The Story of the "Other 600"... This was NOT the prototype of what was to be the Atari 600XL. In fact the Atari 600 prototype shown on this page is actually where the Atari 1200XL had come from. This is LIZ-NY. Designed in the WCI/NY Atari labs run by Steve Mayer, who was one of the founders of Atari's think-tank called Cyan Engineering. Cyan is the birthplace of the Atari VCS (2600) and the Atari Home Computers. LIZ was meant to be a low cost Atari computer, but with an interesting twist... it would be able to run slightly modified Atari VCS game code. This was a vision that Steve Mayer had always had since the original Atari computers were being designed.
The basic concept of a low cost,
single board replacement computer for the Atari 800 would be brought into the
labs in Sunnyvale and the Atari 1200XL would be created. However,
the 50 pin high-speed expansion bus of the LIZ-NY computer would be dropped
mid-course during the Atari 1200XL development. Marketing
would take especially strong interest in a new device being designed along side
of the new Atari 1200XL computer called at the time the "Modem Interface Module"
-- this device would eventually evolved into the Atari 1030 modem.
Seeing that devices like this could load their own drivers and even software
into the home computer, marketing decided that ALL devices should would like
that, so they had the expansion connector and a future external expansion box
canceled and the original design of the 1200XL would be canceled and the closed
box "Toaster" design of the 1200XL would be the result.
It has a single ROM
OS, the keyboard is marked Mitsumi Prototype sample, there is a BASIC ROM
chip on the motherboard but it does not load up, instead Atari Memo Pad loads
up. The Reset/Option/Select/Start/Help keys do not fucntion.
Several cartridges were tested, BASIC worked, AtariWriter worked, Telelink
II did not work and a prototype of Super-Pac Man did not work.
There are several switches placed on the back of the casing. They are wired into the Option Key and several other chips on the board. However after an hour of trying dozens of various combinations and keypresses, nothing happened. As soon as we can, some images will be taken of the inside of the unit, it is completely foreign to any arrangement in an Atari computer ever seen. Also the underside of the motherboard will be shown where it says ATARI LIZ NY on it.
By mid March of 1983 Atari would already begin work on a lower cost companion to the 1200XL. If anyone ever wondered, why when the 1200XL was canceled and replaced with the 800XL, why wasn't its lower end companion called the 400XL. Because the lower cost companion was started before the 800XL and it was a lower cost companion to the 1200XL and hence became known as the 600XL. By June of 1983 the assembly lines for the 1200XL would be shut down and sent to Tawain, remaining parts and supplies for leftover 1200XL's would be assembled in Taiwan until those supplies were used up in July 1983. Meanwhile in June 1983 the 800XL was already well in the works and then the beginnings of two higher end systems are spec'd - called the 1400XL and 1450XL.