The Atari 800XL was the third version of the Atari 8-bit line of computers
introduced in 1983. The system contained a full 64K of memory,
had all the standard VLSI chips (Antic, GTIA, Pokey, PIA) and was in a
smaller and more compact design. The keyboard was good, not
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 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 800 with a fuzzier
picture. The system came with built-in diagnostics and a HELP
key. 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 800XL-F which included
the new "FREDDY" memory management chip that would have allowed for more
use of free memory for programs and geater use of graphics by the "ANTIC"
system also included built-in Atari BASIC programming language which 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:
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.