• Category Archives Atari 8-bit
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  • Atari 800

    Atari 800 ad from circa 1980


    The Atari 400 and Atari 800 were both introduced by Atari in 1979. The biggest differences between these two machines were 1) The Atari 400 had a membrane keyboard while the 800 has a full keyboard, 2) The Atari 800 had two ROM/cartridge slots while the Atari 400 only had one, 3) The Atari 800 had more easily accessible RAM expansion and 4) The Atari 800 had additional keyboard and input/output ports. The Atari 800 at $1000 cost nearly twice as much as the Atari 400 and because of this the 400 outsold it two to one, despite the membrane keyboard.

    Originally, the 400 and 800 referred to the amount of system memory each machine had. The Atari 400 was originally going to ship with 4k while the 800 would ship with 8k. Because the cost of RAM was dropping quickly at the time, both ended up shipping with 8k. It wasn’t long before the Atari 800 was shipping fully expanded with 48k of RAM.

    The Atari 400/800 had very advanced graphics and sound capabilities for the time. In fact the Atari 400 was originally marketed as more of a games machine or at least a hybrid games machine/computer. Nothing really came close to these capabilities until the Commodore 64 was introduced in 1982.

    Where the Atari 400/800 really had trouble was competing on price. Part of this was a timing issue. In 1979 there were very strict FCC requirements regarding signal interference that led Atari to essentially encase all of the electronics with an aluminum block. Additionally, the Atari 800 was shipping with a full complement of RAM soon after it was released and Atari’s method of RAM expansion, cartridge like modules, was expensive vs. just soldering the RAM on the motherboard. By the time the Commodore 64 was released, Commodore was able to manufacture it at a much lower cost despite being a technically similar or even slightly superior machine. Atari reacted with the XL line but was never really able to catch up. For all the problems Commodore 64 had being taken as a serious computer, Atari’s problems in that regard were much worse. Despite these problems, the Atari 8-bit line of computers was manufactured until 1992.

    The above ad is for the Atari 800 from circa 1980.

  • Enter (September 1984)


    Source: Computer & Video Game Magazines – Enter Issue 10 1984 Sep

    Enter was a computer magazine targeted towards kids published by Children’s Television Workshop (later Sesame Workshop). And what computer loving kid could resist a cover with the Enterprise on it? While it did have some gaming content its emphasis was on education including programming and various uses for computers. It covered all of the popular computers of the day that you might find in a home including (but not necessarily limited to) the Commodore 64, VIC-20, TI-99/4A, TRS-80, Apple II, the Atari 8-bit line, PCs (DOS), Coleco Adam and Timex. Unfortunately it lasted less than two years and only 17 issues were published.

    The September 1984 issue includes the following:


    • The Empire’s Computer Secrets – The makers of Indiana Jones and Star Wars enter the computer age. Lucasfilm’s Ed Catmull and his high-tech team are creating new ways to entertain us. Plus a look at two new Lucasfilm computer games – Rescue On Fractalus! and Ballblazer.
    • Rock on the Road – Computers spotlight the action for many of this summer’s hottest rock & roll tours.
    • The Write Stuff – What’s the best word processing software? Get the word on packages for Apple, Atari, Adam, Commodore, IBM, TRS-80 and VIC-20 computers in this buyer’s guide and in-depth chart.
    • Portable Power – A hands-on guide and review of four of today’s top notebook-size portable computers
    • The Making of an Arcade Game – Behind-the-scenes at an arcade game company – an insider’s peek at how hit games are put together.
    • Contest #4 – Invent some new computer terms and you just might win a new Apple IIc computer!


    • Pacesetters – Eric Hammond, 17-year-old hit programmer.
    • Pencil Crunchers – Maze. Computer Scramble.


    • BASIC Training – Programming for 9 computers.
    • BASIC Recommends – A good book on basic programming.

    …and more!

  • Antic – September 1986


    Source: Antic – Volume 5, Number 5 – September 1986

    Antic was a magazine for Atari 8-bit computers named after the ANTIC chip which was primarily responsible for the graphics in those machines. For a brief time in part of 1985 and 1986 Antic also covered the Atari ST until an ST specific magazine was published.

    The September 1986 issue focusses on weather and includes the following:


    • Weather Maps From Space – For Atari 8-bit and ST computers
    • Weather Fascimile Worldwide – From satellites to ships at sea
    • Music Studio – Music for 8-bit Ataris and STs
    • Build the Wefax Interface
    • New Owners Column – Lesson 6: Subroutines
    • Wefax Decoder – How to use the program, why it works
    • BASIC Tracker – Powerful debugging utility for your programs
    • Where The Weather Comes From – Inside a National Weather Service Station
    • Weather Calculator – Meteorologist uses Atari as home forecasting tool

    ST Resource

    • ST Wefax Decoder
    • – DEGAS graphics from satellite pictures

    • The Manager – Massive, full-featured database uses ST’s colors
    • ST Product News
    • Megamax – “Don’t even think about another C compiler”

    …and more!