Across The Pond

Michael Lechkun (Michigan Atari Computer Enthusiasts)


Issue 5

Sep/Oct 83

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Hello from Michigan! We're anxious to hear about our fellow Atarians in the U.K. We also want to let you know what's going on here in the U.S.

So, what's the latest from the U.S.A.? I had the pleasure of attending the International Summer Consumer Electronics Show held this past June in the City of Chicago. On display were the latest in anything electronic including telephones, satellite-TV technology, audio disk players, computers and some new introductions by your friends and mine from Sunnyvale, Atari Inc.

At the show ATARI introduced four (yes, four!) new computers. They are the 600XL, 800XL, 1400XL, and 1450XLD. The 600XL is a 16K machine upgradeable to 64K. It has a full stroke keyboard (no more membrane keys - yeah!). The 800XL is a 64K featuring  built-in Basic like all the new machines and also a monitor output. The 1400XL features built-in modem and speech synthesis via a Votrax chip. It has 64K and like the 600XL and 800XL is in similar style to the 1200XL.

What of the 1200XL? Seemed strange, but I didn't see too many there. In fact in three days the only one I saw was the one ATARI used for demonstration. Anyone who displayed ATARI software used an 800, I overheard that changes were to be made to physically accept third party cartridges and the OS changed to run third party software. Another rumour is complete phasing out of the unit, but don't quote me on any of this.

The ATARI 1450XLD. Ah, yes. "With built-in disk drive, it's the ultimate in integrated computer capabilities", or so say the boys from California. Double-sided dual density built-in disk drive, 74K and CP/M upgradeable through access to the serial bus and expansion module, ATARI you HAVE been listening to us after all! The 1450XLD also sports the built-in phone modem and speech synthesis capabilities of the 1400XL. All the new models incorporate the HELP key and are expandable via the new 1060 expansion module (get out your 80 column boards again!).

Also new from sunny California are ATARI's letter quality printer (1027), dot-matrix printer (1025) and printer/plotter in four colours (1020). A new cassette recorder (1010), direct connect phone modem (1030), dual density disk drive in the slim-line styling (1050) and DOS 3.0 to support it. Also a trak-ball, touch graphics tablet and VCS 2600 keyboard and computer adaptor - called "My First Computer" and under $90 - all proud additions to the ATARI line.

You want PAC-MAN but don't have an ATARI computer? Well, ATARI won't deprive you of it much longer. It's exclusive titles are now coming out for the IBM-PC, TI99/4 as well as the VIC-20. ATARI owners will also see DIG-DUG, JOUST and DONKEY KONG JR coming out for the world's best computer.

Some other show stoppers at ISCES: Colecovision's new ADAM computer system and Mattel's AQUARIUS both complete systems for a low, low price. Also AMDEK had a complete display of monitors and their new 3.25 inch (I mean 9cm) cartridge-disk drive for the ATARI.

If all these surprises aren't enough for you, you'll have to wait for next winter's show in Las Vegas. If you can't get away, watch for my report following the show.

Michael Lechkun