atari 1200xl

home buttonupbacknext

(click on picture)


Introduced  Late 1982
Discontinued  June 1983
Release Price  


        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
PMMU: none
FPU: none
Data Path:  
L1 Cache: none
L2 Cache: none
2nd Processor: none
Slots: none
Bus type  
Data Bus width  
Address bus width  
CMOS real time clock  
USB: none
ADB: none
Video: none
SCSI: none
Parallel: none
Geoports: none
Ethernet: none
FireWire: none
Mic Type: none
AirPort Ready: n/a
Other Ports:  
Floppy Size:  
Int HD Size: none
Int HD Interface: none
Orig CD Speed n/a
Int CD Support: n/a
Internal drive bays  
Standard floppy drives  
Optional floppy drives:  
* 5 1/4 inch 160k none
* 5 1/4 inch 1.2MB none
* 3 1/2 inch 400k  
* 3 1/2 inch 1.44MB none
* 3 1/2 inch 2.88MB none
Hard disk controller included none
Memory Video and Graphics
Logic Board:  
RAM Slots: 0, n/a
Min - Max RAM:  
Min RAM Speed:  
RAM Sizes: n/a
Install in Groups of: n/a
System board memory socket type  
Number of memory module sockets  
Graphics Processor  
Screen size - columns & rows  
Video on board Built in monitor
Video RAM n/a
Max colors Mono - B & W
RGB output n/a
Composit Video Output none
Screen Resolution  
Sprites or Missiles none
Physical Specs. Software Power
Form Factor:  
Gestalt ID:  
Weight (lbs):  
Dimensions (in):  
Keyboard Specs  
Number of Keys  
upper/lower case  
Sound interface device  
Sound Generation  
ADSR capable no
Addressing Modes:  
Orig SSW:  
Orig Enabler: none
ROM Ver: n/a
ROM Size:  
AppleTalk Ver: n/a
Mac OS Supported:  
Max Watts:  
BTU per Hr:  
Voltage: 105-125
Freq Range: 50-60 Hz
Battery Type:  
Soft Power: n/a
Pass Through: n/a
Programming language  
Built in language none
Built in M L monitor none



   System Architecture     Memory 
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      
I/O 1-cartridge slot      
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