Here is a history of Atari with heavy emphasis on the 400/800/XL/XE computers.
June 27: Atari, Incorporated was formed by Nolan K. Bushnell and Ted Dabney,
with an initial investment of US$500 (US$250 each.). First location for the
company: Santa Clara, California, USA.
November 29: Atari delivered PONG, a coin-operated video game unit.
Nolan Bushnell bought out Ted Dabney’s share of Atari, making Bushnell the
With financial support from Atari, a group of engineers led by Larry Emmons
and Steve Mayer created the Cyan Engineering research and development group in
Grass Valley, CA.
Winter: Atari started an exclusive relationship with Cyan Engineering, and the
facility became known as the "Grass Valley Think Tank."
Fall: Atari purchased Cyan Engineering outright, and the facility became more
formerly known as the Grass Valley Research Center.
At Cyan Engineering, Ron Milner and Steve Mayer created the first concept
prototype of the home video game system that would become the Video Computer
System (VCS). The hardware was built by Milner.
June: Atari introduced the home version of PONG at the Summer Consumer
Electronics Show (CES) in Chicago
December: Joe Decuir was hired by Atari, initially to work with Ron Milner and
Steve Mayer at Cyan Engineering. Decuir would help debug the existing concept
prototype of the VCS, and Decuir built the first gate-level prototype of the
Atari headquarters moved to Sunnyvale, CA.
March: As Atari VCS development continued, Joe Decuir moved to Los Gatos,
Calif. to apprentice for Jay Miner, who would become the lead chip designer
for the VCS.
The group who would turn out to be the key engineers of the Atari VCS had now
been assembled: Steve Mayer, Ron Milner, Joe Decuir, and Jay Miner.
Development work would continue into 1977.
October 1: Nolan Bushnell signed a deal with Emanuel (Manny) Gerard, an
executive vice-president of Warner Communications, Inc., to sell Atari to
Warner for US$28 million. This would ensure adequate funding for the
development, production, and marketing of what would become the VCS. Bushnell
remained chairman and chief executive officer.
June: Atari introduced the Video Computer System (VCS) at the Summer CES in
Summer: Engineers Ron Milner, Steve Mayer, and Joe Decuir, veteran designers
of the VCS, began work on a next-generation home video game machine at Atari’s
Grass Valley Research Center. This project became known as "Oz" inside Atari.
March: Manny Gerard arranged for Raymond E. Kassar, who had recently departed
from his executive vice president position at fabric maker Burlington
Industries, to work with Atari as a consultant. Gerard then installed Kassar
as president of Atari’s Consumer Division. Nolan Bushnell remained chairman
and chief executive officer.
Ray Kassar directed that the video game technology already under development
as the "Oz" project would now form the basis for the development of a personal
computer system. The newly-redefined project become known as "Colleen" inside
The overall engineering plans for "Colleen" were conceived by:
Steve Mayer, Joe Decuir, and Jay Miner
The "Colleen" computer project evolved into two specific computer models:
o "Colleen" - the higher-end machine - would be released as the Atari 800.
o "Candy" - the lower-end machine - would be released as the Atari 400.
October: Atari contracted with Shepardson Microsystems, Inc. (SMI, headed by
Bob Shepardson) to create both a version of BASIC and a File Management System
(FMS) for the upcoming Atari personal computers.
November: At the Warner Communications annual budget meeting in New York,
Atari chairman Nolan Bushnell warned them not to plan on launching an Atari
computer division unless Warner was prepared to absorb extensive short-term
financial losses in establishing the new product line. Bushnell also
predicted that a properly-funded Atari computer line would ultimately be
January 5: Ray Kassar had just been named president and chief executive
officer of Atari. (New York Times)
January: Atari introduced the Atari 800 and Atari 400 Personal Computer
Systems at the Winter CES in Las Vegas. The 800 would ship with 8K RAM (user-
expandable in 8K or 16K increments to 48K) and retail for US$1,000; the 400
would come standard with 8K RAM and retail for US$500. The computers were
scheduled to ship in limited quantities in August 1979, with full availability
later in the fall. Also introduced: the 410 program recorder, 810 disk drive,
and 820 printer. Coverage of the introduction of the Atari 400/800 from
Creative Computing magazine: http://mcurrent.name/atari1979/
January: Atari ran an advertisement for the 400/800 on pp. 54-55 of
Merchandising, vol. 4, no. 1, January 1979. See:
http://mcurrent.name/atariads/gallery.htm for these and other early Atari
computer print ads from 1979-1981.
May 11-13: At the 4th West Coast Computer Faire in San Francisco Atari again
showed the Atari 400/800 computer systems, which were expected to ship within
June: At the Summer CES in Chicago Atari again showed the Atari 400/800
computers, which were expected to ship within weeks. The retail price for the
400 system would be US$550 (up from US$500). Also introduced: the Educational
System Master Cartridge and 17 cassette packs in the Talk & Teach Cassette
Courseware series (4 tapes per pack; 4 lessons per tape; developed by Dorsett
Educational Systems for Atari). Peter N. Rosenthal was Director of Marketing,
Personal Computer Systems, at Atari.
Summer: Atari received FCC approval for the 400/800 computers.
"The first official small shipment of the 400/800 was on August 29th 1979.
These were hand-built pilot run units to Sears that needed to be in stock by
Sept. 1 so they could be placed in the big fall catalog. The units were
placed in the Sears warehouse and then immediatly returned to Atari after
the "in stock" requirement had been met." --Jerry Jessop
September 4: The New York Times reported on p. D7, "Atari Inc., the maker of
home video games, will introduce two new personal computer systems in the
fall. The inaugural ad campaign, created by Doyle Dane Bernbach, will break
in October in 12 national publications. TV commercials will also be aired in
Los Angeles in November and December."
October: "Atari’s production lines were stalled for about a week in October
due to yield problems at one of its chip suppliers, Synertek. The low yields
at the semiconductor manufacturer resulted in significantly reduced delivery
of the MPU to Atari, resulting in about a 3-week delay in getting the
computers into the marketplace." Electronic News, December 10, 1979, p. 83.
"The first "real" consumer units were shipped in Nov. of 㥗 and were 400s
to Sears followed very shortly by 800s." --Jerry Jessop
November/December: The initial Atari 400 personal computer package consisted
of the 400 computer (8K RAM), 400 Operator’s Manual, power supply, TV switch
box, CXL4002 Atari BASIC (cartridge), Atari BASIC: A Self-Teaching Guide
(book, see http://www.atariarchives.org/basic/). Package retail: US$549.99.
November/December: The initial Atari 800 personal computer package consisted
of the 800 computer with 8K RAM module, 800 Operator’s Manual, power supply,
TV switch box, 410 program recorder, CXL4001 Educational System Master
Cartridge, CXL4002 Atari BASIC (cartridge), CX-4101 An Invitation to
Programming 1: Fundamentals of Programming (cassette), Atari BASIC: A Self-
Teaching Guide (book, see http://www.atariarchives.org/basic/). Package
November/December: Atari shipped Star Raiders, one of the earliest and most
successful games ever written for the Atari 8-bit computers. It was released
on an 8K ROM cartridge. It was programmed by Doug Neubauer, the designer of
the Atari POKEY chip.
December: "Atari is funneling large quantities of its 400 and 800 personal
computers and software to Sears, Roebuck, while retail computer stores have
been faced with late hardware deliveries and received very little, if any,
software. Sears is offering the Atari 400, priced at $549.99, through its
catalog, and is spot-marketing the machine in its retail stores throughout
California and the Chicago area. In addition, the firm is selling the Atari
800, priced at $999.99, in its California stores, but not through the catalog,
a Sears spokesman said." Electronic News, December 10, 1979, p. 83.
January: Atari introduced the 825 printer, 830 modem, and 850 interface at
the Winter CES in Las Vegas. Also, list prices for the 400 and 800 packages
increased to US$630 and US$1,080 (up from US$550 and US$1,000).
Winter: Atari shipped the 810 disk drive and the 820 printer.
June 15: Atari introduced the 815 dual disk drive, 822 printer, and CX70 light
pen at the Summer CES in Chicago. Also introduced: the Atari Accountant
series of software programs (developed by Arthur Young & Co. for Atari):
General Accounting System, Accounts Receivable System, Inventory Control
Summer: Atari modified the 800 computer package. The computer would now ship
with 16K RAM (up from 8K); the 410 program recorder and Educational System
Master Cartridge were removed from the package; the Atari BASIC Reference
Manual was added to the package. The retail price remained US$1,080.
Summer/Fall: Atari shipped the 825 printer, 830 modem, and 850 interface.
October: Roger H. Badertscher was named president of the newly established
Computer Division at Atari. He was previously vice president and general
manager of the microprocessor division of Signetics, an electronics
January 8-11: At the Winter CES in Las Vegas Atari announced that the list
price for the 400 computer package with 8K RAM installed was reduced to
US$499.95 (previously: US$630), and that the list price for the 16K RAM
version of the 400 package would be US$630. Also introduced: SCRAM, Missile
Command, Asteroids, Conversational Spanish (developed by Thorn/EMI for Atari),
PILOT, and the Atari Word Processor.
Winter: Atari shipped the 822 printer.
Winter: The development rights to Atari BASIC, the Atari FMS (DOS) and the
Atari Assembler/Editor program were purchased from SMI by Bill Wilkinson for
his new company, Optimized Systems Software (OSS).
Spring: First issue of The Atari Connection, the glossy magazine published by
the Atari Computer Division in support of the 400/800.
April 3-5: Atari Software Acquisition Program (ASAP) staff attended the 6th
West Coast Computer Faire in San Francisco, offering a grand prize of
US$25,000 in cash and US$75,000 in Atari products to runners-up for Atari
computer software authors. In order to qualify for the awards, programs would
have to be accepted and sold through the soon-to-be-launched Atari Program
May 5: At the National Computer Conference in Chicago, Atari announced that
the 8K Atari 400 was being discontinued and that the price on the 16K version
was being reduced to $399; also, the 400 would no longer be sold with the
Atari BASIC cartridge and the Atari BASIC: A Self-Teaching Guide book. Also
introduced: Personal Financial Management System, Dow Jones Investment
Evaluator, Atari Microsoft BASIC, Macro Assembler and Program-Text Editor.
May: Atari launched the Atari Program Exchange (APX), a user-written software
distribution unit within the Atari Computer Division. Guided by Fred Thorlin
since its inception in February 1981. See http://www.atariarchives.org/APX/
Summer?: Atari created the Atari Institute for Educational Action Research,
which began awarding major grants of Atari home computer products, cash
stipends, and/or consulting services to selected individuals and non-profit
institutions or ogranizations interested in developing new educational uses
for computers in schools, community programs, or in the home. Founded and
directed by Dr. Ted M. Kahn, Ph.D. More than US$250,000 would be awarded in
the program’s first year.
September: Ingersoll Electronics was the exclusive sales distributor for
Atari 400 and 800 computers in the UK.
Fall: Atari began shipping the 810 disk drive with DOS 2.0S (replacing
the original Atari DOS). Developed by SMI/OSS for Atari.
October: Atari 810 disk drives began shipping with ROM C, supporting a more
efficient "C" sector layout (about 20% faster than the original "B" layout),
and the Data Separator Board, improving reliability.
November: Atari 400/800’s began shipping with the new GTIA chip in place of
CTIA, increasing the palette of simultaneously displayable colors to 256 and
adding 3 new graphics modes. 400/800’s also began shipping with OS ROM
version B, improving peripheral I/O control routines.
December 30: Atari said that it would cut the retail price for the 800 home
computer (with 16K RAM) to US$899 from US$1,080.
January: Atari’s Computer Division was renamed the Home Computer Division.
January: At the Winter CES in Las Vegas Atari introduced Pac-Man, Centipede,
Caverns of Mars, The Bookkeeper, and The Home Filing Manager.
January 15: The Atari Software Acquisition Program (ASAP) made Fernando
Herrera the first person to win the Atari Star Award, along with US$25,000,
for My First Alphabet.
Winter: Ted Richards’ name first appeared as editor of The Atari Connection
May?: Atari launched the Atari Video Adventure center at Marrott’s
Great America theme park in Santa Clara, CA, featuring an arcade with all
the latest coin video releases and a store with every Atari game and
June 8: Atari announced the 5200 Home Entertainment System. Later dubbed the
SuperSystem, the cartridge-based 5200 would be marketed alongside the ultra-
popular Atari VCS (soon to be known as the 2600). While the 5200 required
unique game cartridges and controllers, the internal hardware and operating
system were nearly identical to that of the 400/800 computers. Suggested
retail price: US$299.95.
June 6-9: At the Summer CES in Chicago, Atari introduced the 835 modem (only
available together with TeleLink II as the Communicator II kit), along with
Speed Reading, Music Tutor I (renamed AtariMusic I when it shipped),
Juggles’ House and Juggles’ Rainbow. Atari also announced a reduction in
the suggested retail price of the 400 computer (16K RAM) to US$349 (from
June: Roger Badertscher resigned from his position as president of Atari’s
Home Computer Division.
Summer: First year of Atari Computer Camps, held in 3 locations: The
University of San Diego (CA), The Asheville School (Asheville, NC), East
Stroudsburg State College (PA).
August 24: John C. Cavalier was named president of Atari’s Home Computer
Division. His most recent job was vice president and general manager of
American Can Company’s Dixie and Dixie/Marathon unit, makers of consumer paper
October: Atari shipped the 5200 SuperSystem.
September: Steve Mayer resigned as senior vice president of engineering at
Atari to form WCI Labs, Inc. as a wholly owned subsidiary of Warner
Communications. The unit would help develop the next generation of Atari home
computers, with Mayer as chairman and chief executive.
December 13: Atari introduced the 1200XL home computer at a press conference
at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. "We believe that the Atari 1200XL will
set the standard for a new generation in home computing and, once again,
positions Atari on the leading edge of electronic technology and creative
computing," Atari chairman Ray Kassar said. The list price for the 1200XL was
expected to be well under US$1,000. Also introduced: the 1010 program
recorder, the 1020 printer/plotter, and the 1025 printer.
Atari sold 400,000 of its 400 and 800 computers in 1982, according to The
Yankee Group, a Boston-based computer consulting firm, accounting for 17
percent of all home computer sales.
Winter: Atari shipped the 835 modem.
Winter: Atari shipped the AtariWriter cartridge. Gary Furr was the designer
and manager of the project at Atari. The original author was William
Robinson, who had also written Text Wizard for DataSoft.
Winter/Spring: "Computers: Expressway to Tomorrow" was an Atari-produced
assembly program for junior and senior high schools in the U.S., offering both
entertainment and computer education using films, slides, music, and a live
host to explore the role of computers in society. (MC’s note: I remember that
this came to my school!)
March: Atari shipped the 1200XL, suggested retail price US$899.
March: The suggested retail price for the Atari 800 was US$679 with 48K RAM
standard. (These late-production pre-expanded 800 units were delivered with
the expansion bay screwed shut.)
Spring: The Atari 800 (with 48K RAM) would now retail for US$499.
April/May: Production of the 1200XL shifted from the USA to Taiwan. While the
400/800 and early 1200XL were made in the USA, later 1200XL and all future
Atari 8-bit computers were manufactured overseas.
May: Production of Atari 400/800 computers and 810 disk drives ended.
June 2: Atari announced the consolidation of the Home Computer Division with
the Home Video Game Division. The new combined division would have three
segments: Products (development and marketing), Sales and Distribution, and
Manufacturing. The presidents of the three segments would report to Ray
Kassar, chairman and chief executive. (Atari’s other two divisions, Coin-
Operated Games and AtariTel, were not affected.)
June: Atari introduced the 600XL and 800XL home computers at the Summer CES in
Chicago. The 400/800/1200XL would be discontinued. (The 1400XL and 1450XLD
computers were also introduced, but these never made it into production.)
Peripherals introduced: the 1027 printer, 1030 modem, and 1050 disk drive.
(Also shown: the 1060 CP/M Add-On Module and the 1090 XL Expansion System,
neither of which made it into production.)
June 11-Sept 10: Atari co-sponsored the Punta Cana Club Med/Atari Computer
vacation getaway on the island of Hispaniola in the Dominican Republic.
June: Production of the Atari 1200XL computer ended.
Summer?: The final phase of the Atari Video Adventure center at Marriott’s
Great America opened in Santa Clara CA, featuring a "video kaleidoscope",
Computer Painting, Tone Tunnel, and more.
Summer: Atari Computer Camps expanded to seven sites nationwide (U.S.):
Greenfield MA, Faribault MN, East Stroudsburg PA, Asheville NC, Glencoe MD,
Danville CA, San Diego CA
Summer: Atari’s 48K Memory Expansion Kit was released, for both the 8K and
16K versions of the 400 Home Computer.
July 7: Warner Communications announced that Atari chairman Ray Kassar had
resigned, to be replaced by James J. Morgan. Morgan was previously executive
vice president of Philip Morris USA, handling the company’s US$4.3 billion
September 6: James Morgan arrived at Atari as chairman and chief executive
Sept83-June84: The "Catch On to Computers" program, a joint effort between
Atari and General Foods’ Post Cereals, offered Atari computers, equipment, and
educational software to schools for collecting Post cereal proof-of-purchase
points over the 1983-1984 school year.
September: Ted Kahn stepped down as executive director of the Atari Institute
for Educational Action Research. More than US$1 million worth of computers,
software, and cash stipends had been awared to over 100 nonprofit
organizations since the program’s founding in 1981.
Fall: Atari begin shipping the 1050 disk drive with DOS 3 (replacing DOS
Fall: The Atari 600XL/800XL both shipped, retail price US$199/$299, though
limited early production fell far short of initial demand.
October-December: "Catch on to Computers" computer literacy training programs
for children, adults, and teachers, sponsored by Atari and General Mills’ Post
Cereals, ran in 10 cities across the U.S.
November: Atari opened the first Atari Adventure center in St. Louis, MO. The
concept combined a traditional video game arcade with a hands-on public
computer classroom/lab featuring Atari XL computers, along with a new
technology display area.
January 1: Atari increased U.S. dealer prices for the Atari 600XL and 800XL
by US$40 each, to US$180 and US$280, respectively.
January: (At the Winter CES in Las Vegas Atari again showed the highly-
anticipated 1450XLD, previously introduced at the Summer 1983 CES. The
1450XLD did not make it into production.)
January 23: In an organizational realignment, most operations at Atari were
consolidated into a single division called Atari Products Company, under Atari
chairman and CEO James Morgan.
February: Atari 5200 production ended.
April: Atari shut down the APX operation, directed by Fred Thorlin since 1982.
Software rights were returned to the original authors.
May 21: Atari announced the 7800 ProSystem. Atari also disclosed that the
5200 was no longer in production. More than 1 million 5200’s had been sold to
date. (Washington Post, May 22, 1984, C3)
June: (At the Summer CES in Chicago Atari again encouraged anticipation for
upcoming higher-end XL computers, but the 1450XLD first shown at the 1983
Summer CES had been dropped, and no newer models were ready for
July 2: The assets of the Atari home computer and home video game businesses
were sold by Warner Communications to Tramel Technology Ltd., which had been
formed in May 1984 by Jack Tramiel, founder and former president of Commodore
International. The transaction included the "Atari" name and "Fuji" logo,
along with intangible property rights (patents, trademarks, and copyrights)
owned by Atari in conjunction with its computer and video game businesses, all
for exclusive use in all areas other than coin-operated video game use.
Warner received no cash, but received US$240 million in long-term notes and
warrants for a 32 percent interest in Tramiel’s new venture. Tramiel, in
return, received warrants giving him the right to purchase one million shares
of Warner common stock at US$22 a share.
Tramel Technology was renamed Atari Corporation, with Jack Tramiel as
( You may be interested in "A Brief Timeline of the Atari Divisions Initially
Retained by Warner Communications, July 1984 to Present" which is located
at http://mcurrent.name/atariholdings.html )
Summer: The new Atari Corp. initially halted all manufacturing. Upon a review
of the existing product line, production of the 800XL and the 2600 was
resumed. The 600XL was discontinued, the 5200 firmly abandonded, and the yet-
to-be-shipped 7800 canceled. (Atari later re-introduced the 7800 in 1986.)
Atari Connection magazine was shut down.
July 13: Warner Communications announced the sale of 78% of its WCI Labs
subsidiary (internal co-developer of the Atari XL computers) to WCI Labs’
management. As a result of the transaction, which was made effective
retroactive to June 1, 1984, a new privately held company, the Take One
Company, was formed, with Steven T. Mayer as chairman and chief executive.
Warner Communications initially retained 22% ownership of Take One.
August: Atari reduced the retail price for the 800XL from US$250 to US$179.
November 13: Atari chairman Jack Tramiel declared that "business is war" and
announced the U.S. price for the 800XL would be reduced from US$179 to US$119.
December 6: It was reported that Atari would make an immediate 23 per cent
reduction to DM 499 (US$160) in the price of its 800XL home computer in West
Germany and similar cuts in the UK and Italy. Atari estimated the company’s
share of the West German home computer market at 8%, compared with 2% in 1983.
In the UK, the 800XL price cut was from 170 to 130 pounds.
"The 800XL has sold almost 500,000 units through 1984" --Atari’s Sigmund
Hartmann, Atari Explorer magazine, Summer 1985, p. 33.
January 5: Atari introduced the 65XE, 130XE, and 520ST home computers at the
Winter CES in Las Vegas. (The 65XEM, 65XEP, and 130ST computers were also
introduced, but these never made it into production.) The 800XL would be
discontinued. Peripherals introduced: the XMM801 and XDM121 printers and
the XM301 modem. (Also introduced: the XTM201 and XTC201 printers, the
XC1411 and XM128 monitors, and the XF521 disk drive, but these never made it
February: First issue of Atari Explorer magazine, the glossy published by
Atari (U.S.) Corp. in support of the XE and ST computers. Headed by Neil
March 5: At the San Leandro Computer Club Atari announced that they had
"postponed plans to produce an 8-bit portable computer, due to lack of
interest." Also, "plans for an XEM 8-bit music computer have been postponed
indefinitely due to problems with finalizing the AMY sound chip."
John Skruch was introduced as software product manager for the 8-bit XE line.
(CN, Apr85, p. 19)
April: Atari shipped the 130XE, retail price US$149.95. (The 65XE was held
out of production due to ample supply of the 800XL.)
April/May: Atari began shipping the 1050 disk drive with DOS 2.5 (replacing
June: Atari introduced the 260ST computer at the Summer CES in Chicago.
Fall: Atari shipped the XM301 modem.
November: Atari shipped the disk-based AtariWriter Plus, developed by Micro
Fantasy (William Robinson; Mail Merge module: Ron Rosen) and R. Stanley
Kistler (Proofreader module). Manual by Jeffrey D. Bass. AtariWriter Plus
was a complete rewrite of AtariWriter, and the package included a version for
48K/64K Atari computers as well as a version supporting the 128K RAM of the
January 9: At the Winter CES in Las Vegas Atari introduced a 130XE package
bundle with 1027 printer, 1050 disk drive, and 5 software titles -- Silent
Butler, Star Raiders, Music Painter, Paint, and AtariWriter -- to retail for
US$399. The 65XE, first introduced at the 1985 Winter CES but not shipped,
would soon ship both separately and as a package which would retail for US$300
to US$350. Also shown for the first time: the XC11 program recorder.
Additionally: the 7800 ProSystem (first announced May 21, 1984 but not
shipped) was re-introduced, a redesigned version of the 2600 (unofficially,
"2600 Jr.") was introduced, and the 1040ST personal computer was introduced.
Winter: Atari shipped the XMM801 printer.
March: Atari introduced the XEP80 interface at the Atari User show in London.
Spring: Atari shipped the 65XE, retail price US$99.95.
June 1-4: At the Summer CES in Chicago Atari again showed 65XE and 130XE
starter packages, to retail for US$349 and US$399. These include computer,
1027 printer, 1050 disk drive, AtariWriter Plus, Home Filing Manager, Music
Computer, Defender, and Star Raiders. An additional new package promotion was
announced: 65XE, joystick, Star Raiders, Pac Man, Donkey Kong and Sky Writer
for US$99. Also announced June 1: David Ahl would be the new editor of Atari
Sept/Oct: First issue of Atari Explorer magazine produced by the new
subsidiary, Atari Explorer Publications Corp. of Mendham, NJ, headed by David
H. Ahl, founder and former editor of Creative Computing magazine.
November 7: Initial public offering of shares of Atari Corp. common stock on
the American Stock Exchange, under ticker symbol ATC. Atari chairman Jack
Tramiel and his associates retained control over the company.
November 10-14: Atari introduced the SX212 modem at the Fall COMDEX (Computer
Dealer’s Exhibition) in Las Vegas.
January 8: Atari introduced the Mega ST personal computers and the PC/XT-
compatible Atari PC (4.77MHz/8Mhz Intel 8088) at the Winter CES in Las Vegas.
Also previewed at the show: the XE game system.
February: Atari introduced the XE video game system at the American
International TOY FAIR in New York.
June: Atari introduced the XF551 disk drive at the Summer CES in Chicago
Summer: Atari shipped the XDM121 printer.
September: Atari shipped the XEP80 interface and the SX212 modem (SX-Express!
disk software to be sold separately).
Fall: Atari shipped the XE game system in late September, and it reached most
dealer shelves by mid-October, retail price US$150.
October 4: Atari acquired all the outstanding capital stock of The Federated
Group, Inc., a retailer of consumer electronic and home entertainment products
with 91 outlets in Arizona, California, Kansas, New Mexico and Texas for $64.1
million in cash.
November 2-6: Atari introduced the ABAQ, later named the Atari Transputer
Workstation (ATW), along with the PC/XT-compatible Atari PC2 (4.77MHz/8MHz
Intel 8088) and the PC/AT-compatible Atari PC3 (4.77MHz/8MHz Intel 8088)
computers at the fall COMDEX in Las Vegas.
December: Atari sold 100,000 XE Game Systems in the U.S. at Christmas and did
not meet demand (Antic magazine, May 1988, p. 39)
December 31: From the Atari Annual Report: "In Czechoslovakia, the German
Democratic Republic, and Poland the Atari 800XE and 65XE computers have gained
brand dominance and are among the most popular systems being sold in these
January: Atari shipped the XF551 disk drive (with DOS 2.5).
November 14-18: Atari introduced the PC/AT-compatible Atari PC4 (8MHz/12MHz
Intel 80286) and the 80386-based OS/2-compatible Atari PC5 computers at the
fall COMDEX in Las Vegas.
December 31: From the Atari Annual Report: "Our XE line of 8-bit computer
systems is extremely popular throughout Eastern Europe, and most recently, has
begun to appear on retail shelves in the Soviet Union."
January: Atari shipped DOS XE, and also began shipping the XF551 disk drive
with DOS XE (replacing DOS 2.5). Developed by Bill Wilkinson for Atari.
March: The Atari board of directors gave final approval to the decision to
discontinue the operation of Federated. All stores in the money-losing chain
would be closed or sold by the end of 1990.
April 10-13: Atari introduced the STacy laptop computer and the Portfolio
palmtop computer (MS-DOS compatible, 4.9MHz Intel 8088) at the Spring COMDEX
May/June: Premier issue of Atarian magazine, "the official magazine of the
Atarian Video Game Club sponsored by Atari (U.S.) Corp." Published by Atari
Explorer Publications, David H. Ahl, Publisher/Editor, in support of the 2600,
7800, and XE video game systems.
June: Atari introduced the Portable Color Entertainment System (PCES), which
would be re-named Lynx before it shipped, at the Summer CES in Chicago.
Summer: Atari shipped AtariWriter 80, developed by William Robinson and Ron
Rosen (via Micro Fantasy) for Atari. Package included Proofreader and
Mail Merge, and required the XEP80 interface.
September: Atari introduced the STE personal computers along with the TT030
computer workstation at the Atari show in Duesseldorf.
October: Third and final issue of Atarian magazine.
Fall?: Atari introduced the Atari ABC 286-30 (8MHz Intel 80286) PC-
November 9: Atari said it had agreed to sell 26 of its Federated Group
consumer electronics stores to Silo Inc., a Philadelphia-based electronics
retailer. Silo would take over 21 Federated stores in Los Angeles and Orange
counties and five in San Diego. After the transation Atari would still own 14
Federated stores in Texas, Kansas and Arizona.
December 31: From the Atari Annual Report: "sales of games products such as
the 2600 and 7800 game systems and the range of older XE 8 bit computers
decreased by 35% to $101.6 million, or 24% of total net sales for the year
ended December 31, 1989, from $155.5 million, or 34%, of total net sales in
1988." From the Atari 10-K: "The Company’s traditional video game offerings
include the 2600 VCS, the 7800 ProSystem, and the XE Game System."
March 15: Atari Explorer Publications was shut down, and Atari Explorer
magazine went on hiatus.
May?: At the Atari shareholders meeting, Atari stated that last year, 250,000
XE computers were sold. In Poland, the XE sold 70,000 units, making it the
most popular computer in Poland. (Atari Interface, June/July 1990, p. 6)
November 12-16: Atari introduced the Mega STE personal computers at the fall
COMDEX in Las Vegas.
Jan/Feb: Return of Atari Explorer magazine, now headed by John Jainschigg in-
house at Atari.
March 13: Atari introduced the STBook notebook computer at the CeBIT (Centrum
der Buero- und Informationstechnik / center for office and information
technology) show in Hanover, Germany. (Also introduced: the STPad tablet
computer, later known as the STylus, but this never made it into production.)
May: "Atari Canada’s General Manager Geoff Earle announces a new trade up
program for owners of Atari 8-bit computers to a 520STFM for $250. The 8-bit
computer line is admitted to be discontinued." (AtariUser Jan㥤, p. 20)
May 14: At the Atari shareholders meeting, Atari stated that the XE was still
in production, being sold in South America, Eastern Europe and the Middle
East. (Atari Interface magazine, June 1991, p. 10)
October 21-25: Atari introduced the ABC386SXII (20Mhz Intel 80386SX) and
ABC 386DXII (40Mhz AMD Am386-40) desktop PC-compatible computers and the
ABC N386SX laptop PC-compatible computer at the fall COMDEX in Las Vegas.
November 23-24: Chicago Computerfest by Atari / Lake County Atari Computer
Enthusiasts (LCACE), Ramada Hotel O’Hare, Rosemont, Illinois. Atari (U.S.)
brought substantially all of their remaining inventory of 8-bit computer
products for clearance sale.
December 28: From the Atari 10-K SEC filing: "Atari’s XE series computers are
targeted for the price conscious markets. The 65XE and 130XE have 64k and
128k of internal RAM, and generally retail for less than $100 and $150,
respectively. Both are supported by a variety of peripheral equipment and a
variety of software titles including entertainment software. This computer
line retains compatibility with the Company’s previous generation 8-bit
computer systems, i.e., the 400 and 800XL computers."
Atari announced that support for all 8-bit products was discontinued as of the
beginning of this year, according to Atari Classics magazine. (Dec. 1992, p.4)
"..as of Christmas 1991, Atari decided to discontinue the XEGS, 2600, and 7800
systems." --Tim Duarte, AtariUser magazine, July 1992, p. 22.
June 2: At the Atari stockholders meeting, Atari stated that the XE line of
computers was still being made. Though not available in the U.S. market, XE
systems were being made for sale in Mexico, South America, Eastern Europe and
Germany. (Atari Interface magazine, Fall 1992, p. 19) These were apparently
800XE computers, manufactured in China.
August 21-23: Atari introduced the Falcon030 personal integrated media
computer system at the Atari Messe (Atari Fair) in Dusseldorf, Germany.
December 31: For the first time, the XE was not mentioned in Atari’s Annual
Report to Shareholders.
Jan/Feb: Final issue of Atari Explorer magazine.
August 18: Atari introduced the Jaguar 64-bit interactive multimedia system at
a press conference held at company headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif.
January 1: From the Atari Annual Report: "The Company also has some inventory
of its older 16-bit computer products and 8-bit game products, namely ST and
TT series of computers, 2600 and 7800 video games systems and XE computer and
Portfolio products. As a result of these inventories being technologically
obsolete and noncompetitive, the Company has written off these inventories.
The Company is expecting minimal sales from these products in the future."
July 31: Atari merged with pivately-held hard disk drive maker JTS (Jugi
Tandon Storage) Corp. The resulting company adopted the name of JTS Corp.
and the officers of JTS, along with Jack Tramiel from Atari, became the
officers of the merged company. Atari stockholders became stockholders in
JTS. For accounting purposes the merger was accounted for as a purchase of
JTS by Atari.
The prior business of Atari would now be conducted through the Atari Division
of JTS; however "the Atari Division was not expected to represent a
significant portion of JTS business," JTS said.
February 23: JTS sold substantially all of the assets of its Atari Division,
consisting primarily of Atari intellectual property rights and license
agreements, to HIAC XI Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hasbro Interactive
(itself a unit of toy company Hasbro, Inc.), for US$5 million. HIAC XI was
then renamed Atari Interactive, Inc.
(JTS filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection on December 11, 1998, and
then converted it to Chapter 7 (liquidation) on February 28, 1999.)
Hasbro Interactive produced games for home computers and gaming platforms,
sometimes utilizing the Atari brand and the Atari Interactive name. The Atari
Interactive subsidiary was sometimes termed "a Hasbro Affiliate."
January 29: Infogrames Entertainment announced completion of its acquisition
of Hasbro Interactive from Hasbro, renaming the subsidiary Infogrames
Interactive, Inc. Atari Interactive, including all its assets, properties and
licenses, was also included in the transaction. Atari Interactive became a
wholly owned subsidiary of Infogrames Interactive.
Infogrames utilized the Atari brand on some of its "premiere" gaming titles.
February 12: JAKKS Pacific announced the Atari 10-in-1 TV Games device.
May 7: Infogrames adopted the Atari brand and registered trademark for all
operations. Accordingly, NASDAQ-traded Infogrames, Inc. became Atari, Inc.
(symbol: ATAR). Operations were split into Atari, Inc. and Atari Europe, with
Infogrames Entertainment remaining the name of the parent holding company.
Additionally, the Infogrames Interactive subsidiary and its Atari Interactive
subunit were folded together, with the resulting unit adopting the Atari
February 15: JAKKS Pacific announced the Atari Paddle TV Games device, to ship
September 7: Atari announced the Atari Flashback Classic Game Console, to
ship in November 2004.
April 27: Atari announced the Flashback 2.0 game console, to ship summer 2005.
TODAY: The Atari copyrights/trademarks/patents associated with the 8-bit Atari
computer line, along with all other Atari intellectual properties secured by
Atari Corp. from Warner Communications in 1984, and along with all Atari Corp.
and Atari Interactive properties created since 1984, are owned by Atari
Interactive, Inc., a subsidiary of Infogrames Entertainment.
Infogrames Entertainment (IESA), the parent company of the Atari Group, is
listed on the Paris Euronext stock exchange (ISIN code: FR-0000052573) and has
two principal subsidiaries: Atari Europe, a privately-held company, and
Atari, Inc., a United States corporation listed on NASDAQ (ATAR).
Atari, Inc. manages Atari Interactive, Inc. on behalf of its parent company.
The Atari Group is a major international producer, publisher and distributor
of interactive entertainment software for all market segments and in all
existing game formats (Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony) and on CD-ROM for PC. Its
games are sold in more than 60 countries.
The Atari Group’s extensive catalogue of popular games is based on original
franchises (Alone in the Dark, V-Rally, Test Drive, Roller Coaster Tycoon,
etc.) and international licenses (Dragon Ball Z, Dungeons & Dragons, etc.).
For more information: http://www.atari.com
End of atari-8-bit/faq