Tag Archives: Atari

A couple of weekends ago I found myself in conversation with Jon, my brother-in-law, a vintage game systems collector and proud owner of an Action 52 cartridge, about NES controllers—specifically, how all eight buttons can be crammed down only seven controller pins (a trivial setup would require nine). I just happened to know most of the mechanism already and gave him the surprisingly simple rundown. I got curious about the parts I didn’t know, so here’s a digest of my research.

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Some of you may (and the rest of you won’t) remember a time in the history of your computer usage where starting up your machine took almost no time at all and the thing confirmed that it was “READY” to hear what you had to say. It would even give you a coherent response if you typed in a simple arithmetic expression (as long as you typed a “?” first). It was good stuff.

Atari 800XL startup screen

The Atari 800XL screen as it appeared the moment you turned the power on—in BASIC and awaiting your command. Few computers before or since have been this prepared.

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