The original Atari 400 and Atari 800 machines each had four joystick ports, which was frankly ahead of their time and made for some amazing experiences. M.U.L.E. with four players was an absolute delight.

Is that hardware for dealing with 4 ports still available inside of the XL and XE machines, and could these machines have extra ports added with reasonable ease (positioning on the case aside).

1 Answer 1


No. At least not in a software compatible manner.

The PIA which is used in the 800 to read joystick ports 3 and 4 was repurposed in the XL systems to control memory mapping (eg. disable OS ROM, disable BASIC ROM, etc.) and for other special XL functions.

Source: http://www.atarimagazines.com/compute/issue57/feedback_atari_amnesia.html

  • 1
    Exactly — my answer to How does the 4MB mod for 8-bit Atari work? has details of the bank-switching performed using the PIA on XL Ataris. Nov 1, 2016 at 19:02
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    The Multijoy allows four joysticks to be used on XL systems, and supports many games using patches, including M.U.L.E. Nov 1, 2016 at 19:08
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    @StephenKitt That sounds like a good alternative answer to me, not just a comment.
    – Dronz
    Jan 24, 2017 at 22:31

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