Atari 8-bit

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Platform - A8.png
Atari 8-bit
Atari 800.jpg
Released: 1979-11-??
Discontinued: 1992-01-01
Developer: Atari
Type: Hardware

The Atari 8-bit computer is a family of 8-bit computers developed and sold by Atari. The line began in 1979 with the simultaneous release of the 400 and 800. The 400 had weaker specs and was sold as a gaming computer while the more powerful 800 was marketed as an office computer. Later models followed including the XL series and XE series. Although each new computer was an update to the previous, software for the computers is mostly backward-compatible and the vast majority of the software library will work on the Atari 400.

Since the 1990s, the Atari 8-bit is especially popular in Poland.


The Atari 8-bit series released several models.

Release Date Model Picture Description
1979-11-?? 400 Atari 400.jpg Used a membrane keyboard and had one cartridge slot.
1979-11-?? 800 Atari 800.jpg Used a mechanical keyboard and had two cartridge slots.
1983-??-?? 1200XL Atari 1200XL.jpg
1983-??-?? 600XL Atari 600XL.jpg
1983-??-?? 800XLP ATARI 800XLP Computer.png Used a built in Numeral Keypad and had one cartridge slot.
1983-??-?? 800XL Atari 800XL.jpg
1985-10-?? 65XE Atari 65XE.jpg
1985-??-?? 130XE Atari 130XE.jpg
1987-??-?? XEGS XEGS.jpg A fully compatible video game console based on the 65XE.


In the 12 years the 8-bit family was in production, over a thousand games were released for the platform.

Music and Sound

Each of the Atari 8-bit computers has a POKEY and either CTIA or GTIA chip. Each of these chips handles several things at once, including audio.

POKEY handles most of the keyboard, the paddles, serial port, and up to 4 audio channels with independent pitch, volume and waveform.

CTIA and GTIA handle most of the graphics, but also the joystick buttons, the START, SELECT and OPTION keys, and a speaker. Up to the Atari 800, this speaker is on the motherboard. Starting with the XL, the outputs of speaker and POKEY are mixed together.