Atari Home Computers

What to Look for in Vintage Atari Home Computers

During the 1970s and 1980s, Atari manufactured a line of home computers known as the Atari 400 and Atari 800. These computers were a game system as well as programming computer. In their era, the computer contemporaries included Commodores line of home computers.

What is the Atari 400?

The Atari 400 was a part of the 8-bit family of Atari computers. This model was first produced and made available for sale in November 1979. The 400 featured a membrane keyboard and a single width cartridge slot cover. The game was able to play more complex games then the ones available on the Atari 2600 game console. The Atari 400 is named because of its 4 KB of RAM memory.

What is the Atari 800?

The Atari 800, along with the 400, was the first computer programming and gaming system made for sale by Atari in November 1979. The Atari 400 shared many of the same components and features as the Atari 800. One of the most notable differences is the fact that the Atari 800 has a full button keyboard while the Atari 400 has a membrane keyboard. This system was also able to play video games. The Atari 800 is so named because it has 8 KB of RAM memory.

What are the technical specifications of vintage Atari home computers?
  • CPU: MOS Technology 6502B at 1.79 MHz (NTSC version) and MOS Technology 6502B at 1.77 MHz (PAL version)
  • Graphics: 384 pixels per TV line, 256 colors, 8X sprites, and raster interrupts
  • Sound: 4X oscillators with noise mixing or 2X AM digital
  • Connectivity: 2X (or 4X) Joystick, 1X Atari SIO, 1X (or 0C) PBI, 1X (or 0X) Composite Monitor,1X (or 2X) ROM cartridge
Which accessories are available with these computer systems?

The Atari 400 and Atari 800 systems may come with a number of accessories. Check the product description to see which accessories come with the system since the system will not work without certain accessories. Mandatory accessories needed for full function of the system include the AC adapter and the A/V plus sound line that runs from the console to the back of the television or monitor. Note that these Atari systems did not come with a monitor but will not function without a monitor. Optional accessories may include a joystick, a paddle controller, cartridges, and disk drive.

Are accessories interchangeable with both systems?

The 400 and the 800 can use the same type of Atari joystick, Atari paddle controller, A/V plus sound cable and AC adapter. Also, they can play the same Atari video game cartridges.

Content provided for informational purposes only. eBay is not affiliated with or endorsed by Atari and Commodore.