5.5) What networking hardware is there for the Atari?

==> Supra MicroNet (developed by MPP, released by Supra) (1985)
Share one SIO chain of peripherals (printers, disk drives, modems) among up to
8 computers.  When one computer accesses a peripheral device, the entire bus
is occupied so that the other computers on the "network" must wait.  The bus
is freed five seconds after a computer finishes interacting with the
peripheral.  Shipped with modified Atari DOS 2.5 to support busy disk retry.
For sharing a printer, a printer buffer such as the MPP/Supra MicroStuffer for
each computer is recommended.  Reviewed:

==> CSS Deluxe Quintopus (1989)
Can be used to "share" up to 4 SIO device chains between two computers.  Unit
includes 2 switched SIO ports and 4 unswitched SIO ports.  Two computers can
be connected to the two switched ports, but in this scenario only one of the
switched ports can be switched on at a time.
(The standard Quintopus is identical except with only unswitched ports.)

==> CSS Multiplexer ("MUX") (1989?)
Description from the CSS online catalog:
The Multiplexer is a collection of cartridge interface boards that allow up to
8 Ataris to read and write to the same drives (typically a hard disk), access
the same printer(s), and talk to each other.  It is the first practical
networking system for the Atari 8-bit computer.
One "master" computer (any 8-bit) is equipped with the master Multiplexer
interface.  Then up to 8 "slave" computers hook up to this master, each having
their own slave interface.  The slave interface consists of a cartridge that
plugs into the cartridge port.  It has its own socket on the top so you can
use whatever cartridges you desire with the system.
The "common" peripherals (things that are to be shared) are connected to the
master.  On each slave, all disk and printer I/O is routed through the master
so no extra disk drives are needed.  The master computer can be configured in
any manner you wish.  You may have certain peripherals local to the slave or
routed to a different number on the master.  Note that serial ports (R: RS-232
interfaces) are not multiplexed.  All slaves are independent and do not need
to have the same program running on them.

==> GameLink and GameLink-II
Two hardware designs by Chuck Steinman of DataQue support the linking of two
or more Atari computers.  Each supports multiple user head-to-head gaming
where each player uses a separate computer (each with separate TV/monitor).
(GameLink and GameLink-II descriptions by Andreas Koch)
a) GameLink: This hardware was developed in 1989/90.  It links two
   computers together via the joystick ports.  It is limited to a maximum
   of 2 computers and thus 2 or 6 players, meaning one free port per
   XL/XE computer and 3 free ports per 400/800 computer.  However, the
   few existing games for this hardware merely support 2 players.
b) GameLink-II: This hardware was developed in 1991/92.  It links 2 to 8
   computers together via the SIO ports.  One computer will then act as
   the master and has to boot up the software (from tape, disk, hard disk,
   etc.) first.  Then all other "slave" computers connect to it and boot
   off of this master computer (one after another of course).  In Europe
   we call this device "Multilink", mostly because of the games written
   by Bewesoft (Jiri Bernasek) called Multi-Dash, Multi-Race, Multi-Worms.
   A two computer network can easily be done with one SIO cable, just
   open the end of the SIO cable and exchange cables number 3 and 5.  You
   now have an easy two computer (2-4 players) network cable.
For some available software for hardware such as GameLink and GameLink-II
please another section of this FAQ list, "What programs support Atari computer

==> AT-Link (Alphasys)
Arianne Slaager writes:
I was actually surprised to read about the GameLink, as I made a similar
cable myself, called the AT-Link.  This cable could also be used to
communicate with Commodore 64 computers, and I made driver software for both
systems at the time.  There were 2 drivers.  One as relocatable machine code,
and another as device driver.  Also in the package was a 2 player Battleships
type game where Side A had the Atari version, and Side B the Commodore 64
...wasn't more than two old joystick cables in a crosslink configuration,
(Pin 1 and 2 linked to pin 3 and 4 of the other cable respectively)

==> EightLink (Alphasys)
Arianne Slaager writes:
I also made a special high speed Atari to Atari cable, called the EightLink.
This one was cartridge based system, with a PIA inside, which boasted a 8 bit
bidirectional, parallel databus, and a 4 bit crosslinked control bus.
Transfer speeds were such that two Ataris on opposite ends of a large hall
could transfer disk data faster than it could be read or written.  The actual
cable connecting the two was a flatcable with 33 leads, alternating ground and
a dataline across the width to minimise crossover disruption of data.  Also
for this link system, I made drivers both in relocatable code, as well as a
device driver.

==> Automatisches 2-Rechnerinterface = Automatic 2-Computer Interface (A2RI)
(c) 1994 by Thomas Grasel for the ABBUC Regionalgruppe Frankfurt / Main (RAF)
Share one SIO chain of peripherals (printers, disk drives, modems) between two
computers.  When one computer accesses a peripheral device, the entire bus is
occupied so that the other computer must wait.  The bus is freed about one
second after a computer finishes interacting with the peripheral.
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