retroRANDY's quest to fix up an Atari ST Leads Him to A Rare Find!

Power without the Price

Before Apples and PCs dominated the computer market there were two computers that were well known in the mid to late 80's for being reasonably priced and powerful: The Atari ST & the Commodore Amiga. Even though they both ran in the $1,000 - $2000 range I couldn't afford them at the time.

Rare Atari Stacy laptop computer

By getting into Retrocomputing I can finally live out my childhood dreams to own these computers. I bought an Amiga 2000 about a year ago and recently picked up an old Atari 1040 STe at a thrift store.  Unfortunately, the ST was missing a cable that connected an external hard drive to the computer. In order to boot from the hard drive I needed to buy that cable, so I managed to find one of the last authorized "Atari Dealers", and went over to visit him in Oakland, California.

Atari's precursor to the Palm

His name is Alex Yu and he's been an Authorized Atari Dealer for the last 15 years. This is a pretty incredible feat considering the original Atari corporation went bankrupt nearly 8 years ago.  Alex has a large supply of Atari ST games in their original cases, lots of cool Atari ST literature, and the know how to get your old Atari ST back in working order.

The Atari ST Book: Only sold in Europe. One of the lightest laptop's at the time weighing in at about 5 lbs.

The Atari Falcon: One of the last Atari ST computers to be made

I have a great deal of respect for someone who quit his regular job to become an Atari Dealer after he fell in love with the computer. He says he still has a fairly large customer base and gets a lot of musicians in looking to get their ST computers fixed.

Many thanks for your hospitality and allowing us to take pictures of your business. May the Atari ST live on forever!!!

Visit Alex's website at:
ATY Computer

For more info on the history of Atari check out this cool website:
Atari Museum


You can read retroRANDY's journal HERE!


The Atari 400

Robert here, and thanks again to Randy for this great find!  I remember shopping for a new computer with my friend retroWillie back in 1980.  He had about 300 to burn, and his choices were the Commodore Vic 20 and The Atari 400.  Both of them would plug in to your television.  He ended up choosing the Vic 20 due to the fact that it had a real keyboard.  The keyboard for the Atari 400 was laughable, with a lame membrane cover that made it look more like the buttons on a McDonald's cash register than something you could actually type on.

The Commodore Vic20

We used to spend hours retyping programs in basic language that we'd read ni magazines.  I remember when we brought the VIC 20 home, we spent no less than 6 hours typing some game called "TANK vs. UFO".  We were so excited to be "making our own game!" the suspense was killing us.  The problem was the damn thing didn't work!  After hours of rechecking, it turns out the magazine must have had a typo somewhere that rendered the program unusable.  Most of our programming would consist of great tricks where you would be asked your name, and when you'd reply it'd say, "Hi, Robert!"

The Timex Sinclair

Of course the most ridiculous computer from that era was the Timex Sinclair.  Priced at a startlingly low $99, it was lightweight and portable, and in many ways the precursor to the laptop.  Of course, the fact that it only had a "whopping" 2K of memory made it a bit difficult to use for anything worth a damn.  (The HTML in the paragraph almost takes that much space up, by comparison).  As you might imagine, Timex left the computer business just 2 years later.