Inside the Atari 800

It's the 30th anniversary of this 8-bit PC classic. We celebrate the occasion as we always do, by tearing the product apart and showing you the pieces.

By Benj Edwards, PC World |  Tech & society, anniversary, Atari

The Brains Behind the Whole Operation

Here we get a close-up look at the CPU card. The Atari 800 uses an 8-bit Synertek 6502B microprocessor, a variant of the famous and prolific MOS 6502.

You might notice a sticker labeled 'GTIA 1/16/86'. That's the date when my father upgraded our Atari 800's television adapter chip--the CTIA--to the improved and revised GTIA. To the left of that sticker is the ANTIC chip, which works with the CTIA/GTIA to create the Atari 800's impressive graphics. The 800 also contains a custom sound chip--POKEY--that provided excellent music-reproduction capabilities for 1979. Overall, the biggest advantage that the Atari 800 had over its competitors was its powerful custom chipset, though that wasn't enough to guarantee Atari a prime spot in the personal computer market.

If you like this gadget autopsy, you'll enjoy these other device teardowns:

Anatomy of an Icon: Inside the Apple IIc

Inside the Commodore 64

Inside Nintendo's Classic Game Console

See also:
Top 10 cool satellite projects
How 10 Famous Technology Products Got Their Names

Republished with permission from PC World (view original version)

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