Release Date: February 1985
Introduced at the 1985 CES in Las Vegas. The Atari 65XE was
the direct replacement for the Atari 800XL Personal Computer.
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. One additional chip was added into the XE series
computers which was called the FREDDIE chip. This was a MMU
chip (Memory Management Unit) allowing the system to handle memory swapping
and larger amounts of memory more efficiently.
new line of XE computers had brought a new look and feel to Atari computer
owners. However, the Atari 65XE while having the advantage
of an additional special purpose Memory Management controller installed
did have a far greater shortcoming over the Atari 800XL 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 ports.
With only a tiny time frame to work within from July 1984 until January 1985 Atari engineers took the existing Atari XL designs and began to improve and cost reduce them. It is believed that the Atari 800XLF which was sold in Europe briefly before being discontinued was the basis for the XE's design. The Atari 800XLF already had a great deal of improvements, had the latest Atari XL chipset, FREDDIE MMU and improved video. In fact during the initial design and production phase of the Atari 65XE series, it retained the labeling of its direct descendant, the XL line. This is apparent in fact that the original model # of the Atari 65XE was called the Atari 900XLF on the earlier motherboard designs.