Atari Corp. (Sunnyvale, Calif.)

The Atari 400 put the company, which launched the video game industry with the introduction of Pong in 1972, on the home computer map. A big drawback for the 400 was its membrane keyboard. When a 400 keyboard goes bad, the only repair is to replace it, but 400 systems are still reasonably priced and plentiful. It would be easier to buy another working system than to fix the keyboard.

The Atari 800 (left) and Atari 400 (right) with some popular peripherals

The Atari 800 (left) and Atari 400 (right) with some popular peripherals

The Atari 800 is a refined 400 (although Atari released both simultaneously) that eliminated its biggest drawback, the dreadful membrane keyboard, and replaced it with a full-size, full travel keyboard. The 800 also had two ROM cartridge slots and systems expansion slots. It was also capable of composite video output.

Atari followed the 800 and 400 with the 1200XL, which was software compatible with the earlier models, more or less. Some programs written for the 400/800 will not run correctly due to differences in the 1200XL operating system, and some 400/800 ROM cartridges do not fit in the 1200XL slot. Atari discontinued 1200XL production in early 1984, making for a short production run. Word spread quickly among Atari fans of the systems above-mentioned shortcomings, and of its poorer video quality.

The Atari 600XL and 800XL replaced the Atari 400 and 800, respectively, and gave you a lot for your money. In fact, Atari had sold its entire inventory of both systems within months of their introduction. It was forced to stop taking orders, and then raised the price by $40 for each system. By late 1985, production of the 800XL had ended and Atari was selling remaining stock for less than $100.

Two XL systems were developed to the point of appearing in company literature, but were never officially sold to the public. They are the Atari 1400XL and the Atari 1450XLD. Some units made their way into the public, and they are quite rare today. Curt Vendel’s Atari Museum has the full story.

The 65XE replaced the 800XL in Atari’s line, and it could run all 800XL software. In fact, its electronics were nearly identical to the 800XL’s. Atari sold the 65XE in Europe as the 800XE. The 130XE was software compatible with Atari’s XL series. It is common to find XE systems with XL-style floppy drives, because Atari did not introduce the XF-551 drive until its stock of older units was sold out.

Although it couldn’t match the capabilities of the Amiga, the 520ST offered exceptional sound and graphics at a low price. It was hard to find a more powerful computer than the Atari 1040ST in 1986 within several hundred dollars of its price. Atari introduced the 520STe and 1040STe in 1989. Both featured enhanced graphics and sound capability, as well as an improved joystick interface.

In the mid 1980s, Atari decided to take a crack at the business market with the Mega ST series. The Mega STs offered good performance and graphics, but its TOS (Tramiel Operating System, named after former Commodore CEO Jack Tramiel who had bought Atari after he was ousted from Commodore) operating environment was unknown to business buyers. The Mega STe used a case that was identical to that of the TT line, except that it was grey instead of off-white. In fact, the STe had more in common with the TT than the original Mega ST. Mega ST systems are much sought after by Atari collectors.

Atari followed up the Mega ST series with the TT 030 line. With a 32MHz 68000, the TT 030 was the fastest ever offered by the company. In addition to the systems standard RAM, Atari provided up to 16MB of FastRAM to further boost performance.

The company continued to produce interesting, if not successful, products through the 1980s. In 1989, Atari introduced the Portfolio, which it claimed was the first palmtop PC. It was PC compatible only in the sense that it used “MS-DOS-compatible commands and can run adapted MS-DOS software.” In other words, you could not run off-the-shelf MS-DOS software on the Portfolio.

The last computer that Atari produced was the Falcon 030, a multimedia system that used a DSP coprocessor to boost sound and video performance. Because of its MIDI capability and 16-bit stereo sound, the Falcon 030 is still used by amateur and professional musicians.

Atari dabbled with selling PC-compatible desktop systems, primarily in Europe. All were fairly typical, but Atari collectors seek them out. That fact and their low production numbers make the Atari PC series more valuable than your typical clone.

The company also produced two TOS-based portables. The Stacy was a largish laptop that ran on 12 C-size alkaline batteries. The STBook was a capable and lightweight notebook, but software options for its Atari TOS operating system were limited.

Atari 400 (Aug. 1979, home computer)
Base Configuration: 1.8MHz 6502 CPU, ROM cartridge slot, 8K RAM (16K max), TV adapter, integral membrane keyboard, serial and four game ports, owner’s manual, AC adapter, music synthesizer
Video: 24-line x 40-column text, 320 x 192 graphics, 16 colors
Size/Weight: 13.5 x 11.5 x 4.5 inches, 5.75 lbs.
Important Options: 410 Program Recorder; 830 Acoustic Modem; 822, 825, or 820 printer

Atari 800 (Aug. 1979, home computer)
Base Configuration: 1.8MHz 6502B CPU, two ROM cartridge slots, 8K RAM (48K max), 10K ROM, TV adapter, integral keyboard, serial and four game ports, Atari BASIC, owner’s and two BASIC manuals, AC adapter, sound synthesizer
Video: 24-line x 40-column text, 320 x 192 graphics, 16 colors
Size/Weight: 16 x 12.5 x 4.5 inches, 9.75 lbs.
Important Options: 410 Program Recorder; 810 external 5.25-inch floppy disk drive; monochrome or color monitor; 830 Acoustic Modem; 820, 822, or 825 printer

Atari 1200XL (late 1982, home computer)
Base Configuration: 1.8MHz 6502C CPU, 64K RAM, ROM cartridge slot, integral keyboard, two game ports, four-voice sound
Important Options: 1020 or 1025 printer

Atari 600XL

Atari 600XL

Atari 600XL (July 1983, home computer)
Original Retail Price: $199
Base Configuration: 1.8MHz 6502C CPU, operating system in ROM, expansion bus, 16K RAM (64K max), 24K ROM, TV adapter, integral keyboard, serial and two game ports, Atari BASIC in ROM, owner’s manual, AC adapter, four-channel sound
Video: 24-line x 32-column text, 320 x 192 graphics, 128 colors
Size/Weight: black and grey
Important Options: CP/M; 1050 external 5.25-inch floppy disk drive; 1010 data recorder; keypad; trackball; 1020, 1025, or 1027 printers; joystick; 1030 modem

Atari 800XL

Atari 800XL

Atari 800XL (Aug. 1983, home computer)
Base Configuration: 1.8MHz 6502C CPU; operating system in ROM; Expansion Connection; 64K RAM; 24K ROM; TV adapter; integral keyboard; video, serial and two game ports; Atari BASIC in ROM; owner’s manual; AC adapter; sound synthesizer
Video: 24-line x 40-column text, 320 x 192 graphics, 128 colors
Color: black and silver
Important Options: CP/M; 1050 external 5.25-inch floppy disk drive; 1010 data recorder; keypad; trackball; 1020, 1025, or 1027 printer; joystick; 1030 modem

Atari 1400XL

Atari 1400XL

Atari 1400XL (1983, home computer)
Base Configuration: 1.79MHz 6502C CPU, 64K RAM, 24K ROM, serial and 2 joystick ports, 66-key keyboard, expansion bus, speech synthesizer, 300-baud modem, power adapter
Video: 320 x 192 pixels, 256 colors, 40 columns x 24 lines

 

 

Atari 1450XLD

Atari 1450XLD

Atari 1450XLD (1983, home computer)
Base Configuration:1.79MHz 6502C CPU, 64K RAM, 24K ROM, 5.25-inch floppy drive, serial and 2 joystick ports, 66-key keyboard, expansion bus, speech synthesizer, 300-baud modem, power adapter
Video: 320 x 192 pixels, 256 colors, 40 columns x 24 lines

Atari 65XE (1985, home computer)
Original Retail Price: $120
Base Configuration: 6502C CPU, 64K RAM, ROM cartridge slot, integral keyboard, BASIC in ROM, four-voice sound
Video: 320 x 192 graphics
Important Options: XF-551 external 5.25-inch floppy disk drive

Atari 130XE (early 1985, home computer)
Original Retail Price: $150
Base Configuration: 6502C CPU, ROM cartridge slot, 128K RAM, integral keyboard, BASIC in ROM, four-voice sound
Video: 320 x 192 graphics
Important Options: XF-551 external 5.25-inch floppy disk drive

Atari 520ST/520STe (1985 [520ST]/1989 [520STe], home computer)
Original Retail Price: $800
Base Configuration: 8MHz 68000 CPU; TOS with GEM; 512K RAM; external 3.5-inch floppy disk drive; monochrome monitor; integral keyboard/keypad; mouse; RS-232C, parallel, and game ports; Logo and Atari BASIC; MIDI interface; three-voice sound; AC adapter
Video: 640 x 400 graphics
Important Options: SP354 or SF314 external floppy disk drive, hard disk drive, RGB monitor, SMM801 or SDM121 printer, modem

Atari 1040ST/1040STe (1986 [1040ST]/1989 [1040STe], home computer)
Original Retail Price: $999
Base Configuration: 8MHz 68000 CPU, TOS, ROM cartridge slot, 1MB RAM, 192K ROM, 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, monochrome monitor, integral keyboard/keypad, mouse, TV video port, MIDI interface, ST BASIC, Atari Logo, three-voice sound
Video: 640 x 400 graphics, 16 colors
Important Options: expansion unit, 10MB hard disk drive, RGB monitor, graphics coprocessor, SMM801 or SDM121 printer

Atari Mega ST4

Atari Mega ST

Atari Mega ST Series (1986, desktop)
Base Configuration: 8MHz 68000 CPU; TOS, ROM cartridge slot; Mega bus slot; 1MB RAM (4MB max); 3.5-inch floppy disk drive; keyboard/keypad; serial, parallel, mouse, game, and MIDI ports
Video: 640 x 400 graphics
Size/Weight: 12 x 12 x 3 inches
Important Options: color monitor, laser printer

Atari Mega STe (1991, desktop)
Base Configuration: 16MHz 68000 CPU; TOS; ROM cartridge slot; VMEbus slot; 1MB RAM (4MB max); 3.5-inch floppy disk drive; 40MB hard disk drive; keyboard/keypad; two serial, parallel, game, and mouse ports
Video: 640 x 400 graphics

Atari TT 030 (1990, desktop)
Base Configuration: 32MHz 68030 CPU; TOS 3.01 in ROM; VMEbus slot; ROM cartrdige slot; 6MB RAM (26MB max); 3.5-inch floppy disk drive; keyboard/keypad; four serial, parallel, MIDI, SCSI, LAN, and mouse ports
Video: VGA, 1280 x 960 graphics, 4,096 colors
Important Options: hard disk drive

Atari Falcon 030

Atari Falcon 030

Atari Falcon 030 (1993, desktop)
Base Configuration: 16MHz 68030 CPU; Multi-TOS 4.01 in ROM; processor direct slot; ROM cartridge slot; 1MB RAM (14.3MB max); 3.5-inch floppy disk drive; integral keyboard/keypad; mouse; serial, parallel, MIDI, SCSI-2, LAN, DSP, and mouse ports
Video: VGA
Important Options: hard disk drive

Atari ABC 386SX II (1991, desktop PC)
Base Configuration: 20MHz 80386SX CPU, 1MB RAM (8MB max), 40MB hard drive, 3.5-inch floppy drive, parallel and 2 serial ports, game port, two 8-bit and four 16-bit expansion slots, 101-key keyboard, 200W power supply, MS-DOS 5.0, Windows 3.0
Video: SuperVGA, 800 x 600 pixels
Size and Weight: 16.5w x 16.25d x 6h inches, 24 lbs.
Important Options: 80387SX FPU

Atari ABC386DX II (The Atari ABC836SX II is identical in appearance)

Atari ABC386DX II (The Atari ABC836SX II is identical in appearance)

Atari ABC 386DX II (1991, desktop PC)
Base Configuration: 40MHz AM 386-40 CPU, 2MB RAM (64MB max), 80MB hard drive, 3.5-inch floppy drive, parallel and 2 serial ports, game port, eight 16-bit expansion slots, 101-key keyboard, 200W power supply, MS-DOS 5.0, Windows 3.0
Video: SuperVGA, 1024 x 768 pixels
Size and Weight: 16.5w x 16.25d x 6h inches, 24 lbs.
Important Options: 80387 FPU

 

 

Atari Portfolio

Atari Portfolio

Atari Portfolio (September 1989, handheld computer)
Original Retail Price:$399.95
Base Configuration:4.92MHz 80C88 CPU, 128K RAM (640K max), 256K ROM, 60-pin expansion bus, solid-state card drive, supertwist LCD, 63-key keyboard, built-in speaker, Lotus 1-2-3 in ROM
Video: 40-characters x 8 lines, 240 x 64 pixels
Size and Weight: 7.8w x 4.1d x 1.2h inches, 1 lb. with 3 AA batteries
Important Options: 32K, 64K, or 128K memory card; 64K or 128K PROM card; 128K masked ROM card; AC adapter; parallel and serial interfaces

Atari Stacy

Atari Stacy

Atari Stacy (1989, laptop)
Base Configuration: 8MHz 68000 CPU; Rainbow TOS and GEM in ROM; ROM cartridge slot; 1MB RAM (4MB max); 192K ROM; 3.2-inch floppy disk drive monochrome LCD; integral keyboard/keypad and trackball; RS-232C, parallel, MIDI, mouse, and game ports; three-voice sound; AC adapter
Video: 640 x 200 graphics, 16 colors
Size/Weight: 15.2 lbs.
Important Options: 20- or 40MB hard disk drive

Atari STBook

Atari STBook

Atari STBook (1991, notebook)
Base Configuration:8MHz 68000; TOS in ROM; proprietary slot; 1MB RAM (4MB max); 512K ROM; 40MB to 120MB hard disk drive; monochrome LCD; integral keyboard with pointing device; MIDI, RS-232, and parallel ports; file-transfer and organizer software; NiCad battery pack; AC adapter; sound synthesizer
Video: 640 x 400 graphics
Size/Weight: 8.5 x 11.4 x 1.4 inches, 4.2 lbs.
Important Options: external 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, fax modem, MIDI/SMPTE adapter

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