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Atari Home Computers


Atari's first foray into computers was the 400 and 800 models. These computers feature unparalleled sound and graphics and introduced the world to something called "player-missile graphics." This concept of graphics would later become recognized as the term, "sprite." The original 800 had 16K of RAM that was later expanded to 48K. The 400 had 16K of RAM and a flat membrane keyboard.

The next line of computers included a revamped version of the 800, called the 800XL. The 400 was replaced by the 600XL. This phase also includes the problematic 1200XL, the super 1450XLD (which had a built-in modem and speech synthesizer) and the 1400XL. The later three units are some of the most rare XL units.

The next phase of Atari computers included the continuation of the 8-bit line with the 65XE and 130XE as well as the XE Game System, which was based on the 65XE. The XEGS featured a keyboard, light gun, the built-in Missile Command and BASIC programming, and games Bug Hunt and Flight Simulator. The 130XE was the first Atari 8-bit computer to feature 128K of RAM. The 65XE had 64K.

There are thousands and thousands of games for the 8-bit computer line. Of course, the Atari 5200 SuperSystem and 8-bit computer share the same hardware, so many of the games are identical. Common games for the 8-bit line include Asteroids, Dig Dug, Jungle Hunt, Defender, Qix, Joust, and the all-time classic, Star Raiders.

The Atari 800XL

Atari 8-bit Specs:
(Note: Each systems specs are slightly different.)

Processor: 6502 (8-bit @ 1.79 MHz)

Sound: 4 channel

Resolution: Up to 320 x 192

Colors: Max 16 colors onscreen of 256

Memory: 16K-128K (depending on model)

Original 1979 price for the 800: Under $1,000

Special Features: Player-Missile graphics, uses 2600 controllers, easy access cartridge port, built-in BASIC on later models.

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