Atari 400
Announced:December 1978
Released:November 1979
Price:US $549.95
CPU:MOS 6502,1.8MHz
RAM:8K base, 48K max
Display:24 X 40 text
320 x 192 monochrome
160 x 96 with 128 colors
Expansion:2 internal expansion slots
1 cartridge slot under front cover
Ports:4 controller ports
TV video output
Storage:external floppy drive
cassette recorder
OS:Atari OS

The Atari 400 and 800 were both announced in December 1978, though they didn't actually start shipping until late in 1979.

Designed primarily as a computer for children, the Atari 400 has an "advanced child-proof design featuring pressure-sensitive, wipe-clean keyboard". It has a single cartridge port under the front cover.

The Atari 400 boots-up into "Notepad", the only built-in program. Any other programs will have to run from cassette or cartridge - this includes BASIC, or any other programming language.

Game cartridges can be inserted into the cartridge slot in front, starting instantly with no fuss.

Many games were clones of actual video arcade hits, others were original or copies of other popular (or not) computer games of the 80's.

Most of the Atari 400 circuitry is under a solid metal shield, to keep the radio emissions under the legal limit.

The two internal expansion slots are also under this cover, which can only be accessed by disassembling the entire console.

Read more about the 400's big sister, the Atari 800 for more fun and details.

Both the Atari 400 and 800 were designed by a team which included Jay Miner, who later went on to help design the Commodore Amiga 1000.

Related Links

  • David Tebbutt, Personal Computer World 10/80
  • AGH'S Atari 8-bit computer game reviews
  • Antic - The Atari Resource
  • The History of Computer Games: The Atari Years
  • Atari 400 from PC Museum
  • Atari 400 at the Atari History Museum
  • Back In Time
  • Atari 8-Bit Computers: Frequently Asked Questions
  • Best Electronics - Atari

  • Partial History of the Atari Computers

    • 196?: As an engineering student at the University of Utah, Nolan Bushnell liked to sneak into the computer labs late at night to play computer games on the university's $7 million mainframes.
    • 1972: Bushnell founded Atari with $250 of his own money and another $250 from business partner Ted Dabney. They then created and commercialized the world's first commercial video game, Pong. Bushnell was 27 years old.
    • 1976: Warner Communications buys Atari from Bushnell for $28 million.
    • 1977: Atari introduces the Atari Video Computer System (VCS), later renamed the Atari 2600
    • 1978: December - Atari announces the Atari 400 and 800 personal computers.
    • 1979: October - Atari begins shipping the Atari 400 and Atari 800 personal computers.
    • 1979: December - Atari produces the first coin-operated Asteroids game machine.
    • 1981: May - Atari announces the 8KB Atari 400 is being discontinued.
    • 1982: January - Atari begins shipping all Atari 800 units with GTIA graphics chips, allowing three more graphics modes than previously.
    • 1982: December - Atari issues a US$55 rebate on the Atari 400, dropping its retail price to under US$200.
    • 1983: January - Atari introduces the 1200XL home computer.
    • 1983: May - Atari offers a US$100 rebate on the Atari 800, bringing its retail price to below US$400.
    • 1983: June - Atari introduces the Atari 600 XL.
    • 1983: June - Atari introduces the Atari 800 XL, with 64 KB RAM.
    • 1983: June - Atari introduces the Atari 1450 XL, with built-in 300 bps modem.
    • 1983: June - Atari introduces the Atari 1450 XLD, with built-in 300 bps modem and disk drive.
    • 1983: October - Atari begins shipping its XL computers.
    • 1983: - Atari cancels production of the Atari 1200XL, due to compatibility and other problems.
    • 1984: July - Jack Tramiel, President of Commodore International, leaves Commodore in January and buys Atari.
    • 1984: - Atari introduces the Atari 7800 ProSystem.
    • 1985: January - Atari introduces the 65XE, for US$120.
    • 1985: Atari introduces the 130XE, with 128KB RAM.
    • 1985: Atari introduces the 130ST for US$400.
    • 1985: Atari introduces the 520ST for US$600.
    • 1987: January - At the Winter CES, Atari announces a US$1500 laser printer.
    • 1988: September - Atari introduces the Atari TT.
    • 1989: - Atari Computer introduces the Portfolio, a 1-pound DOS-based PC, which runs on three AA batteries. Price: US$400
      Source: Chronology of Events in the History of Microcomputers

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