Retro Home Computers – Atari 1200XL
However, the downside was that many programs by both third party companies and even Atari itself were incompatible with this new operating system in the machine. The loss of two of the four original controller jacks from the earlier Atari 400/800 systems did not seem like much of a big deal to the 1200XL engineers, however the end users did seem to mind.
The system was supposed to have a better video display output signal, however to most end users, the system appeared to have a fuzzier display then the Atari 800. The true sticking point for consumers: No expansion whatsoever. While the idea of a closed box design seemed like a good idea to Atari’s Marketing Department, the consumer felt exactly the opposite.
Atari’s whole design philosophy for their home computer line was that these would be consumer oriented and not hobbyist oriented. Therefore, that meant buffering the user from the actual electronics and chips within the machines. This design was very well executed on the Atari 800 with its easy to remove top cover and its various operating system and memory modules fitted into easy to install packages. The SIO connector also gave users a universal, easy to handle and understand expansion system.
Too Many Short Comings
Atari felt it could take this philosophy to the extreme with the 1200XL and completely cut the users off from any internal access. Even the simplest of users still wanted to tinker and expand their systems and the 1200XL just did not give them the flexibility found in Apple ][e’s, C64s or Atari’s original 800 line of computers. The collective shortcomings of the 1200XL unfortunately overshadowed its many new enhancements. Atari’s new prodigy became its “Edsil”. The introduction of the new 1200XL actually increased sales of the Atari 800. Users began to buy 800’s in fear that they would be stuck with a closed and incompatible system.