In 1978 Atari was working on a new chip set for an all new high end video game system. Ray Kassar became the new CEO of Atari and decided
that Atari should produce a line of computers to compete against Apple in the home computer field. It was decided that the new chip set was to be
"frozen" and used only for the new computer systems. Atari's all new computer division was born.
Atari would introduce a new line of personal computers based around the MOS 6502 8 bit
Processor. Using the new graphics/audio chip set the computer would come packaged with graphics
and sound never before seen in a personal computer system. Capable of producing up to 128 colors
using the CTIA chip (Colleen Television Interface Adapter) and later updated to 256 colors using a
GTIA chip (General Television Interface Adapter) and with a maximum resolution of 320 X 192 the new
line of Atari computer systems would have spectacular graphics for a system released in 1979.
The Atari 800 case was designed by Kevin McKinsey of Atari's industrial design group, he
wanted to give the Atari computers a warm familiar and friendly look. The new Atari 400 and 800
computers would look very similar to a standard home typewriter. The Atari 400 and 800 got their
number designations from their original memory configurations which were 4K for the 400 and 8K for
the 800. Also the Atari 400 and 800 were nicknamed after some very well endowed secretaries
named Candy and Colleen.
The Atari 800 was designed to be an expandable system with its easily removable top case cover. The original
run of Atari 800's had two little plastic latches that you could turn to unlock the top case then you simply lifted it off
to reveal the internal system bus slots, a total of 4 slots were available from 0 through 3. Slot 0 was reserve for
the OS card, slots 1 through 3 were used for RAM card originally, but many inventive 3rd party companies
produced not just RAM cards, but RAM Disk cards, 80 column video cards and even a modem interface card.
Later models had the cover closed with 2 screws with washers.
The original Atari OS personality card and Atari 8K and 16K memory cards were
packaged into nice plastic/metal cases, this caused an overheat problem in the 800's,
service centers received bulletins to remove the boards from their cases and discard the
cases when systems came in with overheating problems, later Atari 800's were released
from the factory with their OS and RAM cards not packaged into these little cases.