|The Atari 410a was the
second version of the Atari 410 Program Recorder (tape
drive.) Replacing the original version released at the
debut of the Atari 400/800 computers in 1979.
Functionally they are both identical. The 410a version
omits the carrying handle and is more ruggedly built.
Tape drives were very popular
with home computer systems through the 1970's through the
1980's. Many home computers had audio jack
interfaces on them so off the shelf tape cassette players
could be plugged into them.
Tape cassettes were a widely
used magnetic media that was used for playing music through
the 1970's into the late 1980's until it was replaced with
more durable music CD's. Because they were so widely
used, they were easily accessible to everyone and they were
low cost and easy to use. That made them a perfect
choice for use in home computers to store and load programs
from. The benefit of this was low cost and easy
accessibility. The downside was they were very slow to
save and load programs to and from and they were more prone
to data corruption.
Unlike most other tape
drives used on other computers, the ATARI 410 Program
Recorder is a special peripheral. It uses the Atari SIO
serial bus to send and receive data, but does not
conform to the protocol of the other peripherals that
use the SIO serial bus. The Program Recorder must also
be the last device on the serial bus, because it does
not have a serial bus extender connector as the other
peripherals do. There can never be more than one Program
Recorder connected to any system for the same reason.
The system cannot sense the presence or absence of the
Program Recorder so it can be connected and disconnected
Program Records had a unique double-track feature,
enabling sound and data to be recorded and transmitted.
This was used in such programs as the Atari Foreign
Language Modules, and the Invitation to Programming
series, utilizing a narrator while the program ran on
The Atari 410 used the
advanced Serial I/O interface (SIO), enabling easy
connection to the computer. Originally designed
specifically for the 410, it was decided to use it on
all Atari 8-Bit peripherals.
The Atari Program
Recorders provide storage and retrieval of programs and
data on cassette tape. In addition to the digital track
that stores computer data, a second audio track is
provided to play music or voice as the program runs.
Data transmission rate: 600
bits per second.
Data storage capacity: 100,000 bytes per 60-minute
Track configuration: 4 track, 2 channel (digital data
and audio track)
Built-in SIO cable - must end SIO daisy chain
Built-in power cable - plugs directly into wall
410 Program Recorder versions:
1979 to 1980 Japan version had a carrying handle
1980 to 1983 410a--Taiwan version