Vintage Palmtops Tips & Tricks


The phenomenon of Atari Portfolio

Portfolio books

When asked about Atari Portfolio, a "retrocomputing regular Joe" would say about "the world's first palmtop" (not true, obviously) or John Connor breaking into an ATM. It seems, however, that Portfolio's popularity goes beyond these clichés; I can't rely on the survey I recently did (13 votes, shame on you!), but the statistics of this blog don't leave any doubt - most of the visitors coming here are looking for something related to the Portfolio.

Thanks to its moderate price Atari Portfolio gained much more popularity than other palmtops of those times, especially in Europe. In fact, in countries like Poland or Czech Republic it was the only palmtop that could be easily afforded by "the masses" - and that explains the explosion of homebrew software and hardware made in this part of the world. Especially Czech achievements - from the fast graphic routine to sophisticated built-in CF reader - have made a big impact on the Portfolio and the community around it.

I don't know, though, why Portfolio was so popular in Germany. Made it was because of its internal simplicity, so much corresponding to German "tinkering spirit". The not-so-long-ago-abandoned (or is it still alive?) PofoWiki features many hacks and tweaks - hardware- as well as software-wise, like extremely useful fancy batch scripts (!).

Atari Portfolio had many flaws - bugged ROM, badly designed screen hinges, lack of essential accessories out of the box etc. - but it was and is extremely popular, comparing to its competitors of that time. I guess that it's like with ZX Spectrum: maybe technically it couldn't compete with other 8-bit home machines, sure it had its flaws, but it is now among the most popular vintage computers and it has probably the most thriving community of devoted fans, with the amount of newly created software and hardware far exceeding other 8-bits.

What do you think? This time I really expect feedback if you want to have more and more Atari-related stuff on this blog. "Or else..." 😉