Atari 800XL arrives.

For a while now, I’ve been toying with the idea of adding one of Atari’s XL range of computers to my collection. Not only are there some killer games out there, there’s just something about those silver functions keys that just…well, cool!

Prices on eBay seem to fluctuate from pretty reasonable for a tatty yellowed base unit model right up to to the absolutely bonkers prices that folk often like to list these things on the presumption that they are ultra rare.

I spotted pretty nice looking 800XL model, listed as working, with a few cartridges starting at a low 99p price. With about an hour to go before the auction ended, I placed my first bid and made a mental note to check back again a little later on. What with preparing dinner and whatnot, I’d completely forgot to log back into eBay and was pretty gutted when I realised what I’d done. I checked it out anyway to see what the final price had been and to my surprise, I’d only gone and won it after all.

Atari800_a (Custom)

Arriving back from London and checking the mail, there was a courier slip advising a missed delivery and a handwritten note to explain that the parcel was ‘under the bush at the front of the house’. Why they didn’t just take it back to the depot i have no idea…laziness i guess? Anyway, the parcel was still there but the cardboard box was looking awfully tatty and slightly damp. Being away since Friday, who knows how long its been there?

Inside and unpacking, the seller had wrapped everything in plastic so at least everything appeared to have remained dry. My first glimpse of those cool silver functions keys was a tad disappointing though as they appeared yellow/brown tinted and had some sort of gunk on them. I’m sure they’d clean up but yeah, I was bit disappointed. On closer inspection though, what appeared to be gunk was actually a plastic strip of tape attached to each key and once this removed it revealed the gleaming untouched silver keys underneath. I wonder if this was part of the original packaging and the owner has decided not to remove them?

I noticed that the same tape was on the two silver cartridge flaps but rather than risk scratching the plastic inserting cartridges, I decided to leave this in place. Beside, this part hadn’t yellowed.

After a quick wipe a cloth, I think my new 800XL has cleaned up quiet nicely.

Atari800_b (Custom)


IMG_4110 (Custom)

Included with the package was the huge brick of a mains adapter, RF lead, one classic Atari joystick and these three cartridges.

Atari_800_carts (Custom)

There was also a selection of program books.

IMG_4114 (Custom)

I especially like the cover on this one.

IMG_4115 (Custom)

…but does it work? Well I popped the lid open first to check for damaged components and moisture, and fingers crossed as one always does, I flicked the switch.


Phew, so far so good and all keys are working as far as I can test. After a little research, it appears that the component cables I use on my c64 are compatible too therefore I won’t have to put up with grainy RF.

Game on.


So, do I go for a SIDE or SIO2SD device next?


6 responses to “Atari 800XL arrives.

  1. Of the entire Atari 8-bit computer line, I think the XLs have the nicest aesthetic.

    I’m an owner of an XEGS, and while practical, it is an odd looking little unit.

  2. I hear you my friend, if it wasn’t for the coloured planet sized buttons, the XEGS wouldn’t look so bad – neat little machine it is though.

    I was having a good look at – great idea!



  3. I had the 800xl when I was a kid and your blog has given me a trip down memory lane. I remember very clearly several games that I used to love. Draconus and Zorro where great games and I wasted many hours playing Kenny Dalglish Soccer Manager. I never used the cartridge slot though. I used to have a cassette deck that plugged into a large port in the back. I did used to buy an Atari magazine too and sit and type out all of the data programmes and get some basic computer games like that. Yeah I was a loner as a kid, but it was superb fun. Nice blog!

  4. Hey Jay, great to hear from you and hope you enjoyed your little nostalgic trip.

    Has this spurred you on to maybe seek out an Atari again or are you happy with emulation?

    Thanks for the kind words.



  5. Emulation is like methadone. I haven’t got any spare cash thanks to the recession to invest in an 800XL and I worry about how well a cheap console off the net might perform. I’m a memories man at the moment.

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