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Atari 1200XL Stacked Up Against a Dell Inspiron

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the ok-it's-actually-stacked-on-top dept.

Portables 253

Bill Kendrick writes "My first computer was the short-lived 1200XL model of the Atari 8-bit computer line. I finally got ahold of one again, after having to settle with a lesser Atari system. My immediate reaction was: 'Damn, it's as big as my Dell Inspiron laptop!', and I couldn't resist doing one of those side-by-side comparisons, complete with photos of one system sitting atop the other. (I also put the 1983 storage and speeds in 2009 terms, for the benefit of the youngin's out there.) While in many ways the Atari pales in comparison to the latest technology they cram into laptops, I do get to benefit from SD storage media. It also still boots way faster than Ubuntu on the Dell, has a far more ergonomic keyboard, and is much more toddler-proof."

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Youngins (5, Funny)

ubergamer1337 (912210) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627675)

"I also put the 1983 storage and speeds in 2009 terms, for the benefit of the youngin's out there." We would thank you, but we're too busy getting off your lawn.

Re:Youngins (3, Funny)

Moblaster (521614) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627743)

>>"I also put the 1983 storage and speeds in 2009 terms, for the benefit of the youngin's out there." We would thank you, but we're too busy getting off your lawn.

Considering the Atari 1200 was powered by the 6502 microprocessor, the assembly code of which drove the original Terminator, that would be an entirely wise idea.

Re:Youngins (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28627925)

keep your dendrophilia to yourself

Re:Youngins (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627929)

He just graduated ten years ago? He is a young'n!

Interesting (2, Interesting)

jimbobborg (128330) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627683)

I had an Atari 800XL back in the day. With a 300 Baud modem, two floppy drives, and a color monitor! I miss that machine. Had way too many pirated games for it.

Re:Interesting (1)

cybrchld (229583) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627759)

Ahhh those were the days. i remember it would take an 1hr to download a single side of a disk. 127K if i remember correctly...

Re:Interesting (1)

chimpo13 (471212) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627899)

Pirating Atari software. Tsk, tsk.

Nolan Bushnell is still a pretty neat guy. I remember years ago when slashdot posted his email and he'd answer just about everything.

I asked about the rumored "Kramer vs Kramer" game where you lure your kid to your side of the screen with gifts and threats. He said if they worked on that, it was past the time he worked there.

I wonder if Bill Gates will answer my question about a possible bug in my Windows 1.0 version of Reversi.

Re:Interesting (1)

uberjack (1311219) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627993)

Yeah, he'd probably blame the amateur BASIC programmers

Re:Interesting (1)

anss123 (985305) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627903)

Had way too many pirated games for it.

A pal of mine had an Atari XEGS. It looked awesome and futuristic, but was a bit of an oddball considering Atari already had the cheaper 2600 and superior 7800 out on the market. Apparently one could convert the XEGS to an XL so I suspect Atari just wanted to cash in on XL games that wouldn't run on a 7800 without a rewrite.

Re:Interesting (1)

Bill Kendrick (19287) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628019)

XEGS was actually just an XL/XE with built-in Missile Command and a funky, detachable keyboard. (The Atari 5200 game system was also similar to the 400/800 (predecessor to the XL/XE), so a lot of games were identical and/or pirated+ported.)

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28628105)

I wish they'd built an 8-bit computer with the 7800's graphics chip. Maria, wasn't it?

I tried to interest Mike Hohman (Fine Tooned), but he wisely blew it off.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28628107)

Heh, my 1st computer was an Atari 400 with the annoying membrane keyboard and only a cassette drive for data IO. Spent many hours drawing crappy graphics pixel by pixel in Atari basic with it though.

Re:Interesting (1)

killmenow (184444) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628347)

I still have my 1200XL, tape drive, Atari /BASIC cartridge, Jumpman Jr. cartridge, floppy drive, original Zork disks, and my Mapping the Atari book. This computer and my then pre-teen self attending a 6502 assembly class started me off on my technology love affair. I also still have old issues of Compute magazine, including the one with the code for keying in Lunar Lander. Lost my modem with acoustic coupler, unfortunately.

Re:Interesting (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628349)

Why did you steal those games from a freighter? Couldn't you just have copied them from others like normal people?

Or are you just already indoctrinated with **AA newspeak?

Re:Interesting (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628379)

Don't Copy That Floppy!

Re:Interesting (1)

Bill Kendrick (19287) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628503)

Thank god Black Ops didn't throw you in "get the crap beat out of you" prison for copying games back then.

What the hell? (4, Funny)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627715)

No SSD? No blu ray? No multiple core processors? No high clocked graphics cards? No ram with heat-spreaders attached? And worst of all no big case with lights inside?!

What kind of world did you people live in?

Re:What the hell? (5, Insightful)

Moblaster (521614) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627853)

It was a world where almost every kid grew up learning at least a little BASIC, because virtually all computers booted right into the BASIC command line. Which skill-wise puts the early 80s generation ahead of every generation before or after, young whippersnapper.

Re:What the hell? (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627883)

As I recall most kids in the 1980s couldn't care less about BASIC or assembler. They just wanted to play games on their home computers.

Re:What the hell? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628439)

Which was only possible if you could do basic!

And many kids actually later started making their own little games. For FUN. Yes!

I loved my ASCII-art games, until I found out, that my crappy 8088 PC could do graphics on his black/green AGA (CGA+Hercules+Monochrome) graphics system. Then I got really sad that I did not find it out earlier.
My father was such a cheap ass. Wanna know what computer I wanted when I got that thing instead?
A 386DX with 33 MHz! Yes. That's how old that thing was!

Re:What the hell? (1)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627917)

Not so fast there.

I'm currently learning VB and Ruby (Basic, but you said basic), and my hardware knowledge is also proficient. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Re:What the hell? (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627939)

To Both: Why? Dear Lord, why?

Learn C# instead, and learn Python instead of Ruby.

Re:What the hell? (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627997)

No, no, no! Learn Java instead, and learn Perl instead of Ruby. Or Python.

De gustibus non est disputandum. [wikipedia.org]

Re:What the hell? (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628193)

No, no, no! Learn Java instead, and learn Perl instead of Ruby. Or Python.

No, no, no! Learn C++, and learn Lisp instead of Perl, Ruby, or Python. ;-)

(Truth be told, I'm closest to the C#/Python person here, but it depends what you want to do of course. C# is a bit nicer language than Java, and programming with Windows Forms beats the crap off of Swing. I would say that it easily should be your choice before VB, even with the improvements in .Net that make them almost the same language with different syntax. The downside to C# is the tie to Windows you get from it. (This is a pretty big downside; whether it's a deal-breaker depends on your personal goals and ideology.) Perl v. Python is a big holy war, but I fall squarely into the Python camp between the two.)

Re:What the hell? (1)

Rasperin (1034758) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628303)

And what Java v. C++ isn't the war of the languages? Learn C++ || Java > C# > dogshit > VB just matters what you want and what you are ready to give. I've been in Java webdev crap for 5x years and I'll tell you it's a great language but there is a point where manual control; even to this day; would be nice. Oh wait java has that what am I saying.

Re:What the hell? (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628397)

And what Java v. C++ isn't the war of the languages?

Yeah, but the part I said at first was much more tongue-in-cheek than the longer notes after it. It's not entirely unfounded in my opinions (especially the Lisp suggestion), but even I will say that C++ no longer qualifies as a "you really should know this" language.

Learn C++ || Java > C# > dogshit > VB

I've already said why I think that "Java > C#" is far from true (even if "Java nothing like pure BASIC), and spawned lots of crappy apps.

I've been in Java webdev crap for 5x years and I'll tell you it's a great language but there is a point where manual control; even to this day; would be nice. Oh wait java has that what am I saying.

I'm not saying Java's a bad language, even if I mostly don't like it personally. If you're looking to start programming and want a more "traditional" language than focusing purely on something like Ruby or Python or Lisp, Java's fine.

Re:What the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28628477)

Ruby isn't so awful. Especially if you're into giggling over your clever Perl-y tricks, more than writing understandable code. If you're just hacking out scripts, whatevs. But yes, VB is an unequivocally awful choice in a world with C#.

Then, if you want to be able to write useful systems-level code, learn C.

-- a Linux Pythonista who makes a living with the mess that is C++/Win32

Re:What the hell? (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628111)

Which skill-wise puts the early 80s generation ahead of every generation before or after, young whippersnapper.

Maybe if you compare % of computer users who can program, but I would bet any money that the difference is more than made up by the increased prevalence of PCs since the early 80s' generation.

(And yes, I was born in the early-to-mid 80s and started programming BASIC in 3rd grade.)

Re:What the hell? (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628217)

Unfortunately, starting with BASIC as your first computer language is the metaphorical equivalent of eating a steady diet of lead-based paint chips as a child and hoping to get into medical school as a young adult.

Re:What the hell? (3, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628749)

Hey, being admitted to a teaching hospital is virtually the same as getting into med school, right?

Re:What the hell? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627865)

No SSD?

Actually, depending on your definition it does have a solid state drive. SD cards are solid state media, and his SIO2PC emulates an atari drive.

That's actually a really cool device, I just got a 600xl, and I'm going to have to pick one up. Very reasonably priced at $60, considering a comparable solution for the IIgs costs twice that.

Re:What the hell? (3, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628085)

What kind of world did you people live in?

As primitive as the world is today, the world I grew up in was WAY primitive. Computers took entire buildings to house but were less powerful than a pocket calculator (my "pocket calculator" was a slide rule), there were no mice, no laser pointers (no lasers at all). there was color TV but only one family in the neighborhood could afford one and besides there were only two station (this was in St Louis, a major metropolis). No VCRs, no video games, no microwave ovens, no cordless phones (the phones had dials instead of buttons), no remote controls. Cars had no fuel injectors, air bags, or seat belts. Most electronics still used tubes. No accomodating lenses for cataract patients (in fact the first IOL was developed only a few years before I was born). Most folks didn't have air conditioning, and nobody had air in their cars. Cars only had AM radio.

When Star Trek came on TV (I was 12 iirc) everything about it was pure science fiction - doors that opened by themselves (now every grocery has them), flat screen desktop computers, "communicators" (cell phones), etc.

You don't realise how primitive your world is until you get older. I can't imagine some of the stuff you guys will get to see. I never dreamed that some day I wouldn't have to wear glasses!

Hell, the laser didn't exist until I was 8 or 9. Talk about primitive.

Re:What the hell? (1)

jbeale53 (1451655) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628185)

Cars had no fuel injectors

What about the 1958 Pontiac Bonneville? ;) Unless, of course, you were going back before then...

Re:What the hell? (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628703)

Did you know that when it was invented, the bosses at Bell labs said "there will never be an application for a room-temperature laser"?

Anyway, speaking of times changing: Before I was born, my dad got out of the Navy and went into an electronics store to buy some items for a home project.

"I'd like to buy some LEDs."

"Uh, what are those?"

"Small round lights, solid state, produce a red light when you apply power."

"They... uh... they don't make anything like that, sir."

*remembers that they were Not Released Yet*

"Oh yeah, you're right, they don't."

Re:What the hell? (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628813)

Computers took entire buildings to house but were less powerful than a pocket calculator

A very common misconception. Actually they were far, far more powerful than any modern computer. One mainframe could run multinational corporations, put a man on the moon, etc. In comparison, on a good day, a modern computer might be able to balance my checkbook, with alot of help, play a game, or maybe replay some music.

That is what motivates people like myself toward retrocomputing... Its not that its a low clock speed, who cares about that, but that on my desk I can now use technology that ran entire research labs, major corporations, etc.

You can either learn how to solve scalable, ultra high reliability, enterprise grade computing problems by studying how the ancients solved those problems, or flail around blindly while re-learning the ancient's wisdom... Your choice.

Power is applied by changing the world, not toggling a flipflop at GHz speeds but not really doing anything out in the world.

Re:What the hell? (1)

bughunter (10093) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628855)

What kind of world did you people live in?

A world without insanely cheap, plentiful CPU cycles, digital mass storage and RAM. Therefore, games were all analog and generally involved things called balls, and lots of dirt, and it carried the risk of a range of bodily injuries from scuffed knees to broken bones. Similarly, porn was recorded in analog form -- i.e., stored in your biological neural network (aka, "spank bank") -- for, ahem, later retrieval. If you were lucky, you could find a photographic album of naked women, cars, and left-wing politics (aka, "playboy") hidden in your father's workbench. And we had sex with corporeal, fleshy things sporting the occasional hairy and/or saggy bits (aka, "girls")... unlike the waxed silicone representations of today.

That world was called... the Nineteen Seventies.

Enjoyable reading. (1)

davebarnes (158106) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627723)

I look forward to your IBM 1401 versus the Dell laptop comparison.

Not again! (3, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627731)

Slashdot's continuing trend to post stories late continues, with one now finally exiting the queue that came from 1983. And even then; The 1200xl was so horrible that people bought up its predecessor to avoid having to succumb to the evil. Someone quick, draw an analogy to the current Vista v. XP debacle as a distraction while I run away now!

Re:Not again! (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628699)

Do you want to have some car analogy in there?
We offer nice Edsel ones today!

Next up...A Wurlitzer Stacked Up Against a Toaster (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28627739)

This could be the most retarded thing on /. in days... Who the fuck cares about comparing and Atari and an Inspiron?!?!?

Even better! (5, Funny)

EdipisReks (770738) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627745)

I'm going to compare my horse to my car! My dog to my Xbox! My socks to my power outlets!

Re:Even better! (1)

box4831 (1126771) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628067)

My socks to my power outlets!

I, for one, am looking forward to that one. :D

Re:Even better! (4, Funny)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628083)

Dude, Dells aren't all that bad. You don't have to call them horses, dogs, and socks. ;)

Re:Even better! (3, Funny)

aardwolf64 (160070) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628381)

Well, we DO measure the power of an engine in "horsepower". Dogbox, not so much...

Missile command (3, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627749)

Unfortunately, the Atari trakball is digital so you don't get that much benefit from using the trackball over a regular joystick. If you want to play a real game of Missile Command, you need an Atari 5200, and it's giant ass trackball.

Re:Missile command (1)

Bill Kendrick (19287) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628101)

Digital in the same sense that a ball-based mouse on a PC is digital. Though the Trak-Ball I have also has a switch to change between trackball and joystick mode, so you can play joystick-based games with it.

Re:Missile command (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628313)

Mine doesn't have that, I know there were a few different models so maybe that's the difference.

Re:Missile command (1)

Bill Kendrick (19287) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628359)

Hrm. Tried holding the [Select] button down while you turn it on? That _should_ boot it into Missile Command, if my Google-fu is working for me.

Re:Missile command (0, Troll)

idontgno (624372) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628197)

If you want to play a real game of Missile Command, you need an Atari 5200, and it's giant ass trackball.

0_o

Oh, ok. I get it. English isn't your native language, so it's natural to drop those pesky indefinite articles.

Here's your sentence, expanded and grammatically correct:

...you need an Atari 5200; it is a giant ass trackball.

Now, I was always partial to the Amiga back in the era of the Atari ST/Amiga flamewar, but I'd never call the 5200 a trackball. It was a legitimate console.

Wait. I think I misinterpreted that. You're saying that the Atari 5200 was a very large trackball intended to be manipulated by the user's butt. Am I right? That would be quite a peripheral, kinda like a ur-Wii Fit controller.

BTW, if I recall correctly, the original Missile Command controller was digital (rotary quadrature encoding, like optomechanical mice). The Atari 2600 Trackball was also quad-encoded digital, and pretty easy to retrofit for use with the Amiga, the mouse interface of which was based on quad encoding.

Re:Missile command (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28628323)

and it's giant ass trackball

?????

Cue those age-old memories (1)

Ollabelle (980205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627755)

I think I was the only guy who bought an Apple III; it had 5 meg hard drive that sat between the box and the monitor - meaning that the drive was as wide as the monitor.

And your point is? (0, Flamebait)

LABarr (14341) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627769)

I have a .22 rifle from the early 1900's that still shoots the bullets out the barrel end. When compared to my "modern" .22 rifle they pretty much do the same thing.

Re:And your point is? (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628055)

That's not really the same. His comparison would be more like you putting your .22 rifle against my Heckler and Koch 91. Granted, the H&K 91 is a 1950s design based on a 1940s rifle but I bet you it will make things seem worlds apart.

Longevity (5, Insightful)

Mordaximus (566304) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627795)

That dell won't be running in 27 years to make a similar comparison. It may be huge and slow, but that atari is still running in 2009. That's no small feat.

Re:Longevity (4, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627949)

I'm here from the future to tell you that in fact, the Dell lapto-

BZZZTT *crackle*

OH NO THE ROBOTS ARE OUT! *bzzzZZT* EVERBODY RUN, RUN! AAAAAAAAA ...*ZAP*

How do you figure that? (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628181)

I bet you could find an original 100XT today and still get it running. Those were available.. what, mid-1980's? That's getting close to 27 years... though not quite yet, so can't be 100% sure. Just as you can't be 100% sure that if somebody keeps that dell laying about for 27 years, it won't start back up.

At least with the Dell, you won't have to worry about finding a display, etc. Just a power source.. that should still be doable in 27 years, long after the battery's died you can still hook it up to -a- power source that fits the bill.

Maybe it's popular to bash 'modern devices', claiming they were 'made to fail in 2 years, just after the warranty runs out'.. and there's sure to be some truth to it, but it's still mostly bashing.

( written from an Acer Aspire 2000 - 5 years old, long way to go to hit 27, but I'm guessing the only reason it's not going to hit that number under my ownership is because I happen to be looking for a replacement, and will trade this one in so it can be refurbished or, more likely, recycled )

Re:How do you figure that? (1)

Bill Kendrick (19287) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628315)

Heh. I _already_ can't seem to get a replacement keyboard from Dell. :^( (They've got all sorts of wireless crap they can sell me.) Maybe I didn't dig around the service section of their website long enough.

Re:Longevity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28628241)

If it were a Dell Latitude it would have no problem lasting for 30 years. Those things are built like tanks.

Re:Longevity (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628343)

What percentage of 1200XLs still function, do you think? Remember that people think "they made stuff better 100 years ago", but that's because only the stuff that was any good in the first place survived 100 years of use. Plenty of crap was made back then too, but it's not around to admire.

Re:Longevity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28628659)

That dell won't be running in 27 years to make a similar comparison. It may be huge and slow, but that atari is still running in 2009. That's no small feat.

Um; TRS 80's (trash 80's) are still running today. Where have you been?
-Scriptsit Lives!!!!

1KB != 1B (4, Informative)

Mprx (82435) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627803)

Some of the "In 1980s terms" calculations are out by a factor of 1024. I'd love to have a laptop with 2TB ram, but I don't think they exist yet.

Re:1KB != 1B (1)

needs2bfree (1256494) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628007)

Also, he makes a comparison based on the processor frequency. I didn't run the numbers, but I'll bet those are off by a fair bit as well.

Re:1KB != 1B (3, Funny)

Bill Kendrick (19287) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628069)

Heh, crap. It was late, and I've got a toddler, so I do appreciate corrections. ;)

Re:1KB != 1B (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628253)

You forgot to add entries for "desirability 25 years after release", and "fun factor".

Because I am damn sure that seeing big blocky graphics and text on a 12" TV back in 1983 was a lot more exciting than anything computery today. And I doubt you'll be hunting around for a 2009 Dell Inspiron in 2035.

I had two awesome experiences - My Amstrad CPC 464 (my first computer), and my Amiga 500. Nothing since then has been even within an order of magnitude as fun.

I bet my dad went through the same thing with cars and TVs. At least this decade has seen some major TV advancements - vast, high resolution flat thin TVs after decades of bulky CRTs.

Re:1KB != 1B (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28628681)

same here for the amiga 500, I saved up 1000$ when I was 14 to buy one to replace my atari 400. I think back and realize I could have bought a moped and worked on my social life but the atari had me already set in stone to be looked at funny for the rest of my high school years.

Re:1KB != 1B (1)

JoeRandomHacker (983775) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628079)

Atari 8-bits were 1.79Mhz.

Processor frequency (1)

Dadoo (899435) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628277)

I'll bet those are off by a fair bit as well.

No, for a direct clock speed comparison, those are correct. However, a modern PC processor can do things like a 64-bit integer multiply in a single instruction (and I'm fairly sure a single cycle). The 6502 would require tens (possibly hundreds) of instructions for that type of operation, more for division, and significantly more for floating point. It would depend on the application, so you couldn't quote a single number, but a modern PC is much more than 1117x faster than a 6502.

boot time (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28627817)

..and I'm willing to bet the Atari still boots faster!

Re:boot time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28627933)

It does, he says so in TFA

Re:boot time (1)

hesiod (111176) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628059)

He says so in the summary.

Try again in another 26 years... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28627823)

Fascinating that your Atari from 26 years ago can still power on and operate. So the big question is: What will your Dell Inspiron be able to do in 26 years?

Re:Try again in another 26 years... (1)

Reece400 (584378) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627919)

Poisin our drinking water?

Re:Try again in another 26 years... (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628141)

Yeah, it's interesting... the microelectronics are, obviously, terribly outmoded... but in a lot of ways, the physical construction of those pcs from the 80's are far better than much of what we get today. I've held laptops in my hands that I swear I could shatter with a firm twist. Plus... keyboards have generally declined in quality.

I guess it's because materials technology/manufacturing has been pretty mature for decades; progress in the last 20 years has been focused on cutting cost and eliminating waste, rather than building things stronger/better/more accessible.

Sound (4, Insightful)

Bill Kendrick (19287) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627967)

Plus... sound _always_ works on my Atari, unlike the latest version of Ubuntu ;^P

Atari wins... (1)

Bazman (4849) | more than 5 years ago | (#28627983)

...on boot time, I reckon. The Dell will still be flipping through its BIOS screens when the Atari has checked its RAM and started its OS from ROM.

  Seems to be a trend - my (1981) ZX81 started almost instantly, the ZX Spectrum (1982) took a few seconds, my Atari ST (1987) a bit longer, and these days a PC needs to check a couple of gigs of RAM and load a bloated OS from disk....

Hm. (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628045)

... does it run Linux? :)

Re:Hm. (2, Funny)

Bill Kendrick (19287) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628137)

"Does it run Linux?"

Sadly, no. But I love it anyway. :) Everything else in the house does, though. (The SmartStor NAS, the Roku Netflix Player, the TiVo DVR, my laptop, my wife's laptop, our toddler... oh wait, not yet.)

Re:Hm. (2, Informative)

Aliotroph (1297659) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628825)

The closest thing it might run with sufficient hacker dedication would seem to be LUnix [sourceforge.net] .

Keyboard (3, Insightful)

Danathar (267989) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628087)

The Atari Keyboard looks cooler. That's enough for me!

Re:Keyboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28628671)

Must be a mac fanboi

mod me off-topic but... (0, Offtopic)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628125)

I still haven't figured out what constitutes a valid submission and what would be considered mindless tosh to be rejected.

This is all fine and well but... (2, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628129)

As nifty as your comparison is I've always found that the computing experience is based more on the ass in the chair than the box on the desk.

In other words: I knew how to get more out of my Commodore 64 at the age of 17 than my 17 year old nephew can get out of his Dell. At least as far as how to do it without Google support and a slew of gadgets and gimmicks.

What I got from this article (1)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628135)

Flame me if you want, but it seems like an Atari computer made in 1983 works better with peripherals than an Ubuntu does made in 2009. And it probably plays more games, too. Let's all play Missile Command.

Re:What I got from this article (2, Insightful)

abigor (540274) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628333)

Flame me if you want, but it seems like an Atari computer made in 1983 works better with peripherals than an Ubuntu does made in 2009.

Let's be honest - that's not saying much.

Seriously though, those early 8-bit computers were simply the greatest things ever for learning. They were small enough that you could comfortably learn them in a pretty complete fashion. My C64 Programmer's Reference Guide taught you everything you needed to know about that machine, supplemented by The Transactor, possibly the greatest technical computer magazine ever.

Fail... (1)

Twig (93915) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628157)

Ataris were always rubbish anyway. Long live the Amiga!

Cost? (2, Funny)

AdamTrace (255409) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628177)

Did I miss it somewhere? It would be interesting to know the retail cost at time of purchase for each computer.

I knew/knew of the submitter (Hi Bill!) in college. He had a real hard-on for Atari's. Still does, apparently. :)

Adman

ERROR 9 (4, Interesting)

nvrrobx (71970) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628207)

This reminds me of one of the most impressive things about my Atari 800XL. I ran into this error when I first started to learn anything about computers. I was thoroughly stumped. (I was also 8 years old.)

I wrote a letter to Atari (using Atari Writer!) and I got a reply back in the mail just a few weeks later. They told me what I did wrong, included a bunch of software, an Atari BASIC book and a years subscription to Antic.

No computer company has impressed me like that since then.

Re:ERROR 9 (1)

n30na (1525807) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628357)

Wow. Makes me think of how I gave up trying to learn java initially when I was 9 or so (I'm 18 now)... I wish someone had given me that kind of push then.. though at least I do know java now. But still. That's really cool.

Re:ERROR 9 (1)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628553)

Ahhh. The days when technology companies were run by engineers for engineers, not marketing whores worshipping their quarterly bonus.

Re:ERROR 9 (1)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628603)

I like your story. It reminds me of the time I was having a problem with an Epson MX-80 printer. I found the phone number for the company via information and in a few minutes I was surprised to be talking to the actual president of Epson America. Instead of directing my call elsewhere, he actually took a few minutes to help me troubleshoot my problem. Yep, all in all, I think I liked computers better when I was the only guy I knew who had one.
   

Re:ERROR 9 (1)

fliptout (9217) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628651)

Reminds me of something similar.

When I was in the fourth grade I wrote a letter to Jack(or Sam, I don't recall) Tramiel, the president of Atari. I had a few ideas for video games, and I got a personal letter back. Quite an awesome experience for me at the time. I need to dig out that letter.

Get over the compares already (2, Insightful)

Cryogenic Specter (702059) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628267)

Oooh oooh I know! Compare an Asus EeePC to a Speak and Spell next! Or maybe an Asimo to a Teddy Ruxpin.
I first read the comparison between a C64 and an iPhone and thought that was dumb, but I am surprised to see another "comparison" story.
Yes, back in the day, things were old and different, but comparing them really does not do much.
It might be more useful to compare an array of things like storage methods over time (washing machine platters, real to real tape, cassette, floppy, HD, zip, jazz, optical, cd, dvd, flash). Or maybe interesting memory storage methods, for example, did you know that there was a method of storing data in "memory" by keeping a pulse in a tube of mercury? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delay_line_memory) That is cool.
Any more of these "comparisons" should compare more than one old school item to some modern device. That would make it more interesting and seem a lot less like comparing apples to ... rocks.

Not a speak and spell, but... (2, Interesting)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628509)

When I got my Eee, I actually did a comparison to the (SCO) Unix server we used circa 1992.

Systems: EeePC 900, Target model; Austin WinTower 486/33E.

CPU:
Eee - 900MHz Celeron
WinTower - 33MHz 486/33 (note that this predates the DX/SX split)
Comparison: Eee - 30x faster

RAM:
Eee - 1GB DDR
WinTower - 32MB FPM
Comparison: Eee 32x more, runs at higher speed, wider bus.

Storage:
Eee - 4GB IDE SSD (added 16GB SDHC)
WinTower - 1GB 5.25" Full Height SCSI-2 HD (added 4GB SCSI-2 drive and 1GB Tape drive)
Comparison: Eee 4x larger (before and after upgrades). Eee - 3-4x faster (estimated)

Network:
Eee - 100BaseT, 802.11G
WinTower - 10Base2 (yes, ThinNet)
Comparison: Eee, 10x faster wired.

Video:
Eee - 1024x600x24 integrated 9" LCD, Accelerated (Intel chipset), external 1024x768 VGA available
WinTower: 1024x768x8, 14" CRT, Frame buffer (Trident TVGA)
Comparison: Eee: Better color, faster video. WinTower: Higher Resolution.

I/O:
Eee - 3xUSB2, Mic In, Audio Out
WinTower: 2 spare EISA slots, 2 spare ISA slots, 6xRS232, 5.25" and 3.5" Floppy disk, Bidirectional Parallel port

O/S:
Eee - Eeebuntu 3.0
WinTower: SCO Open Desktop 2.0 Server
Comparison: Eee wins.

Keyboard:
Eee - integrated laptop style keyboard
WinTower: 101-Key AT connector keyboard
Comparison: WinTower wins.

Mouse:
Eee - Integrated touchpad, MS Wireless Laptop Wheel Mouse
WinTower - Logitech 2 button mouse
Comparison: Eee wins (when using external mouse)

Cost:
Eee - $400 (2008 USD, includes RAM upgrade and SDHC)
WinTower - $15000 (1992 USD, includes SCO ODT2 and Dev System)

Re:Not a speak and spell, but... (1)

Cryogenic Specter (702059) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628787)

Yes, but could the Austin WinTower 486/33E Speak OR Spell? I think not! at least not with the provided specs. ;)
Also, the keyboard comparison is purely opinion. The eee pc has an integrated keyboard (which I like) AND will take a usb keyboard, which you could argue is fair considering the mouse comparison and the fact that an AT keyboard is externally attached anyway.
I am thinking that the speak and spell could totally take your WinTower in a comparison anyway. I mean, you can make interplanetary phone calls with some simple modifications that enable the "Phone Home" features...

Typo at the end of article (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628283)

I read through it and it seemed pretty plausible until I ran across

He lives in Davis, California with his wife and son

They don't really expect us to believe that, do they?

Why is bootup time a metric of quality? (3, Interesting)

synthesizerpatel (1210598) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628339)

If you're dealing with say, realtime embedded devices for managing air travel or life-support systems, sure.

But who cares how long it takes to boot your desktop or laptop? I reboot my laptop maybe once a week, the rest of the time it's either running or hibernating.

I'd rather have a slow boot up that verifies everything is working correctly than a fast one that skips sanity checks. It's not the OS that causes bootup slowness anyway but rather the 5400RPM honey-encrusted hard-drives that slow things down.

Drop an SSD HDD in and the time is reduced to trivial levels on any operating system.

Re:Why is bootup time a metric of quality? (3, Interesting)

n30na (1525807) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628373)

If my laptop booted faster I'd be more likely to boot it down and carry it around. Enough of a reason to complain about boot times imo.

8bit colour? (1)

luther2.1k (61950) | more than 5 years ago | (#28628815)

Hang on.. 256 colours? That can't be 256 at once, surely. The Atari ST could only do 4bits per pixel out of a palette of 512. I'm guessing that's a palette of 256 so did it have an 8bit RAMDAC? (if I'm remembering my terms correctly).

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