In 1985 the solution came down to a $20 savings. The Atari 800xl dropped to $179 and the C64 only dropped to $199. Great. I had what I consider my first real computer. A day later I realized if I was going to do this I had to do it right. So I went to Toys r Us and paid up the $250.00 for the 1050 disk drive. At the same time I bought a game called Dimension X. A bargain at $10. I stopped at clover on the way home and picked up a box of disks. They were $20 back then. And there was this book on sale called "Dr. Wacko's miracle guide to Basic Games" so I thought I would learn how to write stuff for the Atari. Sorry to say the book is long gone but I still have the disks. And converted them into atr files :)
About a week later an unexpected package showed up at my job. It was from some computer company and it was to an unknown person but it said "or resident" So I opened it and would you believe it was a disk puncher. Turn your single sided disks into flippies. Wow, talk about a money saver. It was quite a while before disks came down below a buck a disk.
By this time my sister was in college. She needed a better way to write papers than the typewriter so my parents bought her an Atari and the letter quality printer and a disk drive. The 1050 drive was now only $179 like the computer. Thank goodness for the 90 day return policy. 88 days after I bought it I took it back. Bought another one and pocketed the 70 dollar difference. Didn't stay in my pocket long because I picked up a commodore 1702 monitor the following week. $250 that set me back. But it supposedly took advantage of the split video the Atari could use.
I remember reading about these things called BBS's where you connected to another computer over the phone and could download programs to your own computer. Free games. Sounded appealing enough for me to get the 1030 modem because it was only $50. The old Atari acoustic modem I remember reading about was no longer available. The ultra modern 2400 baud modem was available at the time but they were close to $600. Plus you needed the serial interface and they were about $100. I know I could have gotten a 1200 baud for about $250 but who really needed that much speed? :)
At the time I was a field service engineer fixing large printers and laser printers. I wanted a printer of my own. The Atari printer that was affordable was a piece of junk. It didn't have tractors it had pins on the roller that moved the paper. And it only printed in one direction. There were more alternate printers available but the Atari didn't have a built in parallel interface. So after spending $40 on a UPrint interface and $260 on a canon A40 printer I was in business.