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Atari 8-bit

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The Atari 8-bit family is a series of 8-bit home computers manufactured by Atari, Inc starting in 1979, and later Atari Corporation starting in 1984. All are based on the MOS Technology 6502 CPU and were the first home computers designed with custom coprocessor chips, giving them "the most powerful graphic subsystem" of any 8 bit machine[1]. Over the following decade several versions of the same basic design were released, including the original Atari 400 and 800 and their successors, the XL and XE series of computers.


Design of the 8-bit series of machines started as soon as the Atari 2600 games console was released in late 1977. The engineering team from Atari Inc.'s Grass Valley Research Center (who called themselves Cyan Engineering) felt that the 2600 would have about a three year lifespan before becoming obsolete, and started "blue skying" designs for a new console that would be ready to replace it around 1980. What they ended up with was essentially a "corrected" version of the 2600, fixing its more obvious flaws.[1] The newer design would be faster than the 2600, have better graphics, and would include much better sound hardware. Work on the chips for the new system continued throughout 1978 and primarily focused on much-improved video hardware known as the Color Television Interface Adapter, or CTIA.

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  1. 3 Generations of Game Machine Architecture
Atari Falcon Branch
Preceded by
Atari 8-bit Followed by
Atari ST
AmigaOS 4.0 Branch
Preceded by
Atari 8-bit Followed by
Kickstart/Workbench 1.x

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