Atari XL Series Computers - 800XL  

 

SW Implementation of Parallel Devices May 22, 1984

 

 


 

 

 

  

 

 

 

The Atari 800XL Computer System

(Codename: Surely Plus)


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 is 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 never 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.
 
 
 





 

The Atari BASIC programming language could be disabled by holding down the OPTION key on boot-up. The other new feature of the 800XL was the new high speed Parallel Bus Interface (PBI) which would allow the 800XL to connect to the Atari 1090: XL Expansion System which was an expansion box with 5 slots in it for an assortment of expansion cards.
 

Atari was already looking into Cost Reducing the 800XL line of computers, a newer version called the Atari 800XLCR (Codenamed "Keri") was already in the works and the new chip: "KERI" which was the Combine GTIA/ANTIC also referred to as the CGIA was in tests and almost ready.   For more information:  CLICK HERE
 
 

 

Atari released in August of 1984 one of the final 800XL designs, the Atari 800XLF.   This system came equipped with the "FREDDIE" chip, revision "C" Basic ROM.

Released in Europe with SECAM video, this would be one of the final XL's before the Tramiels released the replacement XE series computers in 1985.

 

Are you a former Atari engineer?  Did you work on the 800XL or have direct knowledge of this project? 

Please contact the Atari Museum:  CLICK HERE