The Atari 800XL was the
third version of the Atari XL 8-bit line of computers introduced in
1983. It specifications were completed in late March 1983. The
system contained a full 64K of memory, had all the standard Atari
chips (Antic, GTIA, Pokey, PIA) and was in a smaller and more
compact design than the 1200XL which it was designed to replace. The
keyboard was good, but not nearly as good as the 1200XL keyboard,
but it had a solid feel to it.
The cartridge port had
been move to the top center of the system in the same fashion as the
600XL and used special metal spring loaded doors to allow the
insertion and removal of ROM cartridges. This system of spring
loaded doors also kept dirt and objects from falling into the
cartridge slot when it was not occupied. Overall the system is
basically a cost reduced Atari 1200XL, but with a better video
display, expansion bus and a much lower retail price.
The system, just like
the 1200XL also came with built-in diagnostics and a HELP key,
however it provided one important improvement: Built in BASIC. The
OS was still slightly incompatible with many original Atari 400/800
software titles, but Atari began to distribute a "Translator" disk
which would load up a 400/800 compatible OS into memory so that the
800XL could support those programs.
A newer version of the
800XL was being readied called the 800XLF which included the new
"FREDDIE" chip that would have allowed for more use of free memory
for programs and greater use of graphics by the "ANTIC" DMA/Display
List processor. Originally the new 800XL with FREDDIE
and the new CGIA (Antic and GTIA combined chip) was
designed and readied in June of 1983.