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Unboxing a 1984 Atari Peripheral, 25 Years Later

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  • ...no (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RMH101 (636144) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:55AM (#26529431)
    ...it would be a crime not to put it on eBay untouched for some fool to pay through the nose for it.
    Jesus, I mean, come on. This sort of story isn't helping with changing perception of geeks, is it?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by RaceProUK (1137575)
      I always thought geeks loved to play with arcane tech, making this an ideal story.
      • I always thought geeks loved to play with arcane tech, making this an ideal story.

        We do, but that's what used arcane tech is for. You see the huge deal about this being an unopened box? It's now no longer an unopened box, and he ruined a perfectly good collectible.

        • Re:Collector's Item (Score:5, Interesting)

          by PotatoFarmer (1250696) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:11PM (#26529735)
          Or maybe he's attempting to combat the idea that something should have greatly increased value just because nobody ever bothered to use it before.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Or maybe he's attempting to combat the idea that something should have greatly increased value just because nobody ever bothered to use it before.

            Anyone trying to do that fails by definition. Things have value because people give it value, not through decision by committee.

            Basically, even if you don't think it makes sense that "something should have greatly increased value just because nobody ever bothered to use it before" the fact that other people are actually willing to pay more because nobody ever bothered to use it before is enough reason for you not to use it. You can sell it to those people for the price they are willing to pay and maximize

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by TopShelf (92521)

              No, it is completely logical if the utility that you gain by enjoying the use of the item exceeds the utility you would have gotten from the money gained by auctioning it to the highest bidder.

              • by LateArthurDent (1403947) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:31PM (#26530043)

                No, it is completely logical if the utility that you gain by enjoying the use of the item exceeds the utility you would have gotten from the money gained by auctioning it to the highest bidder.

                Not really. You can sell to the highest bidder, buy a cheaper used product, and still get all the enjoyment of using it AS well as getting a profit. Win-win.

                If you're going to argue that there's a greater utility to opening the box and using the new product, then you are admitting that the unopened box is worth more.

                • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                  by berend botje (1401731)
                  Thinking like this (maximizing profit, despite having enough already) is what killed our economy.

                  Not really kidding either.

                  Just enjoy the things you have and don't be so obsessed with amassing ever more.
                  • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                    Thinking like this (maximizing profit, despite having enough already) is what killed our economy.

                    Yes, but it also birthed it.

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by dangitman (862676)

                  If you're going to argue that there's a greater utility to opening the box and using the new product, then you are admitting that the unopened box is worth more.

                  Well, if you read the article, the author clearly gained enjoyment from opening the box:

                  "It's incredibly satisfying to open up product packaging sealed some 25 years before. Like bubbles of atmospheric gas encased in Cretaceous amber, there's authentic 1984 Atari factory air trapped inside every box. They say that if you twist your nose just right during a full moon, you can even smell a hint of Nolan Bushnell's Old Spice."

                  It's also possible that the author made more money by writing and publishing his

              • by pla (258480)
                No, it is completely logical if the utility that you gain by enjoying the use of the item exceeds the utility you would have gotten from the money gained by auctioning it to the highest bidder.

                Except that the former doesn't depend on its unopenedness, while he could have sold it, and bought a dozen used ones just to play with via the latter.

                Then again, how much money does this really involve? Probably not even in the hundreds of dollars, so the hassle of selling it and rebuying a used one probably out
                • Then why do people like buying new cars? Using a new device can be better than using a well-worn device.

                  • by idontgno (624372)
                    I'd still much rather have this [howstuffworks.com] than this. [jalopnik.com]. Because using a well-worn device of distinctive and legendary quality, class, and style can be better than a new device of derivative, trite, and unexciting quality.

                    Or to put it another way, "They just don't make 'em like that anymore."

                    • by ZosX (517789)

                      How could you pass up on the 1969 427 Stingray? They just don't make them like that anymore....

                      I did drive an 03 Corvette and I will say that they are very, very nice and pretty quick off the line nothing really beats a classic. Lots of parts still around for those early muscle cars and the best part is that you don't have to deal with fancy complicated parts breaking like electronic ignition, fuel injection, ABS, etc. You just need an air gun, a good set of sockets and some pretty deep pockets. :)

                  • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:10PM (#26533367) Journal

                    Because it's a status symbol.

            • Re:Collector's Item (Score:5, Interesting)

              by idontgno (624372) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:32PM (#26530067) Journal

              Hey, wait, are we talking about tulips [wikipedia.org]?

              You know, oddly enough, making teh bux isn't the most important thing in life. If I get my hands on a new-in-box peripheral for one of my older computers, screw resale. I'm opening the box, hooking it up, and using it. That's the real value.

              Frankly, the entire "minty-mint" collection mania is pathological. The perceived sale value boils down to "how much can I fleece a clueless schlub for?". And that's illogical.

              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                Hey, wait, are we talking about tulips [wikipedia.org]?

                Not exactly. It's not that there's a bubble that inflates the price of the unopened peripheral due to speculation. It's that the unopened box is always demonstrably worth more than the opened box. It's a limited supply thing. There are less unopened tablets then there are open ones. By opening up you are literally removing value.

                You know, oddly enough, making teh bux isn't the most important thing in life. If I get my hands on a new-in-box peripheral for one of my older computers, screw resale. I'm opening the box, hooking it up, and using it. That's the real value.

                Do you not see the flaw in your reasoning, though? If the real value to you is in the use of the tablet, then you wouldn't mind buying an used one that does the same thing. H

                • by idontgno (624372) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @01:56PM (#26531483) Journal

                  This is clearly a clash of value systems. And, although my value are mostly utilitarian, that's not consistently so. My GP comment has a clue to the inconsistency: "older systems". Yup, I collect old personal computers and software. That's not rational from a pragmatic POV. But, OTOH, I actually use them. I wouldn't pay collector NIB NOS prices for, say, an Amiga 1000. (Pretend such a thing could legitimately be found. Besides, I still have mine from 1986.)

                  Again, if you or another collector gets a warm fuzzy feeling looking at your sealed 1977 Kenner Luke Skywalker figure, great. Me, I'd wanna play with the thing.

                  So, in the realm of serendipitous discoveries of neat old tech toys: If I find a nifty piece of retrotech that I can play with, at a price I consider reasonable solely on the "play" value, I'm buying. And using. If that destroys it from your perspective, so be it. I'm getting what I value out of it. If you want it, for whatever your reasons, you'd better find it first.

              • The mint condition thing is what separates collectors from people that save everything (i.e. severe OCD)... not that collectors don't get obsessive. As for the:

                "how much can I fleece a clueless schlub for?"

                How dare you denigrate the Congressional Credo!
                ;^)

              • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

                by macraig (621737)

                Frankly, the entire "minty-mint" collection mania is pathological. The perceived sale value boils down to "how much can I fleece a clueless schlub for?". And that's illogical.

                That is what socialists call subjective valuation. It's a natural instinctive behavior for all mammals, and it's at the core of capitalism; capitalism wouldn't be what it is without it, concentration of wealth and all. Socialists identify it as a key ethical failing of all human economies, and set voluntary adoption of objective valuation of goods AND labor as a primary goal of a cooperative, rather than competitive, economic system. We haven't evolved to a point yet where a pure socialist economy is pos

                • What is the objective value of fresh water?

                  One value, and it has to be the same for a village on the edge of a desert as it is for survivors of a shipwreck in an overloaded lifeboat in the middle of Lake Superior.

                  Objective value is a destructive myth.

            • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

              by ABCC (861543)
              Alternatively you could unbox the thing, giggle as you imagine all the collector peens howl out in agony of the opened box, take a bunch of pics of the whole process and put them online so the same peens can ogle the illicitly treated item AND pay you more in ads than you'd ever get for the thing.... Let's face it, unboxing collectables is no different to rape porn
          • Kind of like that girl selling her virginity for $3 mil. I think I'd rather have the Atari.
          • Or maybe he's attempting to combat the idea that something should have greatly increased value just because nobody ever bothered to use it before.

            Damnit, I already unboxed the Zune-demo I got from work...

      • by CRiMSON (3495)

        Then you thought wrong, Yay you managed to plug-in and use something from 1984.. Congrats... Errr?

      • by sjbe (173966) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @02:36PM (#26532421)

        I always thought geeks loved to play with arcane tech, making this an ideal story.

        Some do. Some don't. I fall into the don't category. I guess I'm not very sentimental. I love learning about history of it and admire how clever some of the solutions were in the face of the limitations of the day. There are some wonderful lessons to be learned. But I'm also old enough to have used some pretty arcane tech (by IT standards anyway) and I remember it's limitations well. There are very good reasons we don't use it anymore.

        Personally it's not the tech but the information that I worry about. Old formats that we have lost the ability to read. The hardware exists to communicate and facilitate information. We can create new hardware but we can't always create new information.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Extremus (1043274)
      True! Haha! Sometimes I have the impression that some geeks want to do the same thing to their first girl.
    • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:17PM (#26529847)

      That belongs in a museum!

    • I probably would have considered the same thing. However I thought it was a marvelous article, lots of fun. I just loved the sample artwork on the touchpad's box. Simply awful. If that was the main selling point, that you could create junk like that, it should have died the death it did. However I thought the article itself was a lot of fun.
    • This sort of story isn't helping with changing perception of geeks, is it?

      Should geeks really care about how people perceive them? If that were the case I would think we would be going out of our way to not be seen as geeks in the first place. When you are lucky enough to find something that is a delight, rejoice in it and screw what people think...

  • 14 pages... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fyleow (1098657) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:58AM (#26529497)
    14 pages for 14 535 x 383 resolution pictures. Ugh.
  • Annoying format. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by martinw89 (1229324) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:01PM (#26529533)

    I happen to RTFAs, but I can't stand the image-and-a-few-sentences-per-page format. Especially when each page has to load a bunch of pictures and javascript. I can stand it when these slideshows open up a new window with only the slideshow's content, but this is too annoying.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      http://blog.andreineculau.com/2008/06/repagination/

      Now your problem is solved, as long as developers use increasing page numbers as their way to separate paged content.

      • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:16PM (#26529819) Journal

        Yeah. Exactly what I was looking for. An extension to Firefox that doesn't work with Firefox 3 and hasn't been actively worked on since 2006. Witness the power of open source!

    • by dazedNconfuzed (154242) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:16PM (#26529825)

      Not only is the content distributed among 14 pages in bite-size pieces, but those pieces take up roughly 1/72nd of the page space allocated. Along with the much-lamented dilution of content across excessive pages, do advertisers realize that their paid-for links may be up to 10 page-downs below the article?

    • by gstone (236734)
      Although it's not perfect, I use the repagination [andreineculau.com] plugin for firefox to render articles like this one all on one page.
    • by antdude (79039)

      So do what I do since I hate slides too... Click on the each page number into tabs in background. Then, use ctrl-w to close each one when done. :)

      Instead of annoying slides with ads, how about making subscription accounts that show all pictures in one page and no ads? I am sure some people would willing to pay for that.

  • I am so excite! (Score:1, Redundant)

    by qoncept (599709)

    But the software was pretty decent for 1984, and I considered myself proud to have known the Touch Tablet in its authentic Atari glory.

    He forgot to mention how completely worthless it is now and was the day it was made.

  • Collector's value (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    When you come across a 1984 Atari Touch Tablet for sale cheap--in the original, unopened box--it would be a crime against computer history not to buy it, open it, install it, and use it, and to document the whole process with photos and commentary.

    Can you hear it? Thousands of collector's voices screaming in mutual anguish.

  • by Corpuscavernosa (996139) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:12PM (#26529771)
    "it would be a crime against computer history not to buy it, open it, install it, and use it" AND install Linux on it. :)
  • Reading this I just thought about all of the hours I wasted when I was little playing Breakout. I didn't even remember that they sold something like this back in 1984. I remember the Amigas from junior high in the late 80's, I spent some time playing with the graphics tablet, this brings back some deep computer memories I completely forgot. I wasn't even into computers again until I was about 25.

    I liked them in my childhood, then I went away for a long time, I barely used a computer except to type up
  • by puddles (147314) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:16PM (#26529821)

    They sure don't make 'em like they used to. None of my 3.5" floppies would survive more than a couple of formats, and I'd be lucky to be able to read them on more than, what, 3 or 4 different machines.

  • The touch tablet led to me creating the first decent computer art I ever did as a kid. I even used it with a drawing program that I wrote in Atari BASIC. Wow. Feeling old now. I hate nostalgia stories like this. :-(

    • Me too. :) I am about the same age, it doesn't make me feel old, it makes me laugh. :) Hey I enjoyed all of the hours I spent playing around on the graphics tablet Amigas in the computer "cluster" at school. I don't know if you remember that, in PA in the eighties my junior high called a computer lab a computer cluster. We didn't say hey, I am going to the lab, we said we are going to the cluster.

      Now that makes me feel old, they changed the terminology. And the fact that we had like maybe 15 Amigas
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Nimey (114278)

      Do you remember the KoalaPad? That's what I had on my Apple //c back then.

      • by SwellJoe (100612)

        I just bought a Koala and a Commodore 64 on eBay this week. I've been feeling nostalgic of late, and started making chiptunes using VICE and GoatTracker (a SID composition tool for Linux and Windows), and got to thinking that I'd enjoy tinkering with the real thing. Saw the Koala going for like eight bucks on eBay and couldn't resist.

    • Same memory came back to me, but it was with a TRS-80 coco and its touch tablet, which was really just a grid of buttons. Ahhh, memories.

  • by cayle clark (166742) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:32PM (#26530071) Homepage

    ...opening a sealed original package. Cut its value on the collectibles market by 50%, easy.

    The Computer History Museum has one of these [computerhistory.org] but it is not in original packaging. Original packaging, even when opened, greatly adds to the historic, research (and sale) value.

    • by Ragzouken (943900)
      What historic or research value does the box being unopened add in this case?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by idontgno (624372)

        None, of course, unless we're going to pretend there's some archaeology-grade research activity going on in computer museum collections. And even that analogy is faulty; I don't believe that Egyptologists even fantasize about finding 9th Dynasty new-old stock.

        Naah, this is just collector angst. Apparently, they think a sealed box gathering dust has greater utility than, say, the actual utility of the artifact in question.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192)

      Is this kind of thing really in demand by anyone though? I have a NIB Atari 5200 Trakball from 1983 [atarimagazines.com]. That's earlier than the peripheral in this article. Am I sitting on a gem that deserves to be preserved for future generations? What is the privilege of taking care of this artifact worth? Anyone out there want to buy it and preserve it? Or should I open it up and get on the front page of ./?

      • by SwellJoe (100612) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:41PM (#26541369) Homepage

        I've been shopping for old computer crap on eBay lately (for nostalgia rather than collectibility), and I suspect your 1983 NIB Atari 5200 trackball would bring ten, maybe fifteen bucks (but I haven't been shopping for Atari game gear, so I'm really guessing). If ten or fifteen bucks, and reclaiming the space it takes up in your house, is worth more than the trackball to you, you should sell it. Part of the fun of these old machines and things is that they are dramatically cheaper than when we were kids. We couldn't have every cool peripheral and game back then, because it would have been cost prohibitive. Today, with stuff going for tens of dollars, even things that were very expensive back then, we can pick up just about anything we like and satisfy those old lingering curiosities. And, then, when we get bored with it...pass it on to someone else at about the same low price.

  • by stoicio (710327) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:35PM (#26530089) Journal

    There needs to be more warning that it's one of those paragraph per page
    advertising sites. I looked at the first page and then came back to slashdot.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There needs to be more warning
      about posts that have forced
      carriage returns for no reason
      whatsoever.

    • I looked at the first page and then came back to slashdot.

      Why leave in the first place?

  • My computer teacher in the early 80's had a weird name for touch panels-something like Koala pad? Does anyone remember that?

    • by fishbowl (7759)

      >Koala pad? Does anyone remember that?

      Sure. It was supposedly "low cost" but when we were working for $3.35/hr, nothing was low cost. Later, I got my hands on an X-Pad and a TRS-80 Color Computer - that was pretty neat. I wasn't until 2008 that I ever had another tablet, a Wacom Bamboo.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, it was part of the Koala paint package. My father had it for the Atari 400. The hardware had a touch pad, two large buttons, and a stylus.

      He taught me how to use it; explaining that drawing a line was like stretching a rubber band. Because of his analogy, i was always afraid to make the lines too long for fear they would snap.

    • by Cookie3 (82257)

      Sounds like it was actually the name of a product back then, from 1984. Check out Wikipedia regarding it:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KoalaPad/Painter [wikipedia.org]

      I also remember hearing it called that.

  • Was the point of this particular Slashdotting about the content of the article, or the outrage at the way in which it was presented? -- It's worse than that, he's dead, Jim! He's dead, Jim! He's dead, Jim!
  • I do not wish to smell either one.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @01:13PM (#26530687) Homepage

    Show me a blog or article walking through a hack adapting the device for use under modern PC hardware and I'll look more closely. This is just "retro computing" and while it is a little interesting, it isn't THAT interesting. We get it. In the old days, we thought it was awesome and now it looks worse than pathetic.

    Wire up a USB connector and write a driver to support it under Mac OSX, Linux and Windows.

    • by will_die (586523)
      Yea,
      Here I was expecting to see something like that and I all got after all the clicks was some guy plugging an Atari peripheral into an Atari computer.
      Make yourself famous record a video of yourself plugging a PS/2 mouse into a computer and using it with Vista.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by domatic (1128127)

      Wire up a USB connector and write a driver to support it under Mac OSX, Linux and Windows.

      It can be done. The Touch Tablet shows up as a pair of paddle controllers. The following device will therefore cause it to show up as two joystick axes:

      http://www.atariage.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=267 [atariage.com]

  • easter egg (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jsh1972 (1095519) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @01:18PM (#26530757)
    I remember finding my first easter egg on this... when you click on the atari logo in the upper left corner of the menu screen, it played the atari theme music. good times...
  • ...and yet somehow the tablet I sign at the grocery store still butchers my signature. Yeesh.
  • Profit? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slapout (93640) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @02:24PM (#26532101)

    1. Buy old computer peripheral SIB (Still in box)
    2. Document opening and usage
    3. Place on website w/ ads and promote
    4. Get Slashdotted so that works still appear but pictures (and ads!) don't
    5.
    6. Profit

  • That's the outcry of collectors all over the planet crying over the opening of a 25 year old box.

    Real cruelty would have been to invite them for the grand opening. I would have paid to see a video of their reaction.

  • I just bought one of these from B&C ComputerVision. It was also new-in-box, and is a very cool little device. My 2yo son likes having me draw things (usually octopuses) on our big TV. No Wacom drivers or X11 config to mess with. Don't even need to wait for it to boot up. Just click the power switch and you're drawing about 2 seconds later. :) (My brother had a Koala Pad for his C=64, and I was jealous... it wasn't compatible with my Atari. I'd have had to convince my parents to buy me the Atari fla

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