Retro Home Computers – Atari 1400XL


Atari 1400XL
1982 – 1983

Atari 1400XL Retro Computer

Above: Atari 1400XL

The Atari 600XL and 800XL were both welcomed by the Atari computer community. Atari decided it was time to add some new bells and whistles to help make its computer standout from the competition. Atari began its next generation of home computer systems with the all new Atari 1400XL home computer system. This system featured all the standard features of the Atari 800XL, but also included several new enhancements.

The first was the inclusion of the new custom chip called Freddy which handled bank switching functions more efficiently then the standard set of TTL chips that were being used in the 600XL and 800XL computers which did not allow the unique memory management feature of the Freddie.

Freddie

The Freddie allowed the ANTIC chip to access separate memory from the regular 64K of the XL system which meant that the system could display more colours and more complex displays of graphics without sacrificing the memory available for the programs to run. The next new enhancement was the inclusion of a SC-01 speech synthesizer chip and modifications to the operating system to allow for a V: handler for voice.

Included with the new system was a cartridge called the 1400XL Telecommunicator which utilised the voice synthesizer to announce changes in the configuration of the terminal program such as baud rate, line feeds, wrap around and so on. The 1400XL featured a built-in 300 BAUD modem. Atari had the right idea in seeing that tele-computing was definitely the way of the future, but was still playing the “We’ll sell them a closed box and if they want more features next year they’ll have to run out a buy a whole new one”.

What Atari should have done was make the modem a slide in module that could have been removed and replaced with a 300-1200 modem or faster as time went by or simply added a built-in RS-232c port to allow users to plug in their own choice of modems such as the ever popular Hayes modems.

The original 1400XL’s that were made have motherboards that have 1400 on them, later on Atari opted to create a universal 1400/1450 motherboard called the 1450XL that has a power connector and PBI daughter-card connector on it for the addition of disk drives.

1450xld

The idea was to make one single motherboard for both the 1400XL and for the 1450XLD’s that would have the daughter card installed with a disk drive. The best non-enhancement was the fact that Atari went back to using the Atari 1200XL type casing again along with that wonderful keyboard. The 1400XL was truly what the 1200Xl should have been from the beginning.

Atari 1450xld Prototype

Above: Atari 1450xld Prototype

Atari 1450xld Motherboard

Above: Atari 1450xld Motherboard