42 votes
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How did Atari lose money on home computers?

In 1982 the original 400 and 800 were on the market. These were expensive machines to implement. Even the low-cost 400 was significantly more complex and expensive than something like a VIC-20. Say ...
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26 votes

How did Atari lose money on home computers?

I can only add to the other answers with observations and memories, some of which come from owning an Atari 800 in the time period you're asking about. First, notice the names flying around in the ...
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  • 2,708
15 votes
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Why did the Atari 5200 forsake compatibility with 400/800 game cartridges?

At that point in time, Atari had separate divisions for the Home Computer market and the Consumer Electronics, or console, market. There was a lot of competition between the divisions. The Consumer ...
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  • 476
14 votes
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What were the selling points of the Atari 800 over the 400?

There are a few improvements that made the 800 more valuable Candy Coleen (400) (800) RAM (original design 1979) 4 KiB 8 KiB RAM (...
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  • 166k
13 votes
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Was the Atari 400/800 internal speaker of any use besides key click?

The speaker was known as the console speaker and is controlled using the byte at location 53279; as indicated in Mapping the Atari: POKEing any number from zero to eight will cause a click ...
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10 votes

How did Atari lose money on home computers?

I'm going to make a guess. For starters, Maury makes a good point about the manufacturing cost of the 400/800 series. I certainly think that is a key point, but not the whole story. Based on data ...
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  • 14.1k
8 votes

Membrane keyboard robustness

It depends on a number of factors, a major one being the material that the membrane is made from. Various types of plastics can be used, with different properties. Some will age and become brittle, or ...
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  • 13.7k
6 votes

How did Atari lose money on home computers?

Having lived through this time period, my first computer in 1983 was the vic-20 because the price was affordable for a young sailor in the Navy. By 1984, my mom had bought a Commodore 64 because of ...
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  • 161
6 votes

How did Atari lose money on home computers?

Historical perspective: IBM announced their PC in late 1981, Commodore announced the C-64 in late 1982, just before Atari destroyed their retail channel relationships by grossly overfilling the ...
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  • 7,444
6 votes

What were the selling points of the Atari 800 over the 400?

The Atari 800 allowed a maximum of 48k of RAM, vs the 16k maximum in the Atari 400. After 1980, both models shipped with maximum RAM - so you were getting three times as much memory with the 800. (...
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6 votes
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Atari 400 Faulty Keyboard - Some columns work, most do not

Chip checking time! Pull, inspect, and re-seat the 4051s (two of em, the small chips near the center of the board) and the POKEY chip on the motherboard. Hopefully they are socketed and not soldered, ...
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  • 346
6 votes

Why did the Atari 5200 forsake compatibility with 400/800 game cartridges?

While I think Troff's answer is very insightful about the environment inside Atari at the time, I think it might have something more to do with how licensing of popular arcade games was handled at the ...
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  • 14.1k
4 votes
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Membrane keyboard robustness

Some early computers used a membrane keyboard (ZX80, ZX81, Atari 400), or semi-membrane with minimal keys (ZX Spectrum). Not just early ones. Membrane keyboards are still made and used today, usually ...
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  • 166k
4 votes

Why did the Atari 5200 forsake compatibility with 400/800 game cartridges?

Joe Decuir has posted on Facebook some laments about how adding a couple more lines to the 400/800 cartridge slot - and including the TIA - would've made the 400/800 backwards-compatible with the 2600....
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4 votes

Why did the Atari 5200 forsake compatibility with 400/800 game cartridges?

Another factor not yet mentioned is that even if Atari had tried to make the 5200 compatible with the 400/800, the 5200 probably wouldn't have been able to usefully handle all games for that platform (...
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3 votes

How can I create floppy disks for use with Atari 400/800?

Assuming what you want to do is recreate disks from disk images stored on your PC (or accessible from your PC), there are a few ways to go about this, all of which involve extra hardware in one form ...
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2 votes

How can I create floppy disks for use with Atari 400/800?

According to this forum site, you can construct (or purchase) a cable to convert from USB (Windows) to SIO (Atari) which will allow you to run files inhabiting the windows computer. The fourteen ...
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