Rev. 10 catalogue
Lai recommends shopping therapy
A shade over
a decade ago the home computing market was
hotly contested by 16-bit. In the UK that
meant ST and Amiga at the fore, with the
PC playing me-too, trying to shed its staid
business world image.
We had a series of
public exhibitions to celebrate this exciting
era, aptly named, The 16-bit Computer Show.
At the fifth such event, held at Wembley
Conference Centre in North London, Atari
really got its act together. I was very
much oblivious as I waded through stall
upon similar stall, until near the back
of the hall the towering burst of colour
that was the Atari stand made its presence
known (I've since lost my photographs, regretfully,
so if anyone reading went to this show and
took pictures please share them with us!).
was star of the show by any measure, Atari
fan or not: lots of staff on-hand, from
Atari UK as well as supporting third party
vendors nearby showing highlights of their
wares on the rows of STEs, Mega STEs (the
machine I aspired to and eventually got)
and TTs... There was also an ST Book, groups
of the new Lynx II machines set up for free
play, an abundance of product literature
and most importantly, swarms of eager punters.
brotherly pride at this magnificent statement,
I took a break to explore some of the other
Atari stands. Among these was a small one-man
band I'd never seen before, offering a bewildering
array of items from original equipment spares
to Fuji-emblazoned pyjamas (at least that's
what they looked like to me) and other merchandise,
lending an air of souvenir shop eccentricity.
In the present day,
of course, we all know this company by the
omni-present face of Brad Koda, the driving
force of Best Electronics, USA. Brad has
made countless more appearances at Atari
shows worldwide and I've had the pleasure
to meet him at a few of those.
something big was in the pipeline at Best.
I registered my interest at one UK show
(where in time-honoured tradition I didn't
walk away from Best empty-handed, this time
clutching a Tempest 2000 game soundtrack
CD, one of over 12,000 rescued from Atari).
During the following months, I received
a mailshot from Best, informing me of the
progress. Some time later, at the April
1999 Neuss Messe in Germany, I laid down
my cash for an advance order, as well as
picking up yet more Atari goodies, including
a limited edition mug and some outrageously
cool badges for the Falcon prototypes (Sparrow).
more waiting followed. Then it happened,
my copy of the Best Electronics Rev. 10
catalogue came in the post. Opening it for
the first time immediately showed with no
uncertainty why the project took so long.
Suddenly it was like looking at a fantasy
world, over 200 painstakingly detailed pages
of every Atari product and spare part you
could imagine and plenty more obscure ones
you'd not dream of. Excitement soon elevates
to ecstasy as you come to terms with all
this stuff being available to buy! There's
something special for every Atari user from
VCS to TT.
scattered in the rich mix of clearly laid
out product information are lots of money-saving
technical tips and tricks, plus rare photographs
and trivia. One of my favourites is the
1040STE+ R&D evaluation model, a standard
STE with a built-in 286 processor for running
PC software. The caption states it's an
Intel 286 though to my eyes it appears to
be sporting the AMD logo.
leaflet explains the long and fascinating
story of how the catalogue came into being.
Now the hard work of checking and documenting
the bulk of the stock has been done, addenda
are posted on the internet. Many items are
in very limited supply and there's also
the regular occurrence of Best unearthing
or developing more new weird and wonderful
products, so those need to be listed somewhere.
Big and impressive
as it all is, there's more to it than merely
a huge listing. Only by reading does one
realise the amount of energy and resources
needed to acquire, organise and safeguard
otherwise lost treasures. Spares and accessories
for classic cars don't come at mainstream
prices because of the extra work involved,
the same is true for oldie-but-goldie computers.
I find myself
reading the catalogue like a good book.
Its value as a historical record is a great
bonus, so all things considered it's an
absolute steal. Got Atari fever? Get this