Personal Computer Museum, Canada's Videogame Museum

Atari 800

Atari 800

Speed1.8 MHz
Memory8 KB

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Atari 8-Bit

Release Date: 10/1/1979
Manufacturer: Atari
Original Retail Price:
Adjusted Inflation Price:
Released at $999 US, the Atari 8-bit computer line was launched with this great machine. Capable of both "left" and "right" cartridges, it was the first machine to feature this type of expandability. The external keypad shown here retailed for $125 US and allowed for fast data entry and the standard Atari joysticks that were released for the Atari 2600 game console also worked on this machine. The 800 XL machine is supposed to be 100% compatible with the 800 model but in reality, it isn't so many people found reason to keep their 800 around for longer than they might have otherwise.


This computer is currently interactive in the Museum.

Atari 16K Memory Module

Atari 16K Memory Module
Release Date: 1/1/1979
This is a Ram expansion module produced by Atari. In the early days of personal computing, users were expected to be able to demonstrate a certain amount of fearlessness when it came to upgrading their machines. This upgrade, while not difficult, did require using a screw drive to open the computer and access areas that - at least in the modern computer world - would void a warranty.

Atari 810 Disk Drive

Atari 810 Disk Drive
Release Date: 9/24/1979
The Atari 810 Disk Drive was Atari's first disk drive for its line of Atari 400/800 computers. Providing 88K of storage per disk side, the 810 gave Atari computer users the ability to quickly store and retrieve documents and program files to and from the storage device. Up to 4 Atari 810's could be daisy chained together via the Atari SIO bus for a total of almost 360K of on-line random access file storage and retrieval. The Atari 810 came in two different versions; the Tandon mech version and the MPI mech version. The Atari 810 is rather large compared to other companies disk drives and has an external 9Vac power supply. The reason why the drive is so large is that there is no disk drive controller in any of the Atari 400/800 computers, instead each device that connects to an Atari computer through its SIO bus is actually an intelligent device with its own intelligent communications controller and floppy disk controller. The case design was conceived by Kevin McKinsey of Atari's Home Computer Industrial Design group. The case is interesting in that the top and bottom covers are actually the same part made to assemble the top and bottom sides. Adhesive labels on the back of the 810 would block unused ports on the topside of the cover.


Atari CX-85 Numeric Keypad

Atari CX-85 Numeric Keypad
Release Date: 1/1/1980
Sensing a need to add a more serious numeric setup for its Atari 800 computer system, Atari introduced the Atari CX-85 numeric keypad which plugged into one of the available front joystick ports on the Atari 800 and using a special driver will allow the numeric keypad to be used with any Atari program or for programming in BASIC or other programming languages. The numeric keypad was also packaged into 2 packages: The Atari Bookkeeper and The Atari Accountant.

Unfortunately Atari did not see the numeric keypad as a necessary part of a standard keyboard and this product was not incorporated into the Atari XL line of computers which would have given them a more serious and professional look.

User Comments
Maury Markowitz on Monday, November 9, 2015
The 800 had two sections for expansion, two cartridge slots at the front under a flip-up cover, and four expansion slots at the back, which could be access by turning two moon-shaped plastic clips under the cartridge cover. Unlike the Apple II, however, these slots did not have access to the complete CPU bus, only the memory pins. This was intended to be used for memory expansion only, so they could save some money on the connectors if they left out the rest of the pins. However, as RAM prices quickly dropped and machines came out with 32 or even 64k built in, Atari was forced to ship their machines fully expanded, and sent them out with the covers screwed down. In spite of all this, some enterprising companies figured out ways to use the memory bus to communicate with device drivers and produce true expansion cards - I recall a Centronix printer card for instance - but these were rare. The entire thing was an enormous lost opportunity for Atari.
Phil Clayton on Sunday, May 10, 2009
This keypad could be used on the Commodore 64. I have an old Magazine article form the 80's with a way to program the driver needed for this Numeric Keypad. It was pretty cool at the time as it gave the Commodore 64 a Numeric Keypad. I purchased 2 of these in 1984 (I think) from some surplus reseller for about $10. I still have two of them with all my old Commodore stuff.
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* Inflation data courtesy of Values are approximate using our own calculations.