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The Atari Users of North Texas
Towards the mid eighties, the Atari ST would
emerge on the Atari scene. At first there was a
special interest group in Dal-ACE to support the new
16/32 users. As support for the 8-bit line decreased
and the ST line increased some annimosities between
the two started to happen.
In September of 1985 Gary Sewell and a few others of the early ST owners broke away from Dal-ACE and formed what would become known as "The Atari Users of North Texas".
The club continued for fifteen years. Throughout that time, the club witness the ST line as it advanced from the 520ST to the 1040 ST. There were many who upgraded the memory and operating systems in the computers during that time. The knack of tinkering was popular when TOS 2.06 came out. When I joined the club in 1999 the club introduced me to the ST line by letting me borrow a 520 STFM with 4 meg of memory and TOS 2.06!! Quite a upgraded machine!
The club witnessed the introduction of the Mega ST line, and after a LOONNNG wait, the Atari TT030 in 1990-1991.
The users in the club were programmers, engineers, regular people needing good computers for word processing, midi users, and gamers. One user in the club made and sold the pot belly pig Christmas CD that was popular one Christmas.
Eventually a nearby cloth and pattern company by the name of Datastitch in Weatherford, TX were selling off a bunch of TT030 computers. The company used the Atari TT030 to power industrial size looms. Unfortunately they couldn't get the computers from Atari fast enough, so they had to use PC's. Sad as that was, many club members picked up a Datastitch Atari TT about that time.
The club continued for a total of FIFTEEN years. Club members would own stock in Atari, and would object strongly as Atari decided to go from the business to video gaming market when the Atari Jaguar was being released. Nevertheless, there were quite a few people in the club who enjoyed the Jaguar.
Though the Atari Jaguar was an amazing turn of events for AUNT, Atari as it's own corporation would end two years later. In the post Atari years after 1995 the club continued due to the stubborn determination of the "Dynamic Dave" Acklam and "Late Night Lonnie" Webb was well a few other strong people who would encourage the club to continue having fun with the Atari computer. They held "DEUCE Atari Shows" and sported such vendors as "Emulators Inc", "Systems for Tomorrow", "More Than Games", and quite a few others.
As time continued onwards, the club saw the introduction of the Atari clones, such as the Afterburner Falcon 040, and the Hades 060 that Acklam proudly bought. Machines like these, though expensive, showed the club members a new level of Atari ST performance and speed.
At the last DEUCE show show held a the Dallas InfoMart on November 1998, the club was now down to a small group of loyal members. Dave demonstrated the use of digital camera with the Atari Falcon while Kent Kordes of Systems for Tomorrow sold his shirts, magazines, and Atari software. Across the room, Mike White, who was a developer at the time for the STik TCP/IP stack for the Atari ST, demonstrated getting on to the internet using his Afterburner 040 Falcon and Cab (Crystal Atari Browser).
The club even maintained a BBS for quite a long time, and ended only two years before the club would close it's door, making headway to create a web based BBS and chat room that would stay up for two years after AUNT was officially gone.
Gone? Sadly yes. The InfoMart shortly after that last DEUCE Atari show would boot out the various computer clubs before 1999, and most faded off shortly thereafter. That said, AUNT would manage to pull through for one more year for a bit more fun. I still have a sound bite of our club going to a German restrarant and all the music and laughter. (328k Mp3) I choose to remember it that way. Kinda fitting since so much was being developed in Germany and Europe for the Atari ST at that time.
Dave Acklam had to move due to his job in that last year, and it wasn't same without him. Good news is, Dave's fun writings can still be seen in the newsletter for the Atari Group, I.M.A.G.E. (Indiana-Michigan Atari Group Exchange.) For more information on this club and their newsletter contact Paul, IMAGE's newsletter editor. Posted here with permission is a sample of the I.M.A.G.E. Newsletter.
"Late Night Lonnie" still burns the midnight oil as a programmer, and I'm about 95% sure you can find his latest work at Lonnie's new site.
Speaking of Lonnie's handiwork, the chat started in 1999 on the ATARIUSERS.COM has continued in some form or fashion to this day. To get the latest on that, look on the Atari 8-bit newsgroup, or on Atariage.com.
As you can see, AUNT may be officially gone but not forgotton. AUNT impressed me with such friendliness and charisma that I continue to stay involved with Atari activities online to this day. And elements of AUNT still continue.
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March 3, 2006