“Forty years ago, Atari released its first personal computers: the Atari 400 and 800. They arrived in the fall of 1979 after a prerelease marketing campaign that had begun the previous January when the company unveiled the machines at what was then called the Winter Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas,” Benj Edwards writes for fast Company:
Atari initially marketed the 800 and its lower-cost counterpart, the Atari 400, as “second-generation” PCs—productivity machines with enhanced graphics and sound capabilities over the 1977 holy trinity of personal computing: the Apple II, Commodore PET, and TRS-80. The company intended them to crunch home budget numbers just as often as they simulated space battles… And due to restrictive FCC rules that precluded the open expansion slots on the Apple II, Atari designed a suite of intelligent plug-and-play peripherals linked together by a serial IO bus that presaged the ease of the much-later USB…
At launch, the Atari 800 retailed for $999 with 16K of RAM (about $3,387 when adjusted for inflation), and the Atari 400 with 8K retailed for $549 (about $1,861 today). Compared to a game console such as the Atari VCS at $190, that was expensive, but it undercut the 16K Apple II’s $1,195 retail price in 1979.
MacDailyNews Take: This is a fun read and, as some of us were original users of our personal trinity — Atari 2600, Commodore 64, Apple II — it brings back very fond memories!