Atari Portfolio

Version Française

One of the first Pocket PC!

Gift from Christophe Préaut, thanks to him!

Specifications Memory Cards PC Card Reader Memory Expansion Programmation Parallel Interface

I often hesitated to get one, was it interesting or not? Then Christophe Préaut gave me one and it appears to be... interesting!

"big" Pocket PC

Memory Cards
They are plugged on the left, under the keyboard. There were three of them:
  • 32 KB
  • 64 KB
  • 128 KB
The 32MB one seems a bit short for any real application. Even the others are limited.

Other manufacturers offered high capacity cards, on the right one with 4MB!

Rear and back of a 4MB card.

You have to reboot the machine to make the card work. At boot, the driver is loaded and displays some informations. Then you get three drives: Unit A: with 64KB containing the drivers, don't touch it! Here the result for CHKDSK A: Then, two other drives D: and E: with 2MB each, here the result for CHKDSK E:

PC Card Reader
To ease the transferts between a Portfolio and a PC, Atari made this "PC Card Drive", to read/write the Memory Cards from DOS on a desktop PC.

It contained an ISA board, a specific cable and a beautiful external card reader.
It's hard today to find a PC with ISA connectors, so you won't be able to easely use it! Regarding the low capacities of those cards, a parallel system would have been a good choice.

  • Download files
  • Copy the files CD.SYS and CFX.COM to your DOS directory
  • Reboot, a new disk unit is set (E: on my computer)
  • Use E: as a regular disk (COPY, DIR, RENAME, DEL, etc...)
  • Use CFX.COM to format a card

The problem with the 4MB card is that only the first 64KB unit is seen... I solved that with the Memory Expansion!

The ISA board and the Card Reader

The Memory Expansion
This memory expansion brings you 256 KB more and a second card reader as B:. So you get 384 KB or memory.

You can chain two of this units to get up to a total of 640KB Ram. In this case, you have to push a little switch in position "1" for the first unit and "2" for the second.

To be working, you have to perform cold reset: open the battery cover, push the little metal bar, put back the batteries and switch on. A CHKDSK displays the RAM amount.

Thanks to unit B:, I was able to transfert files from the PC to the special 4MB card.

Turbo Assembleur V1.0

With the integrated text editor, you can write the source file, let's say HELLO.ASM in the SOURCES folder.

Then you compile it with TASM SOURCES\HELLO
Last, you have to link it with the command TLINK HELLO. You get the HELLO.EXE file!

The PL1 (Portfolio Language)

It's a programming language, close to the FORTH, with a stack and a postfixed notation. It gives access to graphics, text, sound, files. Even if it has a limited number of functions, it covers every domain.

On the right, a program example that draws unending lines.

proc limit64
   if 64 >=
      128 swap -
      swap -1 * swap
      if dup 0 <
         -1 * swap -1 * swap
proc limit240
   if 240 >=
      480 swap -
      swap -1 * swap
      if dup 0 <
         -1 * swap -1 * swap
48 50 tone
rand 1 >> 240 mod x =
rand 1 >> 64 mod y =
rand 8 mod dx =
rand 8 mod dy =
rand 1 >> 240 mod a =
rand 1 >> 64 mod b =
rand 8 mod da =
rand 8 mod db =
59 50 tone
while press 0 ==
   for 100 1 i
      x % y % move
      x % y % plot
      a % b % line
      dx % dup x % + limit240 do
      x = dx =
      da % dup a % + limit240 do
      a = da =
      dy % dup y % + limit64 do
      y = dy =
      db % dup b % + limit64 do
      b = db =
key drop

The parallel interface
It plugs into the expansion port. Either directly on the Portfolio, or chained to a memory expansion unit.

At last, the Portfolio is not so "pocket" as it seemed...

Two main uses:
  • File transfert with a PC and a specific parallel cable (the program FT.EXE is provided for the PC)
  • Link to a printer. To print a text file, just type

Since 15 décembre 2007