Which direction retro computing goes ?

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Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby AtariZoll » Sun Jun 25, 2017 7:11 am

Looking at the New Posts section in this forum, where majority of it in last weeks is clearly about MIST and some other FPGA "clones" ...
So, can we say that currently we are under transition to HW clones, and majority will use them soon ? Or that happened already ?
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Re: Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby dhedberg » Sun Jun 25, 2017 7:39 am

I have no interest in anything but the real hardware. I think the MIST attracts people without real hardware that want to experience it again. It's alot easier and cheaper to get the MIST up and running.
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Re: Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby Atarieterno » Sun Jun 25, 2017 11:02 am

In my opinion the "retro" scene can only be truly retro if you use old real hardware, even if you use modern reinforcements (connected to an old base). Buying a modern device that can use older operating systems is not truly "retro", it is closer to emulation; But it is a good substitute if it does not have genuine hardware.
Are old computers very expensive? Yes.
Do they need repairs and careful maintenance? Yes.
Is it necessary to contact other users, get information and ask for help from the most experts? Yes.
But nobody said that the hobby of retro is simple and easy.
It is the same to use a restored Volkswagen Beetle of the year 1940, than to use one built in 2003 as "New Beetle"? No, it is not the same.
The experience of connecting to the Atari ST a Cubase dongle, an ADAS D2D sound card, a SCSI hard disk, a Midex and several sound modules or synthesizers; All to achieve a recording of a stereo track !! This is a luxury, a true hobby in the 21st century, it is truly "retro".
Any modern device could make the same more easier and with more possibilities? Yes. And the "New Beetle" has air conditioning and power steering ... but it's not "retro".
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P.S. The only conditioning of the survival of the concept "retro" are our children, because the authentic Atari generation is us and we are getting old. When we leave the inheritance of the entire Atari culture to our children: they will decide to keep it, sell it or give it to oblivion. The time will tell.
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Re: Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby Miguel » Sun Jun 25, 2017 1:27 pm

Our community has quite a diverse interest in the old Atari when you really think about it, for example my main interest is in the musical applications of the Atari ST and even then I am more interested in MIDI sequencing than producing chip tunes, whereas others might be into retro gaming and not necessarily interested in the hardware and for others it's all about the hardware.

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Re: Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby Frank B » Sun Jun 25, 2017 2:54 pm

dhedberg wrote:I have no interest in anything but the real hardware. I think the MIST attracts people without real hardware that want to experience it again. It's alot easier and cheaper to get the MIST up and running.


I like both. A bit of hardware that can boot as an Amiga or ST? SOLD! :)

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Re: Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby johnnyboy1911 » Sun Jun 25, 2017 5:53 pm

Hello how you can look at this photo I have the luck enough space for a few Atari's.
Emulators do not feel good to me.
And exaggerated accelerator cards or clones I do not need synonymous.
Ok extensions like SD cards or CD drives which support my computer I find in order.
I do not need anyone to prove something I just want to have fun with my (old) devices.
This is for me retro and many have surely as I play many memories of the golden yearly hours with friends etc.
On the photo you see.

Falcon 030 TOS 4.01 CD Burner 14MB Ram 16GB SD card 4GB SCSI hard disk
Fantom Speeder card and a 22 inch Benq monitor.

Jaguar with CD drive

Atari 800XL 320KB Ram Floppy 1050 with Happy and Speedy card and Dual Menu boat system.

520STE TOS 1.06 4MB Ram Megafile 44

Mega ST2 and SM124

And these are only the devices I regularly use most of the Falcon and the XL.
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Re: Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby dma » Sun Jun 25, 2017 6:02 pm

There are many MIST discussions here, just because a section of this forum is the official MIST forum.
I don't see much post about MIST outside of the MIST section.

And i certainly care more about original hardware than emulation hardware when it comes to Atari computers. :)

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Re: Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby AtariZoll » Sun Jun 25, 2017 6:33 pm

dma wrote:There are many MIST discussions here, just because a section of this forum is the official MIST forum.
I don't see much post about MIST outside of the MIST section.
And i certainly care more about original hardware than emulation hardware when it comes to Atari computers. :)


Why should someone discuss about MIST and related in some other section ?

I think that most of, who replied here did not get what is point here: it is not about what who prefers, but about what majority prefer, what tendencies happening. I don't think that example with old restored Beetle and New Beetle is good - new one is just not clone of old one. New one is just similar a bit in look, but whole technology is different, and driving it is total different. Not to mention that price is very high - it is not some car for masses, as old Beetle was. And here is one of important things: MIST costs less than some Atari STE in good shape, and much less than some Atari ST(E) in 1985-1989.
On top of it come mentioned maintenance, repairs, problem with finding components, etc.
I'm for original HW, as much it is possible, but time simply works against it. Electronic components are not car components - they have lifetime, and will go bad even if not using them.
Finally, FPGA clones are not "emulation" - there is it in some level, but for instance CPU core emulates not original CPU - it acts practically same as original.
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Re: Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby dma » Sun Jun 25, 2017 6:48 pm

What i meant is that, without MIST posts, the forum would certainly just have as much activity as it could, considering present Atari scene/homebrew/retro state.

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Re: Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby troed » Sun Jun 25, 2017 8:20 pm

AtariZoll wrote:Finally, FPGA clones are not "emulation" - there is it in some level, but for instance CPU core emulates not original CPU - it acts practically same as original.


A MIST runs about 0% of Atari ST demos.

/Troed

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Re: Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby Atarieterno » Sun Jun 25, 2017 9:49 pm

The opinions are like the ass: every person has one. Nobody is in possession of the absolute truth and I do not see that the general tendency are in modern machines that are not Atari; I respect these creations, of course, but the example of the Beetle is still appropriate: or you have one original or do not have it, everything else they are substitutes.
Certainly that the machines Atari become old, the users also, forms a part of the life. When I can use the dongles of my original programs in a modern machine, Cubase MIDI and Cubase Audio, all the complements of hardware (Midex, FA8, Log3, Unitor2, Time-Lock, etc ...), then I will think of buying a modern machine. And we do not speak about latency MIDI and that the ST is the best tool to sequence of all the times. Please, already I have said that to be a user of Atari in 2017 is not easy or cheap, but to propose the alternative of a Raspberry or similar to replace our Atari ... I do not believe in this trend and neither I believe that this forum has for the most part this interest. It is my opinion.
It's also cheap to install an emulator on your Windows PC, but that's not Atari; If it becomes a trend it could have a specific forum (and sell the original machines to other users, XD).
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Re: Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby Greenious » Sun Jun 25, 2017 11:55 pm

Emulators, real hardware, recreated hardware... it will all have it's place in the future.

The only new thing recently is that MiST and other FPGA recreated retro computers are finally getting to the point where they are actually able to correctly recreate the old hardware. This is certainly underscored by the ZX Spectrum Next.

But just like emulators can't replace hardware, these FPGA based recreations/clones won't replace original hardware either, rather it will find it's own audience, and hopefully bring new people in/back into the retro community. Even just the creation of these machines just adds to the retro community at large, and clearly demonstrates the interest is much larger than most of us really think.
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Re: Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby AtariZoll » Mon Jun 26, 2017 7:14 am

troed wrote:A MIST runs about 0% of Atari ST demos.

Well, even if that is correct (what you consider demo ?) that will not prevent people buying MIST. Remember, this thread is not about how accurate to original some clone is.
We could say for instance: MIST emulates not well Atari Mega STE. Yes, there is 16 MHz mode, what you can activate in same way as at original (writing to specific port), but cache is not emulated at all. Not emulated it's specific timings, and of course, nothing from emulating VME bus, or God save us, it's internal ACSI-SCSI adapter (who needs it when there is ICD type ACSI port emulation) .
Who wants to go in some very deep details, rare used features needs original for sure. Actually, several originals - and you are for sure aware about it.
But average user does not need to have Atari STM, Atari STFM, Atari STE, Mega ST, Mega STE, TT, Falcon .... Not to mention that many simply can not afford it, nor have space for it all.
But average user will be very happy, when finds that can run some SW at double speed - in "fake" Mega STE mode. And that's what matters for majority.
I don't know how cycle accurate is 68000 clone in MIST, is it main reason for not running many demos, or video, MFP, and other timings are not that accurate. It can be improved by time, if there is demand by number of users. As first SW emulators for PC were not much accurate, but by time it is improved a lot. Still, not finished task, more than 10 years after Steem 3.2 release. There were even errors in CPU emulation, and stays for Hatari too.
So, time is working against original HW, and in favor of emulation/cloning :D
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Re: Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby troed » Mon Jun 26, 2017 7:32 am

AtariZoll wrote:So, time is working against original HW, and in favor of emulation/cloning :D


Of course. But, it's also "our" generation that grew up with this platform that's even interested at all. Time is working against us. Our kids don't care.

I expect the FPGAs to be good enough just about when there are not that many of us left ;)

/Troed

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Re: Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby joska » Mon Jun 26, 2017 8:17 am

AtariZoll wrote:So, can we say that currently we are under transition to HW clones, and majority will use them soon ?


No. Retro computing is mostly about emulation nowadays. Even the hardcore demosceners who detests emulators use modern computers to do all their development and only use the real hardware for testing. The people developing stuff like MiNT or EmuTOS are not using computers running MiNT or EmuTOS for anything else than testing MiNT and EmuTOS. The same applies to people hacking/fixing games, or creating new games. Most work is done *for* these computers, not *with* them.

Hardware clones like MIST are interesting, but not necessarily the future. They are not the real thing, and they are not more accurate recreations of real hardware than emulators. I'm quite sure that FPGA clones will be used by a small minority in the future too, with real hardware being replaced with software emulation as the old machines dies. Most retro gamers are really only interested in playing the occasional game and does not care about the hardware itself.

OTOH you got people that see the actual hardware as an essential part of the experience. They will continue to keep these old machines alive, and even improve them. FPGA clones falls somewhere in between.
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Re: Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby wongck » Mon Jun 26, 2017 8:18 am

troed wrote:Of course. But, it's also "our" generation that grew up with this platform that's even interested at all. Time is working against us. Our kids don't care.

Very true.
My guess is that after us, there will be no more "retro users" except may be computer historian just looking at some history.
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Re: Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby joska » Mon Jun 26, 2017 8:32 am

troed wrote:Our kids don't care.


We don't know that yet. Look at the vintage car/motorcycle community. There's a huge amount of pre-war vehicles kept alive by people who was not even born when these were made. We don't know if something like that will happen with computers, but as computers are most likely here to stay and make an even greater impact on our lives in the future, I think there will be an interest for pioneering computers in the future.
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Re: Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby AtariZoll » Mon Jun 26, 2017 9:02 am

joska wrote:No. Retro computing is mostly about emulation nowadays. Even the hardcore demosceners who detests emulators use modern computers to do all their development and only use the real hardware for testing. The people developing stuff like MiNT or EmuTOS are not using computers running MiNT or EmuTOS for anything else than testing MiNT and EmuTOS. The same applies to people hacking/fixing games, or creating new games. Most work is done *for* these computers, not *with* them.
Hardware clones like MIST are interesting, but not necessarily the future. They are not the real thing, and they are not more accurate recreations of real hardware than emulators. I'm quite sure that FPGA clones will be used by a small minority in the future too, with real hardware being replaced with software emulation as the old machines dies. Most retro gamers are really only interested in playing the occasional game and does not care about the hardware itself.
OTOH you got people that see the actual hardware as an essential part of the experience. They will continue to keep these old machines alive, and even improve them. FPGA clones falls somewhere in between.

Well, that's all more-less accurate. But there are other aspects. Is it done for 'those computers' or for emulated 'those computers' ? Developing SW on stronger machine is nothing new, it was used in 80-es by SW companies which were able to buy some VAX, or any capable to emulate commercial computers of that time. So, that's not real retro computing. Using old SW would be retro computing. Having some arcade console in original condition is probably best example, and most similar to retro car hobby. Indeed, most popular in USA.
What becomes popular, most purchased is the key here, I think. As Atari became popular in it's time because good power/price ratio and being versatile.
If there is some clone available, what runs well most of popular SW, is cheap, and on top of it can emulate lot of platforms, is easily upgradeable to new cores and like - it can be pretty good competition to emulators and real HW. The point is not in how much accurate it is in some specific features, used by very small % of SW. If it runs well popular SW, it will be popular :D
Not everyone is for desktop computers. Many even have not it today - why should, when can do all their needs with some tablet or smartphone. For them, FPGA clone is pretty much ideal solution - and that would be new generation, burn in this millennium, and even if just 1 promil of them gets interested for old SW, computers, it means selling really lot of - probably more than how many Falcons were ever sold.
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Re: Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby joska » Mon Jun 26, 2017 9:28 am

AtariZoll wrote:Developing SW on stronger machine is nothing new, it was used in 80-es by SW companies which were able to buy some VAX, or any capable to emulate commercial computers of that time.


I don't think that was the case for the ST/Amiga in the 80's. Maybe they used PC's with cross compilers, but no way they were emulating the target hardware. Look at the console development tools, even well into the 90's these were special versions of the actual console.

Look at pictures from the 80's, you'd see developers sitting at their Ataris and Amigas creating sound, graphics and code. Even though they might compile on one hd-equipped machine with "lots" of RAM and dump the binary to a separate machine for testing, the ST's and Amigas were actually used productively. And the hobbyists sat with their single floppy STF's, producing amazing stuff using nothing but Devpac and NEOchrome. Very few people does that nowadays. I can understand that, but it's also a loss.

AtariZoll wrote:Not everyone is for desktop computers. Many even have not it today - why should, when can do all their needs with some tablet or smartphone.


In that case they can just as well run a free emulator on the tablet or smartphone?

I don't think FPGA clones will be the preferred retro platform in the future. It will be a niche within a niche. Also, I believe microcontrollers and FPGA's (or whatever replaces FPGA technology in the near future) will be used to create spare parts for our retro computers. We're already seeing that with SID replacements for the Commodore.
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Re: Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby seastalker » Mon Jun 26, 2017 10:42 am

I see replacement motherboards like this:

PEOPLE made the originals at a factory as their company job = awesome
PEOPLE make replacement ones now with heart and passion, only lacking "official" company endorsement, brand and logo = exact same awesomeness

I'll take resetting the clock on 30-40 year old machines over being an official employee of Atari, Apple or Commodore any day. Some day even a Nintendo Wii will need hip and knee replacement. :) IMHO, I like when the exterior looks the same as the original, but with improved internals. I don't get nostalgic for the individual capacitors and copper traces.

I don't wish to remember: RF boxes, load times, floppy drives, dot matrix printing, and energy thirsty power bricks.
I am happy with S-video, RGB and upgrades that push a system further; though I applaud homebrew games and demos, they are like DVD bonus features to me. I skip them, barely finding time for original games.

So I am ALL in favor of C64 Reloaded type projects that takes the chips that makes the retro device separate from the others (Pokey, SID, OS Rom, etc).
I look for the best picture and sound, fast loading, with the original keyboard cases.

I think about this a lot and find not knowing what will happen very exciting. Children may not enjoy all this now, but then again I never predicted I'd now enjoy the earliest of silent films. Keep the faith! :)

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Re: Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby joska » Mon Jun 26, 2017 10:53 am

seastalker wrote:PEOPLE made the originals at a factory as their company job = awesome
PEOPLE make replacement ones now with heart and passion, only lacking "official" company endorsement, brand and logo = exact same awesomeness


Sure, but which one do you think would be the most sought-after item for the next generation of retrofans? The real thing, or the replica? It's a bit like the car world, there are very few collectors of kit-cars.
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Re: Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby calimero » Mon Jun 26, 2017 11:14 am

I also completely skip MiST threads and subforums...
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Re: Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby seastalker » Mon Jun 26, 2017 11:23 am

I think it would depend - if you watch Youtube videos of American collectors trying to hook up a ZX Spectrum to USA TVs, the newer motherboards' features with original chips/case may start to look very attractive.

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Re: Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby joska » Mon Jun 26, 2017 11:41 am

In that case I see a marked for another product: An RF/composite/svideo/RGB upscaler that would work with a range of different retro computers :)

Btw hold on to those CRT monitors, they will be collectible. They are already hard to come by.
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Re: Which direction retro computing goes ?

Postby seastalker » Mon Jun 26, 2017 11:43 am

Hanging on to my two current ones. :)


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