at the 1985 CES in Las Vegas.The Atari 65XE was part of
a cost reduction plan and would be the replacement for
the Atari 800XLF Personal Computer introduced in August
of 1984. Price at $99.99 the 65XE was 100% compatible
with all of the Atari 400/800, and XL software (some
programs required the use of a "Translator" disk before
use) and all peripherals. The 65XE computer had 64K
of memory like the Atari 800XL and all of the same
custom chips as well. The XE series computers would
also use the FREDDIE chip from the 800XLF
(originally used in the Atari 1400XL and 1450XLD
computers.) This was memory address multiplexing chip.
When combined with the Atari
chip (Memory Management Unit) the system could
handle memory swapping and larger amounts of memory more
efficiently, but most important was that the ANTIC could
now independently access memory and not have to share it
with the CPU.
The 65XE would come
in a low cost, 2 piece utilitarian gray case. The
more expensive and more stylish XL case designs were
Atari 65XE while having the advantage FREDDIE and MMU
chips had a major shortcoming over the Atari 800XLF
which it had replaced. The US versions did NOT have an
external expansion bus (the Atari XL computers had a PBI
connector (Parallel Bus Interface) while the European
Atari 65XE's (also called Atari 800XE's) and Atari
130XE's (both US and European) all had an ECI (Enhanced
Cartridge Interface) which was functionally equivalent
to the previous Atari XL PBI and allowed devices such as
SCSI hard drive controllers, parallel/serial controllers
and many other powerful devices to be attached to the XE
system. While Atari itself never sold any ECI devices,
several 3rd Party companies such an ICD, CSS and Supra
sold expansion peripherals for use with the ECI/PBI
Atari XL Product Line Memo: September 9, 1984
only a tiny time frame to work within from July 1984
until January 1985 Atari engineers took the existing
Atari 800XL design as well as the 800XLF design and
created new PCB's to fit into their lower cost cases
with lower cost keyboards. The 2 piece cases greatly
reduced the cost of the product, though their design was
rather drab and unappealing compared to the more
stylish, yet more expensive XL case designs.
The keyboards were another shortcoming of the design.
They were mushy and lacked solid tactile rebound to them
and this was a major complaint for many users.
Early runs of the 65XE had motherboards still retained
the products original model number: the Atari 900XLF.