Task: Purchase a New SIO Cable for Your Atari 8-Bit Computer
Needed: Web Browser
Time: 5-10 mins
The Atari Serial Input/Output (SIO) technology was used to connect peripherals such as floppy drives and printers. This was quite different than the Apple II which required a card inserted into the motherboard with a connector in the back of the machine. In other words, purchasing a new peripheral often required installation of a new card inside the computer. The main motivation for the SIO was to avoid radio frequency (RF) interference by having the computer and peripheral circuit boards and major components encased in a Faraday cage and conveniently connected using a special SIO cable. This made setting up new peripherals a breeze. The SIO technology was quite sophisticated for the day, and some believe it helped pave the way for USB and other standards.
As with many Atari hardware components, SIO cables are getting old and some do wear out or break. Fortunately, it is possible to purchase newly constructed cables with 3D-printed connectors. This might be preferable to purchasing a used one on eBay if you are setting up a new Atari computer.
New SIO cables can be purchased from the Vintage Computer Center in the U.S. A 3-foot cable runs $19.99 while a 5-foot cable runs $25.99.
They are also available in Europe through Lotharek. A 1-meter cable runs 11.50 Euros. A 2-meter cable runs 13.50 Euros.
It is nice to have a source for these. My only concern is whether the 3D-printed connectors will hold up with heavy use. SIO cables always seem to fit snuggly thus requiring some pressure to get them in and out.