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Pot Keyboard Integrated Circuit
POKEY - On an Atari 130XE.jpg
Developer: Atari
Released: 1979-11-??
Type: Chip

1.) Pulse Wave or Noise
2.) Pulse Wave or Noise
3.) Pulse Wave or Noise
4.) Pulse Wave or Noise

The Pot Keyboard Integrated Circuit (POKEY), designated C012294 is the custom interface chip Atari designed for the Atari 8-bit line of home computers and was also used in the Atari 5200 and several Atari arcade games. The chip has two main purposes: to read paddle, joystick, and keyboard input, and to produce sound. The chip's primary designer was Doug Neubauer, but the audio components of the chip were designed by Steven Mayer and Ronald Milner.

The POKEY has four 8-bit pulse wave audio channels, each of which can be independently configured to produce noise. The POKEY also can be configured to run two 16-bit channels (by combining two 8-bit channels) or one 16-bit channel and two 8-bit channels. Much like the AY-3-8910 and its variants, the POKEY was not designed to produce PCM audio, but was still capable of outputting speech and audio samples with careful programming.

Three versions of the chip were created, the original C012294, the C012294-02 which was a dual core version used in arcade cabinets, and the C012294-04, a quad-core also used in arcade cabinets.


Release Device
1979-11-?? All Atari 8-bit models.
1982-11-?? Atari 5200


Pretty much every game released for the Atari 8-bit computers and the Atari 5200 utilized the POKEY. Two Atari 7800 games included a POKEY in the cartridge: Commando (A78) and Ballblazer (A78). A lot of Atari arcade games used the POKEY.


Picture Gallery

Emulation Status

Any Atari 8-bit or Atari 5200 emulator with sound capabilities emulates the POKEY, as does MAME, and any SAP player.