The New Machines



Issue 14

Mar/Apr 85

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Four models based around the 800XL in a re-styled case with a new keyboard and re-sited 'function' keys making a more compact unit. The inside has been redesigned for economy of production using fewer chips and moving parts giving a smoother running and faster computer.


The basic model in the range is much the same as the 800XL As far as is known there are no improvements except for the addition of the graphics symbols on the keyboard. The peripheral bus on the 800XL has now however been dropped.


The basic 65XE with added full music synthesiser features which can be hooked up to a hi-fi system. Eight voices giving rich music giving the following features. 

Digital sample rate in excess of 30kHz. Over 60dB dynamic range.

Fundamental Frequency Range of 4.8Hz to 7.8kHz -10 2/3 octaves.

Fundamental Frequency Resolution of 1/64 semitones.

Precise control of harmonic amplitudes. 64 harmonics.

No news of a music keyboard for this although one would assume that a keyboard can be interfaced to the computer.


128k of memory in two 64k switchable blocks allowing something like 48k of user RAM and 64k of storage which can be instantly interchanged with the RAM in use. The ideal application is for word processing and databases but there may well be adaptations of multiple disk adventures and the like from third party software producers.


The whole lot in one. The basic 65XE with built in (added?) 5" monochrome monitor and 3½" disk drive to enable you to keep computing wherever you are. No details are available yet on size but it may not be quite so compact as other 'lap-held' models.


All XE models are 100% compatible with the 400, 800, 600XL and 800XL meaning that the majority of existing software and all peripherals will run on the new models and software developed for the 65XE will run on the older models.

All the new peripherals for the XE range are compatible with the 400, 800, 600XL and 800XL.


The basic disk drive for the XE range will continue to be the 1050 5¼" floppy disk drive although the casing may be restyled to match the new designs.


A 14" composite colour monitor and a 12" monochrome, 80 column monitor have been announced. Does this mean that software is being developed for the XE range to allow true 80 column applications?


XTM201 thermal dot-matrix running at 20 cps. XTC201 thermal dot-matrix in colour. XDM 121 Daisy Wheel letter quality at 12cps and the XMM801 dot matrix at 80cps.

Much will depend on the price of these for Atari has never produced a printer to equal those available from dedicated manufacturers but if the prices are low then these may well succeed where previous models have failed.


U.S. prices are reported as $120 for the 65XE, $160 for the 65XEM, $200 for the 130XE and $400 for the 65XEP. Printers are said to be from as low as $50 up to $200.


Both new ranges will be 'colour coded' with all boxes for the XE range and peripherals in red and the ST range in blue so that the consumer will know whether a particular peripheral is suited to his machine. Why? Because Atari will continue to sell through multiple stores and recognises that very few store staff will have sufficient knowledge of the product. Support will be given to stores in the form of charts and reference guides but the onus will be on the consumer to display more knowledge than the salesman. A shrewd move with greater benefit than might at first be thought


ATARIWRITER+ is an enhanced version of the existing program with built in proof reader (American spellings?). 

INFINITY, which has received rave reviews from those who saw it at CES, is an integrated spreadsheet, word processor and relational database all on one disk. The program uses windows and has "incredible graphics hitherto thought only possible on 16-bit machines".. One report says that it puts to shame anything available for the Macintosh including programs like Lotus 1-2-3.

SILENT BUTLER. A domestic accounts program.



At the time of writing Atari Corp. (U. K.) had not decided which items would be made available and at what prices. Certain peripherals may not make it over here (can the market really support seven printers?).


The ST range is destined to break new ground for personal computers bringing an amazing 16-bit machine into the grasp of almost any individual.

There are two models which differ only in the amount of RAM. The 130ST has 128k of RAM and the 520ST has 512k Both have an additional 192k ROM Operating System which includes the GEM applications package. The ROM is expandable to 320k with a plug in cartridge although it has not been disclosed what this add-on will contain.


Incredible colour graphics on a 32k bit-mapped screen with 3 Graphics modes.

Low Resolution - 320 x 200 pixels (equivalent to Graphics 8) in 16 colours.

Medium Resolution - 640 x 200 pixels in 4 colours.
High Resolution - 640 x 400 pixels in monochrome.

512 colours are available and as the computer has interrupts, these can presumably be mixed outside of the standard Graphics modes.


Built-in interfaces include a high-speed hard disk interface, integrated floppy disk controller, Centronics parallel interface, RS232C serial modem interface, two joystick ports with one configured for use with a mouse and MIDI music interface.

Four video ports are provided for standard television, low resolution composite video. medium resolution RGB and high resolution monochrome. A suitable monitor will of course be required to operate all 3 graphics modes but the basic computer can be run in Low Resolution mode on a standard TV.


The ST machines will feature an "enhanced" ATARI BASIC or be available with LOGO as an option.


Proving that these are not just business machines but all-round entertainment and serious computers (for the first time in one machine), there are 3 sound channels with wave shaping sound, separate frequency and volume control, dynamic envelope controls and frequency from 30Hz to above audible range. The MIDI interface will allow connection to external keyboards and synthesisers.


The Operating System is TOS™ developed jointly with Digital Research to enable the best use of the GEM software. GEM is very similar to Apple's LISA and the Macintosh and features windows, drop down menus, icons, a calculator and clock all of which can be controlled by a mouse. For those who don't know about a mouse, it is a hand controlled device which is run over a smooth surface and moves a pointer about the screen. Incredibly easy to use, it allows full control over the screen and applications without having to look away from the screen. The GEM system has been extensively reviewed in Personal Computer World magazine February 1985 and elsewhere for those who require further in-depth details. It is a very powerful system that is implemented on several major (expensive) machines in monochrome. The ST brings you the GEM system in full colour for the first time.


The computer. is run by a 16/32-bit Motorola 68000 microprocessor with 8 32-bit data registers, 8 32-bit address registers, 16-bit data bus, 24-bit address bus, 7 levels of interrupts, 56 instructions, 14 addressing modes and 5 data types.


SF354 3½" disk drive with 500k storage.

SH317 3½" hard disk drive with 10MB storage.

SM124 12" monochrome high-resolution monitor.

SC1224 12" RGB monitor.

ST504 thermal dot-matrix in colour. 

SDM124 daisy wheel letter quality. 

SMM804 impact dot-matrix.

Prices are not yet available for these but have been reported as starting from an incredible $100 for the 3½" disk drive.


Up to now you could expect to pay in excess of £2,000 for a good 16-bit system but the 130ST is to retail at $399 and the 520ST at $599. A full system including 3½ disk drive and monitor is expected to be available for around £700 - £800.


There is none at present although the GEM system allows easy adaptation of any software package to any machine running GEM. Take a look at any software running on most 16-bit machines such as Wordstar, Lotus 1-2-3 etc. and it should be relatively easy to convert it to the ST. All Atari have to do is persuade the software houses that the ST is worth writing for and this should not be too difficult. In the past, development of software for a particular 16-bit machine has been costly and Atari might not have been able to persuade producers to take the risk. Now with over 75 computer manufacturers licensing GEM for their machines and nearly all of the major software producers interested, software should become available quite quickly.

The major problem might be price for many business packages cost £400 - £500 at present, which is not too bad when you have paid £2500 for the computer, but will ST owners be willing to pay more than the cost of the machine to get one software package?