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Atari 1200XL Computer

The Atari 1200XL was released by Atari Inc. in March 1983 as a successor to the still-popular Atari 800 8-bit computer. Although the 1200XL featured a modern case redesign and several technical improvements including 64K of RAM, recessed cartridge and controller ports, function-keys, and a built-in self test, the system soon became notorious for its lack of 100% software and hardware compatibility and substantially higher price. Negative press reviews and poor sales resulted in Atari discontinuing the ill-fated 1200XL in June 1983, only four months after its release.

The 1200XL (S/N 83SDA013143133) has the honor of being my first personal computer. Fueled by my interest in my uncle’s Atari 800, my dad purchased the 1200XL as a present from Computer Mail Order, but a back-order status delayed the system from shipping until what seemed like months later. In fact, it became a daily ritual to listen and wait for the UPS truck to drive down our street, hoping that it would stop this time instead of driving past.

Although Atari quickly released a Translator disk which allowed incompatible software to run successfully, the system’s shortcomings weren’t an issue for me. Atari cancelled the 1200XL and replaced it with the superior 800XL model, but my trusty 1200XL remained my computer of choice until the 16-bit 520ST came along a few years later. Ironically, the 1200XL has since become highly sought-after among vintage computer collectors due to its history and reputation.

Atari 2600

The Atari Video Computer System, better known as the “Atari 2600”, is the first commercially successful programmable video game console and was first produced in 1977 by Atari Inc. The console connects to a television through an RF antenna switch-box and has a cartridge port for game programs. Two controller ports allow for the connection of player controllers including joysticks, paddles, steering, and keyboard controllers. Game variations and difficulty settings are selected through its front-panel switches.

The console features an 8-bit MOS Technology 6507 CPU, a cost-reduced version of the 6502 CPU running at 1.19 MHz. The system architecture provides 128 bytes of RAM and can address 4K of ROM. The system was designed in Grass Valley, California by Joe Decuir, Steve Mayer, Ron Milner, and Jay Miner. Atari sold the system from September of 1977 until discontinuing it on January 1, 1992. It is estimated that 30 million consoles were sold. The system originally retailed at $199.

There are several variations of the Atari 2600 console in the collection:

Model CX2600 is the initial production early-model VCS. Manufactured in California, is it known as among video game collectors as the “heavy-sixer” for its six front-panel switches and heavy-gauge metal RF shielding. The game program Combat was included with the system.

Model CX2600A is a Hong Kong-manufactured unit nicknamed the “light-sixer” for its six front-panel switches and lighter-gauge internal RF shielding. It is my first video game console and was given to me as a Christmas present by my parents in either 1981 or 1982. The game program Combat was included with the system.