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Atari XE System

Atari XE System
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The Atari XE System uses Cartridges to play games and has a computer feel because of the things you can do with the keyboard that works with the gaming system. Made by Atari Corporation and using the standard Atari Joysticks and also a Gun that resembles the one used for the Original Nintendo.
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Atari XE by David Pugh from North Carolina United States
21 Aug 2015
For those who are unaware, the XE Games System was launched in 1987 as a console version of the Atari XE computer. But this wasn’t the first time Atari had tried to make a console out of their 8-bit computer hardware: the 1982 release of the Atari 5200 was based on the Atari 400 computer. With the XEGS, Atari corrected one of the 5200’s biggest flaws: it was compatible with all existing A8 hardware and software. In fact, this console could be expanded into a full-blown Atari 8-bit computer with the addition of a plug-in keyboard and a tape deck or disk drive! With an absolutely huge back catalogue of games and all the flash devices now available, the XEGS is a system that more people should be discovering.

Atari XE by jeff jeff from Kentucky United States
30 May 2005
i got the atari xe for christmas in 87, i was 7 years old. i thought it was the best thing ever! i had some good games like, digdug, fightnight, flight sim and bug hunt. also i remember there being a built in typing game or something. i wish i still had this system

The Atari XEGS by Barry Laws from Kansas United States
18 Apr 2005
The Atari XEGS was basically a stripped-down Atari 65XE computer (which itself was basically an Atari 800XL with a new design). It had a keyboard which would turn it into a computer, a lightgun, and it came with two games : Flight Simulator and Missile Command (Missile Command was an on-board game, meaning if you didn't have a cartridge inserted, it would automatically boot up Missile Command). Even though it was compatible with pre-existing Atari 8-bit computer cartridge software, it had no chance against the NES or even the Sega Master System.

The Atari XE by Dave Di Giorgio from Arkansas United States
18 Apr 2005
The XE Game System was simply a repackaged Atari home computer. The only difference between it and a normal Atari home 8-bit computer that could be purchased at the time was that it came with a light gun (which didn't exist before for the Atari), it had a detachable keyboard, and Missile command was built into the ROM set. Missile command could be played by either detaching the keyboard or by hold the correct button down when the computer started up. The computer was already capable of using a light pen and so the same code was used for the lightgun. It used the 8-bit 6502 processor which always ran at 1.79... MHz. The chip had 2^16 = 64k of byte addressable space. This is the same chip that was used in all Atari home computers, the Apple I & II, Commodore, Atari 5200 & 7800. Most importantly it was the processor of the sitemaps main competitor, the NES. (Note: The Atari 2600 game system used the 6507 chip which was basically the same but instead had only 2^13 = 8k of addressable space. It also had no VRAM and only 128 bytes of ram!) Graphics were handled by the Antic chip which was a second CPU which ran its own special assembly commands. The two CPU chips had to access the same memory space. VRAM could be anywhere in this space. The XE game system had a palette of 256 colors (16 colors x 16 brightnesses), up to 16 could be displayed at once in a single graphics mode although graphics mode mixing to get more colors was easy and common. Also, rudimetory sprites existed. 4 that were 8 bits wide; 4 that were 2 bits wide. Each spite was one color, but each could be a different color. Sprites could be combined for multicolor characters. Graphics were designed to be on a TV through a signal to channel 2 or 3 converter or on a monitor that used RCA jacks, one for video and one for 8 bit mono sound. Sound was handled by the Pokey chip. It had 4 independent voice channels that could either play a variety of tones and buzzers or the two channels could be combined to play 4-bit wavetables! It arguably had the most powerful sound processing of any 8-bit home PC. The XE games system had 64k of RAM. It had two joystick/ trackball/ dual-paddle/ lightgun/ lightpen ports. They used the same type of plug as a IBM 9 pin serial port. (Note: The Atari 800 computer had four ports.) Custom joysticks were easy to make for the computer because one pin supplied power +5Vdc, and four of the other pins were used for up, down, left, and right. Two pins along with the +5Vdc and a 0Vdc pin were used for the dual paddle controllers that could be plugged into either port allowing a maximum of 4 players. Hence the computer had four built in D to A converters. I believe that the last pin was used for the light pen. It had an I/O port for daisy chaining a tape drive, printer, plotter, or modem (1200 baud max I believe), and up to eight 5.25 inch disk drives. Built into the console was a cartage port, which again was on all Atari 8-bit computers. This was the form of media that the game system developed all its games for. The game system/computer had built in Atari BASIC. My background with the computer: The first PC I ever used was an Atari 800 computer that my school got in the 4th grade. I loved it and so my parents bought me an Atari 800XL computer, Atari 1050 disk drive, and NEC monitor. Overtime the chip that handled color on the computer stopped displaying green and so I sold the computer and bought a used XE game system to replace it. I still own the computer and know a lot more information about it if you have any specific questiions.
Dave Di Giorgio
Ride Control Systems Project Engineer