Atari 800XL – Old school fun

The other day, I posted an article about not having any gadgets to play with anymore.  So as I was sitting here debating what to buy, I started searching ebay and somehow came across an old Atari 800XL – Still in the box! This was the first computer I ever owned. My parents gave mine away several years and I haven’t been the same since. I wrote some of my first text-based games in 5th grade on that computer. In any case, I purchased the Atari and won it at a very hefty sum for what it was. I then went a little nuts and bought the assembler editor for it, Atari BASIC (my old programming language), and a few other extras. In case you are wondering, yes, those cartridges will fit into an Atari 2600. They wont do much though in the game console. I have to see if I can get a 1010 casette drive or a 1050 disk drive. I wouldn’t mind the 1030 printer either. I started surfing for some information on how to program these things, because its been 20 years since I’ve seen them. Low and behold, I hit the jackpot at www.atariarchives.org. This site is unbelievable. Tons of books on Atari programming online at no charge! They even had one of the books I had as a kid: Atari Player-Missle Graphics in BASIC. I don’t remember what the other book was, but I’ll continue digging when I’m more coherant. 
This is great stuff to play with, particularly if you are trying to learn the internals of a computer and how to program at machine, assembler, or high level language levels. Because this is an 8 bit primitive system, its much easier to learn how to manipulate the machine to do what you want. You can then scale that knowledge out to 16, 32 or 64 bit systems. I cannot wait to get this item shipped to me, and I’m dying to get it on my desk at work. 
So maybe this isn’t the high-tech I imagined myself buying as a first swat against the scurge of gadgetlessness, but it sure is going to be a very nice one for me. I promise to buy something more meaningful soon.

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