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punchy71

Which Atari 8-bit machine is the most common model?

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Of the entire Atari 8-bit family of computers (400/800, XL series, XE series), which model is the most common?

 

Thank you

Edited by punchy71

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It's a long story. They stopped making the 800 & 400, came out with the 1200xl which was awesome but people didn't get it. To make amends they came out with the 600xl and 800xl with all they features people wanted. The 800xl was the better of the two.

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Probably cause during the original 400/800 series run computers were still too expensive for the average consumer. During the XE series the system started to show its age as well as face competition from 3rd generation video games such as the NES.

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It's a long story. They stopped making the 800 & 400, came out with the 1200xl which was awesome but people didn't get it. To make amends they came out with the 600xl and 800xl with all they features people wanted. The 800xl was the better of the two.

Plus, by the time the 600XL and 800XL were available in quantity, the 800XL was cheap enough that the 600XL wasn't very attractive (opposed to if the 600 had been on the market in '82/83 alongside the 1200 in the same sense the 400 complemented the 800 prior to that -except with a better keyboard).

 

The 800XL price was especially low due to Tramiel dropping it to $99 in mid 1984. (I think it remained at that price and was replaced by the 65XE at the same price point in mid/late '85 -which was still at $99 in '87 . . . when the nominally similar XEGS was strangely 2x that price -not sure about the 130XE's price)

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Interesting that the XL series was the shortest surviving of the A8 series in that the 6/800 xl was only on the market for 2-3 years (since tramiel dropped the XL late 85 or was it 1986, databases Atari User magazine i think mentions 1985) and the 1200 was dropped in either 1983 or 1984

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Well, I suppose if the XL had come out in 1985, that's the one which would have still been churned out until 1991 or whenever it was. I guess the longest surviving model is always going to be the last one, manufactured for as long as it still brings in cash without actually being developed in any way, until the plug finally gets pulled.

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Well, I suppose if the XL had come out in 1985, that's the one which would have still been churned out until 1991 or whenever it was. I guess the longest surviving model is always going to be the last one, manufactured for as long as it still brings in cash without actually being developed in any way, until the plug finally gets pulled.

I honestly don't see why they every switched to the XE styling/line in general . . . I can see some reasoning behind it (the "family look" and such), but it seems like there'd have been far more sense in keeping with the existing naming and styling/boards/case designs. (established tooling/manufacturing facilities, much less consumer confusion -people would more easily recognize the machines and also not confuse them with the STs . . . and the board/case designs of the XE machines actually don't seem generally cheaper at all -in terms of board size/complexity or size/weight/bulk- and they could have used cheaper keyboards along with the existing cases/boards)

 

It seems like continuing the XL line would have been both more cost effective (existing tooling/manufacturing established and already generally consolidated/low-cost designs) and better from a marketing standpoint (continuing with an established physical appearance and naming as well as being distinctly different from the totally separate ST line -as well as visually distinctive compared with any other computer on the market at the time).

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It's the same reason every single model of car gets a whole new look every few years: You can't write a magazine article about something that's the same. You need to be able to talk about how new and exciting something is, even if the change is completely superficial.

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Seem to remember Tramel when he took over Atari dunped all the 800XLs in the UK through Curry's and Dixon's at really low price, £69 for a 800Xl with 1050 drive I think I bought about 6 of them at the time as it was the ceepest way to get 1050 drives, sold about half of the 800XL for £35 each without the 1050 if you were cheap skate you could get a 800XL with 1010 for £49 I bought one just to get a new 1010 at the time.

I assume Tramel would have done some thing similer in the States

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It's the same reason every single model of car gets a whole new look every few years: You can't write a magazine article about something that's the same. You need to be able to talk about how new and exciting something is, even if the change is completely superficial.

Yeah, except you have to also specifically go through the trouble of explaining that the "new" machine IS basically the same old machine and compatible with such too . . . not like marketing cars at all in that respect and it really defeats the purpose in many respects. (especially in the context of the Tramiels' low-cost emphasis and their tight budget at the time)

 

The A8 had already gone through a significant design/style change with the XL line itself, so doing that again (especially in the context of Atari Corp) was more confusing, especially given the dramatic name change from 800XL to 65XE (and 130XE), more so than the case of the C64C. (plus, the naming and the case design made it more confusing for the A8 with the ST line -especially early on, with the press talks of the 130ST -which, of course, never went into production, but was obviously confusing)

 

This is getting a bit off topic, but from that standpoint, you could also argue that the 130XE didn't make that much sense either and that the 65XE should have been the bottom end machine to continue the established A8 software/hardware market but concentrate everything else to the ST moving forward. (which could include a more heavily stripped down ST closer to the 130XE's price/market point . . . like an actual 130ST with no keypad or midi ports -or MIDI ACIA- and TOS in ROM, or perhaps a specially cut-down derivative to cater to the limited memory)

 

 

Seem to remember Tramel when he took over Atari dunped all the 800XLs in the UK through Curry's and Dixon's at really low price, £69 for a 800Xl with 1050 drive I think I bought about 6 of them at the time as it was the ceepest way to get 1050 drives, sold about half of the 800XL for £35 each without the 1050 if you were cheap skate you could get a 800XL with 1010 for £49 I bought one just to get a new 1010 at the time.

I assume Tramel would have done some thing similer in the States

Yes, there was an official price drop for the 800XL in fall of 1984 and I believe that price was maintained (on the 64k models) for several years thereafter.

 

Some claim that those prices were selling at a loss, but I can't see them doing that continually. (perhaps it was at a loss in '84 -especially for liquidating stockpiled hardware, but manufacturing costs dropped enough in '85/86 to change that)

Edited by kool kitty89

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It's the same reason every single model of car gets a whole new look every few years: You can't write a magazine article about something that's the same. You need to be able to talk about how new and exciting something is, even if the change is completely superficial.

Yeah, except you have to also specifically go through the trouble of explaining that the "new" machine IS basically the same old machine and compatible with such too . . . not like marketing cars at all in that respect and it really defeats the purpose in many respects. (especially in the context of the Tramiels' low-cost emphasis and their tight budget at the time)

 

The A8 had already gone through a significant design/style change with the XL line itself, so doing that again (especially in the context of Atari Corp) was more confusing, especially given the dramatic name change from 800XL to 65XE (and 130XE), more so than the case of the C64C. (plus, the naming and the case design made it more confusing for the A8 with the ST line -especially early on, with the press talks of the 130ST -which, of course, never went into production, but was obviously confusing)

Jack was probably looking to generate buzz around the Atari brand. My recollection of the XE time period is that they were touted as a whole new line of computers that were "compatible" with the XL line.That's a wonderful word, isn't it? It implies that a conscious effort was made to ensure they would work with existing hardware and software, despite being cram-packed with gooey newness. In the end I bet the XE was cheaper to produce. The case used less plastic, the cartridge port was molded in eliminating several parts and assembly time, and I'm sure Jack was able to employ additional cost-cutting measures Atari hadn't even thought of.

 

This is getting a bit off topic, but from that standpoint, you could also argue that the 130XE didn't make that much sense either and that the 65XE should have been the bottom end machine to continue the established A8 software/hardware market but concentrate everything else to the ST moving forward. (which could include a more heavily stripped down ST closer to the 130XE's price/market point . . . like an actual 130ST with no keypad or midi ports -or MIDI ACIA- and TOS in ROM, or perhaps a specially cut-down derivative to cater to the limited memory)

Warner had already developed prototypes for a 128K 800XL and a 360K drive so Jack's investment in the XE line was smaller than it seemed.

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Jack was probably looking to generate buzz around the Atari brand. My recollection of the XE time period is that they were touted as a whole new line of computers that were "compatible" with the XL line.That's a wonderful word, isn't it? It implies that a conscious effort was made to ensure they would work with existing hardware and software, despite being cram-packed with gooey newness. In the end I bet the XE was cheaper to produce. The case used less plastic, the cartridge port was molded in eliminating several parts and assembly time, and I'm sure Jack was able to employ additional cost-cutting measures Atari hadn't even thought of.

He seems to have been pretty straightforward in public with the 65XE being the same machine, but just part of a new "family look."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NImJFV3wH88

 

If it really did significantly save on costs, it would make sense (though I'd have thought they could have used a cheaper case with the same 800XL motherboard), and the look of the XE line (if nothing else) did look more professional/computer-like than previous models. (though I know some find it ugly -including Curt- I personally like the look . . . relatively neat and clean, though it would have been cool to see in black -my personal favorite A8 case styling is the prototype 600's case and keyboard)

 

At very least they should have kept to the numeric-style naming to reduce confusion, and indeed, Atari Corp did release the 800XE in parts of Europe. (and that would likewise reduce confusion with the ST line somewhat too -an issue that's also apparent in the above interview . . . it seems the 130XE and ST get confused at times in the discussion)

 

This is getting a bit off topic, but from that standpoint, you could also argue that the 130XE didn't make that much sense either and that the 65XE should have been the bottom end machine to continue the established A8 software/hardware market but concentrate everything else to the ST moving forward. (which could include a more heavily stripped down ST closer to the 130XE's price/market point . . . like an actual 130ST with no keypad or midi ports -or MIDI ACIA- and TOS in ROM, or perhaps a specially cut-down derivative to cater to the limited memory)

Warner had already developed prototypes for a 128K 800XL and a 360K drive so Jack's investment in the XE line was smaller than it seemed.

True, but my point was more that (again off-topic) it could have made more sense to focus more on looking forward with the ST line since that was their future and the A8 was otherwise a dead-end (and Tramiel wasn't planning on further extending that design either -albeit Atari Inc themselves had been focusing much more on totally incompatible next-gen 68k based systems too, without much concern for serious compatible evolution of the A8 line -beyond simple OS updates and RAM expansion)

A cut-down ST similarly positioned as the 130XE could have meant establishing that line stronger earlier on (especially in Europe) and catering to a broader range of the market, and (unlike the XE) the software would be directly forward compatible with the "full" ST models. (they potentially could have supported expansion to full ST spec too, but that gets into a broader argument over expansion support on the ST in general . . . )

 

Granted, they could have offered a bottom-end/entry level class ST derivative AND the 130 XE too, but that would seem to create a conflict of interests and waste resources given the 2 machines would be roughly in the same market segment. (sort of like the mess CBM made with the Plus/4 and C16 -and to lesser extent, the C128, when they could have been pushing nothing but C64s and Amiga derivatives)

Edited by kool kitty89

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