Resurrected Entertainment

Atari 8-bit OS

September 10, 2007

Atari OS 2.5Atari DOS – This operating system was the first operating system I was exposed to during my youth, and the 2.x series was the most popular in my household. The operating system was loaded off of 5 1/4″ double-sided double-density diskettes which usually offered about 320 KBs of storage space after formatting, although other disk formats offered less or more storage depending on density. The operating system did little more than manage disk functions such as formatting diskettes or erasing and copying files, hence the full name “Disk Operating System.” It could, however, be used to boot strap the cartridge or run a binary program at an arbitrary address after it was loaded. The DOS was mostly used to access files and programs stored on floppy diskette. It provided a File Management System (FMS) which needed to remain in memory in order to provide disk access functionality to other programs.

Believe it or not, there are still hardware/software hobbyists and professionals creating products to use with your Atari. I have a software solution called A.P.E. which allows me to use my computer as a virtual disk drive, printer, modem, etc. It’s absolutely fantastic and accelerates software loading to a fraction of the time it took before. There are also products which allow you to connect a hard drive through the cartridge port, or even USB devices!

APE ScreenshotA.P.E. stands for Atari Peripheral Emulator and is an essential piece of software for any Atari user. Until a few years ago, I was forced to play my Atari games via an emulator or on the Real McCoy using the terribly slow, but wonderfully nostalgic floppy disk drive. I don’t think it’s necessary to mention how painful it was waiting for the disk operating system to load, and then waiting for the actual game to load, and then waiting for the game to save, and then waiting for the game to load the second disk… you get the idea. There was a lot of waiting, and somehow I mangaged to do it without batting an eye lash in 1984.

First and foremost, A.P.E.’s biggest strength comes in the form of its disk drive emulation software. In order to get it to work, you must own a working Atari computer. The author probably explains exactly which Atari computers are compatible somewhere on his website, but I can tell you for sure that the Atari 800 XL and Atari 400 computers work like a charm. Simply connect your Atari computer to your personal computer using a custom SIO interface cable. The cable can be purchased through the web site, or you can even make your own if you’re so inclined. Install the APE software on a computer, configure it, select a disk image, and boot up your Atari machine. Voila! The software you selected will boot in record time. Plus, your personal computer now acts as a virtual hard drive for your Atari! You can put away those floppy diskettes, all of your games and applications can be saved and archived as an “ATR” file, which A.P.E. can understand.

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