Further Down the Hole

So, seeing as how I paved the way for “posts I told myself I shouldn’t do anymore,” here I am about to post the first things off the top of my head when I’m in a mood and have consumed objectively too many substances to be making rational decisions. The anxiety has gotten to the point that needing to write and post something outweighs the hesitation of posting something crappy and desperate.

I’m not in a good place. This is not necessarily a new or unfamiliar situation for me… but on a larger scale, I feel I am running out of alternative options to try in some areas of stagnation. Things I was depending on as a part of my future appear to be rather features of my past… and I find myself trying to get motivated to move in… some direction I can’t name or point to, anymore. I don’t see anywhere that my desires mesh with those of someone outside myself. I feel more alone than I have ever been… and it is those with whom I have the most invested that I have come to feel most alienated from.

The life evaluation system I’ve been developing places an important focus on the actions we take, the actual differences we make in the real world: the plans we move forward, the goals we achieve, the joy and meaning we find, all arise from our interactions with the world outside of us. It’s getting harder for me to see the world outside of me, which makes me more unsure of and less confident in my decisions, which leads to hesitancy and lack of motivation in action. I seem to have discovered the first epic flaw in this method: you have to have some idea where you are going in order to aim towards it.

There’s an aspect of development that has revealed itself through my system… I realize I have not done a good job of relating this concept yet, but getting it out here, now, in whatever crudeness of form might be positive. The tl;dr for prerequisites of this paragraph goes like this: A person must be judged based on an understanding of the three A’s: Aspirations, Actions, and Archive; we do not create our Aspirations, we develop them in response to our upbringing and environment; religion and politics are the two main factors contributing to our Aspirations; we all have a religion that arises when we understand and confront the reality that we are tiny and insignificant in an infinite and resolute universe and we must have an ideology concerning our place in that vastness; we all have a politics that arises when we understand an confront the reality that we are individuals in a composite universe, that there are as many other religions we must deal with as there are humans we encounter… and that we are issued, informed, and often indoctrinated in both a religion and a politics before we have developed to the point of recognizing and asking the underlying questions these institutions were created to address.

We got put on a team, we were taught the plays, we had the “bad guys” identified for us… before we knew the rules, or, really, even understood the ramifications of what we were agreeing to play.

Apologies if this all seems like rambling. It comes down to this for me, at this point: I have found myself, in the name of supporting a religion or a politics that I have been associated with as long as I can remember, on no more perceptible foundation than one might support a favorite sports team, supporting actions and/or ideas that clearly have no place within the recognized framework of that religion or politics.

In case this is hard to relate to, I’ll touch on a story I’ve mentioned before. As a member of a church with an aging-to-the-point-of-extinction congregation located across the street from an elementary school, it felt a little weird when the pastor decided that we should hold our Sunday service on the lawn in front of the church… and in front of that elementary school that, even on the weekend, attracted students and parents to the lovely and well-equipped campus. This… was not a theology-based decision. This was advertising, plain and simple. I clearly remember the family driving to the first “special outdoor” service… with no organ on the lawn, it was my guitar providing the musical aspect of worship, so we were cramped in the car with the PA equipment I was toting… and my younger son completely innocently asked why we were going to the trouble of having church outside, this summer. I perhaps had not realized the depth of my own reaction to the circumstances until I heard myself reply: “Because Jesus said ‘when you worship, you should yell LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME as loudly as you can.'”

I mean, we all “know” and “understand” what marketing means to business… but somewhere along the line a lot of people missed the fact that the question religion was supposed to answer does not concern popular acceptance or financial success. Religion is simply not a business, and it can’t possibly be… but American Capitalism requires that, if American Religion is to exist, it shall exist as a business.

And we wonder why religion seems to fuck up so many people’s brains. We are looking to it for the answer to a question… that is simply not addressed in the popular religions offered and consumed… which must be profitable businesses to even exist as an option.

But the thing that makes me so hopeless… the reality that ensures that my dreams will never take form outside my head… is that people do seem to understand, at some level, the importance of religion and politics, even if they seem willing to sacrifice a concept of WHAT is right for the comfort of WHO is right, and fighting under the flag of a popular leader rather than a learned or wizened or reasonable leader.

There are absolutely good-hearted, well-meaning, positively-intentioned people… that run roughshod over the heart and soul of their historical teachings… because it is currently popular, currently encouraged, currently SOP, in this dollar driven world… to do those things, to find a way to classify what Christ would have called “your brothers” as outsiders, infidels, and the enemy… so as to deny them rights, success, life, humanity.

How do you even talk to these people?

“Look, the things you are doing fly in the face of the things you are saying are important to you” has not worked, for me. There is a disconnect. “Can’t we look at ourselves objectively to be better,” has never once failed to elicit the response “if you don’t like it, go be the other guy.” Republicans hate me when I go this route. Democrats despise me when I take this tack. No one, absolutely no one in America, wants to look at themselves and ask “what can I do better,” there is only the Religious Political drive to win, to make our one opinion the correct one, and to punish anyone who failed to be born and raised in the ways we were.

Just so you know, I hate all of you, at this point. I mean, I hate myself, too, but at least I seem to be making some allowance that I am the on who could be wrong, that I might need to be the one to question my background, that I might have to change some revered learnings in order to Get Along With The World.

Seriously, I haven’t seen even one of you fuckers ask yourselves these questions. Moreover, I haven’t met a single one of you who will even acknowledge that this is a reasonable question to be considered. I have not voted Republican or Democrat for more than a decade, yet I have managed to alienate both my Republican and Democrat friends… merely by imagining myself one of them and asking how we make ourselves better.

No one seems to want to consider “how can I make myself better?” There’s a whole shitload of people saying “you have to treat me better,” or “you have to think better,” unilaterally, and using legislation and capital to try to enforce their Aspirations on others… everyone thinks the solution is too force everyone else to think like they do.

It’s broken. It’s hopeless. There is no one pursuing the goal of a politics that acknowledges and appreciates the infinity of religions represented by the human race… only the pursuit of destroying every other viewpoint, every other background, every other opinion, but your own… and only for the reason that it is the one you are familiar with, not through any study, comparison, or thoughtfulness.

I am ready to leave this existence because I feel totally alone in confronting the world and its inhabitants this way. I have found no aligned souls, no copacetic thought processes, with which to share this journey… and among those that this life has brought closest to me, friends, family, my spouse… I feel distinctly unwelcome and unwanted for the questions I consider.

Does anyone feel this? Is anyone else fighting this fight? Am I the only one… am I the crazy one, the wrong one… the one that needs to leave for the good for everyone else?

One Of These Again

On some iteration of jjewell.com, there is a post where I explain why I was going to stop doing… what I am about to do. It’s a process.

That thing is writing about what I want to do next. All those posts ago, I had gotten disgusted with my own progress… and increasingly embarrassed about the public signposts drawing attention to that lack of progress. I decided that limiting myself to writing about done things, achieved accomplishments, shipping products… would entice me to do, achieve, and ship, so I could get back to writing.

That… has not worked out that way. And everything has stagnated.

While writing is something I am currently considering as a possible vocation, it’s also something that I use to get thoughts into the real world. The system I am building is designed to encourage considered change and intended progression, and I am discovering I require an additional step between the rote tasks of capturing ideas and creating plans, and the taking of the physical action. The talking or writing about it could be that step that I seem to be missing (a step I was consciously, and I thought reasonably, avoiding in the first place. Learning, I guess).

With a lot of things on the verge of change in my life, I’m overstocked with ideas and plans, yet the actions aren’t following along as I’d expected. I’m particularly distressed with the state of my website, which is supposed to be helping me progress on several different long-term goals.

I need a new homepage. Although I’ve always preferred simpler, text-based websites, that’s both not the way the internet is blowing, and I’m realizing it’s simply not helping me utilize the site the ways I’ve intended. I still want to feature some of my writing weblog-style, but that weblog isn’t really the center of the universe I want to present as jjewell.com… but right now, that’s the greeting.

I need to reorganize my content. One of the primary purposes of the website is to act as my archive of knowledge on things I deem important, for my own use and for the use of others. Mentioning “others” requires mentioning a related purpose, to act as a portal to connect my work and ideas with the work and ideas of others “out there.” The content I am most interested in right now includes music, Atari computers, Minecraft… and a new religion and a new political party to replace the broken institutions we patch and curse. And the system I’ve been using to determine and develop that religion and political party. I also want to establish a different way of doing business, but just say “I wanna start a new business” doesn’t capture the scope of what I’m talking about, and “I wanna start a new capitalism” doesn’t really convey much meaning. We’ll see how that develops.

Talking about “developing,” I need to figure out how to fight through the block I’ve been experiencing, and get more content going. Taken in the order I mentioned interests above, when it comes to music, I’ve been working on my current setlist, and I’m looking at the equipment I need to record and stream performances. With the Ataris, I have a reasonably formidable collection dating back to the Sunnyvale Atari VCS we got for Christmas in 1977; I want to clean, repair, and restore those items… and use them to whatever extent possible today. I’m currently working on two Minecraft worlds, a 1.16.5 remote server and weekly-snapshot local installation. In addition to personal in-game goals in both those worlds, I’d really like to get other people involved. Perhaps most importantly, if I’m to make any real headway in the time I’ve got, I need to get more down concerning my ideas on how to remake religion, politics, business, and personal accountability. I need to formalize the foundations, receive feedback and expand on these ideas… but you can’t edit a blank page.

And pages aren’t going to get it done by themselves, these days. The things I want to work with require pictures, videos, music… I have been late to streaming and the more visual and interactive aspects the internet offers.

This post has been brewing over several days, and I’m happy with the way it’s going, already. I have identified and ordered a few music interface tools that will allow me to use this nifty new computer as a music tool (the post has now been brewing so long, the first of these items has arrived and is in place). The new homepage is up and running, and although I still hate it aesthetically, it is a lot more representative of what I want… to represent, I guess.

In every product cycle, there must be a decision to ship, and imma bouta slam that publish button on this one.

Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers, and the holding of cards

There seems to be a lot of discussion about Aaron Rodgers and his contract with the Green Bay Packers, and how those concepts interact moving into the near future. In particular, I started writing in response to a Reddit thread where the discussion kept going back and forth over who was holding which cards. 

To be clear, the Packers are holding the trump card: a contract that says Rodgers will play for them. The one and card Rodgers holds is his Jeopardy and/or NFL analyst fallback career should he choose not to play football.

So the question becomes how these cards get played… get finessed for maximal value by both sides. First card played… I don’t think the Packers trade Rodgers, I think they hold him to his contract and make him show up and play or retire. The value equation seems simple… the Packers are already in the process of preparing for the post-Rodgers era: his retirement at this point is an unfortunate early departure of a valued long-time contributor, but a trade would be a cap-costly, asset-gambling game that shows little respect for that same valued long-time contributor.

I see no reasonable value the Packers could possibly get in a trade, so letting Rodgers pick his poison and play as a Packer or retire to Jeopardy seems like the only play.

So… we find ourselves considering the mental state of Aaron Rodgers. We know competition is important to him, we know loyalty is important to him… if faced with the obvious question “do I show up for the Packers or not play football at all,” what would he say?

I… really don’t think I have any insight to predict Rodgers’ decision. I do have thoughts on what his possible decisions might say about him as a football player and a human being, and maybe vice-versa. 

Most importantly, I think his “feeling disrespected” stance is unearned posturing. The Packers are the the Packers. Feeling personally disrespected that someone else is earning a job exactly the way you earned your job more than a decade ago seems to be the height of egocentrism. Casting glances at Mr. Brady in Tampa is likewise attempting to curry credit for that which you did not do… Tom Brady was Mr. Effing Patriot till the day his contract ran out, he earned his right to determine his next contract. Rodgers simply has not put in that work: he’s got years left on his contract, and he seems to be actively advocating for specific hiring authority wildly inappropriate for his current position.

Put simply, Rodgers’ current position seems to be that of a toddler throwing a tantrum.  My best guess is that, given the rationality of his NFL situation, Rodgers will abandon it completely. That’s what he has actually earned thus far, a public media notoriety substantial enough to finance his foreseeable wants and needs, football fields notwithstanding.

What are the possible monkey wrenches that could be thrown into the fine machinery of my processing to this point? Some team could make a good enough offer that the assets gained actually offset the cap consequences of trading Rodgers. The Broncos keep getting mentioned in this conversation… and I understand, but I don’t.

First off, I simply do not see the upside of trading for Aaron Rodgers at this point in his career. I acknowledge his skills are proving stronger, thus far, than the expected declines of age. That will necessarily change at some point forthcoming. Realistically, I absolutely cannot justify trading the amount of assets that would be needed to make the Packers seriously consider eating the cap consequences of such a trade. Basically, if you are a team that would benefit from having Rodgers on your team… you will be asked to trade precisely those assets that made you a good choice in the first place, for the honor. This would, in the very best of situations, ultimately be a sidewise move… with a significantly near-future expiration date.

I just don’t see anyone with a legitimate use for Rodgers who can make a deal worth Green Bay’s cap hit. I can’t imagine where a monkey wrench meaningful enough would come from in this NFL.

So Aaron gets to play for the Packers, or read for Jeopardy: his choice. I think that’s the way these cards have to play out.

Text Time Travel

So, it looks like a lot of things just opened up for me along a path I thought was currently blocked. I am writing this on an Atari 800XL. Sort of, anyway… in some very surprisingly accurate ways, though.

My love of old tech works two ways these days: the retro way, where I try to recreate the experience of tech past with what I’ve got now; and the antero way, where I try to directly access the old tech with what I’ve got now. One of the tools I’ve always used for my retro side is emulators, I’ve been using Atari 800 emulators since STXformer back in the early nineties. Most recently, my Atari 800 emulator of choice has been Atari800MacX, because the things it does well are the things I want from retro: easy user interface to get to different types of content, and easily swap modes for compatibility. I have been aware of Altirra, another Atari emulator, but being a Mac person, running the Windows-based Altirra isn’t always straoghtforward. Yeah, I’ve done it once or twice, but the seeming extra steps didn’t seem to offer any extra benefit for my retro side.

Recently, the software WINE, which allows Windows software to run on linux machines by interpreting the Windows calls into linux XWindows calls, has updated to 64-bit… something… which allows it to run on recent Mac OS updates, including mine. I like having WINE in the toolbox, seeing a thread on an Atari board where folks had gotten Altirra running nder WINE under the newest Mac OS release, I decided to go ahead and try it. And either I’m finally getting used to the procedure, or it’s finally getting easy enough to allow my participation, but everything installed cleanly, first try, and minutes later, I’m dinking around Altirra to see what kinds of things I could tweak. Under one menu, I saw an option to load ROM files for various hardware… not too surprising, I was emulating an ICD MIO peripheral in Atari800MacX… but I noticed one of the options was Ultimate1M, a recently developed upgrade for the ancient hardware. Now, again, my antero side knew about the Ultimate1M, I have the Atari 600XL picked out to put one in, sometime soon. For whatever reason, it never occured to me that I could use the retro emulation tool as an antero showroom, trying out different combinations of modern hardware upgrades to see what works.

Like I said, a lot of options are more readily available than I imagined. With a little luck, this could be part of a success story: one hurdle I’ve been wrestling with is creating content created on the Atari side and getting it to the PC side efficiently. Through a series of misadventures, I believe I have succeeded in setting up the PCLink device on Altirra, allowing me to write files from the Atari side directly to my main computer’s drive. Hopefully, this will soon be my first Atari written and edited post to make it online.

Next steps for Altirra include making emulated models of some of my favorite real Ataris (256kXL+MIO, 320kXE+MIO, 48k800), revisiting some old favorite games (BoulderDash, Zombies, Pharoah’s Tomb), and creating my Perfect Emulated Atari (a not-yet-fully-formed monstrosity that packs as much useful punch into an emulation as possible).

Easter Sunday 2020

It is Easter Sunday, 2020. The world has been different in many ways over the past several weeks, with an unknown end not yet in sight. The motif of rebirth into God during the reality of hunkering down for God-only-knows-what has had me spinning.

I still consider myself a Christian, but only to myself. I will no longer claim the label publicly. Not because I am embarrassed about who I am, but because I am appalled by the public behavior and policies being championed in the name of Christianity. I want no part of that, no connection to those aspects of modern American Christianity… I would flat out argue most of these behaviors and policies aren’t Christian in any way, and the clumsy semantic manipulations that pass for justifications for the label are as literal an interpretation of the snake in Eden as we are likely to discover.

So I don’t go ‘round advertising my Christianity right now… although I do still preach the gospel as I understand it with everything I say and do. Right now, preaching the gospel as I understand it; which includes helping the sick, clothing the poor, feeding the hungry, maintaining connections to the incarcerated or “cast out” of “regular” society; these things end up coming across as political arguments in our world, rather than the basic morally right religious tenets I hold them to be.

I have to come see this as natural and unavoidable, as much as we throw around separating church and state. Church comes from religion, from our need to understand our place in the grand scheme and to have a moral compass upon which to base our actions. The state comes from governments, people gathering to decide how to direct their actions as a group. One’s religion will always inform and direct one’s politics. Separating church and state cannot mean removing religious thought and attitudes from politics, but must mean removing state favoritism for one religion.

That seems obvious, doesn’t it? People have different backgrounds, educations, and worldviews, and different religions spring from that. Trying to limit some, or promote other, religions through political means simply guarantees denying some people their history, their culture, their sense of self. It is a recipe for constant disharmony and confrontation.

This is what we have made of religion, in America, of Christianity, in particular: a plan to continue to pit masses of the people against other masses of the people. Not that America deserves any credit for the concept, the history of religion is literally the history of dividing people based on their interpretations of the scripture, even to the point of what pieces, exactly, were “appropriately” scripture. Religion, for a concept so associated with peace and love, has a remarkable history of divisiveness and violence.

America, and the Republican Party in particular, does deserve citation for the level to which they have weaponized religion in the political arena. My reluctance to declare myself Christian has nothing to do with my actual religious beliefs, but is because declaring yourself a Christian in this space and time is declaring a lot more than your religious beliefs. Because of the deep seated connection between Christian American voters and the Republican Party’s platform, coming out as a Christian necessitates being in favor of authoritarianism. Calling yourself a Christian means you can and will ignore reality around you. Standing with the Christians is standing on the premise of whose sins are to be forgiven and whose are to be punished is a properly human decision.

I know a lot of Christians, and many of them would argue with those assessments of what Christianity means for them, which is fine and, in some cases, even demonstrated in their historical behavior. But I think it shows at best an alarming naïveté, and at worst silent approval, of the demonstrated policies and actions of churches and religious leaders… and political leaders that use religion to maintain a divided populace.

I have noticed something darkly humorous in our political/social current events. There are a lot of “reasonable” people pointing how how Trump’s policies have hurt the response to COVID-19… typically in conjunction with some appeal for support for the Democratic Party. Now, certainly, I absolutely believe that Donald Trump put Jared Kushner in charge of the coronavirus response team for the trinity of purposes of funneling supplies to Trump supporters, denying supplies to Trump detractors, and ensuring as much of any resulting business as possible flows through Trump related conglomerates. And yes, that’s awful and no, I don’t believe any Democrats would manipulate the system this blatantly.

But this predictable Trumpian chicanery is not the root problem of our collective crisis response. The root problem is an American health system designed for creating profit and not health results. The irony that these folks are promoting the Democrats as the answer to health service issues so soon after the DNC colluded to end Bernie Sanders, the only Democrat who actually campaigned on the promise of changing the for-profit health system, is not as lost on me as it seems to have been on them.

This irony is a symptom of the Democratic Party as a whole right now. The party has shifted right over the years. Few would try to refute that, but I think even fewer would admit to how far it has gone. Barack Obama once admitted in normal times, he would be considered a moderate Republican. Both Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren were literal Reagan Republicans in the day. Biden’s policies will be more of the same Clintonomic retro-neoconservatism that directly led to Trump’s revolution, a revolution that the Reagan Republicans set the table for in the first place.

We are following the wrong carrots… it is not panic that has us running in circles, that path is simply where our chosen carrots continue to lead us. I wonder how much people see this… how much they look for patterns like this. I wonder if that Democrat I knew back in the eighties realizes that now she is standing for the policies and tendencies she fought against when she was young… wonder if she realizes she’s changed and chalked it up to “maturity,” or if “the Democrats” will just always be the white hats in her cowboy story, no matter if they are using the methods and means of the black hats and bandanas… to the same ends, ultimately.

So rebirth. Easter. Rolling away the stone and stepping into the light of God. How do we do that? How do I that? The institutions to which we turn for support and direction are compromised. Jesus would never get around to any miracles, he’d be so busy turning over tables.

He’d have to find a place without those tables to settle down to work. That’s how I do this, that’s how we do this. The light I’m stepping into is a new church. Easter 2020 is the start.


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The Most Recent Jumpstart

As is tradition, every so often I find myself ”returning” to the website with “renewed energy.” This is of course code for something far darker… I had another little breakdown and simply didn’t care about the website for weeks at a go. Through a cocktail of means, I am looking at things in a “do things right, make things better” mode, again.

This is the mode I want to be in, the mode I believe human beings are “supposed” to be in. And one better: “do things right, make things better… learn and document all you can.”

I have mentioned before that I intend to start a new religion and a new political party… and I realize I need to do one better on that, as well… but I’m not as clear on what to call that final organization. School, university, library… junto, administration, congress… research, data, knowledge… not sure which way to go on that one, yet. But that’s a bridge for some other day’s burning, as I’m already having a tough enough time figuring out what to do next with the two I’ve already named. Recently, when I’ve tried to write about the religion or the party, I find myself drawn back to a basic message… and I took that basicness as a sign that i had simply not developed it properly. So I spun, trying to think of something to write that didn’t boil down to the same old drone.

I saw an article on the web today, I’ll not link it because it was basically an advertisement, but the gist of it was interesting: the presenter drew attention to the ways “cults of personality” used their message to their audience that were different from a “typical” advertiser: the product was the result of the underlying identity, rather than the product promoting some identity. The presenter used Apple and Donald Trump as examples… suggesting that we all were more willing to accept Apple’s music player than, say, Dell’s, because Dell was thought of as a computer company jumping on the next product bandwagon, while Apple was thought of as a “Think Different” company that made some good computers, so why not music players? Trump’s popularity in not in the results of his actions, but rather the complete confidence that ANYTHING he does is to “Make America Great Again,” regardless of the action’s inherent flaws and failures.

So, I decided to take thus as a positive sign: my fixation on centering all this on “doing things right and making things better” is actually a positive form of branding and advertising.

I am looking forward to presenting new Tie Dyed Church and Tie Dyed Party material soon. I feel as though a recurrent theme that I was once afraid was holding the concept back is actually going to be a positive in the presentation of the whole package.

Finally Got My STacy

I remember knowing about the Atari STacy when it was released in 1989. I had owned a 520ST since I had gotten out on my own and could afford it in the fall of 1987, and was still running my original Atari 800 from 1980 right beside it, at the time. Although I always kinda wanted one of the Atari portables, the ST’s MIDI performance made it popular with musicians, and the built-in hard drive and monitor of the STacy models even more so… even during the time I was amassing the bulk of my Atari collection, no one was parting with a STacy at what I thought was a reasonable price.

As has been documented elsewhere, I’ve been going through my old machines to see what’s working and what isn’t. A parallel interest of mine  is retrogaming and emulation, and while I’ve been peeking through old hardware, I’ve been poking around new software and emulating some of the things I’ve been doing on the real things.

As far as STs go, I’ve been working with Hatari for emulation. It comes with EmuTOS, a reverse engineered publicly distributable version of Atari’s TOS operating system for the STs, TTs, and Falcons, and the ability to emulate different configurations of hardware. So the fun for me has been recreating some of my actual hardware setups in Hatari. I got it displaying the way I wanted, then starting playing with the hardware emulation configuration to recreate my original 520ST as I actually used it, upgraded to 2.5 megs of memory. I found images of the actual Atari TOS ROMs, and starting running TOS 1.04 rather than EmuTOS. As of today, I got one type of hard drive emulation running, and Hatari is reading a folder of my Mac SSD as its C-drive. As I was wandering around the house with the computer, I realized that in some ways, I finally had my STacy.

NeoDesk 4 on Hatari full screen on Mac OS X
NeoDesk 4 on Hatari full screen on Mac OS X

jjATR HC The Atari 1040STe


I am refining my process.

As I rediscovered my Ataris, I first went through the ST/TT/Falcon series, plugging things in and seeing what worked, getting what data about them that I knew was interesting and that I knew how to get easily. As I went through the 8-bits, I went a little deeper on each machine as I had it out, and figured out more things that were important and more ways to find out things. I’ve got jjATR HC summaries posted for the VCS and the XL series, and  summary for the XE series is in process. The 800 summary will be last for various reasons.

Now I’m going to make a second pass through the ST/TT/Falcons, and I’m trying to get ahead of the game by planning my summaries and scouting for what information I may want and how to get it.

The 8-bits dropped themselves into categories fairly easily along VCS/800/XL/XE lines. By that token, ST/TT/Falcon seems like the logical summaries, but there’s the complication of the Megas and the ST varietals, in particular the STe. I haven’t decided yet whether to group based on on the physical architecture (ST/Mega/TT/Falcon) or hardware capabilities (ST/STe/TT/Falcon). I do think I want to avoid the ST/Mega/STe/Mega STe/TT/Falcon over-encumbered solution. And if it’s physical architecture, then the STf, STm, and STfm models would rate their own summaries. I think I’ve just convinced myself.

I also looked ahead at the web to see what kind of info I might like to gather, and I’m glad I did because it turns out, for instance, that on the Falcon series, the serial number possibly never matches from the case to the motherboard. And because these machines tend to have lived with so many techie tinkerers over the years, there’s no guarantee that the case serial has even a passing resemblance to the “real” serial number on the running motherboard. So I’m going to be opening all of them along the way.

I already have my original 520STfm, stuffed with 2.5 megs by my own hands, running in the bedroom office, and the TT030 running in the music workstation. The first machine I’m looking at in depth is a 1040STe with 4 megs on board.

jjATR 1040STe serial number label
jjATR 1040STe serial number label

I mentioned that fact that this machine had 4 megs on board, and my time with the XLs has me attuned to quirks in these labels… the first thing that jumps out at me is the 4160STE in the FCC ID… perhaps this ST came with 4 megs installed from the factory? Quick Googling doesn’t immediately confirm this suspicion, but does tend to lend it some authenticity.

jjATR HC 1040STe SysInfo screen
jjATR HC 1040STe SysInfo screen

I picked this machine to be up next for a couple of reasons… first, as a 4meg STe in the old school form factor, it’s a prime choice to be my workhorse ST system. Second, although it currently has TOS 1.06, I do have a set of 1.62 ROMs I wanted to put in. Finally, I wanted to see what was up inside, because after booting several times to get info and test screen resolutions, it started three-bombing on me just as I was getting ready to pack it up. That indicates a bus error, so I was thinking I knocked something loose on the floppy drive. Now, though, it’s coming right up, again. Mojo electronics.

Related models

Mega STe – My poor Mega STe, the STe with the heart of a Mega and the body of a TT, has a missing F10 key on the keyboard.

jjATR HC MegaSTe
jjATR HC MegaSTe

Here’s a readable version of that SysInfo screen.

jjATR HC MegaSTe SysInfo screen
jjATR HC MegaSTe SysInfo screen

jjATR HC The Atari 800XL


20190627: This is a very pretty looking and mechanically sound feeling Atari XL. Runs, boots from floppy. Has Expansion Port Cover. Small hole drilled in the back panel of the case. I vaguely remember this coming from an active hardware hacker who removed an upgrade switch to reuse in another machine… maybe a socket for something already installed in here? Keyboard feels amazing… maybe an upgrade there?

jjATR 800XL, 1050, Commodore 1702
jjATR-HC 800XL, 1050, Commodore 1702

Wow, let’s get a better look at that power supply.

jjATR-HC Atari XL Power Supply
jjATR-HC Atari XL Power Supply

I’ve always thought these were great power supplies. I need to go back and see if I can find a page I used to know that compared the different types of Atari power supplies… apparently, some of them are easy to open up and work on, but some of them are epoxy globs on the inside. This is one of two like this I’ve ever come across.

So back to the main event…

jjATR-HC Atari 800XL-a Serial Number Label
jjATR-HC Atari 800XL-a Serial Number Label

The 83A indicates location of manufacture as the Atari-Wong plant in Hong Kong; HA is the code for NTSC 800XL machines. The three digit stamped code is a date code, here indicating week nineteen of 1984 as the manufacture date.

It turns out that the nice keyboard wasn’t an upgrade, just a solid piece of kit from the get-go. Further spelunking into keyboard variations reveals this keyboard to be the Alps switch-based model, generally liked for both its feel and its repairability.

jjATR 800XL Alps keyboard C024583-001 CAV. A REV. 2
jjATR 800XL Alps keyboard C024583-001 CAV. A REV. 2

This upper case is marked C024583-001 CAV. A REV. 2

jjATR 800XL bottom case C024584-001 CAV. A REV. 1
jjATR 800XL bottom case C024584-001 CAV. A REV. 1

Lower case stamped C024584-001 CAV. A REV. 1.

jjATR 800XL motherboard
jjATR 800XL motherboard

What we can see before removing the shielding. The little bit of information in the top right only appears in the XL motherboard list twice, either it’s Rev C APC Hong Kong or Rev D OPC.

jjATR 800XL motherboard
jjATR 800XL motherboard

This 800XL is in amazing shape, he mentions as he realizes how clearly you can see him taking that photo in the reflection off the shielding. There’s also a visible number stamped on there, C 024652-001R C. Google shrugs its shoulders at that particular reference.

Related models

The Atari 600XL is the little brother to the 800XL, literally.

jjATR-HC 600XL
jjATR-HC 600XL

That is actually a second of the cool looking power supplies, they both work!

jjATR-HC 600XL serial number label
jjATR-HC 600XL serial number label

Here again we see the 83A prefix for the Atari-Wong manufacturing plant, and the code for the NTSC 600XLs was EA. Fifteenth week of 1984. This machine apparently went out of the same plant about a month before the reference 800XL above. The keyboard externally appears to be a Stackpole bubble type.

Additional machines

jjATR 256XL, runs. Mojo switch on back panel.

jjATR 256XL
jjATR 256XL

Made in Taiwan, 72R prefix, HA for NTSC 800XL, 52nd week of 1984. Appears to have Stackpole keyboard.

jjATR 800XL-b, runs, no response from SIO.

jjATR 800XL-b Serial Number Label
jjATR 800XL-b Serial Number Label

Made in Taiwan, 72R prefix. Expected HA, 39th week of 1984.

20190705 – Opened this machine up. Learned a little something about keyboards.

jjATR 800XL-B Alps keyboard
jjATR 800XL-b Alps keyboard

This unit has the same keyboard as the reference 800XL above, the Alps socketed switch model. There is at least one switch version from AWC, then two Stackpole keyboards and one from Mitsumi.

jjATR 800XL-b internals keyboard
jjATR 800XL-b internals keyboard

Here you can see the Alps logo and various part numberings on the keyboard.

Turns out there was also a motherboard in there to learn about.

jjATR 800XL-b motherboard
jjATR 800XL-b motherboard

A post on the AtariAge forums has a list of the known motherboard types, which I’ve reproduced here.

Board Name Fits PN Revision Date Component Side Solder Side Manufacturer

800XL 800XL CO61851 A1 Chelco 1983 P/N: 150800011 REV A1 800XL 800XL/CO61851 A1 CHELCO

800XL 800XL CO61851 A2 Chelco 1983 P/N: 150800011 REV A2 800XL 800XL/CO61851 A2 CHELCO

800XL 800XL CO61851 C CAO24808-001 REVA CA061854 800XL/CO61851 REV C/MADE IN HONGKONG APC

800XL 800XL CO61851 D 3284 CA06220-REV? PBT 374 800XL/CO61851 REV D/OPC/1298A/32-84 OPC

800XL 800XL CO61851 D 3384 CA061854 REV.D PBT 414 800XL/CO61851 REV D/OPC/1298A/33-84 OPC

800XL 800XL CO61851 D CAO24808 REV D PBT 504

800XL-SECAM 800XL CO24968-001 X1A 4-84 CA025926-001 REV- GCI-A 18-84 CO24968-001 REV-X1A 800XL-SECAM

800XL-SECAM 800XL C024968-001 R3 884 800XL-SECAM ROSE CAO24969-001 REV- 8-84 GX-211 VO C024968-001 REV R3 800XL-SECAM

800XLF 800XL CO25925-001 R1 © 4-84 CA025926-001 REV- CO25925-001 REV-R1 800XLF KT201 8502

800XLF 800XL CO25925-001 R3 285 © 9-84 CA025926-001 REV- CO25925-001 REV-R3 800XLF KT201 8502

130XE 800XL 5084 © 11-84 CAOXXXXX-XXX REV- 50-84/COXXXXX-XXX REV-R1 130XE

There are two stickers on this motherboard, a green circular one that possibly says ICT Passed, and an orange one that definitely says Burn-In Passed. I’m beginning to think these stickers might be obscuring the main identification I’m supposed to be seeing on this side of the board. But it is clear that the board is fully socketed, which is nice.

jjATR 800XL-b motherboard
jjATR 800XL-b motherboard

The back of the board clearly marks it as a REV A2. But there’s some parts of identification that still aren’t clear to me. Upon further spelunking, I am confident in calling this a Chelco Rev A2 board.

Here’s a look up under the shielding…

jjATR 800XL-b sheilding C024651 REV. B
jjATR 800XL-b sheilding C024651 REV. B

Part number C024651 REV. B. Contrast with reference jjATR 800XL info above.

Here are the parts of the case dismantled for cleaning.

jjATR 800XL-b upper case C024583-001 CAV. B REV. 2 lower case C024584-001 CAV. B REV. 1
jjATR 800XL-b upper case C024583-001 CAV. B REV. 2 lower case C024584-001 CAV. B REV. 1

The upper case is stamped C024583-001 CAV. B REV. 2, and the lower case is stamped C024584-001 CAV. B REV. 1.

jjATR 600XL-b, runs.

jjATR 600XL-b
jjATR 600XL-b

So… made in Hong Kong, but with a 7YJ code, so, a different manufacturing facility? EA for NTSC 600XL, 49th week of 1983. Would appear to be the oldest 600XL/800XL series machine I own, also the only black serial number label model.

The 7YJ prefix seems to appear in the FCC IDs for some 410s, 1010s, 600XLs and 800XLs. Atari worked with Chelco for boards, and Chelco manufactured tape drives… we also have seen a few Chelco 600XLs and 800XLs, machines that have Chelco stamped on the motherboards rather than Atari. I wasn’t going to start opening up machines for awhile, yet, but now I’m all intrigued…

Judging from the keycaps, this unit had a Stackpole keyboard.

Discussion thread for this post in the jjewell forums