Grand Idea Studio

Atari K-9


The Atari K-9 is a case modification and art installation created to pay homage to Joe Grand’s first personal computer, the Atari 400 8-bit home computer, and one of his earliest pieces of software programming. It is a simple, non-intrusive reminder of home computing’s early days and was designed to stay consistent with Atari products of the era.

The program, entitled “K-9” (also referred to as “Electric Dog”), was written in BASIC circa 1983. It was recovered from the original 5.25″ floppy disk and archived onto a modern PC platform using an SIO2PC Universal Interface. Then,¬†with a series of Atari computer applications running on a PC-based emulator, was compiled into a standalone binary executable. Next, the executable was converted to run on an Atarimax Flash Cartridge, thus removing the need for a floppy disk drive.

The Atari 400 computer was modified to allow audio and NTSC composite video with 8-bit Domain’s Atari 5200 A/V Upgrade. An amplified speaker was embedded into the Atari housing, allowing the system to have built-in sound (enabled and disabled via an external toggle switch). Two RCA connectors were added to the rear of the Atari to provide the composite video signal output and a +12V DC power source, the latter of which is used to provide power to the video display.

An Atari 410 Program Recorder unit was modified to house a 6.4″ inch diagonal, 960 x 234 pixel TFT LCD color monitor. A single red LED replaces the original tape counter reset switch and serves as a power indicator that matches the one on the Atari computer. The composite video and power inputs are located on the bottom of the housing and connect to the Atari with a standard RCA audio/video cable.

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