25 Facts About Atari 8-bit


Atari 8-bit family is a series of 8-bit home computers introduced by Atari, Inc in 1979 as the Atari 400 and Atari 800.

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Atari 8-bit was sold and reestablished as Atari Corporation, producing the XE series in 1985.

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Core architecture of the Atari 8-bit family was reused in the 1982 Atari 5200 game console, but games for the two systems are incompatible.

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In 1987, Atari 8-bit Corporation repackaged the 65XE as a console, with an optional keyboard, as the Atari 8-bit XEGS.

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In 1984, Atari 8-bit reported 4 million owners of its computers and its 5200 game console combined.

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The Atari 8-bit family was sold both in computer stores and department stores such as Sears using an in-store demo to attract customers.

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Atari 8-bit realized the Commodore design would not be competitive but he was under a strict non-disclosure agreement with Atari, and was unable to tell anyone at Commodore to give up on their own design.

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Atari 8-bit contracted with local consulting firm Shepardson Microsystems to complete the port.

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Atari 8-bit's manager, Wade Tuma, later refused the idea saying "The FCC would never let us get away with that stunt.

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Atari 8-bit described the machine as "something else" but criticized the company for a lack of developer documentation.

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Atari 8-bit concluded by stating "The Atari is like the human body - a terrific machine, but they won't give you access to the documentation, and (b) I'd sure like to meet the guy that designed it".

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Kilobaud Microcomputing wrote in September 1980 that the Atari 8-bit 800 "looks deceptively like a video game machine, [but had] the strongest and tightest chassis I have seen since Raquel Welch.

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In 1982, Atari 8-bit started the Sweet 8 and Sweet 16 projects to create an upgraded set of machines that were easier to build and less costly to produce.

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Atari 8-bit ordered a custom 6502, initially labelled 6502C, but eventually known as SALLY to differentiate it from a standard 6502C.

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The timing was particularly bad for Atari 8-bit; the 1200XL was a flop, and the earlier machines were too expensive to produce to be able to compete at the rapidly falling price points.

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Atari 8-bit had difficulty in transitioning manufacturing to Asia after closing its US factory.

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Brian Moriarty stated in ANALOG Computing that Atari 8-bit "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".

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Atari 8-bit BASIC is built into the ROM and the PBI at the back for external expansion.

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Atari 8-bit sold about 700, 000 computers in 1984 compared to Commodore's two million.

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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".

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Companies stated that one reason for not publishing for Atari 8-bit was the unusually high amount of software piracy on the computer, partly caused by the Happy Drive.

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Each Atari 8-bit channel has its own audio control register which select the noise content and volume.

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Atari 8-bit did not initially disclose technical information for its computers, except to software developers who agreed to keep it secret, possibly to increase its own software sales.

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In 1982 Atari 8-bit published both the Atari 8-bit Home Computer System Hardware Manual and an annotated source listing of the operating system.

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Atari 8-bit computers come with an operating system built into the ROM.

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