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.
|1979-11-??||400||Used a membrane keyboard and had one cartridge slot.|
|1979-11-??||800||Used a mechanical keyboard and had two cartridge slots.|
|1983-??-??||800XLP||Used a built in Numeral Keypad and had one cartridge slot.|
|1987-??-??||XEGS||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.