Retro Home Computers – Atari 400

Atari 400
1979 – 1983

Video Game Company

The Atari 400 did not have a composite monitor port and it could only be connected to a standard TV via is RF modulator cord. Atari later offered an Authorized Service Center 48K upgrade for the Atari 400 and so did many 3rd party memory expansion companies.

Commodore Amiga 1000

Above: Atari 400

Also hardware hackers soon learned how to install composite output to the back of the Atari 400. Alternative keyboards and even a detachable keyboard were sold for the Atari 400 making it nearly as powerful as its big sister, the Atari 800, also known as Colleen. Atari was know for giving code nmaes to its products named after females.

Commodore Amiga 1000

Above: Atari 800

The Atari 400 lacked the right hand cartridge slot which was almost never used on the Atari 800 and getting into the inside of the Atari 400 was not nearly as easy as the Atari 800 with its pop-top design.

Computer Division Born

In 1978, Atari was working on a new chip set for an all new high end video game system. Ray Kassar became the new CEO of Atari and decided that Atari should produce a line of computers to compete against Apple in the home computer field. It was decided that the new chip set was to be “frozen” and used only for the new computer systems. Atari’s all new computer division was born.

Atari would introduce a new line of personal computers based around the MOS 6502 8 bit Processor. Using the new graphics/audio chip set the computer would come packaged with graphics and sound never before seen in a personal computer system.

Capable of producing up to 128 colours using the CTIA chip (Colleen Television Interface Adapter) and later updated to 256 colours using a GTIA chip (General Television Interface Adapter) and with a maximum resolution of 320 X 192 the new line of Atari computer systems would have spectacular graphics for a system released in 1979.

Atari 400 motherboard

Above: Atari 400 motherboard