Atari 800, 810 parts (or Apple II) wanted

William Blair wbblair3 at
Mon Jan 8 12:30:02 CST 2007

> > but what were the differences besides the keyboard?
> > They must have had similar internals.
> Expansion options I would think. A friend of mine in  highschool had both
> the 400 and 800 units , but we only used the 800 when we had groups over to
> play Ultima III and IV. I snooped around and remember that there were card
> slots for RAM and ROM carts under the hood of the 800 but never looked in
> the 400.
> This site shows the expansion bays (and differences) in the 2 units:
> It looks like the 400 was stuck with its 16K? RAM while the 800 can be
> expanded more and it has an extra ROM port it seems.
> The original series was built like a tank, the XL and later models were not
> as good from what I remember.

The cast aluminum internal case was for EMI reasons.  They were being extremely conservative to
the point of overkill since, at that time, the less restrictive FCC ratings specifically for
digital devices in homes weren't yet in existence.  The 400 sold for US $549.95 while exactly the
same hardware (with respect to custom processors and processing power) with more expansion
capability and a real keyboard went for US $999.95 in the Atari 800.  That $450 merely for more
_easy_ expandability and a real rather than membrane keyboard wasn't enough to me to justify the
additional cost, so I bought the 400 and wired up internally more memory and a real keyboard later
on (for FAR less than $450).  Byte magazine did a highly complimentary two-part (IIRC) series of
articles on the powerful (for then) custom sound and graphics chips in the Atari machines. This
was what led me to buy the Atari 400 a few years before the Commodore 64 became available. Jay
Miner was the lead designer for those custom chips and he would later design the Amiga custom
chips after leaving Atari.

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