Atari 400

Atari 400 (1979)

It’s time to show some love for Atari since my VCS post is almost 4 years old. I took some pictures of my Atari 400, a North American NTSC model produced at the very beginning of 1983.

Let’s start with the teardown image: if I printed the original Photoshop image at 300dpi, it would be 1.3 metres tall. Atari 400 Teardown

You can click the following image to see the detail of the original shot, I really like the reflection of the resistor pack!

Atari 400 Teardown detailHere’s the motherboard:

Atari 400 motherboardIn the next picture you can see the processor board and the 16KB RAM board. The Atari 400 was built around  the MOS 6502 like many computers of the time. The processor board also contains the GTIA chip: it’s the one marked C014805.

Atari 400 CPU and RAM boards

The complexity of the Atari 400 kept production costs quite high: the electronic components were spread over 4 different boards. Here’s all of them put in place:

Atari 400 motherboard

This daughterboard, marked “400 PWR” also holds the serial bus connector and the RF modulator.

Atari 400 Power board

I really like the design of this machine, but I find that all the membrane keyboards – including this one – are very unpractical to use.

Atari 400 Views

The Atari 400 only had one cartridge slot while its big brother, the Atari 800, had two. Unlike other contemporary computers, BASIC had to be loaded from a cartridge.

Atari 400

One last picture of the computer.

Atari 400

The only way to see the video output of my Atari 400 is by connecting it to my old Philips multi standard CRT TV. The 400 only has RF out, so the quality isn’t very good – but at least I can test it…

Atari 400 Memo pad

… and play with it!

Atari 400 - Donkey Kong

3 thoughts on “Atari 400 (1979)

  1. Wes

    I learned to program on an Atari 400 and later an Atari 800, TI-994/a, TRS-80 Color Computer, Atari 800XL, Atari 130XE, Atari1040STe and IBM PC. I still have and love my Ataris! They were great computers!!!

  2. Lars Baumstark

    I just bought a 400 on eBay and found this page with the board photos a great neat resource.
    Its a kind of return to the roots for me as well, as I first owned an Atari VCS, lateron a 600XL and then STs for more than a decade…
    I backed the Atari VCS 800 prior to the release 2020 and am still impressed what this slightly underpowered machine can do (i.e. run Rescue on Fractalus in the remake PC/Linux version).


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