Orphaned Computers & Game Systems

Vol. II, Issue 7    December 1998

Wanted for Trade: Atari XEP80

by Adam Trionfo

[Feb. 2012 note: Adam is no longer looking for an XEP80. This want-ad is here for historical purposes. It shows how difficult it was to obtain orphaned computer hardware in the era before a quick search of the Internet could usually turn up common items like this.]

I'm looking for an XEP80. It would be a big plus if Atariwriter 80 were included. I'm rather doubtful about the quality of the product, so I would rather make a trade with someone who wants to part with one that he already has.

The Atari XEP80 is a small box that plugs into either joystick port, giving the Atari 8-bit access to an 80-column display when used with a quality monochrome monitor. It came out in the late eighties and was not highly regarded; it was seen as too little, too late. The display is very blurry, unless the XEP80 is used with a monochrome monitor. Apparently, even a quality color monitor will give poor results. What's worse is that the display is very slow. Nobody seemed pleased at the time. Only a few Atari 8-bit enthusiasts bought this device after its many poor reviews in the various magazines.

Over the years, people did work with the device. Bob Buff's terminal program BobTerm will use it, although it will start to drop characters beyond 2,400 baud if the internal XEP80 device handler is used. I have read that replacing the handler with the SpartaDOS handler will allow up to 9,600 baud.

Terminal communications and, to a smaller extent, 80-column text editing draw me to this device. While I already have an 80-column display using Omnimon-80, it is of rather poor quality, and there are only very few programs that have been written for it (I have two). I'm hoping that the XEP80 will allow me to use BobTerm to its fullest extent.

The XEP80 might not be exactly what I'm looking for, but it does give an 80-column display, which, if readable, will be a great help to me and my terminal-communication efforts. I have a large range of 8-bits, as well as other computers and console items, for trade. I'd love to have a reader work out a trade with me. What do you say? -- AT