AtariFest 1991 Houston Atari Meet 1992

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Desdyn
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AtariFest 1991 Houston Atari Meet 1992

Postby Desdyn » Fri May 11, 2018 3:38 am

Over the past weekend I was watching a couple of Youtube videos and lo and behold a discussion about the Atari Falcon, STe and Jaguar popped up. I watched it and enjoyed the comments. When it finished it had a related video from the mid 1980s TV show, the Computer Chronicles. I started watching episodes and re living the "Golden Age" of computers. One of the episodes featured the Atari ST and how it was being used in business enviroments. I watched it. I was hooked for the next couple of hours searching through all the shows and finding quite a few references and comparisons of the Atari ST, discussion of software for the ST, and one with the Atari engineers. Finally, the epsiode with the interview of Jack Tramiel and Leonard Tramiel came up from 1985. It featured the Tramiels talking about the new company and their new computer the Atari ST.

While I was watching this episode, I begin to remember all the meets and shows and exhibitions I attended back when I was an Atari dealer. From Comdex, to user group meetings, It was a lot of fun. But my two favorite meetings were the Atarifest in Chicago hosted by Atari Corporation in 1991 and the Houston show the following spring in 1992.

My wife and I drove from Tulsa to Chicago for the event and arrived in the middle of a snow storm on November 22, 1991. We arrived on Friday night before the show and made our way into Rosemont Ramada hotel and convention center, only to be greeted by "Dead Heads" (Grateful Dead Groupies) in the hotel lobby, along with all the Atari faithful (and a few that were both). There was so much excitement and anticipation of what was about to happen. We met some of the local Atari user groups and had a wonderful evening. The next day I was in the convention center first thing and all the Atari execs were there, the Tramiels, Rob Johnson, Rob Taylor, Bob Brodie, etc.. along with the Atari engineers, both software and hardware. It seemed that all the US 3rd party software and hardware vendors were there and a few from across the pond as well. As a dealer of the hardware I made by way into the Atari booth and introduced myself and I was welcomed by the Atari family. It was not that I was someone special, in fact I probably was a little annoying, as I was there to see the future of my little computer store or if there was going to be a future with Atari. I asked point blank questions and 99% of the answers were straight forward. The Tramiels themselves did not shy away from my line of questions and how they were protecting my future. After about 30 minutes, one of the Tramiels took me over behind the Atari flag and begin to bring some of the third party developers, both software and hardware. I got to meet Lee Seiler from Lexicor (Phase 4) and from SGI products and his hardware engineer. (who I cant remember his name but he was from Taiwan). I met the team at Dover Research (Leonardo VME card). I talked to the TT team and the future of Unix port and open windows to the Atari (Tulsa is known for their aerospace industries). I had several customers that had the TT and wanted to use it for aircraft simulators. I sat down with the team that was working on multiTOS. I was in heaven. I was paraded around to all the Atari hardware engineers who were talking about the new product to hit soon, the Sparrow, but that was hush hush. What they were doing was convincing me that my future was safe with them and I needed to make a large order for the store. While I made arrangements and purchases with a great deal of the software vendors and some 3rd party hardware vendors, (I got to take a Leonardo card home for my Mega STe) I still was not sure what I should do about a new large order from Atari. After lunch I went back to the booth and sat down with Rob Johnson and talked what was needed. I still did not make a decision that day. The convention ending the next day and when the crowd began to die. I finally placed an order with Atari but no where near what they wanted. Desktop publishing was a big deal back then and Mega STe and TT were being used in my area. It was a great weekend.

The Houston show was a few months later and was not as exciting as Chicago but it is where I made a friend in Bob Brodie. I was sent an invite to see the new pre production Sparrow or now the Falcon 030. I flew into Houston and met with Bob Brodie in his new position as customer relations and user group liason. I spent the day in the booth with the Atari rep listening to all the customers and getting a feel for the future of Atari. I placed another order for a set of Falcon 030s and was told they would arrive within the next 6 weeks. You had to order a minimum with Atari. I met several software vendors mostly midi software. (I sold quite a few ST for musicians). The Houston show was tiny compared to Chicago, even though a great of advertising was done for the show. But this did not deter me. I came away with new friends, new software and new hardware.

I was able to sell everything that I ordered out of those two shows. And actually, I sold more Atari equipment than I ever did during that 16 month stretch. Little did I know, just a few short months after the Houston show, Atari would be out of the computer business and hanging everything of their corporate future on the Jaguar. We all know what happened. It was only a few more years and my Atari shop would be out of business. Well, I diversified and got into the PC world. But the time from 1987 - 1997 (Atari years for me) when I turned off my Atari Falcon 030 were some wonderful years. Some of the friends I made during that time are still friends to this date. Those two shows...

Anyway, I have the falcon 030 out and have some parts on order and hope to have the bird flying again shortly. Thanks for letting reminisce about a wonderful time in my life.

Edit:

The picture of the dealer kits and still has the handwritten notes I took concerning the TT and Unix port and open windows, along with how to network and how to set up multi tos. It has brochures and what the Falcon 030 pricing and my order for the Falcons

Atari.jpg
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Last edited by Desdyn on Sat May 12, 2018 1:35 am, edited 3 times in total.

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dhedberg
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Re: AtariFest 1991 Houston Atari Meet 1992

Postby dhedberg » Fri May 11, 2018 8:05 am

Wow. I had no idea about all this when I visited you back in 95. I don't even remembering you mentioning that you'd been an owner of an Atari store. Thanks for sharing! If you have more stories or details please share, a lot of people are interested in Atari history here.
Daniel, New Beat - http://newbeat.atari.org. Like demos? Have a look at our new Falcon030 demo MORE.

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Re: AtariFest 1991 Houston Atari Meet 1992

Postby wongck » Fri May 11, 2018 12:05 pm

Thanks for sharing.
Always good to read about Atari history especially firsthand experiences of what it was like back then.
My Stuff: FB/Falcon CT63/CTPCI+ATI+RTL8139+USB 512MB 30GB HDD CF HxC_SD/ TT030 68882 4+32MB 520MB Nova/ 520STFM 4MB Tos206 SCSI
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Re: AtariFest 1991 Houston Atari Meet 1992

Postby Desdyn » Fri May 11, 2018 3:59 pm

Daniel

By the time we met I was into video editing. Of course Robby Cooke started that! By 1995 the Atari side of Shelton computers was fading and the store front had changed to consulting and installation of PC networks. I still held TASTE (Tulsa Atari ST Enthusiasts) until 1997 but at the end of the year I shut it all down and started Design Dynamics Inc which at that time was devoted to video production and network administration. I started in the Atari world 1985 with an ST. When we moved to Tulsa in 1987, there were 3 stores selling STs. One of the stores sold me their equipment and I opened a single room store front.

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Re: AtariFest 1991 Houston Atari Meet 1992

Postby dhedberg » Sat May 19, 2018 7:10 pm

Do you have any pictures of your store? I'd love to see what it looked like!
Daniel, New Beat - http://newbeat.atari.org. Like demos? Have a look at our new Falcon030 demo MORE.


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