Atari 8bit computer and 8bit console similarities

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Atari 8bit computer and 8bit console similarities

Postby sidney on Fri Mar 10, 2017 9:57 am

A couple of years back my other half bought an Atari 7800 console for me which I really enjoy using, firstly for the 7800 games and also for the 2600 backward compatibility. I know this is a computer site rather than console one but I was curious what 8bit Atari computer the 7800 is closest to in terms of architecture. I know that originally the 7800 was intended to be fully expandable to a computer but this idea was scrapped when Jack Tramiel took over at the company. A few years later Atari made the XEGS which was a Computer/Console hybrid. It got me thinking about what could have been for the 7800.
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Re: Atari 8bit computer and 8bit console similarities

Postby Harvey on Tue Aug 28, 2018 8:18 pm

The 7800 architecture was not designed by Atari at all - but by an outside company as such - who designed it in mind to be working like the coin-op hardware of the time in which it was designed. That it could handle a lot of sprites.
The XEGS was a continuation of the old 400/800 computers which were superceded by the XL line - 1200XL (failed), then 600XL and 800XL - then came the XE line - then the XEGS?

So the 7800 was completely different - and is not compatible with the computer line.
Whereas the 5200 (NTSC only) does have the same kind of hardware - but games have to go through some rewriting to run.
There have been some conversions as such - going both ways - from and to 5200.
Games designed to run with more than 32K RAM? - typically 64K and above games can't be converted to run on the 5200.

There is a podcast somewhere with the developers of the 7800. Probably listed at Atariage.

The 7800 wasn't released at the time it was first shown. I think it was 2 years later - that it did eventually get released.
While it did make a so-called profit for the new Atari - they did not invest much money at all in developing new titles for it.
The same can be said for the XL and XE computers and XEGS - Atari did not spend the money to encourage new game development for these new computers - and relied upon old titles to sell the hardware.

While I have yet to see a 7800 running - I do get the impression that it does fail to live up to expectations for it.
Galaga fails to make a good impression? It is in too low a resolution - why didn't the programmer/developer (done by the company that made the hardware) use the higher resolution??? I have doubts about the graphics landscape capability of the hardware - few games make use of extensive landscapes - those that do have them - don't show much animation present in them.
Also the older sound chip in the console does not deliver high quality sound. Jack is responsible for this choice - that a Pokey chip had to be present on the cartridge for good quality sound to be present in the game. Talk about cost cutting too far...

You have only to compare - say - the Scramble conversions done - which version do you like better?

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