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burnthesehills

Need info on this ATARI 800XL system

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I was hoping to get any information on this system. 

 

My coworker’s father used to work at Atari in the 70’s and 80’s.  She told me he used to being home games and systems for her to “test” when she was a child and she always promised me that she would search through his storage and give me some items.  He passed away a few years ago and she is now going through his storage items.  She brought me in this system yesterday.  It is an ATARI 800XL.  However as you can see in the pics, on the back sticker it says WORKING SAMPLE FOR ATARI 800XL COMPUTER. And also CHELCO GROUP OF COMPANIES.  Versus the typical sticker on the back with the serial number and stock legal verbiage.

 

There are also 3 circular stickers on the top of the unit that state, 48, Passed, and Passed Pre.  All hand written.  I haven’t had a chance to test it out yet, but it looks like it is in mint condition.  

 

Any thoughts or information would be greatly appreciated! 

 

 

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On 6/30/2021 at 8:38 AM, burnthesehills said:

Any thoughts or information would be greatly appreciated! 

First thought is that the power supply is an INGOT, DO NOT USE IT.

This version of the XL power supply is known to fail over-voltage and damage chips, if you want to use the computer I would recommend getting another power supply.

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Good spot @BillC , didn't notice your post and was trawling the forum for a picture of an Ingot as I thought it was one.

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2 minutes ago, TGB1718 said:

Good spot @BillC , didn't notice your post and was trawling the forum for a picture of an Ingot as I thought it was one.

I am familiar with them, I have several.

I once checked a unit that was outputting +5.4VDC under load, what was really suprising was the 3.1VAC ripple.

No wonder these can destroy chips when they fail.

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Posted (edited)
On 6/30/2021 at 11:38 AM, burnthesehills said:

I was hoping to get any information on this system. 

 

8ADAA28A-265C-4282-A436-C2108118E15A.jpeg

 

1E67E442-3A81-4583-83E9-D48B35AF24F8.jpeg

 

Besides the very rare sticker on the underside, the keyboard seems to be unique as it does not have the rough texture on the keycaps. They look smooth.  Is that an accurate observation or is it the light/photography that I'm seeing?  A unique keyboard is great to see, even if it is the lesser mylar Stackpole/SCCO variant. Interesting that it came with the 400/800 guide, too. Apparently, the XL materials were not yet available. That adds some story to the machine that it came with the 400/800 user's guide.

 

The computer may also have a pre-production OS that could be of great value to those here who are trying to document them. It would be of great service if you would please dump BASIC ROM and the OS and send it to someone here or post it in this thread.  Do you have a way to do this?

 

If you are confident and good with screwdrivers and tools, open it up and please post high quality detailed closeup photos of the motherboard (both sides) here in the thread. Be sure to work in a static-free environment.

 

As far as value goes... It's worth more than a standard 800XL with the stickers and keyboard but it's not worth what a 1400XL will command.  You might get as much as $600 for it in the US. Rough guess. Condition matters. From your photos the condition seems very good but I do see some humidity induced corrosion on the underside of the RF shield.

 

@BillC is 100% correct. Please don't use that power supply. If you ever ship the computer, be sure it will not smash the machine in transit. Still better, cut the computer side of the cord off the brick and throw the brick away or use it as an Atari door stop knowing that 1983 is holding your door open while you unload groceries.

 

Great find! Congrats!

 

Cheers!!!

Edited by Sugarland

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Posted (edited)

Oh and if you do open it, be sure to photograph the RF shield before you open it so you can return it to the exact way it was assembled. There are many small screws+washers holding it together. Photograph and note how the PBI metal shield is placed.

Edited by Sugarland

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3 hours ago, Sugarland said:

 

Besides the very rare sticker on the underside, the keyboard seems to be unique as it does not have the rough texture on the keycaps. They look smooth.  Is that an accurate observation or is it the light/photography that I'm seeing?  A unique keyboard is great to see, even if it is the lesser mylar Stackpole/SCCO variant.

I got this type of keyboard from the „myatari“ Ebay shop some months ago. I like the smooth finish, it looks a bit like the 1200XL keyboard.

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17 hours ago, Sugarland said:

Besides the very rare sticker on the underside, the keyboard seems to be unique as it does not have the rough texture on the keycaps. They look smooth.  Is that an accurate observation or is it the light/photography that I'm seeing?  A unique keyboard is great to see, even if it is the lesser mylar Stackpole/SCCO variant.

Is smooth finish unique? My 800xl I got last summer off of eBay has smooth keys. 

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3 hours ago, mdivancic said:

Is smooth finish unique? My 800xl I got last summer off of eBay has smooth keys. 

Only for the SCCO keyboard variant. Those are rare afaik.  All other 600/800XL keyboards have smooth keycaps.  See this thread.

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
37 minutes ago, Sugarland said:

Only for the SCCO keyboard variant. Those are rare afaik.  All other 600/800XL keyboards have smooth keycaps.  See this thread.

 

What do you mean by "smooth" (i am not a native english speaker)? The keyboard i purchased from myatari is the first one i ever saw with shiny/glossy keycaps like the 1200XL. And i have seen a lot of 800XL keyboards in the last 35 years.

Edited by Dinadan67

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7 minutes ago, Dinadan67 said:

What do you mean by "smooth" (i am not a native english speaker)? The keyboard i purchased from myatari is the first one i ever saw with shiny/glossy keycaps like the 1200XL. And i have seen a lot of 800XL keyboards in the last 35 years.

Please post some clear, well let photos of it.

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Here is a comparison photo between an Alps keyboard (type 1) to the left and the shiny mylar (type 4) keyboard i got from myatari. My Mitsumi keyboard (type 5) is even rougher than the Alps.

keyboards.jpg

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Dinadan67 said:

Here is a comparison photo between an Alps keyboard (type 1) to the left and the shiny mylar (type 4) keyboard i got from myatari. My Mitsumi keyboard (type 5) is even rougher than the Alps.

keyboards.jpg

 

Looks great!  Good photo.  Has anyone else seen these shiny SCCO (type 4, Stackpole) keyboards? Every one I've ever seen besides these two has a rough or very rough textured surface.  myatari has access to excess inventory, including things like sample manufactures. Maybe that's what you got! His example photo for this keyboard on eBay shows the textured keycaps. His eBay listing photo is poorly lit:

2090729161_800XLSCCOStackpolefrommyatari.thumb.jpg.3ed3fefcbd408b4a0768599d65723ad3.jpg

 

Difficult to clearly see if there is or is not a keycap texture in that photo. Anyway it looks like you scored a nice rare one!

 

Edited by Sugarland

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First of all, it looks like I came to the right place!

 

Based on what she told me, I have to assume this was some type of test or pre-production unit.  Apparently he was heavily involved with this for Atari.  I used to have his old Atari business card, but misplaced it over the years.      

 

It does have smooth keys that are not textured.

 

For the record, I am more of a console collector and not incredibly good with electronics or computers.  I would really have no ability to dump BASIC ROM and the OS and would be concerned even opening the unit in case of accidental damage.  If there is a reputable forum member here, I would be willing to ship to them if they wanted to do this as long as they promise to send it back.  Preferably someone in the US.  I am located in Massachusetts.  I am all for preservation of classic gaming / computing and more than happy to help.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Thank you very much for the additional photos and responding.

 

I'm seeing two more differences with your machine. First the bigger difference is that the motherboard is very different from a release machine.

1557981106_Atari800XLWorkingsampleinternalAtarimachinesmoothkeycapstoo4.thumb.jpeg.ef2146e267ea68158dc011ba1276c337.jpeg

Zooming into that photo, the green PCB of the motherboard in the left side of that photo, has a very different pattern.  Below is how a production machine looks:

 

800XL-underside-view-of-motherboard.thumb.jpg.6436d6643378c12683d2e780fd8f884d.jpg

 

I have a very strong suspicion that your motherboard is very different from a production unit and in that case, it's worth more.

 

Next, and of lesser importance is that your PBI shield/guide is not there. That's presumably a factory omission. Here is how a production run PBI port should look from the factory:

800XL-PBI-shield-guide.thumb.jpg.18cff6c7a6c87078e0d12dfb7a9f8b7a.jpg

 

That's with the cover removed (yours has no cover either).  Many people remove the PBI shielding when opening up the computer but that's probably not what's happened with yours. 

 

Does anyone know of a pre-production 800XL? I've never heard of one.  I've seen photos of a 600XL development machine, that's all. The development machines are made by the engineers, well before the 'sample run' units.

 

 

Edited by Sugarland

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Posted (edited)

Here is the rough keyboard texture that every SCCO / Stackpole variant has that I've ever seen, including every Stackpole machine browsed on eBay. The texture strength varies, perhaps from use wear.

 

800XL-Stackpole-keyboard-rough-texture.thumb.jpg.1d2f6c084819ea422edc74f89a3b0352.jpg

 

This texture is in my opinion, unpleasant to type on.

 

 

Edited by Sugarland

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2 hours ago, burnthesehills said:

First of all, it looks like I came to the right place!

 

Based on what she told me, I have to assume this was some type of test or pre-production unit.  Apparently he was heavily involved with this for Atari.  I used to have his old Atari business card, but misplaced it over the years.      

 

It does have smooth keys that are not textured.

 

For the record, I am more of a console collector and not incredibly good with electronics or computers.  I would really have no ability to dump BASIC ROM and the OS and would be concerned even opening the unit in case of accidental damage.  If there is a reputable forum member here, I would be willing to ship to them if they wanted to do this as long as they promise to send it back.  Preferably someone in the US.  I am located in Massachusetts.  I am all for preservation of classic gaming / computing and more than happy to help.

 

 

Great! If you can find his business card that is great to keep with the machine as it adds value and adds to it's story!

 

Please don't open it then, since it's not your forte'.  Whomever does open it should use gloves to not get skin oils on the rf shield since those oily finger smudges cause corrosion. There are one or two people here whom collect the OS/ROM dumps for all things Atari.  I'll do some searching.

 

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For the time being I would NOT recommend powering it on.  More needs to be determined about it. It may be the only sample run 800XL in existence. 

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24 minutes ago, Sugarland said:

For the time being I would NOT recommend powering it on.  More needs to be determined about it. It may be the only sample run 800XL in existence. 

It is very possible. I forget his exact position at Atari, but he was there for many years in the 70’s and 80’s and involved with testing prototypes and such. She is still looking through his boxes in storage but says there may be some prototype games in there as well which I am excited to see. 
 

In the interim I will keep it safe and not open it or power it up. Again I would be more than happy to ship it to someone who knows what they are doing. 

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5 hours ago, Sugarland said:

Here is the rough keyboard texture that every SCCO / Stackpole variant has that I've ever seen, including every Stackpole machine browsed on eBay. The texture strength varies, perhaps from use wear.

 

Mine definitely doesn’t look like that.  Smooth and shiny is what I have. When back from the weekend I’ll have to take the time and identity it. 

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6 hours ago, burnthesehills said:

I am located in Massachusetts.

What part? I’m located in Rhode Island. 

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Posted (edited)

Anyone know anything about the "Chelco Group of Companies"? 

 

They appear to have a website (https://chelcogroup.com/) but it's not exactly clear as to what they actually DO... other than some sort of general conglomerate investing stuff.  There is a reference to electronics manufacturing, but...

Edited by DavidD
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