Talk:Atari 8-bit family

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Split-off suggestions[edit]

This article is getting quite long now, and has been for some time:-

Peripherals section[edit]

As far as peripherals go, "split" perhaps isn't the word I'm looking for. On the contrary, the section only lists the peripheral names, and I think that we need *more* on the peripherals- but not in the main article.

So, the question is what form this should take. Whilst the C64 people have chosen to create an article for each peripheral(*), I'm not convinced this is the best choice here. I believe that information on closely related items is better served by keeping them in context as a cohesive whole.

For example, separate articles on the Atari 410, 1010, XC11 and XC12 tape decks are likely to either remain perma-stubs (since there isn't enough unique to each), or end up containing duplicated information (hard to maintain, frustrating to read). In contrast, an article (or article section) detailing how the generic Atari cassette system works, noting the different models, avoids this problem and gives a better overview.

The disc-drive stuff also warrant a separate article (including moving the more detailed information about the DOSs). Although there may (in theory) be more than enough to say about each drive to justify individual articles, we also have to consider the benefits of having all the information in context.

On the other hand, the printers are less closely-related; e.g. the 1020 plotter and 1027 printer are different beasts altogether.

My initial idea was to have a separate "Atari 8-bit peripherals" article, but on reflection, I think that one for each group of peripherals (disk drives, tape drives, etc.) might be better. Any thoughts? Fourohfour 16:59, 22 October 2006 (UTC)

(*)Edit: As well as an overall "Commodore (64) peripherals" article. Fourohfour 17:02, 22 October 2006 (UTC)

Personally I'd like to see the Atari 8-bit computers in articles on their own, somewhat like the Atari ST article. Thus even more stuff can be written about them specifically, without ruining this one. I know the 8-bit Atari's werent as succesive as competitive models from Commodore or Sinclair, but even less notable homecomputers have their own articles. I can volunteer to help out, if needed. AndersL 19:02, 15 November 2006 (UTC)
That sounds like a good idea. I'd be wary of over-splitting; e.g. would the 65XE and 800XE warrant separate articles for essentially the same machine? (Yes, I appreciate that there were differences; but then there were greater differences between (e.g.) the different revisions and PAL/NTSC variants of the 800XL). Fourohfour 12:32, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
I agree about avoding oversplitting. I think the way they are covered now might be a good way to do a split: Atari 400 and 800 might be redirected into one article named "Atari 400/800" or something, covering both. Atari XL and Atari XE, in their repesctive articles. I did a 400/800 mock up in my sanbox as an example to view, Suggestions? --AndersL 19:43, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
That looks okay, though I'm not sure that I'd split the peripherals up amongst the different computers. We need to keep (this) main overview article for the whole family. The individual articles should concentrate mainly on details specific to that machine/series. The parent article wouldn't need to cover all the minor points, and the individual-machine articles would refer back to it. Fourohfour 17:52, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Split off peripherals section[edit]

No-one came up with any opposition, and the article is now far too long. So I've made a start by splitting off the peripherals section into Atari 8-bit computer peripherals and replacing the section here with an abbreviated {{mainarticle}} version.

As I said before, I also think there is the potential for pages dedicated to the disk drives and cassette drives- but not for individual models; see what I said above about over-splitting into fragmented and/or content-duplicating articles. Fourohfour 16:32, 18 March 2007 (UTC)

Non-core information[edit]

As far as the software-driven modes stuff goes, whilst these are clever and interesting programming techniques, they aren't part of the core Atari spec. It may be preferable to summarise the flexibility of mode-mixing, DLIs and the like, and include a link to a separate, more detailed article containing this information.Fourohfour 16:59, 22 October 2006 (UTC)

-- Doing reverts citing "softly softly language" (what is that?) and then using clearly archaic words like whilst and more broken grammar in the discussion is behavior that I find questionable. Instead of reverting, why not take the time to revise? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs).

The "softly softly language" ( see "before") seemed as if it was trying to make the article *look* fairer, but didn't actually change what was said. (It just padded it out in an attempt to make it seem less offensive, so in a way it was misleading and redundant). I'm sure there's a proper term for this, but I'm not an expert like you, and I just did my best to come up with something descriptive.

As for "whilst", I came across an entry for it in a book on plain English yesterday. (I realised that my writing is longwinded and sometimes pompous, so I'd wanted to cut that down). The book said that "whilst" is archaic in the U.S. (I didn't know that), but still used in the U.K., where I live. I'd always wondered which was better and what the difference in use was (the book recommended "while" and said there was no difference).

Even so, I'm certainly not apologising for saying "whilst". Aside from being acceptable (if slightly old-fashioned) where I come from, calling my behaviour "questionable" because of this- and other things that don't meet your oh-so-perfect standards- is over the top. It wasn't even relevant to the issue we were discussing.

As for reverting instead of rewriting; the old version seemed fine to me and had no major flaws. So why rewrite? (There was also some POV/OR in the version I reverted). Some people at Wikipedia dislike reversion except in cases of vandalism- I'm not one of them. Rewriting just for the sake of it is pointless.

Finally, I moved the non-core information to its own article, I just wanted to be sure everyone else was happy with the idea first. Quit attacking me when I've made a good effort to sort out this article. Fourohfour 15:36, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

Split off "software" section[edit]

In addition to hiving off most the "peripherals" section to its own article (and abbreviating its entry here), I have done the same with the "software" section.

I deliberately left the "operating system" information here, as I felt that the OS belongs to the "core" article. I also wanted to avoid having three(!) copies of some OS info (in the main article, in Atari 8-bit computer software and in Atari DOS)- I'm very keen to avoid overlap.

The programming languages bit (in full) has been moved to Atari 8-bit computer software, and the corresponding entry in the main article much abbreviated. Please bear in mind that this is now only meant as a brief overview, with the original info intact in the linked "mainarticle"; if anything, it could do with further pruning.

All the same, if you feel that I've been over-zealous with the changes, please let me know! Thanks.

Fourohfour 19:54, 18 March 2007 (UTC)

Length and style[edit]

I've taken the time to copyedit the first third or so of the article... massive problems with active/passive voice, tense agreement, and general diction. My major concern with this article is the length and over-abundance of technical information. As other editors have noted, it really needs to be spli (I would suggest along technical lines). Obviously a lot of people have put a lot of work and contributed a lot of technical knowledge (original research not withstanding). I think maybe you guys should look into an Atari workgroup -- it seems like there are lots of areas of overlap; a coordinated effort might both trim the articles and provide a more standardized way of categorizing and cataloging the information. /Blaxthos 01:04, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

What exactly does this mean?[edit]

"Management identified two sweet spots for the new computers, a low-end version known as Candy, and a higher-end machine known as Colleen (named after two attractive Atari secretaries)."

Are you talking about marketability, a consumer niche, a technical aspect of the machinery? I have no idea—using colloquialisms or overly familiar speech in Wikipedia has no place, IMO. This is compounded by the fact that the link for "sweet spot" shows three meanings that are not relevant to the apparent use of the phrase in the this sentence. Is there a reason why someone went to the trouble of linking? (talk) 14:29, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

SI Prefixes vs. Binary Prefixes[edit]

As Binary Prefixes only came into vogue circa 1999, and have still not been adopted by industry or users, I would like to nominate usage of SI prefixes in this article. Every issue of Antic I own uses SI Prefixes, and in fact the Atari manuals, publications, and my trusty de re Atari book all use kB. In fact, the RAM cart's in my system use SI Prefixes. Once they start manufacturing Atari RAM memory cart's with Binary Prefixes, we should reference them in this article. TopaTopa 21:02, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

I agree Fnagaton 21:22, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
But the SI defines prefixes strictly as powers of 10. Furthermore, an uppercase K isn't even defined as a prefix, its meaning remains ambiguous. The IEC notation is unambiguous and recommended by the Manual of Style. Do the old sources mean 1000 or 1024? Femto 23:10, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
Old sources mean 1024. Sarenne 17:32, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
The sources and the context of the article define the values used adequately enough for there to be little ambiguity to the exact size used. To try to use the binary prefixes in an article that does not have sources using those terms creates more confusion than any ambiguity. Fnagaton 23:55, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
With binary prefixes, there is no ambiguity and no confusion. The fact that the sources don't use these prefixes doesn't matter. What is important is what the sources mean. Wikipedia is an encylopedia, not a manual or a documentation. Sarenne 16:25, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
Yes you are adding confusion and ambiguity because the terminology used in the sources does matter and the article needs to be consistent with its sources. If you want to use binary prefixes then you must provide sources that use them. Since you have not changed the sources then you are making edits based on style considerations and the MoS states that style considerations must use the style of the first major contributor. Anyway the correct place for this particular issue is the MoS talk page, not here. I've directed you to there a few times already in other articles so please go there to talk. Fnagaton 16:53, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
Again, since the MoS clearly states that the use of binary prefixes is recommanded, there's no doubt about the style until you have succeeded in changing the MoS. Your disagreement (or TopaTopa's) is not a doubt about the style to use. I don't want to go to the talk page of MoS to answer your arguments because they have already been discussed a thousand times and i already gave my answers. Sarenne 17:32, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
Again no. The MoS has that clause which overrides the numbers guidelines. Your arguments are actually petitio principii and new persuasive arguments have been presented on that talk page. If you are not prepared to go to the correct talk page then I will take that as meaning you do not want to follow procedure for resolution of this issue or that you have nothing new to add. Either of which means that you do not have a basis to continue to make binary prefix changes. I will therefore continue to follow the MoS where is says to defer to the original style. Fnagaton 17:44, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
The guideline you are talking about states that you should defer to original style if there's a doubt about the style to use. If there's a guideline that says what is the recommanded style, there's no doubt. You are following a guideline that you don't understand. BTW, your arguments are not new. Sarenne 18:05, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
The guideline you cite is overruled by the guidelines I have cited, those are the guidelines about differences in style and the guidelines about an article being consistent with its sources. My arguments are new and you claiming otherwise doesn't make it true, especially since you don't want to talk on the proper talk page. You now have two choices, take it to the proper talk page or don't make changes. Fnagaton 18:17, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
Also, according to the Binary prefix article "As of 2007 the binary naming convention has not gained widespread use." Any trip to your local computer store shows that neither industry nor consumers have adopted Binary Prefixes, and I would suggest that this is due to the market confusion that it would cause. For revisionists to attempt to retroactively alter the source references of computers dating before the Binary Prefix movement only creates the very confusion you're hoping to avoid. Look, use the Binary Prefix all you want on computers after 1998, and you won't hear a peep out of me -- but the position of revisionism on retro-computing systems is both arrogant and misguided. I wasn't confused by the SI prefix back then, why would I be now? Why not focus your energies on Pluto (which as I was taught as a boy, is a planet -- I see no need to unlearn that information)? TopaTopa 22:31, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a form of social engineering. No one else uses binary prefixes; neither should we. It's especially absurd to use them for systems of the 8-bit era. Crotalus horridus (TALKCONTRIBS) 00:48, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
That's your opinion. Since MoS has not changed, I'm restoring binary prefixes. Sarenne 16:33, 24 April 2007 (UTC)
This is kind of funny. A capital K has quite unambiguously referred to a multiplier of 1024 in computer contexts for almost half a century already. However, the meaning of B is much more ambiguous (there are some contexts where a byte isn't 8 bits), so why aren't these binary prefix zealots advocating the use of octets (o) or bits instead of bytes? --Viznut 04:47, 27 April 2007 (UTC)
Um...could it possibly be because this is the ATARI 8-BIT FAMILY entry? Have you read the arguments? Is your question rhetorical? TopaTopa 02:41, 30 April 2007 (UTC)
The zealots don't need to care whether something is obvious or not. Even if the size of the byte stands in the title of the article, they should be able to advocate the conversion of bytes into octets. However, I'm genuinely surprised that none of these kibibyte advocates ever talks about this issue, so I'm trying to tease them with it :) --Viznut 07:07, 30 April 2007 (UTC)
First of all, guidelines don't really "overrule" each other. Wikipedia is a community project, and the editors who contribute are expected to consult guidelines when working towards a consensus. Personally, I believe that binary prefixes in this context only causes more confusion. Let's keep things contextual in the article, but more importantly let's work towards finding a consensus. /Blaxthos 07:19, 30 April 2007 (UTC)
The majority of reliable sources for this article do not use binary prefixes so I don't think binary prefxies should be used. If you have any thoughts/opinions then this specific topic is being discussed on the following talk page Manual of Style (dates and numbers) in the sections to do with "binary prefixes". Fnagaton 09:17, 30 April 2007 (UTC)

I feel mention of "binary prefixes" is inappropriate in this article. Not only are they (nearly) universally ignored in the real world (outside of various comities which feel a need to "solve" nonexistent problems), these prefixes were not even used at the time. I don't understand who these crusaders are who go from article to article inserting this kind of stuff. No one cares and its not relevant to the subject. Mcphja2 05:23, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

Luckily the guideline has been changed now and Sarenne who is infamous for making binary prefix changes has been banned. Fnagaton 08:26, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
I have requested lifting of the ban. Although the possibility remains that anonymous edit-warring (which was probably Sarenne) could take place, at worst we can still allow registered users to edit. Fourohfour 10:18, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
Indeed, a few other articles have also been unprotected recently and it appears as though the anonymous Tor user (Sarenne) has stopped doing those edits now. It's easy to spot anyway if it does happen, some anonymous user changing lots of articles to use binary prefixes. Fnagaton 10:29, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
I assume that someone with admin powers can bulk-revert these changes? Fourohfour 10:32, 20 June 2007 (UTC)
I don't know if there is a bulk revert option for admins. I just revert the individual changes and place some text on the talk page for the IP saying it is a Tor exit node. Eventually an admin does the ban. Fnagaton 18:33, 20 June 2007 (UTC)

Remove Graphics capabilities[edit]

The article still has a "too long" tag, one that I generally disagree with. However one obvious candidate for snippage is the list of video modes, which really doesn't belong here. But then the OS release versions also seems somewhat out of place at that point.


Maury 15:16, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Edit, sorry, I mean "Graphics capabilities" of course. Maury 15:19, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
The information belongs there, but it could be made more concise for this article, and possibly put in a table. More detailed info could go elsewhere. I'm wary of creating too many pointless small articles that just split stuff too far and only go into slightly more detail than the parent though. Fourohfour 20:54, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
Well actually I think they should just be removed and thrown in the trash. This isn't the Atari Hardware Reference Manual, and if someone wants to know it, it can be found in seconds with a Google search. So, and reason not to just remove it outright? Speak now, or forever hold your peace! Maury 20:56, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
You could say that about a lot of things. I agree that this isn't (and wasn't suggesting it should be) the Reference Manual, but an overview of its graphics capabilities isn't out of place. Perhaps an example graphic for each mode might even be useful. Fourohfour 23:17, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

But why do you think this material should be here? It's just not encyclopedic. Perhaps a much simplified version, as in the C64 article, but anything beyond that just doesn't seem useful. People come here to know what this was, not how to program it. Maury 00:26, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

...and then I went and asked a tech question on the C64 page about this, which kinda invalidates my own point. *sigh* Ideas on some examples? Maury 03:22, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

A summary of the main modes and a small graphical illustration at the same scale for each. Maybe stripped of the more "reference manual" type technical info. Fourohfour 12:26, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

Shielding vs. Slots[edit]

the article currently states: "Due to the FCC restrictions, the 400/800 couldn't allow slots like those found on the Apple II computers."

Why? Did Apple 'get away with' something? If an explanation is not appropriate for this article, it should at least link to one in the Apple ][ article. -- (talk) 01:43, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

Someone(s) edited out the info in the article. Atari included a RF modulator which generated TV signals which forced them to shield the machines, preventing slots. Apple did NOT include an RF modulator, so it didn't have to comply with the FCC regs on shielding for a RF device. --Pelladon (talk) 03:21, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

The statement is completely wrong. (I'll attend to the text ASAP.) The 800 had a ROM slot, three RAM slots (one of which was sometimes used for a third-party 80-column display card, etc.), and a concealed "slot" for the CPU, ANTIC and CTIA/GTIA ICs. -Johnlogic (talk) 01:11, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Let me clarify, expansion slots like those found on Apple II's. Those slots for the 800 were for internal use, like ROM and RAM cards. A few third party products added features like 80 column and extra RAM. Those slots weren't designed for outside connections (like the PC or Apple slots were).Pelladon (talk) 02:40, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

BTW: massive "cast iron" shielding? I don't think so. --Pelladon (talk) 03:03, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

More specifically, the problem wasn't so much the slots themselves, but how to have those slots talk to external hardware. One of the most common uses of slots in the Apple was to support Centronix and RS-232 ports, which routed cables out the back through holes in the case. Similar holes on the atari would have ruined the faraday cage effect. So you could have a card, but nothing could connect to it, which pretty much made them useless. Not entirely so, as the Austin Franklin 80 Column RGBI Video Board demonstrated, but still a major PITA. Thanks FCC. Maury (talk) 20:29, 22 August 2008 (UTC)

Second time this has been taken out[edit]

Hi all

I edited the section some time ago to include this, albeit in different wording, and yet again it has been simply removed. The reason for removal was the same on both occasions - 1st time "it's not 1200XL-specific, the whole family is HD-connectable." and 2nd time "the same can be said for any 8-bit, not just the 1200XL", yet it is not mentioned anywhere in the article, and there is no article for the XL series on its own

The XL series was capable of being connected to external devices such as drives, and one major advantage the XL had over its rivals was the ability to store games and data onto hard drive

Can someone decide where to put it and have the courtesy to chat about it, reword it, or put it in the right place rather than just taking it out. It is an important factor in the XL's advantage over the rest of the competition.

Third time lucky !!

Thanks--Chaosdruid (talk) 03:13, 29 January 2009 (UTC)

That statement is not true. Most Atari's competitors at the time were HD-connectable, so there's no reason it should be in the article. Even it it were true, you have not provided a source to back it up.--Krótki (talk) 19:42, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
As far as I am aware the Commodore series did not get Hard disks until 1983/84, and the XL series had them in 1982. Seagat made disks earlier, in 1980 but they were not compatible. The Apple series had hard drives available in 1981 for the II but they were not really competition for the atari, as they were not really used for gaming. Anyway it seems you are not really interested in researching these facts--Chaosdruid (talk) 22:30, 29 January 2009 (UTC)

Seperate Article for Atari XE Games System?![edit]

I am of the opinion that there should be a seperate Article for the Atari XE Games System, as it is a games console in it's own right aswell as a member of the Atari 8 bit family. Anyone agree with me? mcjakeqcool Mcjakeqcool (talk) 15:42, 7 April 2009 (UTC)

Any joy on wether or not there should be seperate article for the Atari XE Games system? If anyone has any, give us a bell asap. mcjakeqcool Mcjakeqcool (talk) 19:15, 3 May 2009 (UTC)
I disagree. Although the Tramiel era Atari attempted to market it as a "game system", the fact was that it really wasn't. It was an Atari personal computer through and through. True game systems are developed first and foremost to run one type of software in mind: games. They are not officially supported with software for usage that one would typically find in the personal computer market (word processing, etc.). Because the XEGS was an XE family computer, with support for all XE peripherals AND (and this is most important) Atari XE family software, not just games, but everything from word processing onwards, it cannot justifiably be labeled a "game system". Technically, it isn't.
Now, I know what you're thinking: Atari 5200 was based on the 400/800 series design, and, hell, the original XBox was termed a "PC in a box" by detractors. But look closer. 5200 was based on the 400/800 series design, yes, but there were slight differences between the two that you can find in the Atari 5200 Wiki article (among them different registers, at different locations, and a much smaller and simpler BIOS). This made it so that software was NOT compatible between the 400/800 series and Atari 5200, which meant that 5200 couldn't run the software typically used with personal computers at the time - it was optimized for game applications. Add to that the fact that it wasn't compatible with 400/800 hardware peripherals (keyboard, add ons, etc.). Moving onto XBox, we know that it ran on an Intel processor with an NVidia GPU, and heck, even ran on a Windows kernel...but while it could be modified to be a wasn't officially a PC. The CPU was unique to XBox, as was the GPU, and while it ran on a Windows kernel, it was a modified stripped down version. XBox was optimized to run game applications. It also wasn't cross compatible with Windows PC peripherals on the hardware end.
XEGS, however, was compatible with XE personal computer software AND hardware. You could literally plug in the same tape drive that you used on XE computers to the XEGS. You could literally run the SAME software that would typically be reserved for the Atari personal computer market. It simply wasn't a "game system" any more than those Alienware built PCs are "game systems", tbqh, Atari attempt at spin aside. This is one of the reasons the game console industry pretty much ignored it. Therealspiffyone (talk) 18:13, 5 May 2009 (UTC)
The industry ingored it but it was still a games system. mcjakeqcool Mcjakeqcool (talk) 19:15, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

Atari 8 bit line has got not the "most powerful graphics of any 8 bit computers of their time"[edit]

The statement in question is violating the neutral point of view policy. "Assert facts, including facts about opinions—but do not assert the opinions themselves.", By "fact" we mean "a piece of information about which there is no serious dispute." This is not a fact but a blurry weasely opinion presented as a fact. "most powerful" in what way? what does their time mean? the source doesnt says "in their time" that to begin with, nor supports the opinion "most powerful" with anyting. Its just a feature listing of graphics chips, sauced with some biased opinions.

Furthermore the source is unreliable, for example it states Atari 8 bit computers were the market leader in the United states, which is not true. Vic-20s up to 82 and from 82 c64s sold in bigger quantities than Ataris. Also it fails to even mention the color/attribute graphics memory of the c64. Doing this in an article focusing on features of graphics chips in 8 bit computers is an unforgivable mistake.

Certainly it is not valid to cite the same source here on the Wiki page of Andrew BrayBrook to claim he is the most famous C64 programmer. This is just another opinion just like in case of the disputed graphics statement: A special mention must go to Andrew Braybrook who possibly is still the most famous of Commodore 64 programmers. Many people will disagree with this just like in case of graphics, which is NOT a fact, but an opinion.


--Waskoma (talk) 12:30, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

I kind of agree with Waskoma here. If we present someone's opinion, we have to mention it as such. Statements like "most powerful" and "most famous" are hard to qualify, and one source isn't enough for such statements. — Frecklefσσt | Talk 13:00, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
First - That's a complete misappropriation of "weasel words", which is a policy to refer to not using statements like "some people say", "most people say", "many people say", etc. Second, calling an ACM Siggraph article an unreliable source is silly by any standards. Waskoma's analysis represents WP:OR and WP:Synthesis at best, which is not how Wikipedia functions. On neutrality I can agree with you Frecklefoot, but that can easily be remedied by stating "According to an analysis by...." at the beginning and moving the statement in to the GTIA section. A Computer Science PHD that specializes and lectures in graphics, presenting an article on an analysis of graphics, in an esteemed publication like the ACM's, meets any notability and reliability constraints. Now if we're in agreement on the rewording and move Frecklefoot, I'll go ahead and do it. I've also asked guyinblack25 to join us and weigh in, because of his experience in moving articles to FA status. --Marty Goldberg (talk) 14:43, 23 October 2009 (UTC)
After looking over the source I'm inclined to believe that it meets WP:RS. The newsletter is the official publication of the ACM SIGGRAPH,[2] which I believe was instrumental in providing the technology used by the game industry during the switch to 3D graphics. The author, Steven Collins, is part of the Department of Computer Science in Trinity College Dublin and is co-founder of the Havok company that created the havok engine. As far as sources go, that's an impressive resume for computer science let alone for video game graphics.
On the matter of the wording, if SIGGRAPH let Collins publish "the Atari had the most powerful graphics system", I'm very inclined to believe that statement as is. However, I agree that giving the statement proper context is the more prudent route to go. Attributing the phrase "most powerful graphics" to Steven Collins of ACM SIGGRAPH would solidify the statements neutrality. (Guyinblack25 talk 19:33, 23 October 2009 (UTC))
Sounds good, so between the three of us we have consensus for rewording to give attribution to Steven Collins for neutrality. I'll add the "According to an analysis by Steven Collins.." to it and move it the GTIA section, as I don't think it belongs in the intro anymore in that format. --Marty Goldberg (talk) 00:19, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
Full ack from me guys. Regarding reliability I dont know what's the case on WP with sources which are full of factual errors. Has about a dozens of those, I have already mentioned it says Atari was the market leader in the USA. On the contrary: C= Pet/Apple then VIC 20(first computer to ever sell 1 million units on the market with the atari 8 bit at the same time) then C64 (most sold single computer model ever) were the leaders. More: Says Atari had 256 color mode (max was 16), claims commodore 64 had 1 bit for sprite sprite collisions (had 1 bit for each sprite), claims that in all multicolor modes the c64 had 3 fixed colors. (in bitmap mode 1 color was fixed and 3 was selectable for each character position), or "Now in the late nineties, all previous machines have been surpassed by the PC" PC's surpassed Amiga's and ST's in the early nineties most notably with DOOM. Do your WP:OR research :) --Waskoma (talk) 08:48, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
Again, this is the problem of you going by WP:OR and trying to push it as fact here - perfect example you are incorrect regarding the colors and the author is correct - via software the GTIA is capable of pushing 256 colors and a simple google search brings up plenty of resources discussing and showing this. Likewise the author is correct on "through the late 90's" - Amiga's and ST's were still very popular in video production and music respectively. Likewise you are incorrect, he does not state it was the market leader in the US, he includes "US" to show where the Atari 8-bit's strength in the market was limited to. Throughout the article he clearly states the Commodore 64 was the most popular 8-bit line. Furthermore, you're incorrect about what he's stating on sprite collision and did not state anything like "1-bit for all sprites", rather 1 bit for each collision. This demonstrated continual inability to read proper context in to the writing almost makes me wonder if English is a second language to you and that's the actual source of this controversy. Rergardless, this matter has been settled via consensus and the author has been attributed to the statement to denote it being his personal insight and satisfy neutrality concerns. --Marty Goldberg (talk) 16:10, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
That's twisting around sentences & a personal attack. Anyway case is solved for me. Thank you and bye.--Waskoma (talk) 19:27, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
You were the one twisting around sentences and the resource material as demonstrated, and there was no "personal attack". It was a legitimate question based on your continued repetition of said interpretations after consensus had been formed already, and your location in Hungary. --Marty Goldberg (talk) 20:27, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
Removed "according to an analysis". The source does only list three 8 bit computer's graphic features, but does not even compare those to support the statement. Thus Collins' statement is an opinion.
Are you kidding? The systems are compared in a table located after the first three paragraphs. His "opinion" is supported by facts, such as the numbers presented within that table. What you call an "opinion" is in fact a summary of the data within the table. It's as if he listed the countries in Western Europe and their population, concluded that Germany is the most populous, and devoted a couple of paragraphs to Russia (not in Western Europe) and France (second most populous) - and you're getting pissy and calling it an "opinion" because he didn't devote a paragraph to carefully explaining why Monaco and Luxembourg aren't the most populous. Badger Drink (talk) 07:47, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
If Collins would have thought as you suggest, then according to the table he would have said that the Jupiter Ace has the most powerful graphics. The table does not list all 8 bit computers/consoles so drawing a conclusion from it would be wrong. Also it contains wrong resolution data for the Lynx and the Jupiter Ace, and with the inclusion of the Atari Lynx it's clear that the comparison does not exclude consoles. Anyone thinks (except Collins..) that the atari is more powerful than the NES or the PC Engine? The only statement supporting the opinion in question is this: is not surprising given the machine's lineage. Collins does not say "in their time" , so that should go aswell as the "according to an analysis" as there was no analysis. --Waskoma (talk) 12:19, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
(de-indent) Collins isn't talking about the Atari 2600. The Atari 8 bit computers were, in fact, more powerful than the NES. The PC-Engine was comparably powerful, but not really a fair comparison - Collins is dealing with home computers of the early 80s, the PC-Engine was 1) a videogame console, 2) released in the late 80s, and 3) not really stictly 8 bit - 8+8 bit would be more accurate. Collins makes quite clear that he is only considering computers released during the "golden era" of computing, which, quote, "began around 1982 and continued until about 1990." He then goes on to say, quote, "The Atari (see the Planet Atari Web site [4] for more information) had the most powerful graphics system". Your assertion that the table supports the Jupiter Ace as having the most powerful graphics system is, quite bluntly, absolutely absurd - notice its meager amount of RAM. If you can show an example of what you'd consider an "actual analysis", feel free to share it, as I (and others) are seemingly under the collective delusion that the website linked is, in fact, an analysis, albeit not as exhaustive an analysis as it seems some would like. Badger Drink (talk) 03:43, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Badger Drink, and current consensus is for the already agreed upon wording. --Marty Goldberg (talk) 14:25, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
PC Engine was released in 87, NES in 85 - both fitting into the timeframe - but Collins does not consider either, while including the Atari Lynx (also a console with 8 bit cpu & 16 bit gfx like the PC Engine, thus based on the PC engine can not be excluded) into his "analysis". Thats just 2 systems of many he does not investigate. Thus his statement that Atari is the most powerful amongst 8 bit machines is not based on a fair analysis and is an opinion. Therefore the wording "according to an analysis" is misleading or in harsh: not true. My assertion that the table supports the Jupiter Ace as having the best gfx system is a parody of your absurd logics: What you call an "opinion" is in fact a summary of the data within the table. The table contains only numbers regarding resolution, summarizing that leads to the conlcusion that the Jupiter is the best. Do your WP:OR: the Atari Lynx, NES, PC Engine overall - and in many areas even the c64&CPC&Spectrum - does better graphically than the Atari 8 bit line. This should fall into the common knowledge category to anyone who ever saw the specs/games of the Atari 8 bit and those systems. What you are doing is abusing the WP rules by trying to push Collins' opinion as a fact based on an analysis, furthermore you give words into Collin's mouth "of any 8 bit computer of their time". Collins did not analyse all 8 bit computers in his article nor said that, thus the sentence can only be applied to the computers he has "investigated" not to "any". --Waskoma (talk) 17:51, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Waskoma, please do not lecture or make accusations on policy when you have so far demonstrated very little actual understanding of it by your previous statements regarding weasel, etc., or willingness to abide by said policies. While you may not agree with the agreed upon consensus, you certainly have the opportunity to try and discuss and change it here. What you do not have the right to do is start reverting against established consensus as you have been starting again, trying to force your views and edits. Such disruptive editing practices can result in the blocking of your ip per the regulations on blocking and length. Feel free to continue discussing the issue here, but do not keep reverting against consensus. If you manage to change consensus, then the wording will be promptly changed at the conclusion of the consensus change process. --Marty Goldberg (talk) 19:36, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Waskoma, once again it seems your mediocre English comprehension is inhibiting communication. The table does not merely contain resolution data - it also summarizes the amount of RAM and ROM. That is why it does not, in fact, support the Jupiter Ace as the most graphically powerful computer - I'll repeat my last message word for word: notice its meager amount of RAM. The PC-Engine, Lynx, NES, et al were videogame consoles, not home computers. Your highlighting the fact that the Lynx contains a similar graphics setup to the PC-Engine only furthers our point, and completely undermines your own: Not only are they videogame consoles, not computers, but the question of whether or not they're even to be considered fully 8 bit is completely up for grabs. Please don't rush to respond to people on this talk page - take the time to carefully read what they're saying, and make sure you understand what they're saying before you respond. It will save us all a lot of time and aggravation. Nobody likes repeating themselves. Badger Drink (talk) 06:18, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
Marty, you did not consider my points: There wasnt an analysis taking place. An analysis would mean comparing directly graphics features and saying X is better because Y. But what basically happens is this: Collins lists the features of some computers and the analysis is left to the reader. Thus the usage of the word analysis is misleading: The reader would think that in the source Collins have looked at ALL 8 bit homecomputers and compared their graphic capabilities one by one. What the article is really about: a relatively short summary of the graphics capabilities of some of the 8 bit computers. Furthermore Collins does not say that "the atari 8 bit line has the most powerful graphics on any home computer of their time". This statement is not only not backed up by the source, its not even in the source. So for sake of correctness it should be not left here in this form.
Badger, in this case the table still does not bring forth the Atari as the best. For exampe it lists the Commodore 64 with more ROM&RAM&Resolution&Higher revision CPU. So your logic that Collins based his statement on the table simply does not work. Also you should be the one reading more carefully: Collins himself included Atari Lynx in his article, so your speculations that he is excluding consoles and/or consoles having 16 bit graphics are proven both to be wrong.
By the way this [3]source claims Atari 400&800 has a blitter. Should it be included here, just like Peter Collin's saying that Atari has more powerful graphics than the Atari Lynx... according to WP guidelines both can get in.--Waskoma (talk) 09:30, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
Briefly: 1) The analysis is right there on the page. He doesn't go into tedious minutae because, one would assume, he never figured some pedant would throw a shitfit on Wikipedia over the omission of proof that the sky is blue. 2) You're absolutely wrong. Incorrigibly wrong. Ridiculously, tremendously, outstandingly wrong. First line of the Atari paragraph: "The Atari (see the Planet Atari Web site [4] for more information) had the most powerful graphics system. He does not say "of its time" because it's quite clearly (well, to a native English speaker, at least) implied that he is considering only the computers of its time - he mentions this in the introduction, and said fact carries on, even though - get this! - he doesn't have to restate this fact twenty times per paragraph. It's understood in a manner similar to pronouns. 3) He likely did compare them one by one, which is why he can come to the conclusion that (just to quote once more - granted, you seem to have been oblivious to this the last four or five times it was quoted, but maybe the sixth time's the charm!) "The Atari (see the Planet Atari Web site [4] for more information) had the most powerful graphics system". Again, this can be implied, inferred, and understood by all but the most pedantic of readers. 4) The difference between the C-64 and the Jupiter Ace is that the C-64 has a paragraph of its own, explaining why its graphics are not quite as powerful as the Atari. The Jupiter Ace doesn't need a paragraph of its own, because the default conclusion is that bigger numbers = better than, and Collins only elaborates for the exceptions to that "rule". 5) There's no mention of the Atari Lynx anywhere in the article. The "Lynx" mentioned in the table is the Camputers Lynx, a semi-obscure 8-bit home computer released in Great Britain. Check your premises before claiming proof of anything. 6) Whether the ANTIC / CTIA/GTIA could be considered a blitter of sorts is best answered by someone other than myself. Badger Drink (talk) 10:41, 30 October 2009 (UTC)

1) an incomplete listing of gfx capabilities is not an analysis. 2) if you agree with me that he does NOT say "in their time" also the sentence implies it, then why do you insist it must stay? 3) you're making this up without evidence, what is there shows he did not investigate all 8 bit computers. 4) again you are making up things, there's not even the slightest hint or implication that he based his statement on the table. same goes for your newly invented "exception rule". 5) you are right here, now the resolution data matches. Now on to my favourite part, you say: "the C-64 has a paragraph of its own, explaining why its graphics are not quite as powerful as the Atari." Can you quote some sentences from the c64 paragraph which are explaining why its graphics are less powerful as the Atari ? Proove there's an analysis regarding the two's graphics capabilities. Here's one for a start: "Unlike the Atari, the 64's sprites were free to move both horizontally and vertically. " Thats something for the c64's advantage, and I'm afraid there's no more. There's not even a comparison of bitmap or character modes. -- (talk) 20:34, 30 October 2009 (UTC)

Atari 800&400 market leaders in 1980-82[edit]

Can't find anything in the source stating this, also consider that according to many sources VIC-20 was the best selling computer in 1982, thus the market leader. --Waskoma (talk) 09:30, 30 October 2009 (UTC)

Edit warring[edit]

Ok, I'm not fully aware of the details that led to this—the posts are a rather lengthy and go off on tangents at times—but I feel that the discussion has progressed to a point that it has become unproductive. If things continue like this, I suggest the involved parties let this sit for a week before continuing.

Waskoma- You are entitled to have your opinion about Collins' newsletter feature. However, that does not change the fact that it is a reliable, third-party, published source describing this article's topic. Wikipedia:Verifiability allows editors to add content based on the source to this article. Collins' source is an comparison of the different aspects of computers. I'd call that an analysis, and I think most would too. The source may not provide or be as exhaustive of an analysis as you'd like, but mentioning "analysis" is well within Wikipedia's policies.

Badger Drink- I understand that this situation might be frustrating, but please do not bite the newcomers. I'm sure Waskoma is well meaning and wants the article to be accurate and of high quality. Wikipedia has numerous policies and guidelines, many of which can be complicated to interpret even for experienced editors. Keep your cool and stay focused on a common goal.

The one policy which hasn't really been touched on is Wikipedia:Neutral point of view. Rather than argue about a single source, I suggest more sources be sought out to balance the statement. I'm sure others have done similar comparisons about the different computers. Those sources can be used to either support Collins' view point or provide an alternative view point. That will ensure the article content is as neutral as possible.

That being said, I suggest both sides of the argument dig up more sources. Post them back here to we'll determine which satisfy Wikipedia:Reliable sources, and we'll integrate the content into the article as necessary. Sound reasonable? (Guyinblack25 talk 15:11, 30 October 2009 (UTC))

You're welcome to do whatever you wish, but I'm not going on a tedious scavenger hunt to appease Randy in Hungary here. Sorry. Badger Drink (talk) 17:18, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
Badger- That's your call and are welcome to not do anything. However, if that's how you feel, I suggest you disengage from the the above discussion. Waskoma and you were only antagonizing each other by going in circles, which doesn't benefit anything. (Guyinblack25 talk 19:24, 30 October 2009 (UTC))
What an absolutely nonsensical position to take. If you don't feel the project is benefitted by keeping it free of misinformation and contributions from people fundamentally unable to comprehend the given sources, then I don't know what to say to you. It's a shame that we can't be touchy-feely ultra-compassionate - really, it is - but at the end of the day, this is an encyclopedia, not a social hall. Waskoma is only antagonizing himself by insisting on getting involved with a task he is unsuited for - just as I would blame myself if I went on the Hungarian Wikipedia and got into an edit-war over sources I could barely comprehend. Badger Drink (talk) 20:10, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
Badger- Perhaps some further explanation is needed. That was not request to let Waskoma edit and act without restraint. If Waskoma does not listen to reason and edits disruptively, then appropriate action should be taken. Talk page warnings, admin intervention, and blocks are all part of the process meant to deal with situations like this.
Whatever the outcome with Waskoma, I suggest you disengage for bit as some of your comments (even the ones towards me) can easily been seen as uncivil. It's very clear you want what is best for the article and Wikipedia. My suggestions are meant for the involved parties to avoid admin actions against them. I've seen several cases where both involved parties get reprimanded for continued antagonistic editing, even when one was acting in good faith. (Guyinblack25 talk 21:23, 30 October 2009 (UTC))
Thanks for the very helpful wikilink to WP:CIVIL. I had no clue what the word "uncivil" meant, it's very helpful of you to provide that link. Badger Drink (talk) 03:42, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Badger- I was quite certain you knew what the word "uncivil" meant. I linked the policy page to show examples of what Wikipedia considers incivility to be. If you took offense to that, I apologize.
Regardless, that is no reason to be rude. Marty felt another point of view would help resolve this dispute. After reading this talk page and seeing the edit history, I agree. Let's stay on point and discuss the issue relevant to the edit war so we can reach a solution. (Guyinblack25 talk 17:02, 31 October 2009 (UTC))

There are no other papers on this so this direction wont help sadly. But I found something interesting: Collins says: Rather than attempt a complete review of all the machines available at the time, I'll concentrate on what I know best Thus adding words into his mouth that according to his analysys Atari is the best of any 8 computers of their time is simply wrong. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:04, 30 October 2009 (UTC)

I assume this IP address ( is Waskoma. If not then please let me know.
I'm sorry, but I find that hard to believe. Surely someone else has done some analysis of topic. I suggest doing search of Google Books and the various sources listed at Wikipedia:WikiProject Video games/Sources#List. Arguing semantics of a single source will not reach a resolution for this article or any article on Wikipedia.
The source is fine how they've used it, and your arguments do not discredit the source. If you believe contrary to Collins' analysis, then you should present sources to support that view point. (Guyinblack25 talk 21:23, 30 October 2009 (UTC))
Yes it was me. Thanks for the tips, I have found a very early review of the c64: The graphics capabilities of the 64 are exciting. Commodore-64 graphics are more powerful than those of the Atari, IBM PC, Apple, TI 99 4A, or Radio Shack Color Computer. (The 64 also has far stronger graphics than its cheaper cousin, the Vic-20.) whats your next suggestion? Also dont forget that Collins says he's reviewing only the computers he knows best: c64, spectrum, atari. and sp he does. so basically he's saying atari is the best out of atari & c64 & spectrum and not out of ANY 8 bit home computers. cheers, --Waskoma (talk) 22:19, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
No he states rather than review all the systems (as in write reviews for every system analyzed in the limited space) he'd stick to three of the reviews i.e. summaries. It once again in no way states a limited analysis on his part, as you're suggesting. Once again, there's this context issue. Additionally, the reference you provided goes against your own qualification claims about Collins' article - it provides a one liner about the author's opinion against a listing of computers but no explination or comparison on why. Likewise, the entire article is a review on the Commodore 64 not a general comparative of 8-bit computers. Interestingly, as you left out, the author also goes on to talk about the video problems: "In my opinion, the quality of the video image produced by the 64 is poor. So far, I have seen the displays of six 64 computers, and have yet to find one that is as crisp and shart as the Atari 800 or 400 models, for example." As was stated, a comparative analysis of 8-bit computers is what's needed and being requested. Here is an example of an article from the time period in question. --Marty Goldberg (talk) 22:26, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
Second: According to Mark Turmell, author of Fast Eddie, Sneakers and Turmoil, "The Commodore 64 has the potential to display the most arcade-like games. It's leaps and bounds ahead of the Atari 800. The music and sound are incredible."--Waskoma (talk) 07:47, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
"As was stated, a comparative analysis of 8-bit computers is what's needed and being requested." Can you bring some proof & quote from Collins where he comparatively analyses bitmap /character /sprite graphics, nr of displayable colors, resolutions, screen sizes? What's there is an incomplete & incorrect listing of features: Collins' article has _no_ information on Atari's character & bitmap modes! How on earth anyone may think a comparative analysis could have taken place is above me. We get no mention of Atari's multicolor sprites either, he falsely claim's that c64's all multicolor modes works as its multicolor character mode. On how many colors Atari could display in its various modes this is all we get: Depending on the mode, a number of colors could be displayed. Conclusion: we either agree that a comparative analysis is needed & then based on WP:OR reject both the pro & con artciles, or we accept both.-- (talk) 12:03, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
We keep going around in circles on this because it seems you just don't get what's being stated here and refuse to follow what's being requested. A) You were told already, continuing to try and argue about Collins not being an analysis is not discrediting the source for it's current use. Just because it does not present things in it's analysis you'd like to see does not discount it. As Guyinblack already stated, "The source may not provide or be as exhaustive of an analysis as you'd like, but mentioning "analysis" is well within Wikipedia's policies." Likewise with your claimed inaccuracies, which so far have always been proven to be simply you lacking understanding of the context of what's being talked about or stated. Continuing to try and filibuster on the Collins article is simply weakening any credit you may think you have here. Move on, it's off the table. B) That is not what WP:OR is about, once again you're trying to take a policy and missuse it. WP:OR has to do with people's own writing on here (such as your own), trying to draw unupported, unreferenced conclusions based on personal opinion and lack of supportive references. It is not used for review of references. Notability and reliability is, and we've already established for you that Collins and SIGGRAPH are considered as such here. Again, move on. C)The C64 article is simply that - a review of the C64. It does not try and present itself as a compartive analysis article in it's intent, presentation, or conclusions - because it's not! It does not in any way, shape, or form satisfy what you've been asked to try and find. And then using it to further argue against the Collins article given points a and b is again wasted effort. D) Judging by your recent edit attempt to try and promote the C64 over the Atari 8-bits (and in a very non-neutral maner), and your editing history (this article and your reverts and edits on it being 99.9% of your contrbutions here), it appears you have a very specific agenda here. Such agendas lack the good faith editing we normally attribute to new editors, and will once again paint you as a disruptive editor. So can dictating how you think Wikipedia is supposed to work, against editors who have been involved in it's process on a constructive level far longer than you. I asked guyinblack to come here and moderate because he is a very neutral party and one of the most experienced people here in taking articles to Good Article and Featured Article status, which is the actual goal of Wikipedia articles. As such, his ability to rationalize content, evaluate references, and follow established interpertations of policy is more than established and recognized. But why do I feel all of this will just be wasted and you'll just keep doing what you want how you want when you want? It's getting to the point of having an admin get involved and bring the hammer down on the decision as the final solution. --Marty Goldberg (talk) 16:45, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Waskoma- A few things.
  • Thank you for finding some sources. However, please keep them on this talk page until the matter is settled. Such continued edits can easily be interpreted as disruptive, which would led to your account being temporarily blocked.
  • I agree with Marty that you're incorrectly citing WP:OR, as original research is adding content without a source. If we had an editor here adding the "Atari 800 had the best graphics" without a source, then that would be their own personal opinion and be considered original research. That is not what's happening here.
  • I believe you're correctly citing WP:NPOV. Statements such as "the best [INSERT TOPIC]" are difficult to verify. Given the sporadic releases of the competing computers, it is hard to nail down relevant time frames to properly compare systems. That being said, I doubt any comparison could adequately meet Wikipedia's standards for neutrality. That being said, statements about the quality of should be given proper context and weight to ensure neutrality.
  • Trying to discredit Collins' analysis does not really serve your end goal. For reasons described in above threads, Collins' meets WP:RS the most out of all the sources presented. To discredit it would indirectly discredit the other sources you presented.
To All- In light of all this, I suggest creating a "Reception" section. Other hardware articles that are Featured articles like PlayStation 3 and Wii have similar sections. This will allow the content from sources to remain in the article and should provide a better context for their statements (attributing the author). Proper weight should be determined byt the recurrence of similar statements. If most people praise the graphics and negative comments are in the minority, then the article should reflect that and vice versa. Content in the "Design" section should stick to describing the topic's design. A comparison to other systems is not necessary to convey this system's design to a layman. Any thoughts? (Guyinblack25 talk 17:02, 31 October 2009 (UTC))
The reception section sounds like a very good idea, and I did find a lot of sources from the time reviewing them as the platform that should be purchased if you're interested in games, praising graphics, sound, picture quality, etc. So what are you stating should be done with the Collins analysis under the suggested scheme? It should be move to more of a "quality of" context? --Marty Goldberg (talk) 17:27, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
I think that's for the best. Despite Waskoma's discussion methods, they brought up a valid point of neutrality. Collins' source can be used for specific details about the 800's design like the CPU type and amount of RAM/ROM. But anything about comparisons and analysis (from Collins or anybody else) should go in reception. (Guyinblack25 talk 17:36, 31 October 2009 (UTC))
That's what I'm asking though, how would you see the current analysis statement fitting in the Reception area? --Marty Goldberg (talk) 17:49, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Marty, A) Its not about discrediting, it's about calling the article an analysis is imho misleading. Collins does not do a comparative analysis as this wording implies. (hence, he does not even describe Atari's graphic modes) So I'd like to change the word analysis here to article/review. Guidelines generally suggests to avoid drumming up facts/opinions etc. B) I see. WP:OR only applies to the article section. Point taken. C) It's not about promoting the c64, it was simply easier to find sources comparing the atari with the c64, than some more rare machine. I tried to look even for the CPC. Also Guyinblack25 suggested to find such sources to balance the statement, so I just did that. What will we do with them? Finaly, your answer coud have been much shorter if you omit all your personal notices.
Guyinblack25, you said That being said, statements about the quality of should be given proper context and weight to ensure neutrality. this meets exactly my struggle to get the word "analysis" out of here. see above.--Waskoma (talk) 18:33, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Marty- I think how it's in the article now is pretty good. I'd tweak the attribution though. "In an analysis of 8-bit computers in the 1980s, Dr. Steven Collins stated that the system's custom graphics chips give it the most powerful graphics of any 8 bit computers of the Atari machine's time." Since it's a "Reception" section, you can go into even more depth too, for Collins' article and any other reliable source.
Waskoma- I'm sorry, but I disagree with your assertions about the use of "analysis" here. I think it's a suitable word to describe the article. However, I feel it's fair to say that other descriptions could get the job done too. If you can come up with an equivalent wording, I see no reason to stick with "analysis" So long as the wording is accurate, it's all personal preference at that point. (Guyinblack25 talk 03:48, 1 November 2009 (UTC))

I propose the use of the words 'article' or 'review' instead of 'analysis'. Just like the text refers to itself: "This article will explore...", "Rather than attempt a complete review","will also have a brief look", "I'll outline the architecture". The wording "according to an analysis", "custom chips give it", IMHO breaches this verifiability guideline: "Sources should directly support the information as it is presented in an article" Hence, if an analysis wasnt done, and the article doesnt refers to itself & the process it goes trough, as an analysis, then the WP article referring to it should keep to that. The current wording implies, that Collins has made analytic comparisons of the systems, but the article presents no information of Atari's text/bitmap modes, or nr of colors possible in them, thus an analysis and conclusion that it is the most powerful graphically based on the information presented in the article by scientific means is impossible and in fact not present. Another guideline from the NPOV page: "When we discuss an opinion, we attribute the opinion to _someone_ and discuss the fact that they have this opinion.". Opposing to this what happens here is that you attribute the opinion to the analysis ("according to an analysis") and not to Collins. My references shows there are different views on the matter by seasoned programmers thus there's a dispute and this is a matter of opinion. What happens here is the painting of Collins' opinion to a fact by attributing it to a nonexisting analysis, instead of following NPOV and attributing it correctly to him. So, here's my version of how the sentence should be: "According to Steven Collins, Atari had the most powerful graphics system of the time". --Waskoma (talk) 09:41, 1 November 2009 (UTC)

And around in circles we go. 98% of what you just repeated again has no bearing. As you've been told over and over again by *everyone*, whether or not it includes info you'd specifically want to see does not disqualify it from being an "analysis", nor does it disqualify it from being verifiable (which once again you're misussing a guideline), nor do your requotes of NPOV have anything to do with a non-attribution - the current wording was specifically crafted in response to NPOV and attribution as clearly laid out in the previous lengthy discussions, nor does your wording present an "alternative to the word analysis" as was requested you attempt - it's the same wording you've been pushing for since you began the latest reverting war that titled this section! To spell it out again as to what was being requested: As was requested, an alternative to the word "analysis" - something that conveys the same message but is a different word - would be any one of the many synonmous words avaialable: breakdown, dissection, dissolution, division, inquiry, investigation, partition, reasoning, resolution, scrutiny, search, separation, study, subdivision, etc. --Marty Goldberg (talk) 16:37, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
Collins calls the text himself an article and what he is doing: a review,a brief look, outlining, etcm but never an analysis. Based on this I guess it should be you convincing me why shouldn't we use the words he is using to describe his own text. Instead of forcing me to look for synonyms maybe you should look for synonyms of article,review, and so on. Let's play with open cards: I think you are trying to present his opinion as a fact - as a result of an analysis - "Proof by deduction from known truths"- as most of us understands it. According to Collins, and not according to a conclusion of his analysis -as the wording implies-, IS the Atari the most powerful graphically. As you probably think, I do strongly disagree with the statement. Just like my references show others would. These are my cards. Its your turn to explain me why do you think it is important to claim it is an analys, and attribute the claim to the analysis, and not directly to Collins. --Waskoma (talk) 19:22, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
Waskoma, we've explained over and over why the current wording was chosen and why consensus was given towards it, why the article is considered valid and reliable, etc. There's an entire page here on it. Arguing that because the word "article" is used to describe the medium of presentation of the content is once again a demonstration of lack of understanding of context - something you've been playing games with the entire time. It is no more demonstrative of content type than stating "This speech", "This paper", "This whatever..". One has nothing to do with the other. Nor does he call it a review, rather he states "rather than attempt a complete review" as in rather than elaborate and provide summaries for every single computer in his analysis. Again, a complete warping of context, which at this point is looking more like it's being done on purpose. Nobody is presenting this as anything other than an attribution to Collins - that's why the wording was changed to it's current format via an entire page of dialogue above. Whether or not you agree with it or suddenly demand policy work in reverse and suddenly it's our job to repeat ourselves rather than yours to change consensus, is irrelevant. This is not Waskoma's Wikipedia. Likewise, nobody "forced" you to look up anything, you were given the opportunity out of courtesy to provide an alternative wording to convey Collins' analysis, in an effort to promote good faith editing participation. Instead, you wasted it on once again trying to discredit the already established reliable source, rehashing the same material over and over. You have failed to change consensus on what the content is about. That is a fact. No matter how many discussion "tricks" you try and employ to try and swing the current topic back in to you're continued attempt to discredit the article. Time for you to move on as the rest of us have, rather than continuing to attempt to clutter this page with the same rheotic and arguments in an attempt to stonewall. Otherwise, once again you keep pushing towards disruptive editor status. --Marty Goldberg (talk) 20:53, 1 November 2009 (UTC)e f
I have asked why it is important to use the word analysis - you have failed to give an explanation. Previously you have demanded that my sources of opposing views should contain comparative analisys just like the Collins article does (according to you)- and then failed to proove the Collins article reaches the statement based on one. No suprise here though, for the dozenth time: it doesnt even describes Atari's screen modes or nr of colors possible. Your actions make me more and more condifent that 1. you are an Atari fanboy and 2. with the current wording you want to mislead the readers so they'll think Collins have gone trough a scientific process - an analysis - to reach the disputed statement - which he havent done and you have continually failed to proove otherwise (you havent even tried). So, to avoid misleading the reader I'll change the text to Article, hence Collins calls the text an Article himself and as WP:OR is strictly forbidden, and other guidelines say the information should directly supported by the sources - in this case the information being Collins' text is an article or analysis - the source supports here "Article". Period. --Waskoma (talk) 17:00, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

I was asked to come by and comment on this discussion, so here goes:

Waskoma: The use of the word "analysis" is appropriate in cases where the person has written an in-depth technical essay on the subject in question - in this case, the various computers of that period. I personally don't see how you can read through an article that goes into detail on technical aspects of the machine and not call it an analysis, except insofar as you disagree with its findings. The article was written by a member of SIGGRAPH, a respected and widely acknowledged authority on the state of the art in computer graphics research and development. Calling it an "analysis" and using it as a reliable reference is completely appropriate, in my opinion.

Also, you should be aware that regardless of your personal viewpoints, and regardless of how you feel a Wikipedia article should read, ALL editors are expected to follow the rules here. WP:BRD allows you to make a bold edit, but if you are reverted, you are then expected to discuss the issue. I see that you did make an attempt to discuss the issue here, but all that's come of it so far is that you've basically ended up in a shouting match with several other editors, and I'm afraid the sources are on the side of the current consensus. If you have another reliable source that contradicts the SIGGRAPH article's claims about the Atari 800's capabilities and stance in the market, you can add it as an opposing viewpoint in order to satisfy Wikipedia's guidelines on giving equal weight to all valid viewpoints.

Finally, Wikipedia works by consensus, and the burden is on you if you wish to change it. You are certainly welcome to challenge consensus, but edit warring, doing the text equivalent of screaming and shouting at everyone, calling them all wrong, and otherwise insisting you get your way are not the way to go about it. Instead, if you feel that Collins's article is wrong or misleading, then show us why it's misleading with verifiable facts, other articles and analyses that prove that it's wrong. Otherwise, in this case, you're asking us to take your word over that of a well-known expert in the field, and that's just not going to fly.

Are you willing to work constructively with us on this?

Marty: This argument is getting out of hand, and I'm afraid you're probably a little too close to it right now. I think you need to step back and cool down a bit. I agree with your assessment, and I'll try to see if there's a middle ground that will satisfy all parties in this dispute. But you and Waskoma are both perilously close to 3RR. I'll respond to you privately about my other concerns on this.

Badger Drink: As requested above, please don't bite the newcomers. It's never a good idea to tell someone they're wrong in the manner you have several times, and insulting their use or knowledge of the English language is a personal attack and can get you blocked. Keep your cool and back off if you find yourself wanting to insult someone - remember, attack the content, not the editor.

I hope this helps. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 00:47, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

Arbitrary section break[edit]

KieferSkunk: I wonder if you've read much of my comments so far and the article, because of your comment that you dont understand why I insist its not an analysis. If you havent, please do so now, as I have explained it dozens of times in various ways, see above. Secondly, I have already looked up different sources, but nobody said they're ok or not, and when I've added them to the article it got simply reverted. here they are, and a new one:
According to Mark Turmell, author of Fast Eddie, Sneakers and Turmoil, "The Commodore 64 has the potential to display the most arcade-like games. It's leaps and bounds ahead of the Atari 800. The music and sound are incredible."
"The graphics capabilities of the 64 are exciting. Commodore-64 graphics are more powerful than those of the Atari, IBM PC, Apple, TI 99 4A, or Radio Shack Color Computer. (The 64 also has far stronger graphics than its cheaper cousin, the Vic-20.)"
this is what I'd call an analysis:
"While the ANTIC has many, many more colours than the VIC-II's sixteen colour palette, the ANTIC modes are extremely limited on how many you can have on screen at once. At the highest resolution possible on the ANTIC (320x192) which is still smaller than Commodore standard hi-res (320x200), you get two colours only (one hue with two luminances according to my technical documentation), while the Commodore can still display all sixteen. Possibly a fairer comparison is Commodore multicolour (160x200) versus GRAPHICS 15 (160x192) but the ANTIC can still only keep four colours on the screen. In fact, to get sixteen colours from ANTIC onscreen requires you drop all the way to GRAPHICS 11 and 80x192; while the VIC-II does have an 8x8 colour limitation (2 colours per 8x8 cell at 320x200, 4 colours per cell at 160x200 -- but all cell colours are largely independent except for the background in 160x200, so there are no palette registers per se), all sixteen colours available to it can still be displayed simultaneously on screen in any graphics mode the chip can generate. Furthermore, interlaced graphics modes are possible on the VIC-II that completely do away with that 8x8 cell restriction and expand the palette to over 128 colours with some added CPU work.
In addition, player/missile graphics, while certainly powerful, lack the flexibility of VIC-II sprites. There are only five players (vs. eight VIC-II sprites) and to get the missiles, you lose one player. Players can be 128 or 256 scanlines tall, which is definitely an improvement on the VIC-II (max size 21 scanlines or 42 in double-Y mode), but only eight wide (VIC: 24 pixels wide or 48 in double-X). The collision detection systems are roughly on par between the two systems, but Commodore sprites can also be hardware-resized (1x or 2x in X, Y or both), have flexible object priority (sprites can dynamically go behind or in front of the background independent of others), and can be either monochrome or be painted in three colours with a 2:1 reduction in horizontal resolution. And again, raster work is possible that can give you eight new sprites on every subsequent scan line -- potentially over 1600 in total, although they would be only one scan line tall, but 32-sprite effects are quite common and easy to manage with very little performance loss..."
"... With this all in mind, the VIC-II is by no means the winner by a mile, but I think it is the more powerful graphics chip feature vs. feature. The ANTIC is a very powerful chip as well -- make no mistake -- but the VIC-II does almost all of its features and with greater flexibility in general besides."
Unlike Mr. Phd Siggraph Respected and Verifiable Collins who doesnt even tells us about Atari's graphic modes this one explains how do c64 and Atari graphic modes and sprites, nr of colors possible in them, and other features directly compare. Marty demanded that I should bring such a source, so here it is. And before I get accused again by promoting the c64: my search string was: 'most powerful "8 bit system"'.
So, can we conclude that there are various views on this matter, and to fulfill NPOV we should present the other side aswell?--Waskoma (talk) 12:13, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

By the way, Collins also writes : "A special mention must go to Andrew Braybrook who possibly is still the most famous of Commodore 64 programmers.". Now would it be valid at the Andrew Braybrook page to insert this text: "According to an analysis of Peter Collins, Andrew Braybrook is the most famous Commodore 64 programmer" ? No you say? why not? he made no analysis? well, where is the analysis in Atari's case when he havent even touched it's graphic modes & nr of colors possible in them ? What analysis says there, its any better than a ZX81 ? :) --Waskoma (talk) 12:28, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

Yes, I had read the entire article, though I concede that I had not read other articles that were not cited as references in this WP article. And it appears that your sources indeed contradict Collins as well, though the way the first one you pointed out is written, I would question its neutrality. But it does stand to reason that there is room for improvement in that section - the bar is verifiability, not truth. It may not be completely verifiable that the Atari series was the most powerful set of computers of its time (and to say such is an assertion of truth), but it IS at least verifiable that opinions differ, and that each platform had its own strengths and limitations.
I'll see what I can do to find a way to incorporate your sources in a way that satisfies everyone. Before you revert the article again, though, you should give people a chance to see if there's some middle ground between your version and the existing version. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 19:23, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
On further review of the discussion above, I do find myself agreeing with some of Waskoma's points. He is right to cite WP:NPOV in relation to the Collins article - we are currently only using that one article as the sole source of information for the claim that Atari computers were the most powerful of their time. I think the portions of the discussion that fixated on whether to call it an "analysis" or not were blown totally out of proportion - the exact terminology used is less important than the intent. But he is right that it's not necessarily providing a complete picture, the context of the article is somewhat difficult to discern without other complementary or competing articles, and we're really not making very much progress in this issue as a result. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 19:46, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
I'm perfectly happy with the inclusion of the statement even without adding opposing views, as long as it is directly attributed to Collins, as it should be the case with opinions. I've found a 4th source: "This machine has the best graphics-display capabilities of anything that has yet been done for a TV screen" (top left under the picture's text)
My main problem with that source (and the first one you listed further up) is that it's just a review of the C64, and frankly it's not much different than a review of, say, Pac-Man Championship Edition in terms of its scope. It would be a good item to put into a/the reception section for the C64 article, and/or a more general article about this generation of computers. But it doesn't seem like a good source for this article specifically, since it doesn't address the Atari series at all. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 20:29, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
Btw, you hit the nail on the head there: each platfrom had its own strengths and limitations. Exactly! For example Amstrad was the best at 160x200 resolution out of all, with 16 totally freely placable colors (vs 4 at atari) out of a bigger palette, but moving anything around in a pleasing speed for a game it had lacked the power. --Waskoma (talk) 20:12, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
Again, we need to make sure we keep the use of sources in scope. I understand your point about the strengths and weaknesses, but the section in question deals specifically with the design of the Atari computers and really should be limited to that. Discussion about the machines' strengths and weaknesses in relation to their competition should be reserved for the Reception section that Guyinblack proposed. In fact, the more I think about this, the more I think that we should do away with the Collins reference altogether in this section, and move it further down to Reception when that section is written. "Most powerful graphics of its time" is a difficult statement to prove or verify, but it's actually not even relevant to the section, which just discusses what capabilities the machines had to begin with. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 20:29, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

Alternative wordings[edit]

I propose an alternate wording (paraphrase/prototype): "The custom chips in the Atari 8-bit computers enabled them to perform many graphics functions in hardware that often required programming tricks in other computers of the time. These enhanced capabilities made the Atari series highly competitive in the marketplace, according to Steven Collins of ACM SIGGRAPH.(cite Collins) However, the hardware also had limitations that some of its competitors did not, leading some reviewers to claim that the Commodore 64 was a more powerful machine overall.(cite C64-related articles)"

This wording is by no means final, but I do hope it'll lend a more balanced view to the issue. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 19:46, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

how about this? "Due to the many display modes,the display list, exhaustive support for scrolling and configurable screen layout the graphics chips in the Atari 8-bit computers gave high flexibility and enabled them to perform many graphics functions in hardware that had to be done in software in other computers of the time. These enhanced capabilities made the Atari series the most powerful graphically in its class, according to Steven Collins of ACM SIGGRAPH.(cite Collins)" --Waskoma (talk) 20:12, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
Too lengthy, I think. We don't need an exhaustive list of capabilities in this paragraph, especially since some of them are described in more detail further down. Also, at this point, I'm not convinced that this section should be a qualitative statement about the machine's power in comparison to other machines at all. I think instead, we should focus on what the new hardware sought to improve (namely, that you could now do stuff in hardware that previously required software to do).
Let's try this: Remove the entire second paragraph and add the following to the first paragraph, either at the end or somewhere in the middle: "These features enable the computer to perform many functions directly in hardware, such as smooth background scrolling, that would need to be done in software in most other computers of the time." This isn't much different than what you'd written, but it no longer makes a claim that this necessarily made the computer any more powerful than other computers - just that it provided a technical advantage. That statement is more easily backed up by multiple sources and avoids NPOV issues. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 20:45, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
I agree that Collins' or any other person's commentary about the system's performance (comparative or not) should be excluded from the "Design" section. The "Reception" section is the best place for that. Kiefer's draft of the design content seems suitable to me. (Guyinblack25 talk 16:18, 4 November 2009 (UTC))
All fine with me until Collins' opinion wont be presented as a fact. Which have happened and is the reason for this talk page to grow this huge. See: By value or opinion,[2] on the other hand, we mean "a matter which is subject to dispute." ... When we discuss an opinion, we attribute the opinion to someone and discuss the fact that they have this opinion.--Waskoma (talk) 11:59, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
I believe the assertion was that the article represented fact in concrete terms, so that it wasn't just an opinion, but an interpretation of fact. However, the verifiability of the claim (that the Atari graphics system was the most powerful of its time) has been called into question, such that the source makes more sense to use in the Reception section. And when we do use it there, we will ensure that it's represented as a review, following the guidelines for such.
So you and I are on the same page now. Are you okay with that? — KieferSkunk (talk) — 21:00, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
Yeps, I'm with you :) --Waskoma (talk) 09:27, 6 November 2009 (UTC)

This is a cool article[edit]

Great job all you people who wrote this article! I used to have an Atari 800 eons ago, and wrote market research programs in Atari BASIC, as well as played great intergalactical games. What a great computer! My hats off to all of you excellent people who wrote this excellent article!--Tomwsulcer (talk) 13:25, 30 November 2009 (UTC)

Please read WP:NOTFORUM which states "bear in mind that talk pages exist for the purpose of discussing how to improve articles" and "Wikipedians who wish to hold casual discussions with fellow Wikipedians can use the IRC channels, such as #wikipedia".
What you posted is forum material and not accepted on talk pages. With your Wikipedia experience, you should know that. -- Lyverbe (talk) 23:13, 30 November 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I know that technically you're right, but the rule isn't a hard-and-fast rule, but could be tempered with judgment perhaps? And I think there's a higher purpose here. Perhaps you've seen articles in WSJ and NY Times about declining Wikipedia volunteering? More editors are "logging off" than joining to contribute. And one way to keep people working is to offer positive feedback, praise, which is what I've done mostly here. This isn't a "forum" where I'm discussing something totally irrelevant; rather, I'm saying this is a great article and I liked it and thank you. These kind of comments motivate people to contribute more so I think they're especially apropos. That is, I think the purpose of motivating contributors outweighs the "stick to how to improve the article" stuff and is consistent with Wikipedia's "break all rules". --Tomwsulcer (talk) 23:26, 30 November 2009 (UTC)

Proposed split at Atari BASIC[edit]

I'm proposing, at Atari BASIC, to split to a new article Atari 8-bit operating system, since a good half of the article covers (if briefly) the CIO and graphcis subsystems of the OS at a fairly "overview" level, and I can see myself adding others on e.g. the floating point implementation. I realise this has been proposed before (to split stuff out of this main article) but that was before this was all added to the Atari BASIC article. It would probably entail a move of a few bits from this article too if that made sense, and also perhaps afterwards a proposed merger of Turbo BASIC XL and Atari BASIC and other BASICs etc if it made sense (though I've no strong view on that, especially not right now). I should appreciate your views at Talk:Atari BASIC. Si Trew (talk) 10:49, 6 December 2009 (UTC)

Simon I respect your commitment to these articles and I trust your judgment to know what is best.--Tomwsulcer (talk) 17:16, 6 December 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. I think the best thing, first, is to copy the graphics discussion out of both this article and Atari BASIC and make a new article, Atari 8-bit graphics, and try to add sources etc etc to that. It can sit in my sandbox while I'm doing it. Once people are happy with it, the relevant sections can then be removed, or vastly condensed, in these articles and redirected to those with {{main}}. Because of the necessary interaction between the OS and the hardware it may not be appropriate to have this as a stand-alone article (i.e. kinda a "vertical" split down the architecture instead of a "horizontal" one), but we can decide that once we have that, whether to then merge the CIO in (and I guess POKEY later) and move it to Atari 8-bit operating system or "operating system and hardware" or whatever is the best nomenclature. Si Trew (talk) 07:59, 8 December 2009 (UTC)
Simon I was wondering if you still had your Atari, and does it still work? I have no idea what happened to my Atari 800 which I had in graduate school. Wondering if there's a place where Ataris still run, where they can be used, and if so, should this be mentioned in the article? Also, somewhat off the track, if editors want some FUN, check out my article Presidential prevarications before it gets deleted -- it's up for deletion and will probably get axed -- but for fun, go to the article and click on links for presidents fibbing and watch with a bowl of crackers. One of Wikipedia's greatest joys! My favorite is: Clinton!!!--Tomwsulcer (talk) 17:08, 1 January 2010 (UTC)

Are there any sprites?[edit]

The article on Atari BASIC includes a comment that, if I interpreted it correctly, implies the Atari had sprites (because it mentions the lack of Atari BASIC having any commands for manipulating sprites) but then, when I come to this article, the slightest I get to sprites appears to be a discussion of the ANTIC chip. (Heck, if you can control every raster individually, what do you need sprites for?) I have never had an Atari 800, nor any 8 bit Atari, for that matter. One of these two articles should be fixed so that total strangers to the Atari don't suddenly jump to the conclusion that there are or aren't sprites. And if there are sprites on an Atari 800, where do you find them? Dexter Nextnumber (talk) 07:32, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

The Atari 8 bit systems had sprites, but these were referred to as "players" and "missiles" and collectively the system was called "player-missile graphics". See also Sprite (computer graphics) and other articles listed in this search.--LarryMac | Talk 15:10, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
To answer the "why" part: the machine was originally intended to be a games machine, an updated version of their original 2600. That machine had no raster graphics. Instead, it had several sprites, and then a single background color register. The programmer rapidly changed the register and sprite information as the screen was drawn in order to produce a complete image (it was not easy!) When the new machines were being designed they worked along the same principle, and the raster/character graphics were not added until later. So that's one "why".
The other "why" is that it was expensive to draw and redraw graphics on any of these machines, as memory access was quite slow. In order to simulate sprites by direct drawing into the bitmaps could be complex and would eat performance. By having a small number of objects isolated in memory and combined only on the screen by the video hardware, movement could be handled without with some timers and without any redrawing. This was both faster, and generally easier. Note that the C64 had the same setup, for the same reasons. However, some systems did use redrawing for sprites, notably the Astrocade which had a clever solution to improve performance. Maury Markowitz (talk) 00:20, 25 March 2010 (UTC)


God, I hate to say this, 'cause I love this article! .....but it's got a little fancruft in places, it really does. I think some of it really colors outside the lines as far as being "encyclopedic". Buddpaul (talk)

Not exactly "funcruft" IMO, but the problem with this article is that it's allowed to run on and on almost entirely without cited references. Not that I want people just showing in references that never get read by most, but there are just far too many places where I'm asking "how on earth could you possibly know this?".
By the way, please sign your name with the four tildes (~~~~), not by hand. You won't get an auto-generated timestamp otherwise.Tgm1024 (talk) 12:58, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

Modern 8-bit clones[edit]

Does anyone know if there are any modern clones of the 8-bit Atari that are still in production? (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 19:25, 12 September 2010 (UTC).

Model cross-compatibility section?[edit]

I would like to see a compatibility section that shows what is supported between the earlier and later models. For example is the 800XL fully compatible with the 800? Can the 130XE run programs written for the 800?

I believe only the 800 had the two cartridge slots. What specifically cannot be done with later models that are only possible on the 800 with that second slot?

DMahalko (talk) 07:51, 7 June 2011 (UTC)

Hidden Atari 800 motherboard bus?[edit]

Although the 400/800 had the fully enclosing metal shielding, I believe the 800 had a card-edge connector on the back of the main board, though I do not recall if there was any way to access it externally. (The 400 might also have had it, but I've never seen the 400 series system boards.)

It may be that this card edge connector was included for possible future use in models that had not yet been built, so that for example Atari could have made a "slot extender" plugging onto the back that would allow a new professional model with say 8 or so expansion slots.

DMahalko (talk) 07:59, 7 June 2011 (UTC)

There was an edge connector on the back of the main board (male, part of the board, not a female socket). I have no idea, but I always assumed that it was part of a manufacturing diagnostic prior to assembly.Tgm1024 (talk) 13:02, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

Atari 800 -- DOS expansion board?[edit]

What was the function of the Atari 800 DOS expansion board that installed into one of the slots inside the metal shell? Was there sufficient memory capacity available to include a complete operating system in ROM or EPROM?

Or was it really just more of a "bootstrapper" ROM board, so that when turned on, the 800 would be able to know just enough to find a floppy drive on the SIO bus, query for the disk boot loader, and kick off the rest of the boot from there?

DMahalko (talk) 08:07, 7 June 2011 (UTC)

The Display List is not a programming language.[edit]

This bit of lore has been handed down for many years now, and remains as untrue today as it did then. The Display List is simply not in any way shape or form a "programming language".

The wiki's own article is quite clear on what is and is not a programming language. "Markup languages like XML, HTML or troff, which define structured data, are not generally considered programming languages." The display list is nothing more than a list of structured data, which operates to produce a display in the same general fashion as troff.

In fact it's even less; it is nothing more than a list of subsequent register values similar to those used by the GTIA, but we don't refer to the GTIA's registers as a "programming language". It is also basically identical to the data the ANTIC uses to generate a character set, yet we don't call that a programming language either. So why do some people call this a programming language?

Unless people can provide a list of similar structured data lists being referred to as programming languages, I think it's high time we set the record straight on this and remove the Atari marketing newspeak.

Maury Markowitz (talk) 23:09, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

I tackled something similar in ANTIC, where there was a section showing a BASIC program that created a simple display list and pushed it into memory. It was actually worse than useless - it didn't demonstrate anything meaningful in either Display-List language or in BASIC. I ended up removing it after a brief survey to see if there were any compelling reasons to keep it. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 00:48, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
Nobody says the DL is a programming language. Rather, it's a program written in a specific programming language.
"Markup languages like XML, HTML or troff, which define structured data, are not generally considered programming languages.". Read the next sentence: "Programming languages may, however, share the syntax with markup languages if a computational semantics is defined." ANTIC's display list has precisely defined computational semantics. Also, XML, HTML and troff are not sets of instructions used to control the behaviour of a machine, while the DL is. With that in mind, ANTIC's display list matches the definition of Program (machine).
"The display list is nothing more than a list of structured data, which operates to produce a display in the same general fashion as troff." With such interpretation, a shading language program for the graphics chip is also only a list of structured data, which operates to produce a display. Yet it's still called a programming language.
"In fact it's even less; it is nothing more than a list of subsequent register values similar to those used by the GTIA, but we don't refer to the GTIA's registers as a "programming language"." Not really - the values read by ANTIC (contrarily to the GTIA, which doesn't contain a program counter nor does it read the memory by itself) are instructions that are interpreted by the chip in a specific way, according to a certain semantics. In the case of the GTIA, there's no semantics at all.
The most important reason however, that the ANTIC's instruction set is called a programming language on Wikipedia, is that there are numerous third-party articles that call the Display List a program, and so far none that claim otherwise. --Krótki (talk) 08:43, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
I can agree with this. A program is really nothing more than a list of instructions, and the Display List in the ANTIC is a literal set of instructions that the ANTIC reads and executes, rather than just a list of data that a separate program knows how to interpret. It's probably not a very well-understood language, however, and as I mentioned, the "example" on the ANTIC page was not at all useful in understanding the language, since really all it did was present a list of numbers that, on their own, were meaningless. If someone were to produce a disassembly-style listing of the same program, it would be far more useful in understanding it as a language, but I would raise separate questions about scope and weight at that point anyway. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 21:05, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

It appears my (detailed) response has been lost to the aether. My apologies, I'll try again later. Maury Markowitz (talk) 15:58, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

...where was I... yes, OK here goes: In any Von Neumann architecture-like machine, instructions (programs) are literally data stored in memory. That makes it difficult to provide a single definition of a computer language, as one cannot examine the output of the system to determine whether or not a language was used to create it - it's all just numbers. So instead, we have to have a definition that uses agreed on terms, as the wiki article on the topic nicely summarizes, there are three hallmarks that must be met: Function and target, Abstractions, and Expressive power. Using these hallmarks, how does the DL stack up?

  • Function and target: certainly the DL is a series of instructions for a particular task, so it meets this definition.
  • Abstractions: this essentially states whether or not there are mechanisms to gather up instructions and abstract them out - macros or subroutines. The DL clearly fails to meet this requirement - if one wants a 192-line "graphics 8" display, one must list the same instruction 192 times, the exact opposite of what this requirement is stating.
  • Expressive power is essentially a judgement call on how turing complete the system is. In this case, the DL has absolutely not turning completeness - there are no loops, branches, and no way to incorporate arbitrary state.

So by these measurements, the DL meets only one out of three requirements, and it is by far the easiest of the three to meet. It utterly fails to meet the other two. Therefore, one should be highly inclined to treat any claim of "computer language" with extreme scepticism. So then on what basis do we have these claims? Krotki notes "The most important reason however, that the ANTIC's instruction set is called a programming language on Wikipedia". And that's exactly the problem we are trying to fix. The fact that Atari references claim it as such is not enough, in order to support this claim one will require similar examples from other markets. There are many places where DL's are used, in PDF, OpenGL and others, where the systems in question are much more powerful and detailed than the ANTIC DL, yet none of these are called "programming languages". Thus it seems what we have here is simply a historical oddity that is being repeated even though it is wrong. That's precisely what the Wikipedia is supposed to fix. So again, unless someone can come up with examples of something like the DL being referred to as a programming language in a context that does not trace itself back to an Atari source, then I think my argument is demonstrated. Maury Markowitz (talk) 14:18, 26 June 2011 (UTC)

Von Neumann architecture doesn't apply here, since it refers to a specific subset of programs, called computer programs. Also, the Programming language article that you mention, in the "Function and target", seems to discuss only computer programming languages, not programming languages in general. E.g.: "Function and target: A computer programming language is a language[3] used to write computer programs, which involve a computer performing some kind of computation[4] or algorithm (...)". However note the third sentence in that article: "The earliest programming languages predate the invention of the computer, and were used to direct the behavior of machines such as Jacquard looms and player pianos." In short, computer programming languages are only a subset of all programming languages, and we aren't discussing a claim that ANTIC's programming language is a computer programming language (of course it isn't!). --Krótki (talk) 00:00, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
"The fact that Atari references claim it as such is not enough" - Why? Those are claims by individuals independent from the Atari company, each having a certain programming background. --Krótki (talk) 00:23, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
You can argue the definition all you want, but it doesn't address the issue. The issue is whether or not the DL meets the definition in that article, which it does not, or whether the many independent examples of DLs (non-Atari) are called programming languages, which they are not. Unless you provide evidence of both then you are not supporting the point of contention.
As to the last point - this is precisely the issue we're talking about. The Wikipedia attempts to fix historical and factual inaccuracies. things that people agreed on at the time but we later realized simply aren't true. The Wikipedia attempts to root these out, and present both the inaccurate and accurate versions (see the bottom of David Nowakowsky for instance). The fact that Atari related materials agreed to use this term doesn't make it any less wrong - it simply makes it worth mentioning while pointing this inaccuracy out. Maury Markowitz (talk) 11:22, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
Wikipedia talks about those things *if and only if* there are reliable resources discussing those things. Otherwise most of what you've been stating is WP:OR and WP:Synthesis, no matter how factual it may be to you. Wikipedia works by assuming laymen are reading a topic, and accordingly must provide references to directly draw content from. So far Krotki and Kiefer have been correct by Wikipedia standards, and Krotki has provided the references in question. I have not seen the same on your end, and I'd be rather surprised if a reliable third party reference in relation to your point (let alone with regards to Atari computers) exists. --Marty Goldberg (talk) 12:54, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
The issue here is about reliable sources. The statements are questionable and covered only by questionable sources. No OR or SYN is implied. Consider your statement in another context. If your local newspaper claimed that dogs were cats, would you demand a reference from another source stating that your newspaper was wrong before considering it inaccurate? Maury Markowitz (talk) 17:17, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
Opps, hit "save" too early. I put considerable effort into the task you note above, googling any cogent reference to "display list" I could find. This included materials for OpenGL, Flash/ActionScript and others. Not one of these claims, or even intimates, that a display list is a programming language -- in spite of the fact that all of these are far more complex and turing complete. For instance, consider this, this from the red book, or this. There are literally thousands of sources that fail to mention this "fact". Maury Markowitz (talk) 17:35, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
This is not an issue of "dogs are cats" however, which would fall under WP:OBVIOUS. Once again per the constraints and needs of Wikipedia and needing to address a laymen reader, you can provide reliable counter references to include a counterpoint. You can not simply dismiss reliable third party sources (which is what those books and such presented by Krotki are) based on pure original research and synthesis. If enough reliable sources to counterpoint said point are found, a consensus can be generated here to deem them as unreliable. For example, enough counter-resources were found (including direct interviews, copyright filings, etc.) to conflict a well repeated October 18, 1985 launch date for Super Mario Bros., and a consensus was generated that the sources stating that date were inaccurate. But I don't see that happening here so far, as again you have yet to provide anything to this other than personal opinion and insight. --Marty Goldberg (talk) 19:58, 27 June 2011 (UTC)
Which part of the references that I provided are "personal opinion and insight"? Maury Markowitz (talk) 12:39, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
All of them. Trying to relate artificial software display constructs of a graphics library like OpenGL and a virtual cross platform rendering engine like Flash (both of which I program professionally for) vs. a literal custom chip and how it's directly coded is synthesis as mentioned and again based on personal opinion and insight (i.e. WP:OR). None of those sources directly addresses the Antic, it's architecture, and how it's functionality and architecture is literally based on it's internal display list coding. In fact they only address the subject of a display list in regards to the needs of those individual platforms as do these "thousands of resources" you mention exist. Failing to mention something is not evidence to the contrary of the direct third party resources presented here that are directly related to the subject - the Atari Antic. You're trying to oversimplify by comparing the concept of a "display list" and it's usage as a rendering level in modern programming libraries and languages vs. an actual custom graphics chip that expects and functions via a display list internally and is directly coded through said list. The display list isn't a coding language in Flash because the coding language for Flash is the scripting language AS3. The display list simply represents a replaceable rendering context, and in fact does not exist in the pre-Flash Player 9/AS3 coding - AS2 and 1 use a non-display list player architecture. In OpenGL the context is Java, C, C++, ObjectiveC, etc. as the programming language and the display list is an artificial construct (i.e. abstract layer) created by the library (OpenGL) and has little direct bearing on directly coding the GPU. In fact neither of those examples have any direct bearing on the direct coding of the GPU. In contrast, Antic has it's own internal display list coding mechanism (complete with full instruction set based around said display list architecture) that has to be coded regardless of what outside language on the Atari 8-bit I'm coding in. The display list is the literal language of the Antic and how it functions - it's purpose. In fact, Atari Corporation's multiprocessor Jaguar has a similar functionality with it's separately programmed Object Processor. Now again, unless you can find a source that directly counters the other sources presented on the Antic by discussing display lists in relation to the Antic (i.e. "Display lists on the antic are not actually a programming language") then we're still left with synthesis and and original research to state otherwise. There's not many more ways to explain that than what I or the others already have. --Marty Goldberg (talk) 20:45, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
Maury, you have not provided a single reference that states that it is not correct to call ANTIC's DL a program. You're trying to draw a comparison between ANTIC's DL and other entities that are also named "Display Lists", disregarding the fact that they otherwise have little in common. For me that's an almost-straight example of the logical fallacy known as equivocation. Even disregarding the above, your references do not state that a display list cannot be called a program; they merely don't call it that way.--Krótki (talk) 10:58, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
Looking at the description of the "instructions" in ANTIC, I don't understand how you can call something a "programming language" if you can't do iteration or conditional branches. There's just an "unconditional" jump, and a "jump" that's really synchronization with the video blanking - that's not a programming language. --Wtshymanski (talk) 21:57, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
The apparent current practice is that control flow instructions (nor Turing completeness, for that matter) are not needed to call a language a programming language. See Tiny or Joule. --Krótki (talk) 10:58, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
If that's the case, then the idea of "programming language" is considerably more vague and less useful than I'd thought. I can't make out what "Joule" is supposed to be like, but "Tiny" is described as only for teaching some principles of compilers, not even a toy language, and not useful for actually writing programs. What does computer science literature call "programming languages" that have no iteration or alteration? Are we not going to surprise and disappoint a reader by calling something a "programming language" that can't be used to write programs? Although that article defines "computer language" to include markup-like things and "programming langage" for systems that could have conditional behavior. I think it's deceptive to call the ANTIC display list a "language" because that may give the idea to the reader that the ANTIC could make decisions, such as "if the last 3 pixels on the line were red, make the next one blue" - and it didn't have anywhere near that level of functionality. You might as well call a box of crayons a programming langauge. --Wtshymanski (talk) 13:42, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
Page 22 of the Joule manual shows an "If" statement, so it positively has conditional execution of code, unlike what I understand of the ANTIC display list. --Wtshymanski (talk) 13:52, 29 June 2011 (UTC)

So, eight months later, am I too far off by saying that no one really agrees with Krótki's position on this? I see my own posts, Wtshymanski and Marty Goldberg all posting reasons why it is not fair to call DL a programming language. Maury Markowitz (talk) 19:56, 5 March 2012 (UTC)

You sure? I think that Marty's stance is actually in agreement with mine, not opposite. I believe his most important argument is that there are sources claiming ANTIC's DL is a programming language while there aren't any claiming the opposite. --Krótki (talk) 23:16, 5 March 2012 (UTC)
You're right, Marty is agreeing with you. So 2 on 2. I will canvas for further input. Maury Markowitz (talk) 01:06, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
A year and a half later, I went back and read this discussion and wish I'd been more involved at the time. It's an interesting discussion. That said, I don't personally follow the strict definitions set out by computer science experts, but I've always regarded the term "programming language" to mean a set of instructions that can be arranged in a coherent order to perform one or more tasks. A program is an arrangement of instructions. Similarly, the schedule of events you read in a pamphlet at the symphony is often called a "program". Instruction manuals are also programs. Many of them don't have any branches - they're just straight top-to-bottom lists of instructions or events to be followed in linear order.
More to the point, I've never seen that there's a requirement for a list of instructions to have the ability to perform conditional logic, branch or otherwise have flow control. Most languages do, but simple devices such as the ANTIC have no need for such a thing. That doesn't mean they can't be programmed.
If I recall correctly, the DL is more than a simple list of numbers that defines the individual points on the screen (in other words, it's not just a bitmap). It contains simple instructions that the graphics chip interprets to perform simple actions - in other words, the chip executes the DL as a simple program. The DL, thusly, can be said to have its own language. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 05:33, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
I agree, it seems faily obvious to me that the Antic is a real-time processor that takes a display list as a program (input) and executes it to produce a digital picture signal – not a bitmap, its output isn't placed in memory – so, yes, an Antic display list is a program.
You're right, there's no need for an imperative (i.e. sequential) programming language to have loops, conditions, or be able to modify memory locations (i.e. there's no need for it to satisfy the test for Turing completeness); and for programming languages such as Lisp, this test is inappropriate. A regular language is not Turing complete, but it can be used for programming. If it's a language used for programming but is not a programming language, what is it?
If the article says a DL is a programming language it should be changed to say it is a program; the DL is the instance and the class of all possible DLs is the language. But it is a program, written in ANTIC microcode, which is a programming language. Si Trew (talk) 23:40, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Kiefer, the display list tells ANTIC how it's going to display the graphics information, where to get it, and controls other display options specific to a raster display (blanking and vertical blank). This is a pretty good resource on how ANTIC is programmed (though some of the examples are in Atari BASIC instead of assembly). --Marty Goldberg (talk) 23:47, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
To clarify, the examples are in Atari BASIC and lists of ANTIC opcodes (not 6502 assembly language or opcodes.) Si Trew (talk) 00:33, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
That might be where the BASIC "example" I mentioned further up a couple of years ago came from. IIRC, it was basically just a simple reader loop and a long set of DATA statements, containing long chains of integers. No comments to speak of, so only people deeply familiar with the ANTIC microcode would know what those numbers meant. I usually find disassembly listings to be much more helpful when reviewing low-level programs, mostly because the person providing the disassembly usually annotates it well enough to describe what's going on. :) — KieferSkunk (talk) — 06:33, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

Longest Lasting Computer Line?[edit]

While t may not have been the best selling computer line, was not the 8-bit line, more specifically, the 400/800, the longest lasting computer line? most computer line usually have a span of %-7 years before being replaced. Leeroyhim (talk) 22:28, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

The Commodore 8 bits lasted longer, from the PET 2001 in 1977 to the Commodore 64 being discontinued in 1994. The Apple II series ran from 1977 to 1993. So the 400/800 line is actually the shortest lived of the "big 3" home computers. — Preceding unsigned comment added by OMPIRE (talkcontribs) 16:20, 7 May 2014 (UTC)

A solid aluminum block?[edit]

From the article:

To meet stringent FCC requirements, the early machines were completely enclosed in a solid cast aluminum block, which made them physically robust but expensive to produce.

Also, extremely difficult to operate, I would guess.

Is this poorly phrased, or just a bit of whimsy on a regular contributor's part?--NapoliRoma (talk) 23:54, 8 March 2016 (UTC)

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