Task: Purchase a CRT Monitor
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Time: 15-30 minutes
I started out on an Atari 400 and 410 cassette recorder connected to a color television in our family room in the early 1980s. We upgraded to an Atari 800 and 810 disk drive about two years later and, around that time, got a computer table and a dedicated CRT monitor. This was a significant improvement in the quality of the computing experience. The CRT monitor we had was a Sakata SC-100. We had not problems with this monitor. In fact, I still have the same monitor (see photo below) and am impressed that it has survived several long moves and still works like a charm. I have it set up with my go-to system and use it almost daily.
There aren’t many good reasons to purchase a CRT monitor now given how fragile they are, how difficult they are to repair, how much space they take up, and the availability of inexpensive technology for converting the composite signal to S-Video and HDMI for display on LCD and LED monitors and TVs. I have previously posted about how to connect an Atari 8-bit computer to LCD and LED screens. However, it is important to me to be able relive the full 1980s Atari experience. As such, I prefer to use a CRT monitor. This is perhaps the main reason to purchase a CRT.
There are two CRTs that I recommend. The first is the Sakata SC-100. These do come up from time to time on eBay. I have seen several over the past year with prices between $100 and $200. Shipping is pretty high since these are heavy and need lots of packing materials. Below is a new product announcement for the Sakata that appeared in a June 4, 1984 issue of InfoWorld.
The second CRT I recommend is the Commodore 1701. These are very common and easier to your hands on than the Sakata. I have two of these and they work great. I rarely use them because it seems weird to use a Commodore monitor with an Atari. That is just my own personal bias. Of course, Atari never marketed a CRT monitor for the 8-bit computers. At the time of this writing, there were several 1701s, and the later 1702s, on eBay for around $150 to $250. Here is a piece in the November, 1983 issue of Compute! on the 1701.
There were other monitors available at the time. A popular brand was Amdek. I have never had an Amdek, or any of the brands, and so have no basis to recommend them.
Keep an eye on eBay for bot Sakata SC-100 and Commodore 1701 CRTs. If you are patient, you will likely be able to find one for about $100 or $150. You can also try to find one locally if you live near a city. Here are my tips for finding local hardware.
As I said, CRT monitors are mostly for nostalgia. Video upgrades and converters for LCD and LED screens provide infinitely better pictures. I still cringe a bit every time I turn on my CRT. I know someday soon it will blow and that will be the end of the Sakata.