce them, but revamped into new models called the 65XE (64K) and 130XE (128K). There was also a model 800XE sold only in “Eastern Europe”, although it’s not clear to me exactly which parts of Europe this was. The “Iron Curtain” didn’t break down until 1989-1990 and before that there were a lot of import restrictions, as well as people in those countries making unlicensed clones of western computers. I don’t think it was possible to clone Atari 8 bit computers, because they used custom chips.

I didn’t think the Atari 65XE would give me any problems, because it was 800XL compatible, but put into a redesigned case which was the same style as the Atari ST, but I was WRONG! At this point, I should mention that months later I also bought an Atari 800XL computer, which is an iconic design, totally different looking from the Atari 65XE and has been called a “tank”, meaning solid and sturdy.

Over a period of several months, I had accumulated various programs I’d typed in, either made up by myself, or from listings, and I wanted to transfer these onto a new floppy disk drive emulator unit called the SIO2SD Micro, although I knew I could use it to store and load ATR disk image files. This device stores a whole load of ATR files, which are Atari floppy disk images, onto SD cards. Even a 512Mb SD card can store a massive amount of these disk images.

Unfortunately, I found out that I wasn’t allowed to load a BASIC program from tape, then unplug the XC12 data recorder and plug in the SIO2SD Micro device with the computer still turned on, because this would probably cause damage to the computer or the SIO2SD Micro device. Of course, this device is a modern gadget not even thought of during the time the Atari XE computer range was in production. However, back in those days the equivalent action would have been to load a program from cassette, then try to transfer it to disk. The XC12 cassette data recorder only has one connector, which is a plug on the end of a built in lead, but its predecessor, the Atari 1010 data recorder had another connector, which allowed it, as well as another device, such as a disk drive to be connected at the same time! I wonder how much money this saved Jack Tramiel per XC12 sold? I should mention, that the Tramiel Atari disk drive the XF551 AS WELL AS the Warner Bros Atari 1050 disk drive both have ports that allow a cassette data recorder to be daisy chained to them. The Atari 1010 data recorder probably allows even more devices to be daisy chained, which I’m sure was for a good reason. This means I’ve had to transfer programs by loading them, writing them down by hand, then typing them in again and saving them onto the SIO2SD Micro device!


The Atari 1010 data cassette recorder with its TWO SIO sockets, allowing daisy chaining, instead of just plugging it directly into an Atari computer

Another problem with the Atari 65XE compared with the 800XL is quality of construction. One morning, I turned on the 65XE and found the keyboard was totally dead! None of the keys were working at all. I managed to repair it myself after finding advice online, although I could never get the Select key to work again. Months later, the space bar on the 65XE stopped working, making it impossible to type in BASIC programs. I then put the Atari 65XE to one side and stopped using it until I could be bothered to attempt another repair job. Meanwhile, the older 800XL which has a quite different keyboard with a better feel, is still working!

So, to sum up Warner Bros 2 Jack Tramiel 0.


My Atari 800XL complete with SIO2SD Micro floppy drive emulator and displaying the effect from the game Ataroid when you miss the ball, with so many colours the Commodore 64 is totally outclassed

Posted August 15, 2013 by C64hater in Uncategorized

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