Personal Computer Museum, Canada's Videogame Museum

Atari 800 XL

Atari 800 XL

Speed1.79 MHz
Memory64 KB

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Atari 8-Bit

Release Date: 10/1/1983
Manufacturer: Atari
Original Retail Price:
Adjusted Inflation Price:
A direct replacement for the Atari 800 and 400 line of computer, the 800 XL enjoyed great success in the market as a competitor to the Commodore 64 and Apple II as the home computers of choice. Priced around $299 US the machine was affordable and could interface to both tape units and a disk drive. The Atari 1050 that shipped with the machine was much better than the 810 drive that came before it. The Atari computers were unique in how they used co-processors to off load work from the main CPU, allowing them to run many applications quite quickly.

Atari 1010 Program Recorder

Atari 1010 Program Recorder
Release Date: 1/1/1982
Original Retail Price: $129.95
The Atari 1010 Program Recorder was the replacement to the Atari 400/800 lines Atari 410 Program recorder. The new 1010 was stylish and simplistic to use. Although no faster then any other standard tape recorder/Program Recorder, the Atari 1010 was a reliable little unit and was very popular in European markets where money was tight and the majority of software was available on Tape Cassettes. What made the Atari Data/Program recorders unique from all other cassette decks used on other home computers was its ability to tie into the Atari Audio Sumation Circuitry. The Atari 410, 1010 and the Atari XC11 & XC12 Data/Program recorders all worked through the Atari SIO (Serial I/O) bus, a data communications bus very similar to today's USB (Universal Serial Bus). The Data/Program recorders could all be controlled by the Atari computer and also channeled their audio into the SIO bus and into the Atari computer where it would be heard through a connected Television or Computer Monitor. The Data/Program recorders also were Dual Track systems and could load data while also playing audio/music tracks simultaneously. This meant that while another section of a program was loading, the recorder could give the user instructions, information or play a soundtrack to occupy the users time while the program loaded. This system was used extensively in Atari's unique and unparalleled line of educational software.


From a technical standpoint, the 1010 was capable of transferring data at a rate of 600 bits per second, and capable of storing approximately 97K of data per 60 minute cassette.

Atari 1050 Disk Drive

Atari 1050 Disk Drive
Release Date: 10/1/1983
The Atari 1050 disk drive was Atari's replacement to the Atari 810 disk drive. The new Atari 1050 disk drive matched the new high-tech, low profile line of Atari XL home computer systems. The original Atari 810 could hold single density data (88K out of 100K diskettes) which was standard. The new Atari 1050 disk drives were DUAL-DENSITY disk drives and could use the older Atari 810 diskettes, but could also hold data in a new Enhanced Density mode of 127K. Although the standard for disk drives was 180K, this additional storage was welcomed by Atari users who bought the disk drives.

The only downside to the disk drives were their new version of Atari DOS: 3.0 which had compatibility problems with its earlier version: 2.0s Atari would later fix this problem with a very well designed and accepted and one of the most popular Atari versions of DOS: 2.5

Up to 4 Atari disk drives could be "daisy-chained" together. Using Atari's unique SIO bus (Serial I/O), each drive would connect to the next, forming a chain in which data was transferred. Although slower then other I/O buses used on other computers, Atari's SIO bus was a simple and convenient way for the non-computer literate to more easily add components onto their Atari computer systems (other brands of computers required internal cards, ribbon cables, complicated jumper block settings which were geared more towards the computer hobbyist crowd instead of the common individual with little computer knowledge).

User Comments
Daehawk on Friday, July 03, 2015
Got mine around 1981 when I was 12. I still have it in box. Atari 800xl with 1010 cassette drive and 1060 disk drive. I loved that thing. Used to make those little BASIC programs that came in BYTE magazine or some old magazine I got.
Adam Billyard on Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Gosh it seems so long ago since I wrote stuff for the Atari. I couldn't remember how to program one now!!!!!!
Anonymous on Saturday, December 20, 2008
I had an 800XL, 1050 Disk Drive and the 1010 Tape Drive when I was a teen. I loved it, great piece of technology at the time. I had modified the tape drive to use 'turbo' load and added another 64k memory to the XL. I don't have it anymore but I not to long ago, I tripped over some old floppy disks and books. May be I am getting the ATARI again just to fool around with it.
Michael Evans on Thursday, April 24, 2008
I didn't know how terrible my TRS-80 was until I first saw my friend's 800XL. What an awesome machine. I finally bought my first 800XL last year and it's everything I remembered. The 800XL case is solid and beautifully designed. The games "Blue Max", "Montezuma's Revenge", "Ballblazer" and "Rescue on Fractalus" are still amazing and lots of fun to play (and look & sound much better than on C64). I think the 800XL is the best 8-bit computer ever made.
James Alexander on Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Actually first atari computer I had my hands on was a 600xl, later 800xl and others to follow. Have a few now in my collection. Not as big as this museum but still great stuff, even today.
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* Inflation data courtesy of Values are approximate using our own calculations.