8-bit family is a series of
8-bit home computers introduced
Atari, Inc. in 1979  and manufactured until 1992. All of the
machines in the family are technically similar and differ primarily in
packaging. They are based on the
MOS Technology 6502
MOS Technology 6502 CPU running at
1.79 MHz,[a] and were the first home computers designed with
custom co-processor chips. This architecture enabled graphics and
sound capabilities that were more advanced than contemporary machines
Apple II or Commodore PET, and gaming on the platform was a
Star Raiders is considered the platform's killer app.
Atari 400 and 800 models were released with a series of
plug-n-play peripherals that used the
Atari SIO serial bus system, an
early analog of the modern USB.[b] To meet stringent FCC
requirements, the early machines were completely enclosed in a solid
cast aluminum block, which made them physically robust but expensive
to produce. Over the following decade, the 400 and 800 were replaced
by the XL series, then the XE. All of the
8-bit family models have the
same CPU and coprocessors, running at the same clock speed, but the XL
and XE are much lighter in construction and less expensive to build,
while also having
Atari BASIC built-in and reducing the number of
joystick ports from 4 to 2. The 130XE, released in 1985, increased the
memory to 128K of bank-switched RAM.
8-bit computer line sold two million units during its major
production run between late 1979 and mid-1985. They were not only
sold through dedicated computer retailers, but department stores such
as Sears, using an in-store demo to attract customers. The primary
competition in the worldwide market was, starting in 1982, the
Commodore 64. This was the first computer to offer similar graphics
performance, and went on to be the best selling computer of the 8-bit
Atari also found a strong market in Eastern Europe and had
something of a renaissance in the early 1990s as these countries
joined a uniting Europe.
On January 1, 1992,
Atari Corp. officially dropped all remaining
support of the
1.3 400/800 release
1.4 FCC battles, Liz project
1.5 XL Series
1.5.2 Newer XL machines
1.6 Tramiel takeover, declining market
1.7 Tramiel era: XE series
1.8 XE Game System
1.9 Production Timeline
1.10 End of support and legacy
3 Computer models
5.1 Operating system
5.1.2 Disk Operating System
6 Playfield graphics capabilities
6.1 Character modes
6.2 Map modes
6.3 GTIA modes
7 See also
10 External links
10.2 Technical information
10.3 Software, games, music, demos
Design of the
8-bit series of machines started at
Atari as soon as the
Atari 2600 games console was released in late 1977. While designing
the 2600 in 1976, the engineering team from
Atari Grass Valley
Research Center (originally "Cyan Engineering") felt that the 2600
would have about a three-year lifespan before becoming obsolete. They
started blue sky designs for a new console that would be ready to
replace it around 1979.
What they ended up with was essentially a greatly updated version of
the 2600, fixing its more obvious limitations but sharing a similar
overall design philosophy. The newer design would be faster than
the 2600, have better graphics, and would include much better sound
hardware. Work on the chips for the new system continued throughout
1978 and focused on much-improved video hardware known as the Color
Television Interface Adaptor, or CTIA (the 2600 version was the
During the early development period, the home computer era began in
earnest in the form of the TRS-80, Commodore PET, and Apple II
family—what Byte Magazine would dub the "1977 Trinity". Warner
Communications had purchased
Nolan Bushnell for $28 million
in 1976 in order to fund the launch of the 2600.
Atari had recently
sent Ray Kassar to act as the CEO of the company. Kassar felt the
chipset should be used in a home computer to challenge Apple. In
order to adapt the machine to this role, it would need to support
character graphics, include some form of expansion for peripherals,
and run the then-universal BASIC programming language.
The CTIA, like the 2600's TIA, was designed to produce Player-Missile
graphics (sprites), the 2600 had no bitmap graphics support or a
character generator. Instead of expanding the CTIA to handle these
tasks, the designers instead introduced an entirely new chip for this
purpose, the Alphanumeric
Television Interface Controller, or ANTIC.
The CTIA and
ANTIC worked together to produce a complete display, with
the CTIA in charge of sprites and producing color video output, and
ANTIC in charge of bitmap (or "playfield" in
Atari terms) and
Atari 400 (1979). Featuring a membrane keyboard and single-width
cartridge slot cover.
Atari 800 with the top flap removed, showing the expansion cards
and two cartridge slots. The slots are moulded into the cast aluminum
Atari 800 used large expansion cards for the RAM, ROM and
Atari 800s shipped with three of these 16KB RAM cards,
for a total of 48KB.
Management identified two sweet spots for the new computers: a low-end
version known as "Candy", and a higher-end machine known as "Colleen"
(named after two attractive
Atari secretaries). The primary
difference between the two models was marketing;
Colleen as a computer, and Candy as a game machine or hybrid game
console. Colleen included user-accessible expansion slots for RAM and
ROM, two 8 KB
ROM cartridge slots, RF and monitor output
(including two pins for separate luma and chroma) and a full keyboard.
Candy was initially designed as a games console, lacking a keyboard
and input/output ports, although an external keyboard was planned that
could be plugged into joystick ports 3 and 4. At the time, plans
called for both to have a separate audio port supporting cassette
tapes as a storage medium.
At the time, the
Federal Communications Commission
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandated that
signal leakage protection in the television frequency range had to be
extremely effective for consumer devices. Other manufacturers had
avoided this problem by leaving out those components, as in the Apple
II, or, using composite monitors like the PET or TRS-80.[c] One of
their existing sales partners, Sears, demanded that the machines meet
the FCC's requirements so they could be sold off-the-shelf.
To meet this requirement while including internal TV circuitry, the
machines needed to be heavily shielded. Both were built around very
strong cast aluminum shields forming a partial Faraday cage, with the
various components screwed down onto this internal framework. This had
the advantage of producing an extremely sturdy computer, although at
the disadvantage of added manufacturing expense and complexity. The
FCC ruling also made it difficult to have any sizable holes in the
case, which eliminated expansion slots or cards that communicated with
the outside world via their own connectors. Instead,
the Serial Input/Output (SIO) computer bus, a daisy-chainable system
that allowed multiple, auto-configuring devices to connect to the
computer through a single shielded connector. The internal slots were
reserved for ROM and RAM modules; they did not have the control lines
necessary for a fully functional expansion card, nor room to route a
cable outside the case to communicate with external devices.
A goal for the new systems was user-friendliness; one executive
stated, "Does the end user care about the architecture of the machine?
The answer is no. 'What will it do for me?' That's his major concern.
... why try to scare the consumer off by making it so he or she has to
have a double E or be a computer programmer to utilize the full
capabilities of a personal computer?" Cartridges would for example,
Atari believed, make the computers easier to use. To minimize
handling of bare circuit boards or chips, as was common with other
systems of that period, the computers were designed with enclosed
modules for memory, ROM cartridges, with keyed connectors to prevent
them being plugged into the wrong slot. The operating system boots
automatically, loading drivers from devices on the serial bus (SIO).
The DOS system for managing floppy storage was menu driven. When no
software was loaded, rather than leaving the user at a blank screen or
machine language monitor, the OS goes to the "Memo Pad" mode allowing
the user to type (a la the TV Typewriter) using the built-in full
As the design process for the new machines continued, there was
ongoing questions about what the Candy would be - the basic design
required a keyboard in many situations and the argument continued on
whether it would be external or built in. By the summer of 1978,
education had become a focus for the new systems. While the Colleen
design was largely complete by May 1978, it was not until early 1979
that the decision was made that Candy would also be a complete
computer, but one intended for children. As such, it would feature a
new keyboard designed to be resistant to liquid spills.
Atari originally intended to port
Microsoft BASIC to the machine, as
had most other vendors, intending to supply it on an 8 KB ROM
cartridge. However, the existing 6502 version from Microsoft was
12 KB, and Atari's attempts to pare it down to 8 KB failed.
The company contracted with a local consulting firm, Shepardson
Microsystems, to complete the port. After struggling with it
themselves, they recommended writing a new version from scratch,
After announcing the intent to enter the home computer market in
December 1978, the machines were first presented at the Winter CES
in January 1979 as the 400 and 800.
The computers shipped in November 1979, much closer to the original
design date. The names originally referred to the amount of memory,
4 KB RAM in the 400 and 8 KB in the 800. However, by the
time they were released the prices on RAM had started to fall, so the
machines were instead both released with 8 KB. As memory prices
continued to fall
Atari eventually supplied the 800 fully expanded to
48 KB, using up all the slots. Overheating problems with the
memory modules eventually led
Atari to remove the module's casings,
leaving them as "bare" boards. Later, the expansion cover was held
down with screws instead of the easier to open plastic latches.
Both computers have four joystick ports, but only a few games such as
M.U.L.E. use them all to permit four simultaneous players. With
paddles, eight players could play Super Breakout. The
despite its membrane keyboard and single internal
ROM cartridge slot,
outsold the full keyboard and RAM expandable
Atari 800 by a 2-to-1
Atari intended cartridges in the 800's right slot to
supplement those in the left, but only a few right-slot cartridges
were produced (just one by March 1983), and later computers omitted
Kilobaud Microcomputing wrote in 1980 that the
Atari 800 "looks
deceptively like a video game machine, [but had] the strongest and
tightest chassis I have seen since Raquel Welch. It weighs about ten
pounds ... The large amount of engineering and design in the physical
part of the system is evident". The reviewer also praised the
documentation as "show[ing] the way manuals should be done", and the
"excellent 'feel'" of the keyboard.
InfoWorld favorably reviewed the 800's performance, graphics, and ROM
cartridges, but disliked the documentation and cautioned that the
unusual right shift key location might make the computer "unsuitable
for serious word processing". Noting that the amount of software and
hardware available for the computer "is no match for that of the Apple
II or the TRS-80", the magazine concluded that the 800 "is an
impressive machine that has not yet reached its full computing
FCC battles, Liz project
Despite planning an extensive advertising campaign for 1980, Atari
found competing with microcomputers from market leaders Commodore,
Apple, and Tandy difficult. By mid-1981 it had reportedly lost $10
million on sales of $10 million. The 400 and 800 were complex and
expensive machines to build, consisting of multiple circuit boards
mostly enclosed by massive die-cast aluminum shielding. Additionally,
the machine was designed to add RAM only through cards, though it soon
shipped fully expanded right from the factory. Soldering that RAM to
the motherboard would be much less expensive than the connectors and
separate cards needed in the 800. At the same time, the 400 did not
compete technically with some of the newer machines appearing in the
early 1980s, which generally came standard with much more RAM and an
Through this period, the issue of television interference was turning
into a major issue with the FCC. The
Apple II had avoided the problem
by placing the
RF modulator in an external box and selling it through
a 3rd party. The FCC required the entire device generating the signals
to be tested as a whole, but as this was sold by a 3rd party it was
not considered to be part of the
Apple II itself, and could pass
testing on its own. July 1977, during a visit with the engineering
Texas Instruments (TI) salesman presented a new possibility
in the form of an inexpensive fibre optic cable with built-in
Joe Decuir proposed using this in a similar fashion to
Apple's solution by placing an
RF modulator on one end, thereby
completely isolating any electrical signals. His manager, Wade Tuma,
shot down the idea saying "The FCC would never let us get away with
that stunt." Unknown to Atari, TI was designing its own computer, the
TI-99/4, and decided to use Decuir's idea. As Tuma had predicted, the
FCC rejected the design and this led to delays in that machine's
release. TI was in the home district of the current speaker of the
house, Jim Wright, and the issue blew up into a minor political
The FCC responded by creating two "classes" of devices under the
original standard, Class A for industrial equipment, and Class B for
consumer devices. At first, it appeared this would solve the problems,
but in 1981, the FCC made the issue even worse by demanding all
computer devices be tested at their labs, rather than the manufacturer
labs as had been the case in the past. Additionally, they stated that
any add-on devices also had to be tested, and defined this in such a
way that it included plug-in peripherals. At this point, a number of
companies, notably Atari, began to loudly complain that the FCC was in
danger of putting them out of business. When the rules came into
effect, Radio Shack, another Texas-based company, cancelled production
TRS-80 Model I and substituted the shielded all-in-one Model
A solution ultimately presented itself due to a previous decision by
the FCC that handheld calculators could meet Class B requirements with
a simple self-verification process, as opposed to a complete testing
procedure. They claimed that "Obviously size, power requirements and
capability of the device will determine whether it is subject to
certification or not." As the battle continued, manufacturers
increasingly claimed their devices fell into this second category, and
the rules were eventually rendered toothless. At this point,
other companies were able to make machines with much less shielding
and less expensive self-administered testing.
Atari started the Sweet 8 (or "Liz NY") and Sweet 16 projects
to take advantage of these changes. The result was an upgraded set of
machines otherwise similar to the 400 and 800, but much easier to
build and less costly to produce. Whereas the previous machines had
individual circuit boards mounted inside and outside the internal
shield, in the new design a single board supported all of the
circuitry and the much thinner shielding was attached to it. This
reduction in complexity was helped by improvements in chip making
since the original machines were released, allowing a number of
separate chips in the original systems to be condensed into one. Atari
also ordered a custom version of the 6502, initially labelled "6502C"
but eventually known as SALLY to differentiate it from a standard
6502C, which added a single pin that allowed four support chips to be
removed. The SALLY was incorporated into late-production 400/800
machines, all subsequent XL/XE machines and the
Atari 5200 and 7800
Like the earlier machines, the Sweet 8/16 was intended to be released
in two versions as the 1000 with 16 KB and the 1000X with
64 KB; RAM was still expensive enough to make this distinction
worthwhile. In order to support expansion for high-end systems,
similar to the card slots used in the
Apple II or S-100 machines, the
1000 series also supported the
Parallel Bus Interface
Parallel Bus Interface (PBI), a single
expansion slot on the back of the machine. An external chassis could
be plugged into the PBI, supporting card slots for further expansion.
For reasons that are not clear in historical sources, the original Liz
plans were dropped and only one machine using the new design was
released. Announced at a New York City press conference on December
13, 1982, the rechristened 1200XL was presented at the Winter
CES on January 6–9, 1983 and shipped in March
1983. Notable features were 64 KB of RAM, built-in self test,
redesigned keyboard (featuring four function keys and a HELP key), and
redesigned cable port layout.
The 1200XL included a number of missing or poorly implemented
features. The PBI expansion connector from the original 1000X design
was left off, making the design rely entirely on the SIO port again.
The +12V pin in the SIO port was left unconnected; only +5V power was
available which made a few devices stop working.[d] An improved video
circuit provided more chroma for a more colorful image, but the chroma
line was not connected to the monitor port, the only place that could
make use of it. Even the re-arrangement of the ports made some
joysticks and cartridges difficult or impossible to use. Changes made
to the operating system to support the new hardware also resulted in
compatibility problems with some older software that did not follow
Announced with a $1000 price, the 1200XL was released at $899.
This was $100 less than the announced price of the 800 at its release
in 1979, but by this time the 800 was available at much lower price
points. Considered as a whole, the differences between the 1200 and
earlier machines was minor, or even retrograde. The press warned that
the 1200XL was too expensive.
Compute! stated in an early 1983
We're hard pressed to figure out what
Atari is up to ... We're
concerned about the emperor's new clothes because the actual features
of the XL seem off base when compared to the competition. For example,
Atari 800[, less than $700] ... we're concerned that the 1200XL
has been introduced to fill a nonexistent hole in Atari's product
John Anderson, writing in Creative Computing's Outpost:
echoed these comments:
If it had been announced at $499 instead of $899, it would have been a
welcome addition to the
Atari computer line... The 1200 has met with
nearly universal insouciance in the microcomputer community, and for
good reason. It has an extra 16K in a designer case, without a right
cartridge slot, expansion slots, or a third and fourth controller
jack. It has no standard parallel or
RS-232 ports. Only substantive
price cuts will help its image in any tangible way.
Bill Wilkinson, author of
Atari BASIC, co-founder of Optimized Systems
Software, and columnist for Compute!, in May 1983 criticized the
computer's features and price:
So how do I rate the 1200XL in overall features and performance? Quite
honestly, it depends entirely on what the price of the machine is. At
anything under $450, it's a terrific bargain ... it should be able to
sell for half the cost of the 800. However, the indications are that
the price of the 800 will be dropped and that the 1200 will cost more
than the 800. If so, buy an 800 quick!
There is an often-repeated story, perhaps apocryphal, that 800 sales
rose after the release of the 1200XL, as people bought them before
they disappeared. By mid-1983 the computer was sold for
$600-700. It was discontinued in June 1983. There was no PAL
version of the 1200XL.
Newer XL machines
Atari 600XL. This machine featured a slightly shallower case than the
By this point in time
Atari was involved in what would soon develop
into a full-blown price war when
Jack Tramiel of Commodore
International was attempting to undercut his old enemy, Texas
Instruments. Several years earlier, Commodore was a major calculator
vendor, selling designs based on a TI chip set. TI suddenly raised the
prices to take that market for themselves, nearly putting Commodore
out of business. To ensure this would not happen again, Tramiel
MOS Technology to ensure his supply of the 6502 for his
computers. When TI introduced the TI-99, Tramiel turned the tables on
them by pricing his machines below theirs. A price war ensued, causing
a breathtaking decline in home computer prices, reducing them as much
as eight times over a period of a few months.
In May 1981 the
Atari 800's price was $1,050, but by mid-1983 it
was $165 and the 400 was under $150. Although
Atari had never
been a deliberate target of Tramiel's wrath, the Commodore/TI price
war affected the entire market. The timing was particularly bad for
Atari; the 1200XL was a flop, and the earlier machines were too
expensive to produce to be able to compete at the rapidly falling
The solution was to replace the 1200XL with a machine that users would
again trust, while at the same time lowering the production costs to
the point where they could compete with Commodore. To do this, Atari
engineers were able to add a number of new IC's to take over the
functions of many of those remaining in the 1200XL. This resulted in
an even simpler main PCB design, and slightly smaller cases to house
A new lineup was announced at the 1983 Summer CES, closely following
the original Liz/Sweet concepts. The 600XL was essentially the Liz NY
model, and the spiritual replacement for the 400, while the 800XL
would replace both the 800 and 1200XL. The machines looked similar to
the 1200XL, but were smaller back to front, the 600 being somewhat
smaller as it lacked one row of memory chips on the PCB. The high-end
1400XL added a built-in 300 baud modem and a voice synthesizer, and
the 1450XLD also included a built-in double-sided floppy disk drive in
an enlarged case, with a slot for a second drive. The machines had
Atari BASIC built into the ROM of the computer and the PBI at the back
that allowed external expansion.
The main circuit board of an
Atari moved production of the new computers to the far east, where
they could be produced at even lower cost. However, the production
move ran into unexpected delays. Originally intended to replace the
1200XL in mid-1983, the machines did not arrive until late that year.
Although the 600/800 were well positioned in terms of price and
features, during the critical Christmas season they were available
only in small numbers while the
Commodore 64 was widely available,
Atari had difficulty in transitioning manufacturing to Asia
after closing its US factory.
Brian Moriarty stated in ANALOG
Atari "fail[ed] to keep up with Christmas orders for
the 600 and 800XLs", reporting that as of late November 1983 the 800XL
had not appeared in Massachusetts stores while 600XL "quantities are
so limited that it's almost impossible to obtain".
Although the 800XL would ultimately be the most popular computer sold
by Atari, the company was unable to defend its market share, and the
ongoing race to the bottom reduced Atari's profits.
Prices continued to erode; by November 1983 one toy store chain sold
the 800XL for $149.97, $10 above the wholesale price. After losing
$563 million in the first nine months of the year,
Atari that month
announced that prices would rise in January, stating that it "has no
intention of participating in these suicidal price wars". The
600XL and 800XL's prices in early 1984 were $50 higher than for the
Commodore VIC-20 and 64, and a rumor stated that the company
planned to discontinue hardware and only sell software. Combined
with the simultaneous effects of the video game crash of 1983, Atari
was soon losing millions of dollars a day. Their owners, Warner
Communications, became desperate to sell off the division.
Through this process the 1400XL and the 1450XLD had their delivery
dates pushed back, first by the priority given to the 600XL/800XL, and
later by the 3600 System. In the end the 1400XL was canceled outright,
and the 1450XLD so delayed that it would never ship. Other prototypes
which never made it to market include the 1600XL, 1650XLD, and
1850XLD. The 1600XL was to have been a dual-processor model capable of
running 6502 and
80186 code, while the 1650XLD was a similar machine
in the 1450XLD case. These were canceled when
James J. Morgan
James J. Morgan became
CEO and wanted
Atari to return to its video game roots. The
1850XLD was to have been based on the custom chipset in the Amiga
Lorraine (later to become the Commodore Amiga).
ANALOG Computing stated in January 1984 that compared to the 600XL,
Commodore 64 and Tandy CoCo look like toys by comparison". The
magazine approved of its not using the 1200XL's keyboard layout, and
predicted that the XL's parallel bus "actually makes the 600 more
expandable than a 400 or 800". While disapproving of the use of an
operating system closer to the 1200XL's than the 400 and 800's, and
the "inadequate and frankly disappointing" documentation, ANALOG
concluded that "our first impression ... is mixed but mostly
optimistic". The magazine warned, however, that because of "Atari's
sluggish marketing", unless existing customers persuaded others to buy
the XL models, "we'll all end up marching to the beat of a drummer
whose initials are IBM'.
Tramiel takeover, declining market
Although Commodore emerged intact from the computer price wars,
fighting inside Commodore soon led to Jack Tramiel's ousting in
January 1984. Looking to re-enter the market, he purchased the Atari
consumer division in July 1984 from Warner for an extremely low
price.[e] When Tramiel took over, the high-end XL models were canceled
and the low-end XLs were redesigned into the XE series. Nearly all
Atari's research, design and prototype projects were cancelled, often
with the new management ignorant of the nature of the projects. This
included the Amiga-based 1850XLD system and other existing 68000
prototypes while Tramiel focused on developing the 68000-based Atari
ST system and bringing in ex-Commodore engineers to work on the ST
Atari sold about 700,000 computers in 1984, compared to Commodore's
two million. As his new company prepared to ship the
Atari ST in
1985, Tramiel stated that sales of
8-bit computers were "very,
very slow". They were never an important part of Atari's business
compared to video games, and it is possible that the
8-bit line was
never profitable for the company despite selling almost 1.5 million
computers by early 1986.
By that year the
Atari software market was decreasing in size. Antic
magazine stated in an editorial in May 1985 that it had received many
letters complaining that software companies were ignoring the Atari
market, and urged readers to contact the companies' leaders. "The
Atari 800 computer has been in existence since 1979. Six years is a
pretty long time for a computer to last. Unfortunately, its age is
starting to show",
ANALOG Computing wrote in February 1986. The
magazine stated that while its software library was comparable in size
to that of other computers, "now—and even more so in the
future—there is going to be less software being made for the Atari
8-bit computers", warning that 1985 only saw a "trickle" of major new
titles and that 1986 "will be even leaner". In addition, whatever new
software that came out continued to be designed for the older 48k
Atari 800 and the newer 64k models were seldom supported.
Computer Gaming World
Computer Gaming World that month stated "games don't come out for the
Atari first anymore". In April the magazine published a survey of
10 game publishers which found that they planned to release 19 Atari
games in 1986, compared to 43 for Commodore 64, 48 for Apple II, 31
for IBM PC, 20 for
Atari ST, and 24 for Amiga; only the Macintosh's 17
was fewer. Companies stated that one reason for not publishing for
Atari was the unusually high amount of software piracy on the
computer, partly caused by the Happy Drive. The magazine
warned later that year, "Is this the end for
Atari 800 games? It
certainly looks like it might be from where I write", and in 1987
MicroProse explicitly denied rumors that it would release Gunship for
the Atari, stating that the market was too small. Lack of products
remained a problem, Antic stating in May 1988 that "the biggest
problem facing Atarians today is the difficulty of finding software
and other products for our computers. Product unavailability is
especially severe for the
8-bit Atari". The magazine urged readers to
Atari software publishers by buying the programs you
want—DON'T trade illegal copies with your friends!"
Tramiel era: XE series
Tramiel, originally from Poland, retained strong links with Eastern
Europe. When these countries began to remove
themselves from the Warsaw Pact, capped by the fall of the Berlin Wall
in 1989, he was able to use these relationships to open new business
opportunities for the company. To address the need
for a very low cost machine suitable for sales into these regions,
where the economies were still post-communist and the exchange rates
Atari introduced the last machines in the
8-bit series to
hit very low price points.
These were the 65XE and 130XE (XE stood for XL-Expanded). They were
announced in 1985, at the same time as the initial models in the Atari
ST series, and visually resembled the
Atari ST. Originally intended to
be called the 900XLF, the 65XE had 64 KB of RAM and was functionally
equivalent to the 800XL minus the PBI connection. The 130XE had 128 KB
of memory, accessible through bank-selection, and the Enhanced
Cartridge Interface (ECI), which was electronically almost compatible
Parallel Bus Interface
Parallel Bus Interface (PBI), but physically smaller, since
it was located next to the standard 400/800-compatible Cartridge
Interface and provided only those signals that did not exist in the
latter; ECI peripherals were expected to plug into both the standard
Cartridge Interface and the ECI port. Later revisions of the 65XE
contained the ECI port as well. The 130XE was aimed to appeal at the
The 65XE was marketed as 800XE in
Germany and Czechoslovakia,[citation
needed] in order to ride on the popularity of the original 800XL in
those markets. Being available on market from 1987, all 800XE units
contained the ECI port.
The XE line suffered from severe reliability issues. The quality of
the PCBs was poor with thin, easily-damaged wire traces and most
machines were equipped from the factory with Micron Technologies 64kx1
RAM chips which had a high failure rate. It was a
common practice to install at least one RAM chip from a better quality
brand such as NEC so the computers would pass factory Q/C
XE Game System
Atari XE Game System
By this time,
Nintendo demonstrated that a market for a dedicated
video game console existed, prompting
Atari to re-enter the market.
Instead of using their existing consoles, they released the XE Game
System (XEGS) in 1987. The XE Game System is a repackaged 65XE and is
compatible with almost all
8-bit software and hardware as a
result. The XE Game System was sold bundled with a detachable
keyboard, a joystick and a light gun (XG-1), and two game cartridges
(Bug Hunt and Flight Simulator II). Most of the games were older
titles, such as Necromancer and Blue Max (both originally published by
Synapse, not Atari), ported to cartridge format.
Production timeline dates retrieved from
Atari 8-Bit Computers
F.A.Q., and Chronology of Personal Computers.
End of support and legacy
On January 1, 1992,
Atari corp. officially dropped all remaining
support of the
Atari veteran Curt Vendel, who designed the
Atari, Inc. in 2004, claimed that
Atari released the 8-bit
chipset into the public domain.
Also, there is agreement in the community that
Atari authorized the
distribution of the
Atari 800's ROM with the X-Former 2.5 emulator,
which makes the ROM legally available today as freeware.
The processor board for the
Atari 800, showing the 6502,
Atari machines consist of a 6502 as the main processor, a
ANTIC and GTIA chips to provide graphics, and the POKEY
chip to handle sound and serial input/output. These "support" chips
are controlled via a series of registers that can be user-controlled
via memory load/store instructions running on the 6502. For example,
the GTIA uses a series of registers to select colors for the screen;
these colors can be changed by inserting the correct values into its
registers, which are mapped into "memory" that is visible to the 6502.
Some parts of the system also use some of the machine's RAM as a
buffer, notably the ANTIC's display buffer and its Display List
(essentially a small program written in the chip's simple machine
language that tells
ANTIC how to interpret that data and turn it into
a display), as well as GTIA's Player/Missile (sprite) information.
The custom hardware features enable the computers to perform many
functions directly in hardware, such as smooth background scrolling,
that would need to be done in software in most other computers.
Graphics and sound demos were part of Atari's earliest developer
information and used as marketing materials with computers running
ANTIC is a microprocessor which processes display instructions. A
complete sequence of instructions is known as a Display List. Each
instruction describes how a single "line" on the screen is to be
displayed (specifying one of several character or graphics modes
available), where it is displayed, if it contains interrupts, if fine
scrolling is enabled or not, and optionally where to load data from
memory (text or graphics information). Since each line can be
programmed individually, this feature enables the programmer to create
displays made up of mixed graphics and text, as well as different
graphics modes on one screen without using CPU intervention. The
Display List and the largely unrestricted access to memory enables the
machine to quickly coarse or fine "scroll" the screen vertically or
horizontally by means of a few memory writes.
ANTIC reads this Display List and the display data using DMA (Direct
Memory Access), then translates the result into a pixel data stream
representing the playfield text and graphics. This data stream then
passes to GTIA which applies the playfield colors and incorporates the
Player/Missile graphics (sprites) for final output to a TV or
composite monitor. In the middle of this
ANTIC also performs DMA to
update GTIA's Player/Missile image data on each scan line. Once the
Display List and DMA parameters are set the display is generated
automatically without any direct CPU intervention.
Additionally, the character set is easily redirected by changing a
register, allowing the user to create their own character sets with
relative ease. Depending on the text mode used the character set can
occur on any 1K or 512 byte page boundary in the 64K address space.
Fast and efficient animation can be achieved by simply changing the
register to point to different character sets.
additional register controls over character display that permit it to
invert (flip upside down) the character matrix. A register control can
also modify the state of reverse video characters which can be used to
produce blinking text.
Television Interface Adaptor (CTIA) is the graphics chip
used in early
Atari 400/800 home computers. It is the successor to the
TIA chip used in the
Atari 2600. According to Joe Decuir, George
McLeod designed the CTIA in 1977. The CTIA chip was replaced with the
Television Interface Adaptor (GTIA) in later revisions of
the 400 and 800 and all other members of the
8-bit family. GTIA,
also designed by George McLeod, adds three new color interpretation
modes for ANTIC's Playfield graphics that enables the display of more
colors on the screen than previously available.
The CTIA/GTIA receives Playfield graphics information from
applies colors to the pixels from a 128 or 256 color palette depending
on the color interpretation mode in effect. CTIA/GTIA also controls
Player/Missile Graphics (aka sprites) functionality including
collision detection between displayed objects (Players, Missiles, and
ANTIC's Playfield), display priority control over objects, and
color/luminance control of all displayed objects. CTIA/GTIA outputs
separate digital luminance and chrominance signals, which are mixed to
form an analogue composite video signal.
The CTIA/GTIA is responsible for reading the console keys Option,
Select, Start, and operating the keyboard speaker in the Atari
400/800. In later computer models the audio output for the keyboard
speaker is mixed with the audio out for transmission to the TV/video
monitor. CTIA/GTIA is also responsible for reading the joystick
Certain 65XE and 800XE machines sold in Eastern Europe had a buggy
GTIA chip, specifically those machines made in China in 1991.[citation
The third custom support chip, named POKEY, is responsible for reading
the keyboard, generating sound and serial communications (in
conjunction with the PIA). It also provides timers, a random number
generator (for generating acoustic noise as well as random numbers),
and maskable interrupts.
POKEY has four semi-independent audio
channels, each with its own frequency, noise and volume control. Each
8-bit channel has its own audio control register which select the
noise content and volume. For higher sound frequency resolution
(quality), two of the audio channels can be combined for more accurate
sound (frequency can be defined with 16-bit value instead of usual
8-bit). The name
POKEY comes from the words "POtentiometer" and
"KEYboard", which are two of the I/O devices that
with (the potentiometer is the mechanism used by the paddle). The
POKEY chip—as well as its dual- and quad-core versions—was used in
Atari coin-op arcade machines of the 1980s, including Centipede
and Millipede, Missile Command, Asteroids Deluxe, Major Havoc, and
Return of the Jedi.
400 and 800 (1979) – original machines in beige cases, 400 has
a membrane keyboard, 800 has full-travel keys, two cartridge ports,
monitor output. Both machines have expandable memory (up to
48 KB), the slots were easily accessible in the 800. Later PAL
versions have the 6502C processor.
1200XL (1983) – new aluminum and smoked plastic case,
64 KB of RAM, only two joystick ports.
Help key, four function
keys. Older software, if it was written improperly, caused
compatibility problems with the new OS.
600XL and 800XL (1983) – replacements for the 400, 800 and
1200XL sans function keys. 600XL has 16 KB of memory, PAL
versions have a monitor port, 800XL has 64 KB and monitor output.
Both have built-in BASIC and an expansion port known as the Parallel
Bus Interface (PBI). Last produced PAL units were marked "800XLF" on
the motherboard and contained the
Atari FREDDIE chip and BASIC rev. C.
65XE and 130XE (1985) – A repackaged 800XLF with new cases and
keyboards. The 130XE has 128 KB of RAM and an Enhanced Cartridge
Interface (ECI) instead of a PBI. The first revisions of the 65XE had
no ECI or PBI, while the later ones contained the ECI. The 65XE was
relabelled as 800XE on some European markets.
XE Game System (1987) – a game machine in a light beige case,
with a detachable full-travel but slightly "mushy" keyboard (similar
in style and feel to that of the
1400XL – Similar to the 1200XL but with a PBI, FREDDIE chip,
built-in modem and a
Votrax SC-01 speech synthesis chip. Cancelled by
1450XLD – basically a 1400XL with built-in 5¼″ disk drive
and expansion bay for a second 5¼″ disk drive. Code named Dynasty.
Made it to pre-production, but got abandoned by Tramiel.
1600XL – codenamed Shakti, this was dual-processor system with
80186 processors and two built-in 5¼″ floppy disk
1850XL - codenamed Mickey, this was to use the "Lorraine" (aka
"Amiga") custom graphics chips
900XLF – redesigned 800XLF. Became the 65XE.
65XEM – 65XE with AMY sound synthesis chip. Cancelled.
65XEP – "portable" 65XE with 3.5" disk drive, 5" green CRT and
8-bit computer peripherals
Atari 1020 four-color Plotter
During the lifetime of their eight-bit series,
Atari released a large
number of peripherals. These included:
Several dedicated cassette tape drives. All were similar, and capable
of recording at 600 bit/s on a standard audio cassette. (Unlike some
computer systems, it was not possible to use a standard cassette deck
Atari for this purpose.)
Various 5.25-inch floppy disk drives, including single, enhanced and
true double-density models.
Several printers of various types; dot matrix, thermal, four-color
plotter and letter-quality daisy wheel.
Modems, including one model with an acoustic coupler and other
Other peripherals, including a Centronics/
RS-232 expansion system,
numeric keypad, memory module, touch tablet and an 80-column display
Atari's peripherals used the proprietary
Atari SIO port, which allowed
them to be daisy chained together into a single string. A primary goal
Atari computer design was user-friendliness which was assisted
by the SIO bus. Since only one kind of connector plug is used for all
Atari computer was easy for novice users to expand. Atari
SIO devices used an early form of plug-n-play. Peripherals on the bus
have their own IDs, and can deliver downloadable drivers to the Atari
computer during the boot process. However, the additional electronics
in these "intelligent" peripherals made them cost more than the
equivalent "dumb" devices used by other systems of that era.
8-bit computer software
Atari at first did not disclose technical information for its
computers, except to software developers who agreed to keep it secret,
possibly to increase its own software sales. Cartridge software
was so rare at first that
InfoWorld joked in 1980 that
might have considered turning the slot "into a fancy ashtray". The
magazine advised them to "clear out those cobwebs" for Atari's Star
Raiders, which became the platform's killer app, akin to VisiCalc
Apple II in its ability to persuade customers to buy the
Chris Crawford and others at
Atari eventually published detailed
information in De Re Atari. Because of graphics superior to that
of the Apple II and Atari's home-oriented marketing, games
dominated its software library. A 1984 compendium of reviews used 198
pages for games compared to 167 for all others.
The startup screen of early
8-bit models when no program is
loaded. The Memo Pad allows the user to type onscreen using the
built-in full screen editor.
8-bit computers came with an operating system built into the
Atari 400/800 had the following:
OS Rev. A - 10 KB ROM (3 chips) early machines.
OS Rev. B - 10 KB ROM (3 chips) bug fixes. Most common for 400/800.
8-bit models all had OS revisions due to added
hardware features and changes. But this created compatibility issues
with some of the older software.
Atari responded with the Translator
Disk, a floppy disk which loaded the older 400/800 Rev. 'B' or Rev.
'A' OS into the XL/XE computers.
OS Rev. 10 - 16 KB ROM (2 chips) for 1200XL Rev A
OS Rev. 11 - 16 KB ROM (2 chips) for 1200XL Rev B (bug fixes)
OS Rev. 1 - 16 KB ROM for 600XL
OS Rev. 2 - 16 KB ROM for 800XL
OS Rev. 3 - 16 KB ROM for 800XE/130XE
OS Rev. 4 - 32 KB ROM (16 KB OS + 8 KB BASIC + 8 KB Missile Command)
The XL/XE models that followed the 1200XL also came with the Atari
BASIC ROM built in, which could be disabled at startup by holding down
the silver OPTION key to the right of the keyboard; the
earlier-manufactured 1200XL required an
Atari BASIC cartridge for that
functionality. Early models with built-in BASIC came with the
notoriously buggy revision B. Later models used revision C.
Disk Operating System
Atari OS only contained very low-level routines for
accessing floppy disk drives. An extra layer, a disk operating system,
was required to assist in organizing file system-level disk access.
This was known as
Atari DOS, and like most home computer DOSes of the
era, had to be booted from floppy disk at every power-on or reset.
Unlike most DOSs,
Atari DOS was entirely menu-driven.
DOS 1.0 - Initial DOS for Atari.
DOS 2.0S, 2.0D - Improved over DOS 1.0, became the standard for the
810 disk drive. 2.0D was for the never-released 815 drive.
DOS 3.0 - Came with 1050 drive. Used a different disk format from
previous DOSes, and was incompatible with DOS 2.0, making it very
DOS 2.5 - Replaced DOS 3.0 with later 1050s. Functionally identical to
DOS 2.0S, but able to read and write enhanced Density disks.
DOS 4.0 - Designed for 1450XLD, cancelled, rights given back to the
DOS XE - Designed for the XF551 drive.
Several third-party replacement DOSes were also available, sometimes
quite advanced, such as SpartaDOS X.
Playfield graphics capabilities
8-bit family software-driven graphics modes
Moiré pattern in 320 horizontal pixel graphics mode. The colors are
artifacts of displaying hi-res pixels which are half the size of the
NTSC color clock.
ANTIC chip allows a variety of different Playfield modes and
widths, the original
Atari Operating System included with the Atari
800/400 computers provides easy access to a limited subset of these
graphics modes. These are exposed to users through
Atari BASIC via the
"GRAPHICS" command, and to some other languages, via similar system
calls. Oddly, the modes not directly supported by the original OS and
BASIC are modes most useful for games. The later version of the OS
used in the
8-bit XL/XE computers added support for most of
these "missing" graphics modes.
ANTIC text modes support soft, redefineable character sets.
four different methods of glyph rendering related to the text modes:
Normal, Descenders, Single color character matrix, and Multiple colors
per character matrix.
ANTIC chip uses a Display List and other settings to create these
modes. Any graphics mode in the default CTIA/GTIA color interpretation
can be freely mixed without CPU intervention by changing instructions
in the Display List.
ANTIC screen geometry is not fixed. The hardware can be
directed to display a narrow Playfield (128 color clocks/256 hi-res
pixels wide), the normal width Playfield (160 color clocks/320 hi-res
pixels wide), and a wide, overscan Playfield (192 color clocks/384
hi-res pixels wide) by setting a register value. While the Operating
System's default height for creating graphics modes is 192 scan lines
ANTIC can display vertical overscan up to 240 TV scan lines tall by
creating a custom Display List.
The Display List capabilities provide horizontal and vertical coarse
scrolling requiring minimal CPU direction. Furthermore, the ANTIC
hardware supports horizontal and vertical fine scrolling—shifting
the display of screen data incrementally by single pixels (color
clocks) horizontally and single scan lines vertically.
The video display system was designed with careful consideration of
NTSC video timing for color output. The system CPU clock and video
hardware are synchronized to one-half the
NTSC clock frequency.
Consequently, the pixel output of all display modes is based on the
size of the
NTSC color clock which is the minimum size needed to
guarantee correct and consistent color regardless of the pixel
location on the screen. The fundamental accuracy of the pixel color
output allows horizontal fine scrolling without color
"strobing"—unsightly hue changes in pixels based on horizontal
position caused when signal timing does not provide the TV/monitor
hardware adequate time to reach the correct color.
ANTIC Text Mode
Characters (or Bytes) Per Mode Line
TV Scan Lines per Mode Line
Colors per Character Matrix
Characters in Font
Matrix Pixel Size (Color Clocks x Scan Lines)
Matrix Map (Color Clocks x Scan Lines)
Matrix Map (Pixels x Pixels )
1/2 x 1
4 x 8
8 x 8
High-res pixels. High bit of character displays the character data in
inverse (values $80 to $FF)
1/2 x 1
4 x 8/10
8 x 8
High-res pixels. Lowercase characters are displayed 2 scan lines lower
12 (XL OS)
1 x 1
4 x 8
4 x 8
Two bits per pixel allowing 4 colors inside one character matrix. When
the high bit of the character is set a fifth color replaces one of the
13 (XL OS)
1 x 2
4 x 16
4 x 8
Color same as above Antic Mode 4. Characters are twice as tall.
1 x 1
8 x 8
8 x 8
One color per character matrix. The two high bits of each character
value specify the color of the character allowing a choice of four
1 x 2
8 x 16
8 x 8
Color same as above Antic Mode 6. Characters are twice as tall.
ANTIC Map Mode
Pixels Per Mode Line (narrow/normal/wide)
TV Scan Lines per Mode Line
Bytes per Mode Line (narrow/normal/wide)
Color Clocks per Pixel
14 (XL OS)
15 (XL OS)
GTIA modes are Antic Mode F displays with an alternate color
interpretation option enabled via a GTIA register. The full color
expression of these GTIA modes can be engaged in Antic text modes 2
and 3, though these will also requires a custom character set to
achieve practical use of the colors.
ANTIC Map Mode
Pixels Per Mode Line (narrow/normal/wide)
TV Scan Lines per Mode Line
Bytes per Mode Line (narrow/normal/wide)
Color Clocks per Pixel
16 shades of the background color.
uses all 9 playfield and player/missile color registers.
15 color hues all in the same luminance specified by the background
color register, though the background color is black.
8-bit family emulators
^ Computers that used analog televisions as their primary output
device, including the vast majority of designs in the home computer
era, used odd clock speeds to match the precise timing of the
television signal. Due to differences between the
NTSC and PAL
television systems, European computers often ran slightly slower than
North American versions
^ One of the 8-bit's engineers, Joe Decuir, would later work on the
USB system while working at Microsoft, and is one of the contributors
to the original
TRS-80 did use a slightly modified black and white television as
a monitor. It was notorious for causing interference, and production
was cancelled when the more stringent FCC requirements came into
effect on January 1, 1981.
^ The +12V was typically used to power
RS-232 devices, which now
required an external power source.
^ No cash was required, instead Warner had the right to purchase $240
million in long-term notes and warrants, and Tramiel had an option to
buy up to $100 million in Warner stock.
^ a b "
Atari introduces the 400/800 computers". Creative Computing. 5
(8): 26. August 1979.
^ Atari's PC Evolution The History of
Atari Computers, Benj Edwards,
PCWorld Apr 21, 2011, retrieved August 20 2016
^ a b c "Computer Systems". Atari.
^ a b Jeremy Reimer, "Personal Computer Market Share: 1975-2004"
Atari 800 in store demo". games.greggman.com.
^ a b "
Atari 8 Bit Computers - 1979-1987", ClassicGaming.com's Museum
^ Steve Fulton, "The History of Atari: 1971-1977", Gamasutra, November
6, 2007, pg. 9
^ a b c Joe Decuir, "3 Generations of Game Machine Architecture",
Atari Home Computer Field Service Manual - 400/800 (PDF). Atari,
Inc. pp. 1–10. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
^ "Most Important Companies". Byte Magazine. September 1995. Archived
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History, 1978 1981". Gamasutra. p. 4.
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^ a b Goldberg & Vendel 2012, p. 466.
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Profiles the Personal Computer Market". Compute!'s First Book of
Compute! Books. p. 2. ISBN 0-942386-00-0.
^ Goldberg & Vendel 2012, p. 456.
^ Goldberg & Vendel 2012, p. 460.
^ Wilkinson, Bill (1982). Inside
Atari Basic. COMPUTE! Books.
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Entering Home". Business & Finance. The New York Times.
p. D4. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 25, 2014. (Subscription
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Creative Computing (vol. 5, no. 4): 16. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
^ Vendel, Curt. "The
Atari Museum. Archived from the
original on September 13, 2011.
^ a b Edwards, Benj (November 4, 2009). "Inside the
Atari 800". PC
World. Retrieved July 19, 2014.
^ a b Halfhill, Tom R. (March 1983). "Atari's New Top-Line Home
Computer". Compute!. p. 66. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
^ Derfler, Frank J. Jr. (September 1980). "Moonshine, Dixie and the
Atari 800". Kilobaud. pp. 100–103. Retrieved June 23,
^ a b Hogan, Thom (May 11, 1981). "The
Atari 800 Personal Computer".
InfoWorld. pp. 34–35. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
^ a b Hogan, Thom (August 31, 1981). "From Zero to a Billion in Five
Years". InfoWorld. pp. 6–7. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
TRS-80 Microcomputer News". September 1980. Retrieved March 7,
2015. First of all the Model I is not dropped, it is in the 1981 Radio
Shack Annual catalog and the price is unchanged.
^ Heppler, Wes (January 19, 1981). "FCC Clampdown Hurts Micro
Atari introduces the 1200XL computer" (Press release). New York:
Atari, Inc. PR Newswire. December 13, 1982. Retrieved May 7,
^ Anderson, John (1983). "New Member of the Family -
Atari 1200". In
Small, David; Small, Sandy; Blank, George. The Creative Atari. Morris
Creative Computing Press. p. 116.
ISBN 0-916688-34-8. Retrieved May 7, 2014.
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Consumer Electronics Show;
Creative Computing presents the Short
Circuit Awards". Creative Computing. Ahl Computing (Vol. 9, no. 3):
50. ISSN 0097-8140. Archived from the original on July 2,
^ Goldberg & Vendel 2012, p. 698.
^ a b c Lock, Robert (June 1983). "Editor's Notes". Compute!.
p. 6. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
^ Lock, Robert (February 1983). "Editor's Notes". Compute!. p. 8.
Retrieved October 30, 2013.
^ Anderson, John (May 1983). "Outpost: Atari". Creative Computing:
^ Wilkinson, Bill (May 1983). "INSIGHT: Atari". Compute!. p. 198.
Retrieved October 30, 2013.
^ Vendel, Curt. "The
Atari 1200xl Computer Family". Archived from the
original on September 13, 2011. Retrieved July 7, 2007.
^ a b Bisson, Gigi (May 1986). "Antic Then & Now". Antic.
pp. 16–23. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
^ Reimer, Jeremy. "Personal Computer Market Share: 1975-2004"
^ Reid, T. R. (1984-02-06). "Coleco's 'Adam' Gets Gentleman's 'C' for
Performance". The Washington Post.
^ a b Moriarty, Brian; Nowell, Robin E.; Franklin, Austin (January
1984). "Inside the
Atari 600XL". ANALOG Computing. p. 32.
^ Wessel, David (1983-11-10). "Atari, Coleco to Raise Prices of Home
Computers on January 1". The Boston Globe.
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InfoWorld. p. 100. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
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p. 51. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
^ Afterthoughts: The
Atari 1600XL Rumor
^ Kleinfield, N. R. (December 22, 1984). "Trading Up in Computer
Gifts". The New York Times. Retrieved February 5, 2015.
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Atari Ships New 520 ST". InfoWorld.
p. 23. Retrieved July 19, 2014.
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pp. 8, 10. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
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pp. 109–110. Retrieved June 24, 2014.
^ Williams, Gregg (January–February 1986). "
Atari Playfield" (PDF).
Computer Gaming World. No. 25. p. 32. Retrieved April 17,
^ "Survey of Game Manufacturers" (PDF). Computer Gaming World.
No. 27. April 1986. p. 32. Retrieved April 17, 2016.
^ a b Williams, Gregg (September–October 1986). "
(PDF). Computer Gaming World. No. 31. p. 35. Retrieved April
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Computer Gaming World. No. 37. p. 13. Retrieved April 17,
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World / MicroProse" (PDF). Computer Gaming World. No. 41.
p. 17. Retrieved April 17, 2016.
^ Friedland, Nat (May 1988). "The Ever-Changing
Atari Marketplace /
Six Antic Years". Antic. Vol. 7 no. 1.
Atari 130 XE Under Examination", Personal Computer News Issue 110:
Hardware Review -
Atari 130 XE - Stuart Cooke
^ a b c Current, Michael D. (April 3, 2014). "
Atari 8-Bit Computers:
Frequently Asked Questions" (TXT). 1.9) What is the
Retrieved May 25, 2014.
^ Polsson, Ken (April 3, 2014). "Chronology of Personal Computers".
p. 1978. Retrieved February 5, 2015.
^ FB3... by Curt Vendel on atariage.com "
Atari released the
chipset into PD for me several years ago, so any FB3 project at this
point could very well turn into a PD or individual released
^ Atari800Win PLus
^ HOW TO GET ROMS FOR "RAINBOW" (ATARI XL EMULATOR)! The answer on
^ a b "I. Theory of Operation".
Atari Home Computer Field Service
Manual - 400/800 (PDF).
Atari, Inc. pp. 1–10. Retrieved
September 10, 2010.
^ Michael Current, "What are the SALLY, ANTIC, CTIA/GTIA, POKEY, and
Atari 8-Bit Computers: Frequently Asked Questions
^ Multipede—Trouble shooting guide, Braze Technologies
^ 1600XL information
^ Nelson, Ted (1983). "The
Atari Machine". In Small, David; Small,
Sandy; Blank, George. The Creative Atari.
Creative Computing Press.
^ Cole, David C. (July 7, 1980). "
Star Raiders from Atari". InfoWorld.
p. 13. Retrieved February 15, 2016.
^ Williams, Gregg (May 1981). "Star Raiders". BYTE. p. 106.
Retrieved October 18, 2013.
^ Goldberg & Vendel 2012, p. 526.
^ "The quarterly APX contest / APX: Programs by our users...for our
users / Publications / Hardware". APX Product Catalog. Fall 1983.
pp. 34, 72. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
^ Pournelle, Jerry (July 1982). "Computers for Humanity". BYTE.
p. 392. Retrieved October 19, 2013.
^ Stanton, Jeffrey; Wells, Robert P.; Rochowansky, Sandra; Mellid,
Michael, eds. (1984). The Addison-Wesley Book of
Addison-Wesley. pp. TOC,12,210. ISBN 0-201-16454-X.
Atari 800 Personal Computer System, by the
Atari Museum, accessed
November 13, 2008
Goldberg, Marty; Vendel, Curt (2012).
Atari Inc: Business is Fun.
Syzygy Press. ISBN 9780985597405.
Atari 8-Bit Computers: Frequently Asked Questions
Gamasutra's "A History of Gaming Platforms:
8-bit Computers" by
Bill Loguidice and Matt Barton
Another source of chipset information
Software, games, music, demos
Atari SAP Music Archive
Atari games, demos and software
Video game consoles
Atari Transputer Workstation