|Type||Video game console/personal computer|
|Generation||Third generation (8-bit era)|
|CPU||MOS Technology 6502C|
|Display||384 x 240 (overscan) 256 color palette|
|Atari 8-bit computers|
The Atari XE Video Game System (Atari XEGS) is a video game console released by Atari Corporation in 1987. Based on the Atari 65XE computer, the XEGS is compatible with the existing Atari 8-bit computer software library. Additionally, it is able to operate as a stand alone console or full computer with the addition of its specially designed keyboard. In computer mode, it is able to use the majority of peripherals released for the 8-bit computer line. Shipping in a console with joystick only and a deluxe model with a separate keyboard, joystick and light gun.
Under the auspices of Jack Tramiel, Atari re-released two game consoles in 1986: the Atari 7800, which had previously been released in a brief test run in 1984; and the Atari 2600 Jr., an updated version of the Atari VCS/2600. The XEGS followed, building on Atari's 8-bit computer line which had started with the Atari 400 and 800. In practice the XEGS is essentially a repackaged Atari 65XE, in a move not unlike that taken for the Atari 5200, which is effectively a repackaged Atari 400/800 computer. However, unlike the 5200, the XEGS is still compatible with the existing range of Atari 8-bit computer software and peripherals, and thus could function as a home computer.
The console was conceived in an attempt to increase Atari's console market share while improve flagging sales of the Atari 8-bit family. Providing a "beginning computer" and "sophisticated game console" in one device that would convince more retailers and software developers to support the platform. In May 1987, Atari's then Director of Communications, Neil Harris, updated the online Atari community by outlining this plan, noting that the XEGS was intended to further the 8-bit line by providing mass-merchants with a device that was more appealing to their markets. Popular home computer games from the early 1980s such as Archon: The Light and the Dark, Lode Runner, and David's Midnight Magic made up much of the XEGS catalog.
The console was not a success. Unusually, the system co-existed with the Atari 2600 Jr. and Atari 7800 on store shelves and was occasionally featured alongside those systems in Atari print ads and television commercials. It was eventually followed by the Atari Lynx handheld system and the Atari Jaguar. In Europe, PAL versions are very difficult to get, as NTSC versions are more common.
The XEGS shipped with the Atari 8-bit version of Missile Command built in, Flight Simulator II bundled with the keyboard component, and Bug Hunt which was compatible with the light gun. As the XEGS is compatible with the earlier 8-bit software, many games released under the XEGS banner were simply older games rebadged, to the extent that some games were shipped in the old Atari 400/800 packaging, with only a new sticker to indicate that they were intended for the XEGS.
The XEGS was released in a basic model with a grey colored standard CX-40 joystick, and the deluxe model bundled with the joystick and two peripherals: a keyboard, which allowed it to function as a home computer, and the XG-1 light gun - the first light gun produced by Atari, which is also compatible with the Atari 7800 and Atari 2600. Packages containing only a console and a joystick were also available, with the keyboard and the lightgun available separately.
- History of Atari
- List of Atari XEGS games
- Atari 8-bit computers
- Atari 8-bit peripherals
- Atari XE on computingvoyage.com
- Wolf, Mark J. P. (2008). The video game explosion: a history from PONG to PlayStation and beyond. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-313-33868-7.
- "Atari 8 Bit Computers - 1979-1987". Classic Gaming. Retrieved July 21, 2010.
- Harris, Neil (May 12, 1987). "Re: Is Atari killing the 8 bit?". Retrieved August 4, 2013.
- Katz, Arnie; Kunkel, Bill; Worley, Joyce (August 1988). "Video Gaming World". Computer Gaming World. p. 44.
- "Kaybee Toy Store Ad". Hutchinson News (Hutchinson, Kansas). October 8, 1987. p. 64.
- "Atari Retailer Rebate Ad". Syracuse Herald Journal (Syracuse, New York). December 11, 1988. p. 187.
- Herman, Leonard; Horwitz, Jer; Kent, Steve; Miller, Skyler. "Video Games Are Back 1985-1988". The History of Video Games. GameSpot. Retrieved July 21, 2010.
- "Rhod's Collection". Retrieved 2010-08-24. The site links to pictures of separate XEGS packages.
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