|(click on picture)|
| In 1982 the Home
Computer Market was in full swing. Competition was heating up and Commodore was killing the
competition with it's low cost VIC-20 computer and in January at
the winter CES had just demonstrated their latest computer, the Commodore 64.
Atari management knew that in order to survive in this hostile environment they would have to replace the aging and expensive to produce 400/800 series computer line.
Their answer was the sleek modern looking 1200XL. A reduced cost single board computer that would put Atari in a good position to compete with Commodore. It featured 64K of RAM, 16K of ROM, a new Operating System complete with built in diagnostic programs, a keyboard that is completely redefinable, and programmable function keys.
But in order to bring some of these advanced features to the 1200XL, Atari engineers had to make some sacrifices to the 1200XL. These sacrifices led to compatibility problems with some programs written for the 400/800 computer platforms. For instance: The engineers felt that 2 joystick ports were sufficient for a personal computer, so they eliminated ports 3 & 4 and used the hardware addresses to control OS functions such as switching BASIC in and out of memory and adding the HELP key function of self tests. This led to compatibility problems with programs that require that these ports be available.
Other problems which probably led to the early demise of the 1200XL was the omission of an expansion port found on just about any other competing computer in this era. I think the Atari management misjudged the Home Computer Market of 1982. I believe they felt that consumers wanted a computer that was basically an 'appliance computer' in that you plug it in run an application or game with no abilities beyond what comes out of the box.
But the market of 1982 was still young and primarily driven by hobbyists who liked to tinker and expand their computers. The market would not mature for another 2 years, when in 1984 Apple Computers introduced the world to the Macintosh, an all in one non-expandable computer. Then 4 months later introduced their own version of the 'appliance computer' the Apple IIc. This time the market was ready for it and the IIc became a very successful computer for Apple.
But in 1982 the Atari 1200XL was a flop. It lasted less than a year before it was quietly dropped and replaced by the 600XL/800XL line of computers which addressed the failings of the 1200XL.
The Atari 1200XL in this exhibit was added to the museum on February 21, 2001 and was purchased on EBay.
|System Architecture||Ports||Disk Storage|
|Memory||Video and Graphics|
|Microprocessor||MOSTEK 6502C||Standard on system board||64k|
|Clock speed||1.79 MHz||Maximum on system board||64k|
|Bus type||Atari proprietary||Maximum total memory||64k|
|Data bus width||8 - bits||Memory speed and type|
|Address bus width||16 - bits||System board memory socket type|
|Interrupt levels||N/A||Number of memory module sockets|
|DMA channels||N/A||Memory used on system board|
|Standard Features||Disk Storage|
|ROM size||24k||Internal disk and tape drive bays||none|
|Optional math coprocessor||no||Standard floppy drives||Cassette or 5.25 floppy|
|Parallel port type||no||Optional floppy drives:||external|
|RS232C serial ports||yes||* 5 1/4 inch 160k||yes|
|Mouse ports||yes / shared joystick||* 5 1/4 inch 1.2MB||no|
|UART chip used||N/A||* 3 1/2 inch 720k||no|
|Maximum speed||N/A||* 3 1/2 inch 1.44MB||no|
|CMOS real time clock||no||* 3 1/2 inch 2.88MB||no|
|CMOS RAM||no||Hard disk controller included||no|
|Video & Graphics||Sound|
|Graphics Processor||Antic||Sound Interface device||Pokey|
|Screen size - Col x Rows||40 x 24||Sound generation||4 voices|
|Resolution - Colors/High||2 / 320 x 192||ADSR capable||no|
|Resolution - Colors/Low||16 / 80 x 192|
|Max colors||128||Programming Language|
|Sprites or Missiles||4||Built in language||Atari BASIC|
|Built in M L monitor||no|
|Expansion Slots||Keyboard Specs.|
|Total adapter slots||0||Number of keys||55 / full stroke|
|Number of 8/16/32 bit slots||0 / 0 / 0||Upper/lower case||yes / yes|
|I/O||2-joystick ports||Keyboard cable length||N/A|
|I/O||1-RF output to TV|
|I/O||1-13 pin serial port|
|Physical Specs.||Environmental Specs.|
|* Height||Operating voltage @ 60 Hz||120 VAC|
|* Width||Maximum power supplied|
|* Depth||Power supply output - volts|
|* Weight||Power supply output - amps|