jjATR HC The Atari 800XL

Spelunking

20190627: This is a very pretty looking and mechanically sound feeling Atari XL. Runs, boots from floppy. Has Expansion Port Cover. Small hole drilled in the back panel of the case. I vaguely remember this coming from an active hardware hacker who removed an upgrade switch to reuse in another machine… maybe a socket for something already installed in here? Keyboard feels amazing… maybe an upgrade there?

jjATR 800XL, 1050, Commodore 1702
jjATR-HC 800XL, 1050, Commodore 1702

Wow, let’s get a better look at that power supply.

jjATR-HC Atari XL Power Supply
jjATR-HC Atari XL Power Supply

I’ve always thought these were great power supplies. I need to go back and see if I can find a page I used to know that compared the different types of Atari power supplies… apparently, some of them are easy to open up and work on, but some of them are epoxy globs on the inside. This is one of two like this I’ve ever come across.

So back to the main event…

jjATR-HC Atari 800XL-a Serial Number Label
jjATR-HC Atari 800XL-a Serial Number Label

The 83A indicates location of manufacture as the Atari-Wong plant in Hong Kong; HA is the code for NTSC 800XL machines. The three digit stamped code is a date code, here indicating week nineteen of 1984 as the manufacture date.

It turns out that the nice keyboard wasn’t an upgrade, just a solid piece of kit from the get-go. Further spelunking into keyboard variations reveals this keyboard to be the Alps switch-based model, generally liked for both its feel and its repairability.

jjATR 800XL Alps keyboard C024583-001 CAV. A REV. 2
jjATR 800XL Alps keyboard C024583-001 CAV. A REV. 2

This upper case is marked C024583-001 CAV. A REV. 2

jjATR 800XL bottom case C024584-001 CAV. A REV. 1
jjATR 800XL bottom case C024584-001 CAV. A REV. 1

Lower case stamped C024584-001 CAV. A REV. 1.

jjATR 800XL motherboard
jjATR 800XL motherboard

What we can see before removing the shielding. The little bit of information in the top right only appears in the XL motherboard list twice, either it’s Rev C APC Hong Kong or Rev D OPC.

jjATR 800XL motherboard
jjATR 800XL motherboard

This 800XL is in amazing shape, he mentions as he realizes how clearly you can see him taking that photo in the reflection off the shielding. There’s also a visible number stamped on there, C 024652-001R C. Google shrugs its shoulders at that particular reference.

Related models

The Atari 600XL is the little brother to the 800XL, literally.

jjATR-HC 600XL
jjATR-HC 600XL

That is actually a second of the cool looking power supplies, they both work!

jjATR-HC 600XL serial number label
jjATR-HC 600XL serial number label

Here again we see the 83A prefix for the Atari-Wong manufacturing plant, and the code for the NTSC 600XLs was EA. Fifteenth week of 1984. This machine apparently went out of the same plant about a month before the reference 800XL above. The keyboard externally appears to be a Stackpole bubble type.

Additional machines

jjATR 256XL, runs. Mojo switch on back panel.

jjATR 256XL
jjATR 256XL

Made in Taiwan, 72R prefix, HA for NTSC 800XL, 52nd week of 1984. Appears to have Stackpole keyboard.

jjATR 800XL-b, runs, no response from SIO.

jjATR 800XL-b Serial Number Label
jjATR 800XL-b Serial Number Label

Made in Taiwan, 72R prefix. Expected HA, 39th week of 1984.

20190705 – Opened this machine up. Learned a little something about keyboards.

jjATR 800XL-B Alps keyboard
jjATR 800XL-b Alps keyboard

This unit has the same keyboard as the reference 800XL above, the Alps socketed switch model. There is at least one switch version from AWC, then two Stackpole keyboards and one from Mitsumi.

jjATR 800XL-b internals keyboard
jjATR 800XL-b internals keyboard

Here you can see the Alps logo and various part numberings on the keyboard.

Turns out there was also a motherboard in there to learn about.

jjATR 800XL-b motherboard
jjATR 800XL-b motherboard

A post on the AtariAge forums has a list of the known motherboard types, which I’ve reproduced here.

Board Name Fits PN Revision Date Component Side Solder Side Manufacturer

800XL 800XL CO61851 A1 Chelco 1983 P/N: 150800011 REV A1 800XL 800XL/CO61851 A1 CHELCO

800XL 800XL CO61851 A2 Chelco 1983 P/N: 150800011 REV A2 800XL 800XL/CO61851 A2 CHELCO

800XL 800XL CO61851 C CAO24808-001 REVA CA061854 800XL/CO61851 REV C/MADE IN HONGKONG APC

800XL 800XL CO61851 D 3284 CA06220-REV? PBT 374 800XL/CO61851 REV D/OPC/1298A/32-84 OPC

800XL 800XL CO61851 D 3384 CA061854 REV.D PBT 414 800XL/CO61851 REV D/OPC/1298A/33-84 OPC

800XL 800XL CO61851 D CAO24808 REV D PBT 504

800XL-SECAM 800XL CO24968-001 X1A 4-84 CA025926-001 REV- GCI-A 18-84 CO24968-001 REV-X1A 800XL-SECAM

800XL-SECAM 800XL C024968-001 R3 884 800XL-SECAM ROSE CAO24969-001 REV- 8-84 GX-211 VO C024968-001 REV R3 800XL-SECAM

800XLF 800XL CO25925-001 R1 © 4-84 CA025926-001 REV- CO25925-001 REV-R1 800XLF KT201 8502

800XLF 800XL CO25925-001 R3 285 © 9-84 CA025926-001 REV- CO25925-001 REV-R3 800XLF KT201 8502

130XE 800XL 5084 © 11-84 CAOXXXXX-XXX REV- 50-84/COXXXXX-XXX REV-R1 130XE

There are two stickers on this motherboard, a green circular one that possibly says ICT Passed, and an orange one that definitely says Burn-In Passed. I’m beginning to think these stickers might be obscuring the main identification I’m supposed to be seeing on this side of the board. But it is clear that the board is fully socketed, which is nice.

jjATR 800XL-b motherboard
jjATR 800XL-b motherboard

The back of the board clearly marks it as a REV A2. But there’s some parts of identification that still aren’t clear to me. Upon further spelunking, I am confident in calling this a Chelco Rev A2 board.

Here’s a look up under the shielding…

jjATR 800XL-b sheilding C024651 REV. B
jjATR 800XL-b sheilding C024651 REV. B

Part number C024651 REV. B. Contrast with reference jjATR 800XL info above.

Here are the parts of the case dismantled for cleaning.

jjATR 800XL-b upper case C024583-001 CAV. B REV. 2 lower case C024584-001 CAV. B REV. 1
jjATR 800XL-b upper case C024583-001 CAV. B REV. 2 lower case C024584-001 CAV. B REV. 1

The upper case is stamped C024583-001 CAV. B REV. 2, and the lower case is stamped C024584-001 CAV. B REV. 1.

jjATR 600XL-b, runs.

jjATR 600XL-b
jjATR 600XL-b

So… made in Hong Kong, but with a 7YJ code, so, a different manufacturing facility? EA for NTSC 600XL, 49th week of 1983. Would appear to be the oldest 600XL/800XL series machine I own, also the only black serial number label model.

The 7YJ prefix seems to appear in the FCC IDs for some 410s, 1010s, 600XLs and 800XLs. Atari worked with Chelco for boards, and Chelco manufactured tape drives… we also have seen a few Chelco 600XLs and 800XLs, machines that have Chelco stamped on the motherboards rather than Atari. I wasn’t going to start opening up machines for awhile, yet, but now I’m all intrigued…

Judging from the keycaps, this unit had a Stackpole keyboard.

Discussion thread for this post in the jjewell forums

jjATR HC The Atari VCS (1977)

Spelunking

20190626: So, for the 42nd year in a row, my original Atari VCS can officially be classified as “runs.”

jjATR-HC Atari 2600 running Star Wars: The Arcade Game
jjATR-HC Atari VCS CX2600 running Star Wars: The Arcade Game

I feel really lucky to have been in on this from the beginning… and to have it last so long and still work so well. This is a “Sunnyvale” VCS, or a “heavy sixer,” if you prefer: one of the first batch of Ataris that were manufactured in the Sunnyvale, California facility, had six switches across the upper front panel, and had a thick, heavy plastic shielded case. When manufacturing moved to Hong Kong in 1979, the body had a much lighter plastic case and shield with the six switches, hence, “light sixer.”

jjATR-HC Atari VCS CX2600 serial number label
jjATR-HC Atari VCS CX2600 serial number label

As best as I can ascertain, the Atari serial number system is pretty straightforward: run off a hundred thousand units, increment the letter, start over. One trick seems to be that Atari apparently started the VCS numbering somewhere in the E run, which coincides with the last production units of the Atari Pong game at the same facility. This speculation is supported by the fact that we haven’t yet found any VCS units with a serial number ending in A-D. The earliest serial number we know for sure exists on a VCS is #56910E, according to the most current list at AtariAge.

If we assume numbering started at ~#50000 E, my serial number would be about the 500,000th unit produced. Most estimates I see have Atari selling less than 500,000 units in 1977, allowing for some play in serial number existence and distribution, I think we’re in the right ballpark.

Even though the machine is now ubiquitously known as the 2600, it was referred to the Video Computer System, or VCS, at the beginning.

jjATR-HC Atari VCS CX2600
jjATR-HC Atari VCS CX2600

Sure, some of us geeks knew the actual Atari part number was CX-2600, as seen on the serial number label, but up until the 1982 introduction of the 5200 Super System, the on-product labelling was Video Computer System. The all-black, four-switch “Darth Vader” model introduced to accompany the 5200 was the first model to highlight 2600.

Discussion thread for this post on the jjewell forums