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The Atari 400 Personal Computer was Atari's entry level computer. Designed for younger children with its clean simple design and more importantly its tactile membrane keyboard to prevent damage from food and small objects. Also the keys could not be removed and swallowed by small children.
The Atari 400 during is design conception originally was to have only 4K of memory which is how its number designation was determined: 400 (Also it was nicknamed Candy). When it began to ship it then came with 8K, finally Atari offered it with a base memory of 16K which allowed it to run almost all cartridge and cassette based software.
Due to its low memory range, using a disk drive was not practical, so the Atari 400 was teamed up with its own peripheral, the Atari 410 cassette recorder. Also the Atari 400 did not have a composite monitor port and could only be connected to a standard TV via its RF modulator cord. Atari later offered an Authorized Service Center 48K upgrade for the Atari 400 and so did many 3rd party memory expansion companies. Also hardware hackers soon learned how to install composite output back to the Atari 400. Alternative keyboards and even a detachable keyboard were sold for the Atari 400 making it nearly as powerful as its big sister Colleen (the Atari 800). The Atari 400 lacked the RIGHT hand cartridge slot which was almost never used on the Atari 800 and getting into the inside of the Atari 400 was not nearly as easy as the Atari 800 with its pop-top design. The Atari 400's unique wedge shape is very eye catching. No other computer company ever cloned the look of the Atari 400, it holds a style all its own.
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This exhibit has a reference ID of CH461. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.
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