The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfolio)

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The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfolio)

Postby FlaminJoe » Fri Aug 02, 2013 11:14 pm

Hi all,

In my travels on various Atari forums trying to hunt down Atari IBM PC's, I've noticed that there is a distinct lack of information not only on the internet, but also the Atari forums like this one don't seem to have a place for us. I think this is a shame considering the Atari line of IBM PC Compatibles (based off my familiarity with the PCx series) were in my opinion some of the best produced IBM clones at the time. They weren't some cheap knocks off with an Atari badge stuck on them, they were built to last and even featured some nice styling for the time including a nice little touch of putting the famous Atari logo in the power supply grill.

Traditional Atari PC owners would probably also appreciate the fact that many of them used the familiar STM-1 Mouse (relabeled a PCM-1) and also borrowed other components including the brand of floppy drive used (Epson SMD-380) and the PC1 went as far as using the Mega ST case. They even shared the GEM graphical user interface which many Atari ST owners would be familiar with and I had fond memories of using on my PC3.

The reason for starting this thread is that I wanted somewhere were fellow Atari IBM PC owners could share their knowledge or just simply show off your PC. I think the best resource for something like this is an all in one thread instead of spending countless hours trolling the internet for bits and pieces. Who knows, one day we might even get a sub forum of our own. :D

So to start off, here's my story. My very first IBM PC was the Atari PC3 8088 which I had for many, many years. While others were kicking along on 286's, 386's and other more powerful machines, we were still stuck on the PC3. But it wasn't all bad. The Atari PC3 gave me my first taste of some of the great PC games of that era which I still treasure today. While there were many older classics I played such as AlleyCat and Sopwith, I also played many other great titles by some of my favourite developers such the Lucasfilm classics Monkey Island, Loom, Zak McKraken, but also many Origin favourites such as Ultima 6. I have so many fond memories on that PC which is now sadly long gone, but soon to be replaced by this:

https://plus.google.com/photos/10727353 ... erid=gplp0

I picked this one up from an awesome seller on Amibay who was happy to post it all the way from Holland. It's a little worse for wear and is in need of some restoration, but I'm just happy to be able to find one again. As soon as I get it (hopefully this coming week or the next) I'm going to get stuck into giving it a good clean, including retrobrighting the plastic front which has yellowed, removing the rust and generally giving it a good overall service. If I get time I'll do some after photos to show off how well it's looks.

Which brings me to a question. I noticed in the video the seller provided that it is reports "576K MEMORY GOOD". I don't recall the PC3 having anything other than 640K of RAM and I remember mine would say "640K MEMORY GOOD". I'm not familiar with older PC troubleshooting (I'm more use to newer systems) but is that saying that there's possibly one chip which is bad and has simply bypassed it? Or is there perhaps another reason for reporting less then the expected amount of RAM?

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Re: The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfol

Postby Dal » Sat Aug 03, 2013 6:35 am

It looks like when the bios gets to 576k, it encounters a problem. You might want to replace the RAM on that machine.
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Re: The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfol

Postby AtariZoll » Sat Aug 03, 2013 6:56 am

Launching of IBM PC compatibles was considered by most of ST and follower owners as not good move, almost as betrayal. And there were reasons for it - development of ST line was not really strong. We (and press) just thought that Atari wants to make money in easier way.

Considering RAM reported: it may be some bad RAM chip, but may be that 576K is what is available and present. There is likely 1x 512K bank and only 1x 64K bank - with 640 there would be 2x 64K bank - assuming that it is 8-bit data bus - 8088 CPU.
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Re: The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfol

Postby FlaminJoe » Sat Aug 03, 2013 10:32 am

AtariZoll wrote:Launching of IBM PC compatibles was considered by most of ST and follower owners as not good move, almost as betrayal. And there were reasons for it - development of ST line was not really strong. We (and press) just thought that Atari wants to make money in easier way.


Fair enough. I was too young to fully understand the situation surrounding the introduction of Atari IBM PC's. For me it was just a computer and a damn good one considering it was all I knew at the time. I previously had a Commodore Plus/4 and before that an Atari 2600, so for me it was all exciting to have a "real" computer.

AtariZoll wrote:Considering RAM reported: it may be some bad RAM chip, but may be that 576K is what is available and present. There is likely 1x 512K bank and only 1x 64K bank - with 640 there would be 2x 64K bank - assuming that it is 8-bit data bus - 8088 CPU.


Dal wrote:It looks like when the bios gets to 576k, it encounters a problem. You might want to replace the RAM on that machine.


Yeah I'm thinking there is a faulty chip as according to the motherboard diagram I found below, all RAM appears to be present and accounted for when comparing with the photo's I have.

http://www.atari-computermuseum.de/pc1.htm

Image

Since the RAM is soldered directly onto the motherboard and not socketed, what is the best way to diagnose which chip is faulty? Unfortunately I don't have it just yet so I can't check exactly what chips are on the board.
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Re: The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfol

Postby spiny » Tue Aug 06, 2013 9:15 am

This might upset people ... but the coder in our demogroup, GND has a PC3 which he has 'modernised' with a new motherboard: (he is a hoarder like me, so as far as I know, has kept all the old parts)

desktop2.jpg


pc3 cool psu.JPG


pc3 new innards.JPG


pc3.jpg
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Re: The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfol

Postby bullis1 » Tue Aug 06, 2013 1:12 pm

I've seen Atari PCs around before but I never owned one. I saw one in a thrift store a few years ago but I wasn't interested.

The Atari Portfolio interests me most.

@ Spiny: That's really cool :D
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Re: The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfol

Postby darklight » Wed Aug 07, 2013 3:39 am

FlaminJoe wrote:... The Atari PC3 gave me my first taste of some of the great PC games of that era which I still treasure today. While there were many older classics I played such as AlleyCat and Sopwith...


Aaah! I think you may have solved a mystery that has been bugging me for a long time. The author of Sopwith says he developed the game for IBM PC & Atari. It was playable across a proprietary network called Imaginet from the same people that made the game - BMB CompuScience.

I've always assumed he meant the Atari ST, but perhaps he meant the Atari PC?

If you know any more info about this, please let me know!
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Re: The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfol

Postby Shredder11 » Wed Aug 07, 2013 10:34 pm

I love the look of that Atari PC3 spiny! Very tastefully and respectfully done I think....very nice.

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Re: The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfol

Postby MrMaddog » Thu Aug 08, 2013 6:51 am

Yeah, I like to know more about the Atari PC's since they're not as well known as the ST's. I know that "PC Compatibles" aren't that interesting but Atari had their unique twists to them. I first read about the PC-1 in Antic where Atari instisted they're only for the business market (those who won't use anything but PCs). It was cool they did try to make them like Mega ST's with ST mouse/drive, intergrated video displays and even GEM included. But that meant you could never add any cards inside and also made them more expensive then the cheap clones.

spiny wrote:This might upset people ... but the coder in our demogroup, GND has a PC3 which he has 'modernised' with a new motherboard: (he is a hoarder like me, so as far as I know, has kept all the old parts)


Cool... Reminds me of the ABC PC's which I seen advertised in Current Notes. If I knew more about them I would have pick one up and upgraded it to a 486 with Gemulator inside. Now that would have been a real Atari computer...

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Re: The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfol

Postby jvas » Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:53 am

I have a PC4. The computer itself only (no original keyboard/mice/monitor).
I replaced the built in drive with a 3.5" floppy drive.
The MFM seagate HDD is fully functional.
I added an FPU and some memory to it.
The PSU needed to be replaced.
If you are interested, I can post pics.

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Re: The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfol

Postby nativ » Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:42 am

jvas wrote:I have a PC4.
If you are interested, I can post pics.

:idea: Do please! always nice to see :cheers:
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Re: The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfol

Postby FlaminJoe » Sat Aug 17, 2013 4:41 am

Wow so many replies. I completely forgot about this thread! My PC3 arrived last week so I've been busy playing around with it, reliving those memories and starting the process of cleaning it up and restoring it. So I've been otherwise preoccupied. :D

@spiny That looks pretty cool! My backup plan if the motherboard ever fails and I can't find a replacement is to upgrade it to something faster. Probably still stay within the "retro" look by keeping the outside the same and having no CD-ROM, but internally putting a new motherboard, HDD etc.

I really wish I could find out more about the motherboard in the PC3, such as a diagram showing what some of the jumpers do. There's a jumper next to the 8087 co-processor socket which I assume enables/disables it, but there are other jumpers such as a couple near the power connector and the floppy drive connector of which I have no idea what they are for. I had a look over at stason.org but I can't seem to find it in that database. The most I've been able to find is the the HDD controller card which I suppose is a start: http://stason.org/TULARC/pc/hard-disk-f ... ST506.html

Has anyone else looked into this and had better luck?

The one which intrigues me the most is the jumper block in close proximity to the floppy connector. I know from doing some research that the Floppy Drive Controller chip on this motherboard (Zilog Z0765A08PSC) supports 1.44MB drives, but the PC3 only came with a 720k floppy. You can see the jumper block (W4) and the floppy connector here: http://www.supervinx.com/Retrocomputer/ ... 019185.JPG. I'm going to try and see for myself, but for now I don't have a spare 1.44MB floppy drive to try to test my theory.

darklight wrote:Aaah! I think you may have solved a mystery that has been bugging me for a long time. The author of Sopwith says he developed the game for IBM PC & Atari. It was playable across a proprietary network called Imaginet from the same people that made the game - BMB CompuScience.

I've always assumed he meant the Atari ST, but perhaps he meant the Atari PC?

If you know any more info about this, please let me know!


According to the wikipedia page it was for the Atari 520ST. The PCx series, ABC, Portfolio etc were IBM clones so they would of come under "IBM PC".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sopwith_(video_game)
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Re: The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfol

Postby Cloaked Alien » Wed Jan 29, 2014 12:37 pm

Came across this thread when nostalgia-googling.

I got my first PC in '94. It was actually an Atari PC3 as well. Unfortunately it's long gone. I botched the keyboard port and didn't know anyone technically savvy enough to fix it so it got replaced by a Victor 286.

Anyways. Even if I got it really late into the game and it was a XT it was a seemingly powerful machine (8MHz) that could play a lot of good games really well. Commander Keen is a good example.

I learned programming on it using QBasic and Turbo Pascal.

That orange glowing monitor (plasma?) survived and was what I used on my 286 as well. I remember running a BBS and getting called color blind because my homemade colored ascii art looked poo for anyone that could actually make out the colors.

The PC3 with the orange screen is the main reason I'm not only collecting video games but also got a small thing for retro computers. I've got an IBM P70 and while the orange glow is not the same it's the closes thing I've got <3

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Re: The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfol

Postby KLund1 » Sat Aug 30, 2014 1:35 am

Bringing back an older thread,
I have a PC1, PCH204, PCM124.
I would like to get a copy of the user's/instruction/setup manual/guide. Original would be nice, but I'm sure very, very hard to find. But does any of you have soft copy for any of these? Or maybe got an idea where to look. Google-ing did not bring up much.
Thanks
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Re: The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfol

Postby tjlazer » Sat Oct 25, 2014 5:54 am

I am also looking for the PC1 software and DOS/GEM DOS...
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Re: The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfol

Postby jvas » Sat Apr 18, 2015 9:06 am

nativ wrote:
jvas wrote:I have a PC4.
If you are interested, I can post pics.

:idea: Do please! always nice to see :cheers:


Better late than ever ....

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Re: The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfolio)

Postby mihaz9 » Tue Apr 28, 2015 3:19 pm

Hello!

I have a ATARI PC3-8088. Everything works fine, also have a original keyboard and mouse. I´m thinking about selling it. What price should I expect? I also include monitor PCM124, instructions and a floppy drive.

Regards, Mike
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Re: The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfolio)

Postby nativ » Mon May 04, 2015 8:37 pm

I managed to bag an Atari PC-1 recently, haven't got the harddrive running yet.. got to check the connections and maybe find the right driver disk?

here's it running Frogger. nice machine I have to say my Dad had a Hercules equipped machine back in the day and this really performs spot on!


:)
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Re: The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfolio)

Postby adamd » Mon May 04, 2015 9:33 pm

Great machines, I didn't realise Atari made such a wide range of PC compatibles.

I have a couple of Portfolios currently, absolutely great little machines. And the usage in Terminator 2 gives them a bit of extra coolness. 8)

One works perfectly, and I have a 512kb RAM Card and a parallel interface for it. I'm hoping to be able to use that to transfer stuff to and from my new ST, I have a couple of programs I've found that claim to be able to do it.

The none working one seems to have a badly broken motherboard, as it doesn't boot but gets warm and has strange voltages in places there should be none. I was keeping it as a parts machine, but I'm currently thinking what sort of screen I could put in it with a Raspberry Pi while trying to keep it looking as close to normal as possible. I think it would make quite a cool little machine for emulators, and would at least get some use out of it as it is currently just sat doing nothing.
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Re: The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfolio)

Postby Mindthreat » Thu May 07, 2015 1:03 am

I always thought the Atari PC compatible designs were really cool for their time, and this is me learning about them sometime in the late 90s mind you. The one from AHS has always sat warmly in my lust-filled heart for an Atari PC of sorts and I'm not sure I care for the ABC portion of it as I think it should've had the Atari nameplate but still a neat looking design with the lines imo:
Image

Someday I'll track a nice one down alongside a Tandy Sensation 2000 and be happy haha...
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Re: The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfolio)

Postby KLund1 » Fri May 08, 2015 12:04 am

natiw,
Did you get any original documentation with you PC-1? The yellow spiral bound books? been looking for those for years.
I have one with the HD and amber screen. On Atari Age there are a couple threads that have the Atari PC-1 disk images.
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Re: The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfolio)

Postby FlaminJoe » Mon May 18, 2015 7:22 am

Since I last posted on this thread I've taken my passion for the Atari PC's to a new level and created a website. :D

http://www.ataripc.net/

One of the things which I found frustrating when trying to find information on these PC's is the lack of anything detailed, and by detailed I mean photo's, manuals, jumper settings, software, drivers etc. There are quite a few Atari websites which will mention of the Atari PCx series, but none have anything of substance besides a few photo's and a basic run down on the specs. I'm hoping to change that.

At the moment it is very Atari PC3 and Atari PC5 focused because they are currently the only PC's of the series I own and therefore can gather up as much information about first hand. I still have more to add to the site but I would love to find more information on the other PC's.

So if anyone has anything to share about the other Atari PC's I would love to hear from you, no matter what it is. Even if it's something as simple as giving more details on the PC4 specs for example or providing me with part numbers for the various other PC's.

Thanks.
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Re: The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfolio)

Postby Eamonshoot » Mon May 30, 2016 5:06 pm

Hi,

I have just got hold of a working Atari PC3, but it has no RTC battery. Can anyone here please let me know what type is needed for this machine?

Many thanks for your help!

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Re: The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfolio)

Postby FlaminJoe » Tue May 31, 2016 11:38 am

Eamonshoot wrote:Hi,

I have just got hold of a working Atari PC3, but it has no RTC battery. Can anyone here please let me know what type is needed for this machine?

Many thanks for your help!


They came with a Panasonic BR-E3 6V Lithium Battery. Many IBM XT/AT PC's had the same or similar battery.

I'm not sure if Panasonic still manufacturers this particular part anymore but they are still available online from various sources:

http://www.microbattery.com/cmos-bre3c3 ... ck-battery
http://www.distritech.eu/BR-E3-Panasoni ... aaapKa.asp
http://www.allbatteries.co.uk/industria ... l6403.html

Or an alternative:

http://www.smallbattery.company.org.uk/sbc_br-e3.htm

With the right parts it's also possible to make your own. You can use a 4 pin speaker connector from a modern case and simply solder it to a 6V Lithium battery such as the Energizer EL223A.
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Re: The Atari IBM PC Owners Thread (PCx Series, ABC, Portfolio)

Postby Eamonshoot » Wed Jun 01, 2016 9:55 am

You are a star - thank you sir!

Best regards.


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