Atari 1200XL

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Atari's Home Computer Division (HCD) introduced the new replacement computer to its ageing Atari 400/800 line. The machine brought to Atari's home computer's line a high-tech and sleek low profile modern look. The case design and the "XL Look" were created by Regan Cheng of Atari's Industrial Design group.

The all new design took the 7 separate boards that made up the Atari 800 (Main, Power, CPU, OS and 3 16K Memory boards) and integrated them into a single motherboard with 64K of memory. The system also brought with it probably the best keyboard for any Atari system.    

Released in late 1982, the 1200XL was an odd hybrid of features from the Sweet 8/16 projects. Notable features were 64 KB of RAM, built-in self test, the aforementioned redesigned keyboard (featuring four function keys and a HELP key), and redesigned cable port layout. In general terms the 1200XL most closely matched the "high end" Sweet 16 concept.

However the 1200XL also included a number of missing or poorly implemented features. The PBI expansion connector from the original 1000X design was left off, making the design rely entirely on SIO again. Frustrating this was the fact that the +12V pin in the SIO port was left unconnected; only +5V power was available although some devices made use of the +12V line. An improved video circuit provided more chroma for a more colourful image, but the chroma line was not connected to the monitor port, the only place that could make use of it. Even the re-arrangement of the ports made some joysticks and cartridges difficult or impossible to use. Changes made to the operating system to support the new hardware also resulted in compatibility problems with some older software that did not follow published guidelines.

The 1200XL ended up with functionality similar to the existing 800, but at a hefty price point. For all of these reasons the 1200XL sold poorly. There is an often-repeated story, perhaps apocryphal, that 800 sales shot up after the release of the 1200XL, as existing owners tried to snap them up before they disappeared. The machine was discontinued in 1983. There was no PAL version of the 1200XL.

YEAR: 1982
KEYBOARD: Full stroke keyboard + function keys
CPU: MOS 6502C
SPEED: 1.79 MHz
CO-PROCESSOR: GTIA (video output, sprites), POKEY (sound, I/O), ANTIC (video, display lists)
RAM: 64 KB
ROM: 16 KB (the Basic is on a cartridge)
TEXT MODES: five text modes, max: 40 x 24, min: 20 x 12
GRAPHIC MODES: 12 graphic modes, maximum : 320 x 192
COLOUR: screen 16 colors with 16 intensities
SOUND: four channels, 3.5 octaves
I/O PORTS: Monitor (RGB) video output, RF TV output (to switch box), Cartridge slot, Peripheral connector, 2 x Joystick connectors
POWER SUPPLY: External power supply unit
PRICE: $599.99 (USA, June 1983). This was not sold in the UK as it was not compatible with the PAL system

Our 1200XL has a serial number of 72R DA 05686 173 and was very kindly donated by Alan Hunter.

Manufacturer: Atari
Date: 1982

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Other Systems Related To Atari 1200XL:

Item Manufacturer Date
Atari 800 with Programmer Kit Atari Inc 1st January 1979
Atari 400 with Aftermarket Keyboard Atari November 1979
Atari 800 Atari November 1979
Atari 400 Atari November 1979
Centipede Arcade Cabinet Atari 1980
Atari 800XL Atari 1983
Atari 600XL Atari June 1983
Atari 520 STFM Atari 1985
Atari 65XE Atari 1985
Atari 520ST (boxed) + External hard drive + software Atari 1985
Atari 520 STM Atari 1st January 1985
Atari 1040 STE Atari 1986
Atari 520 STM Atari 12th September 1986
Atari Mega ST 2 Atari 1987
Atari ST Mega 1040 Tower Power Atari 1988
Atari 1040STFM Atari 1989
Atari 1040STFM (David Arnold) Atari 1989
Atari 520 STE Atari 1989
Atari 1040STF Atari 1989
Atari Portfolio Atari 1989
Atari Stacy 2 Atari 9th December 1989
Atari Mega 4 Atari 1990
Atari TT030 Atari 1990
Atari Falcon Atari 1990
Atari Mega/STE Atari 1991

This exhibit has a reference ID of CH22449. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.


Atari 1200XL

  Book Archive   [12]
  Games Archive   [188]
  Software Archive   [32]
  Peripherals   [11]
  Promotional Items   [2]

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