• Category Archives Atari 8-bit
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  • Leader Board (Access Software)

    Leader Board (Commodore 64, Atari 800, Atari 520ST, Amiga)


    I am not much of a sports fan (or a golf fan for that matter) when it comes to video games. However, Leader Board was among the first true golf sims. Not only that, it was initially available for platforms other than the PC, including the Commodore 64, Atari 800, Atari 520ST and Amiga.

    Leader Board had a number of pretty sophisticated features for the time (1986). Up to four players could play, players could choose club type and shot type among other parameters, and the game included multiple 18-hole golf courses. There was even a practice driving range.

    Leader Board was very well received. It received very positive reviews and also sold very well. However, most sports games don’t hold up terribly well over time and while there are some exceptions, Leader Board really isn’t one of them. Other golf games would soon come along, including sequels to this one, that would leave the original Leader Board in the dust.

    Other than emulation or original hardware, there really isn’t any other way to play Leader Board. There was an expansion called Leaderboard Tournament that added new courses as well as two sequels. The first sequel was released in 1987 and was called Leaderboard: Executive Edition. World Class Leaderboard was the final, best and probably most well known game of the series. It would also eventually have new courses released as an expansion.

    Screen shots above are from the Commodore 64 version.


  • Atari 130XE

    In July 1984, Atari’s home consumer division was sold to Jack Tramiel who slashed the prices of the Atari 600XL to $49 and the Atari 800XL to $99. In 1985, Atari Corporation announced their successors: the Atari 65XE and the Atari 130XE.

    The Atari 65XE was similar in function to the Atari 800XL with the execption of using the ECI (Enhanced Cartridge Interface) instead of the XL family’s PBI (Parallel Bus Interface).

    Pictured is the Atari 130XE. It was similar to the Atari 65XE, except it had 128 kilobytes of RAM – twice the amount of RAM of the 65XE – and a new memory management chip called FREDDIE.

    Atari Corporation would also release to European consumers a third model called the Atari 800XE. (It was named as such due to the popularity of the Atari 800XL in Europe.) It was simply a repackaged 65XE which also incorporated a FREDDIE chip.

    The Atari 65XE and the Atari 130XE would be sold until 1992 when Atari Corporation discontinued the Atari 8-bit computer line.


    The Atari 8-bit series of computers was around for a very long time. The Atari 400 and 800 were first introduced in 1977. While the Commodore 64 and Apple II would be the most direct competitors, the Commodore 64 wouldn’t even be around for another few more years. The VIC-20 really couldn’t compete. However, once the Commodore 64 was introduced it was all downhill for the Atari 8-bits. While the Commodore 64 had a few technical advantages, they were really very similar in capability. However, the Commodore 64 had huge advantages in price and ultimately in 3rd party software support.

    The Atari 130XE was introduced in 1985 and was the last computer introduced in the Atari 8-bit line. Technically, it wasn’t all that different from the original Atari 800. Mostly, the XE line was introduced as a cosmetic change that made the 8-bits look more like the Atari ST. However, there were a couple of technical differences over the previous XL line. The biggest differences were probably that it had a new memory management chip and 128K of RAM instead of 64K. It also used a different expansion interface. There was also a nearly identical Atari 65XE released at the same time with 64k of memory instead of 128k. There was one more entry in this series in 1987 with the XEGS. However, this was simply a 65XE in different clothes marketed to be a game system.

    While the 130XE is the most advanced of the Atari 8-bits, the 800XL is probably my favorite form factor. Since very little ever used the extra memory in the 130XE, it doesn’t really have much of an advantage. Plus, it has a terrible keyboard with a very mushy feel. If you are looking for the newest and technically the best Atari 8-bit then look for a 130XE. However, the 800XL has a better keyboard, look better in my opinion and will run all the same software.

  • Alan Alda for Atari XL computers

    Alan Alda for Atari XL computers, 1983


    In the early 1980s it seemed to be a common occurrence for computer companies to enlist celebrities for their ads. Commodore had William Shatner for the VIC-20, Tandy had Isaac Asimov for the TRS-80, and Atari…they chose Alan Alda. Now Alan Alda was certainly a well known celebrity and probably the most famous of all of these at the time. However, it would seem to me that going with sci-fi icons to advertise your computer was a much better way to go. But maybe it was the ringing endorsement of “It’s going all the time!” that sold Atari.

    Ultimately, it was Commodore that won the 8-bit computer war. However, I think it had less to do with William Shatner than with their ability to beat out the competition on price due to their vertical integration.