Atari 8-bit family

From Sega Retro

Atari 8-bit family
Manufacturer: Atari, Inc., Atari Corporation

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The Atari 8-bit family is a line of computers produced by Atari, Inc. (and later Atari Corporation) from 1979 to 1992.

Originally designed to capitalise on the growing number of home microcomputers in North America in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the 8-bit family (which was never given an official all-encompassing name) was aimed at more professional users, with the Atari 2600 (and later Atari 5200) courting the low-cost video gaming market. Roughly 4 million units were sold worldwide in total.

Sega support

The Atari 8-bit line comprises of a number of machines, beginning with the Atari 400 and Atari 800 in 1979, continuing with the 1200XL, 600XL and 800XL in 1983, and ending with the 65XE and 130XE in 1985 (as well as the XEGS console). Comparatively little separates earlier models save for build quality and amounts of RAM - while XE-specific software was produced, few companies targeted the later machines, and Atari wound down its support around this period in favour of its Atari ST line.

While more successful than many of its rivals, the 8-bit family was dogged by financial troubles at Atari, the North American video game crash of 1983 and the subsequent sale of Atari's consumer business to industry stalwart Jack Tramiel. While Atari's computers were sold across the world, they saw their greatest success in North America and parts of Eastern Europe, never being widely adopted in the already crowded home computer scene of Western Europe, and never matched the output of their closest rival, the Commodore 64.

Sega supported the Atari 8-bit line in the early 1980s - while Sega Electronics still existed under Sega ownership. While other publishers such as Parker Bros. and Datasoft obtained official licenses to Sega games, support dried up after the North American video game crash in 1984. Support for the 8-bit line was likely facilitated by the existence of the Atari 5200 which shares similar hardware, but it too was discontinued around this period.

All Sega conversions can run on any Atari 8-bit computer, usually being distributed on cartridge, but also in some cases compact cassette and 5¼-inch floppy disk. RAM requirements, however, vary between releases - while some can cope with the 8kB offered in a stock Atari 400, many require upgrades to at least 16kB and in some cases 48kB. 48kB later became a standard for the 800 model, though with extra RAM modules, 400 machines can also run 48kB software.

Most Sega software for the Atari 8-bit family was not sold outside of the United States.

List of Sega games for the Atari 8-bit family

Other Atari 8-bit family games also released for Sega systems