2.3) What kinds of computer monitors can I use with my Atari?

An Atari 8-bit computer produces a single video display channel and a single
(monophonic) audio channel.  The 400/800 models also produce some sounds
(primarily the keyclick and system buzzer sounds) by way of an internal
speaker.

While most Atari computers provide an RF color television signal (described in
another section of this FAQ list), many also (or alternatively) provide a
composite video signal, and some also provide a composite luminance signal
("Y") or a composite chrominance signal ("C") or both, which together are
known as Y/C video or S-video.  The French Peritel 400/800 provide limited
palette RGB video signals.

Except for the NTSC and PAL versions of the XE System Console, Atari computer
versions that provide composite, "Y", or "C" video signals output them through
the computer's Monitor port, which also contains a line for the computer's
audio output.  The pinouts for the Atari Monitor ports are in the pinouts
section of this FAQ list.

The XE System Console (all versions) provides a phono Video jack for composite
video output, and a phono Audio jack for the computer's audio output.

Color Composite Video Monitors
==============================
An 8-bit Atari computer, except the 400 and the NTSC version of the 600XL,
provides an NTSC, PAL, or SECAM (depending on the computer version) composite
video output signal.  Any computer monitor, television, or video receiver that
accepts a standard NTSC, PAL, or SECAM (matching the computer version)
composite video input can be used with the Atari.  For sound support, a
monitor that also accepts a separate sound input and has a built-in speaker
could be used.  Such monitors were common for use with home computers at the
time of the Atari, in part because the picture quality was superior to that
offered by TVs of the time.  Modern devices that accept a composite video
input remain suitable as well.

The typical Atari (color) monitor cable includes the male 5-pin DIN connector
on one end for the Atari Monitor port, and two phono plugs on the other end.
One of the phono plugs will carry the monophonic sound signal, and the other
will carry the composite video signal.  Atari's own CX89 Color Monitor Cable
is of this type.

Monochrome Composite Video Monitors
===================================
Many 8-bit Atari computer models, including the 800, 1200XL, 800XL, 65XE,
130XE, and 800XE, provide a composite luminance video output signal ("Y").
The video signal refresh rate corresponds to the computer version: 60Hz on
NTSC computer versions or 50Hz on PAL computer versions.  Any computer
monitor, television, or video receiver that accepts a standard 60Hz or 50Hz
(matching the computer version) monochrome composite video input can be used
with the Atari.  For sound support, a monitor that also accepts a separate
sound input and has a built-in speaker could be used.  At the time of the
Atari a monochrome composite monitor, when compared to a color composite
monitor, was less expensive and generally provided a sharper and easier to
read image.  The monitor reduces the Atari's color graphics output to shades
of green or amber (depending on the monitor), making the display less suitable
for entertainment or education software, but more suitable for productivity
applications.

An Atari monochrome monitor cable includes the male 5-pin DIN connector on one
end for the Atari Monitor port, and two phono plugs on the other end.  One of
the phono plugs will carry the monophonic sound signal, and the other will
carry the composite luminance "Y" signal.  Atari's own CX82 Black and White
Monitor Cable is of this type.

The Atari XEP80 Interface Module can be used to add a high-resolution
monochrome composite video output to any 8-bit Atari computer.  The XEP80 is
detailed elsewhere in this FAQ list.

Y/C Video (S-Video) Monitors
============================
Some 8-bit Atari computer models, including the 800, 800XL (later units),
65XE, 130XE, and 800XE, provide both a composite luminance video output signal
("Y") as well as an NTSC or PAL (depending on the computer version) composite
chrominance output signal ("C").  Any computer monitor, television, or video
receiver that accepts standard NTSC or PAL (matching the computer version) Y/C
video, also known as S-video, can be used with the Atari.  For sound support, a
monitor that also accepts a separate sound input and has a built-in speaker
could be used.  Y/C video quality is superior to color composite video,
making supporting display devices the ideal for use with the Atari.  Such
monitors were highly sought after by savvy Atari users of the time.

The most flexible type of Atari monitor cable includes the male 5-pin DIN
connector on one end for the Atari Monitor port, and includes 4 phono plugs at
the output end, carrying the monophonic sound signal, the composite video
signal, the composite luminance ("Y") signal, and the composite chrominance
("C") signal.  Such a cable can be used to connect an Atari to a color monitor
accepting separate "Y" and "C" inputs, to a color composite monitor, or to a
monochrome composite monitor.  (Atari themselves did not produce a monitor
cable of this type.)

While the best color composite monitors of the time of the Atari accepted "Y"
and "C" signal inputs through phono jacks, more modern television or video
receivers may accept these input signals together in the form of an S-video
Mini4 connector.  "Atari to S-video" interfaces or cables allow such modern
devices to work nicely with the highest quality video output signal produced
by the Atari.

Television Sets in France
=========================
Entering the French market with the 400/800 was a challenge for Atari because
they lacked SECAM versions of the computers to sell, and newer TVs also
supporting PAL video were not yet widely available.  Atari's initial
workaround to support more French TVs was to offer PAL G computer versions
modified to additionally provide an RGB video signal.  It was only a partial
solution, because the Atari's RGB signal output had a limited palette of only
8 possible colors, derived from the 8 luminance/brightness levels as generated
by GTIA.  Native Atari PAL color/hue information was ignored.

The 400 Peritel version has a built-in TV connecting cable that terminates
with a Peritel connector.  The 800 Peritel version was supplied with a cable
that plugs into the 800 Peritel Monitor port (8-pin DIN) at one end, with the
Peritel connector at the other end.  400/800 Peritel cable connector pinout:
     6. Audio (mono)
     7. RGB Blue                                      _20_________________2_
     8. Slow Switching (+12V = AV Mode 4:3)           \ o o o o o o o o o o |
    11. RGB Green                                  (21)\ o o o o o o o o o o|
    15. RGB Red                                         19------------------1
    16. Fast Switching (High / +1-3V = RGB)
    17. Video Ground                  Not connected: pins 1-5,9-10,12-14,18-19
    20. RGB Sync
see: http://atariage.com/forums/topic/252426-400pal-with-rf-and-scartperitel/

When development of native SECAM versions of the 600XL/800XL was delayed Atari
chose to supply (unmodified) PAL G 600XL/800XL computers in France, as TVs
supporting PAL video were becoming more common.  Yet, to support older
televisions requiring SECAM or RGB video, Atari also separately offered the
Adaptateur PAL/Peritel PVP80 (by Compagnie Generale de Videotechnique or CGV)
to provide an RGB video signal (and audio) via Peritel connector.  The PVP80
plugs into the 600XL/800XL monitor port (5-pin DIN) at one end, with the
Peritel connector at the other end.  PVP80 Peritel connector pinout:
     4. Audio Ground
     6. Audio (mono)
     7. RGB Blue                                      _20_________________2_
     8. Slow Switching (+12V = AV Mode 4:3)           \ o o o o o o o o o o |
    11. RGB Green                                  (21)\ o o o o o o o o o o|
    15. RGB Red                                         19------------------1
    16. Fast Switching (High / +1-3V = RGB)
    17. Video Ground                            Ground: 4,5,9,13,17,18
    20. RGB Sync                         Not connected: pins 1-3,10,12,14,19

The standard video cable provided by Atari France with SECAM 800XL, 130XE and
XE System Console units has the male 6-pin DIN on the end that plugs into the
computer's Monitor port, and a Peritel connector on the other end, with this
pinout:
     2. Audio (tied to pin 6)                         _20_________________2_
     4. Audio Ground (tied to pin 17)                 \ o o o o o o o o o o |
     6. Audio (tied to pin 2)                      (21)\ o o o o o o o o o o|
     8. Slow Switching (+12V = AV Mode 4:3)             19------------------1
     16. Fast Switching (Low / not connected = Composite)
     17. Video Ground (tied to pin 4)
     20. Composite video (SECAM standard)
     Not connected: pins 1,3,5,7,9-16,18-19
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