New Member of the Family
Well you may or may not have heard the news, but the Atari 1200 has arrived. Here is a first look at the 1200XL, and the new wave of peripherals and software designed to work with it.
The Atari XL.
On the left-hand side of the mach-
The Atari 1200XL was unveiled on the east coast at a press conference at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. At least a dozen working units were on display there for us microcomputer types to play with, and that's exactly what we did, (at great length). The unit should become generally available by the middle of 1983.
With 64K RAM standard, the 1200XL also offers twelve user programmable function keys, international character set, and built-in diagnostics. Designed to be entirely compatible with the models 400 and 800, owners of the Atari 1200 need not, therefore, have to wait for software to be developed to run on their machines. Although no true innovations are present in the 1200, competitive pricing will doubtless make it a major contender in the home microcomputer market this year. No price was announced at the conference, but the word was that the list price would be well under $1000.
Other features of the unit are the following: keyboard disable function; auto screen shut-off when untended; help key; LED power, keyboard lock, and character set indicators; and one touch cursor movement.
The ROM cartridge slot and controller jacks have been moved to the side of the machine, and number exactly half that of the Atari 800: one cartridge slot and two controller jacks. The determination was made that this was quite enough, and that an extra slot or controller jacks would have only added expense to the machine. There has been no scrimping on the keyboard, however. It is of the highest quality.
The Atari 1020 is a 40 column,
New Peripherals, Too
Three new peripherals were announced along with the 1200XL. The 1010 program recorder will allow inexpensive storage and retrieval of data using audio cassettes. The unit features data and audio channels, as did its predecessor, the model 410. It will list for $99.95.
The model 1025 80-column printer will list for $549. It is a customized Okidata Microline 80, and will run in serial at a claimed speed of 40 cps. The dot matrix print is clear and crisp, though not of letter quality.
The unique 40-column color printer/plotter, dubbed the model 1020, will offer text and graphics in four colors at a list price of $299. It will be capable of changing the size and style of its character sets, and 16 colors of pen will be available.
The only disk drives I saw in all my snooping about were the old model 810 clunkers, which are compatible with the 1200, but certainly look out of place next to them. I expect we will be seeing a new drive from Atari within the next half year -- conceivably a 3 1/4" model, as compact as the new 1010 program recorder.
The Atari 1025 80-column printer
New Software Announced
Along with the new hardware, a number of new software packages were announced. Defender and Galaxian were on hand and running at the Plaza, and should be available now. Both looked to be very high quality clones of their arcade namesakes. I was especially impressed with Defender; as was the case with PacMan, the Atari computer version makes the VCS version look embarrassingly primitive.
E T. Phone Home will evoke the film E.T. with hi-res graphics and fine-scrolling across four screen widths. You are Elliott, helping little E.T. place that long distance call.
Four other arcade game adaptations have been announced by Atari as well. Dig Dug is a popular coin-op maze game, a hit like Pac-Man actually digging his path as he goes.
Qix is a unique and engaging video game. The object is to surround Qix with boxes of color. The game transcends the "twitch" aspect with strategy and a lack of patterned play.
Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Junior have also been licensed to Atari, and will become available for the 400/800/1200 soon. These extremely popular coin-op titles will be available within a couple of months.
The Atari 1010 program recorder
Family Finances has been designed to keep detailed records of family income and expenses as well as establish a budget. It is available on diskettes only.
Timewise turns the Atari into an electronic calendar, offering basic time management programs for the home, office, or school. While keeping track of appointments, holidays, and other special dates, the program will also print out schedules and calendars.
Atari Writer is a ROM-based word processor that runs in 16K. It can save files to disk or cassette.
Atari Music I is the first in a series of Music Learning Software. It teaches fundamentals of music theory, including note reading, steps, major scales, and major keys. The four lessons of the program use tutorials, exploratory modes, drills, tests, and built-in video games to reinforce concepts.
Juggles Rainbow is the first in a series of Early Learning products designed to teach prereading skills to children of three to six years. Using graphics and sound, Juggles Rainbow teaches children the concepts of above, below, right and left. Line and circle games help children learn to distinguish between the "tricky" letters, b,d,p, and q.
Juggles House uses the same techniques as Juggles Rainbow to teach the concepts of upper/lower and inside/ outside.
Atari continues to evidence a sensitivity to and understanding of the consumer microcomputer market. There is utterly no doubt that Atari will remain a leading contender in graphics and sound machines for some time to come.
For more information, contact Atari Incorporated, 1264 Borregas Avenue, P.O. Box 427, Sunnyvale, CA 94086.
John Anderson is an associate editor for Creative Computing magazine.