Overview of the Atari 600xl
The Atari 600xl, a recent addition to my collection, it is a fascinating little piece of computer history. It is part of the Atari 8-bit family of computers, and coming out in late 1983 to replace the Atari 1200XL. The 600XL came Atari BASIC and a built in 16K of RAM. For a CPU the Atari 600XL boasted a MOS Technology 6502B which ran at 1.79MHz for NTSC and 1.77MHz for the PAL users. From reading the manual, I found that it had 4 sound channels, each with 14 sound types. It supported two joystick ports, an Atari Parallel port, and a SIO port (Serial input output). The video by default was RF, but I modified mine to output composite video. It requires 5 volts of power at about 6.6mAH draw.
The computer boots up to Atari BASIC, and has an option menu where you can test things such as the sound, RAM/ROM, keyboard, and all. There is also a cartridge port to boot from carts. The machine can be hooked up to a floppy drive to save files, and a diskette drive as well, as mine did. This allows you to save your programs, and load ones that were released on those mediums.
The video of the 600xl is processed by the ANTIC, which when coupled with the CTIA/GTIA it can display in color, 256 versions of color too!
But you already knew that didn’t you? Well today I plan to inform you of the grand mass of software and games for the Atari 600xl! Here is what this little home computer can do for you!
The Atari 600xl comes with Atari Basic built in to it. When you turn the 600xl on it boots up to a screen that says ready and allows you to start to program. Once here you can make it do many wonders such as small games, computer “apps”, and much more. You can make it interface with the joystick port, and most impressively you can make it save!
I personally have the Atari 1010 Data Cassette, which I will post more about later when I get it to work (I think a belt is gone). You can save to the Atari 1010 with the command csave, and load with cload. I presume that the c is for cassette, and the load and save are obvious. I plan to attempt to back up and reload the cassettes with a tape deck and an auxiliary cable to my computer, I will let you know if that works well or not later.
Another method for saving and loading data is the Atari 1050 floppy disk drive, this allows the same functions as the Atari 1010 but with the feature of booting up a version of DOS, I personally do not own this machine, if I did I would try to get it to play ZORK or something like that.
The Atari 600xl also have a test mode where you can test all of the functions as mentioned above, hold option when booting to get to that.
For games, you can get them in many formats, floppy’s, cassettes, and cartridges. I own PAC-MAN Defender, centipede, and Gyruss. These four games all work well, and are in surprisingly well built cases, except for Gyruss since its a third party game. Once I get the cassette drive working, I will be able to get more games on the system, and see how well it really handles.
There is so much to say about the Atari 600xl, I will keep posting about this system. Next week I hope to have more on Atari Basic, but for now that’s all, as this post is already a day late.