The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

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x86vet
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The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by x86vet »

"The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio" on Amazon may be of interest to some members of this forum.
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Re: The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by junosix »

Well written and very insightful! Always wondered what kind of involvement Atari had with its development.
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Re: The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by dbsys »

x86vet wrote: Sun Sep 26, 2021 9:10 am "The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio" on Amazon may be of interest to some members of this forum.
Is this available as printed version (book)?
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Re: The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by calimero »

So what is the story? :)
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Re: The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by Cyprian »

calimero wrote: Mon Oct 18, 2021 9:28 pm So what is the story? :)
I far as I know Portfolio was just rebranded DiP's palmtop:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_Portfolio
http://www.funkygoods.com/schwarzschild ... 10_29.html
dip_01.jpg
556px-Atari_Portfolio.jpg
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Re: The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by stormy »

Lol I bet the book goes like: 'We had a meeting with the Tramiels, we asked why our product wasn't selling. They said "It's because you're a Dip and your entire company is a bunch of DIPs" we agreed and accepted a cheque for $50'
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Re: The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by Cyprian »

anyway the price of the book looks fair,
I would buy but there is no PDF version (only Kindle version)
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Re: The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by junosix »

Cyprian wrote: Tue Oct 19, 2021 8:02 am
calimero wrote: Mon Oct 18, 2021 9:28 pm So what is the story? :)
I far as I know Portfolio was just rebranded DiP's palmtop:
Turns out the Portfolio was Atari Japan's development of DIP's prototype known as the PPC (which is on the cover of the book). Part of the agreement is that DIP could buy Portfolios at a low cost without most of the branding (look at the DIP version in the picture you posted, it has an Atari logo on one of the keys) and put their own bezel on. Atari actually had a fair hand in its design.

No mention of the Tramiels at all. For a couple of bucks it's worth picking up and reading.
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Re: The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by matt »

Will buy and read as I don't know anything about this and I'm not prepared to pretend or guess and make a fool of myself.

:)
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Re: The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by Cyprian »

x86vet wrote: Sun Sep 26, 2021 9:10 am "The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio" on Amazon may be of interest to some members of this forum.
ok, you convinced me. I bought it and I've just start reading.

Are you involved in this book any way (actually I see your copyright there)? Would be cool to hear more stories behind the Portfolio.
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Re: The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by junosix »

Googling the OP's username and finding posts on other forums then cross-referencing with the book suggests he was involved with BIOS/DOS kernel development.
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Re: The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by Cyprian »

I have just read the book and it is nice piece of history.
Two remarks - would be cool to have it in a PDF format and more details.
Anyway I can recommend the book to anyone who likes Portfolio or just Atari.
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Re: The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by 1st1 »

So far as I know:

DIP designed the Portfolio chipset and circuits, made the BIOS with DIP-DOS and Atari / Ira Velinsky made the design (there are design elements very similar to STacy and ST-Book!) and organized the mass production. ATARI also won a design price on it on Hannover Fair IF Industrieforum Design.

For ATARI the Portfolio was quite a success outside of it's regular (ST-)customers but unfortunatelly they did not think about making a successor. So DIP made the Sharp PC 3000 and 3100 based on advanced Pofo design.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharp_PC-3000
https://www.retrocoding.uk/sharp-pc-3000/

At the same time ATARI released the Pofo there was also the much more powerfull and expensive Poqet PC, also MS-DOS based. This thing really was the hammer of it's time and probably the inspiration for DIP to advance their design to make the Sharp...

https://history-computer.com/products/p ... -poqet-pc/

Also HP was inspired and they created a few years later their own solution, impressive smaller than the Pofo, the HP 200LX, which like Pofo, Sharp and Poqet had it's own integrated applications but also could run DOS software.

http://www.hpmuseum.net/display_item.php?hw=199

And finally, not that handy, that means bigger, but concept similar the father of all later Netbooks, the Olivetti Quaderno which was available in NEC V30 (Quaderno-20) flavour and 386SX (Quaderno 33) - I knew somebody having the 33 and running TOSBOX ST emulator onto it, smaller and as fast as a ST-Book... I have a few of the Q20, but all dead, Q33 today is unaffordable. The Quadernos have ROM based MS-DOS 5 (the real one from MS) and the Q33 even could run Win 3.11.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivetti_Quaderno

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Re: The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by x86vet »

dbsys wrote: Mon Oct 18, 2021 7:38 am
x86vet wrote: Sun Sep 26, 2021 9:10 am "The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio" on Amazon may be of interest to some members of this forum.
Is this available as printed version (book)?
It's only available as a Kindle edition. However Amazon provides both a Kindle app for smartphones and tablets, as well as a nice e-reader on the website.
Last edited by x86vet on Sat Oct 23, 2021 11:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by x86vet »

Cyprian wrote: Tue Oct 19, 2021 8:02 am
calimero wrote: Mon Oct 18, 2021 9:28 pm So what is the story? :)
I far as I know Portfolio was just rebranded DiP's palmtop:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_Portfolio
http://www.funkygoods.com/schwarzschild ... 10_29.html
dip_01.jpg
556px-Atari_Portfolio.jpg
That's not entirely accurate, and one of the reasons I wrote the book - to correct some of the assumptions made over the years.

The DIP Pocket PC prototype design was licensed to Atari, who used its industrial design and production engineering expertise to create a production version of this which became the Atari Portfolio. DIP bought these production units from Atari at a reduced price and rebranded them as the production version of the DIP Pocket PC.
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Re: The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by x86vet »

stormy wrote: Tue Oct 19, 2021 8:35 am Lol I bet the book goes like: 'We had a meeting with the Tramiels, we asked why our product wasn't selling. They said "It's because you're a Dip and your entire company is a bunch of DIPs" we agreed and accepted a cheque for $50'
That's not really what happened :)

Having lived and worked in California I understand how the the slang term DIP is perceived in the US. In the UK it has no such connotation. Two countries separated by a common language...
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Re: The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by x86vet »

Cyprian wrote: Wed Oct 20, 2021 10:18 am
x86vet wrote: Sun Sep 26, 2021 9:10 am "The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio" on Amazon may be of interest to some members of this forum.
ok, you convinced me. I bought it and I've just start reading.

Are you involved in this book any way (actually I see your copyright there)? Would be cool to hear more stories behind the Portfolio.
I developed the BIOS and DOS. I've tried to cover everything in the book, but happy to answer any questions...
Last edited by x86vet on Sat Oct 23, 2021 11:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by x86vet »

1st1 wrote: Wed Oct 20, 2021 6:38 pm So far as I know:

DIP designed the Portfolio chipset and circuits, made the BIOS with DIP-DOS and Atari / Ira Velinsky made the design (there are design elements very similar to STacy and ST-Book!) and organized the mass production. ATARI also won a design price on it on Hannover Fair IF Industrieforum Design.

For ATARI the Portfolio was quite a success outside of it's regular (ST-)customers but unfortunatelly they did not think about making a successor. So DIP made the Sharp PC 3000 and 3100 based on advanced Pofo design.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharp_PC-3000
https://www.retrocoding.uk/sharp-pc-3000/

At the same time ATARI released the Pofo there was also the much more powerfull and expensive Poqet PC, also MS-DOS based. This thing really was the hammer of it's time and probably the inspiration for DIP to advance their design to make the Sharp...

https://history-computer.com/products/p ... -poqet-pc/

Also HP was inspired and they created a few years later their own solution, impressive smaller than the Pofo, the HP 200LX, which like Pofo, Sharp and Poqet had it's own integrated applications but also could run DOS software.

http://www.hpmuseum.net/display_item.php?hw=199

And finally, not that handy, that means bigger, but concept similar the father of all later Netbooks, the Olivetti Quaderno which was available in NEC V30 (Quaderno-20) flavour and 386SX (Quaderno 33) - I knew somebody having the 33 and running TOSBOX ST emulator onto it, smaller and as fast as a ST-Book... I have a few of the Q20, but all dead, Q33 today is unaffordable. The Quadernos have ROM based MS-DOS 5 (the real one from MS) and the Q33 even could run Win 3.11.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivetti_Quaderno


palmtops.jpg
DIP designed and developed the (electronics) hardware and software for the Atari Portfolio. Atari did the production engineering and manufacturing.

The Poqet PC wasn't quite the 'hammer' that you suggest. It was very expensive ($2,000 launch price, compared to the Portfolio's $400 price tag) and late to market (March 1990), and just didn't sell as well as the Portfolio.

It and the Sharp PC-3000 both suffered from having a small non-backlit 80x25 text display, that you needed good light and/or eyesight to read. DIP provided a way to increase the font size on the PC-3000 to offset that. In a pre-LED backlight world, electroluminescent backlights consumed too much power to be fitted to a battery-powered palmtop. I believe a much later (1994?) version of the Poqet had a backlit screen, but by then the market had moved on.

The Sharp PC-3000 was created in response to Sharp Corp identifying a market opportunity for a DOS-compatible palmtop PC. Sharp approached DIP as few companies had the expertise required to create this kind of device. While it leveraged some concepts from the Portfolio, it wasn't any kind of Portfolio v2, but instead was designed from the ground up to meet Sharp's requirements. It became available in 1991.
Last edited by x86vet on Sat Oct 23, 2021 5:07 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by 1st1 »

For work share of Pofo between Atari and DIP you do not tell anything different than me.

WIth "the hammer" for the poqut is about its specifications like memory, speed, screen size. Much better than the Pofo and that explains the price.

Also Pofo had no backlight, so the Sharp not worse than Pofo.
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Re: The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by x86vet »

I'm not disagreeing with you. Just adding more context.

The Poqet spec was better than the Portfolio's in terms of CPU speed (7 Mhz vs 5 Mhz), RAM (640 Kb vs 128 Kb - although the Portfolio could be expanded up to 640 Kb), Display (80x25 vs 40x8, although many people found the screen hard to read, see below), PCMCIA support vs Bee cards, etc., and launched a year after it.

The Sharp PC-3000 spec was better than the Poqet's (10 Mhz vs 7 Mhz, 1 Mb [2 Mb for the PC-3100] vs 640 Kb, better keyboard, better PCMCIA suppport), and launched a year after that. Over time things improve.

Unfortunately for Poqet the market didn't equate a $2,000 price tag with the associated specification.

EL backlights consumed too much power, so weren't used in any of these devices. But this did make physically small character font sizes on a relatively small non-backlit 80x25 display hard to read. The Portfolio's physical font size was roughly twice that of the Poqet and PC-3000.
Last edited by x86vet on Sat Oct 23, 2021 7:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by Cyprian »

x86vet wrote: Sat Oct 23, 2021 9:12 am That's not entirely accurate, and one of the reasons I wrote the book - to correct some of the assumptions made over the years.

The DIP Pocket PC prototype design was licensed to Atari, who used its industrial design and production engineering expertise to create a production version of this which became the Atari Portfolio. DIP bought these production units from Atari at a reduced price and rebranded them as the production version of the DIP Pocket PC.
x86vet wrote: Sat Oct 23, 2021 9:42 am DIP designed the Portfolio chipset and circuits, made the BIOS with DIP-DOS and Atari / Ira Velinsky made the design (there are design elements very similar to STacy and ST-Book!) and organized the mass production. ATARI also won a design price on it on Hannover Fair IF Industrieforum Design.
definitely Wiki needs to be corrected then.
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Re: The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by x86vet »

1st1 wrote "DIP designed the Portfolio chipset and circuits...". I clarified that with "DIP designed - and developed - the (electronics) hardware and software for the Atari Portfolio. Atari did the production engineering and manufacturing". I was trying to distinguish between all the electronics and software design and development carried out by DIP in the UK, and the production PCB design and case design carried out by Atari, who then mass-produced the Portfolio in its factory in Japan.

To further clarify: Atari licensed the DIP PPC propototype hardware design, and all the ROM software (BIOS, DOS, Shell, PIM apps, etc). Its industrial design team then created the production casing, and modified the PCBs. This was both to make the PCBs fits the new casing design (e.g. the LCD module had moved position), and to implement various DIP hardware enhancements and fixes. DIP delivered production ROM software images to Japan over a period of time, where the latest approved versions were burn into OTP ROM chips that were soldered onto the Portfolio PCBs.

While Ira Velinski may have come up with the concept for the Portfolio's case design, Atari's draughtsmen in Japan created the actual engineering drawings and I assume the spec for the tooling.
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Re: The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by 1st1 »

While Ira Velinski may have come up with the concept for the Portfolio's case design, Atari's draughtsmen in Japan created the actual engineering drawings and I assume the spec for the tooling.
Yes, true, because that's not the job of a designer. He is designing with the pencil on the paper, or with easy to work with materials (like styrofoam) on 3d model or on CAD software. And the engineer prepares it for production. This is a complex process as sometimes the engineer has to tell the designer that he can't bring a special idea/detail to mass production due to complexibility, technical issue, manufacturing issue or costs. So design has to be optimized again to fullfill this kind of requirement.

I have some books about that design process about my together with Atari favourite computer (and typewriter) manufacturer, Olivetti, where that kind of work is explained and showed in the examples of their star designers like Ettore Sottsass, Mario Bellini, Macchi Cassia, George Sowden, Michele De Lucchi, Hans von Klier. Also on my study they talked about that design process but from engineering perspective.

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Re: The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by junosix »

LGR has just done a video about the Portfolio, shame he didn't hear of the DIP/Atari relationship and the "Atari just licensing it from DIP and slapping their name on it" thing is perpetuated. With an audience like that it would have been a great way to clear that up!
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Re: The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio

Post by dbsys »

x86vet wrote: Sat Oct 23, 2021 9:06 am
dbsys wrote: Mon Oct 18, 2021 7:38 am
x86vet wrote: Sun Sep 26, 2021 9:10 am "The story behind the creation of the Atari Portfolio" on Amazon may be of interest to some members of this forum.
Is this available as printed version (book)?
It's only available as a Kindle edition. However Amazon provides both a Kindle app for smartphones and tablets, as well as a nice e-reader on the website.
Do you have plans to offer a PDF version? I do not want to have the Kindle spy- and adware on my devices.
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