Jump to content

Join the World of Atari!

Sign In or Create Your Atari I/O Account to join the party! Membership is always free! Gain full access to an amazing new retrogaming community with UNLIMITED member features, weekly high score championships, and prizes. Join other friendly retrogamers as we celebrate nostalgia & classic games, from Atari to Nintendo, Sega, TurboGrafx-16 and beyond!

Photo

The 65XE: Just what was the point?


  • Please log in to reply
18 replies to this topic

#1 Lost Dragon

Lost Dragon

    Banana Member

  • Member
  • 2,942 posts

Posted 05 February 2016 - 03:47 PM

From Edge Magazine:Videogaming:The Odyssey:1986-1990.

 

Atari 65XE:The existence of the 65XE still now rather beggars belief.It must be assumed that Atari sought to offer videogamers a taste of home computing several rungs down from it's ST series of the same era, but this market was already in rapid decline.

 

As a gaming system the machine was in competition with the company's own 7800 console;as a computer it was hideously under-specced.

 

It was in ploughing millions into launching products such as this that Atari showed tangible signs of losing the plot.

 

Coleco's Adam System had famously proved that console/computer hybrids could not work, but no one at Atari had apparently noticed.

 

 

So, Edge's viewpoint, any thoughts? :-)



#2 RickR

RickR

    The Don

  • Member
  • 4,837 posts

Posted 05 February 2016 - 03:54 PM

It was basically a repackaged 800XL.  I had a 65XE in my collection, but ended up selling it.  Mostly, I didn't like how hard it was to read the labels on the various ports...and the white letters on grey keys was also hard to see and pointless.  Form over function.  Finally, I know they were building them as cheap as possible at that point...no socketed chips, thinner boards and RF shields, etc.

 

I have several Atari 8-bit computers in my collection.  The 800XL is my go-to workhorse model. 

 

I feel badly for having such a negative opinion...but at least it's honest. 


  • Lost Dragon likes this

#3 Justin

Justin

    The Shah of Atari

  • Administrator
  • 1,690 posts

Posted 05 February 2016 - 03:56 PM

It was a way to sell overstock software.

 

Jack Tramiel had just bought Atari's Home Consumer Division and inherited a warehouse full of Atari 8-Bit software that he needed to move. It was more than you'd imagine. Not wanting to do something like another ET dump, Tramiel chose to ramp up 8-Bit hardware with the XE line to move more of the leftover 8-Bit software. He did quite well with it relatively speaking. 65XE served as the low-end entry into that market.

 

This allowed Atari to continue support for legacy 8-Bit Computers and sell 8-Bit overstock software, while introducing a new 8-Bit line more in keeping with the ST.

 

This was also the reason for the release of the XEGS. Theory being a consolized 8-Bit computer would sell more games. In my opinion it's what the 5200 should have been in 1982.


  • MaximumRD, nosweargamer, Lost Dragon and 1 other like this

#4 RickR

RickR

    The Don

  • Member
  • 4,837 posts

Posted 05 February 2016 - 04:01 PM

 

 In my opinion it's what the 5200 should have been in 1982.

 

YES!  Agree * 3.

 

If Atari had released the XEGS (or something similar) in 1982 instead of the 5200, it is my belief it would have been a much bigger success than the 5200.  Lower cost to develop, no need for new cartridge packaging, better controllers, synergy with the 8-bit computers.  Slam Dunk!


  • Lost Dragon and MalakZero like this

#5 Justin

Justin

    The Shah of Atari

  • Administrator
  • 1,690 posts

Posted 05 February 2016 - 04:03 PM

Yes, instead of trying to cram a keyboard and paddles into a joystick.


  • Lost Dragon likes this

#6 The Professor

The Professor

    Moderator

  • Moderator
  • 1,032 posts

Posted 05 February 2016 - 06:19 PM

I think despite the game crash there was still a nice demand for computers and the Atari 8 bit line. Jack Tramiel saw this as an opportunity, but coming from the Commodore 64 he wanted to do it on the cheap to compete on price. Justin is correct re: overstock games that could be sold over time.
  • Lost Dragon likes this

#7 kamakazi20012

kamakazi20012

    Pear Member

  • Member
  • 1,011 posts

Posted 05 February 2016 - 06:59 PM

I think despite the game crash there was still a nice demand for computers and the Atari 8 bit line. Jack Tramiel saw this as an opportunity, but coming from the Commodore 64 he wanted to do it on the cheap to compete on price. Justin is correct re: overstock games that could be sold over time.

Yea...but Jack had games that were finished but never released.  If he wanted to move software then why didn't he publish those games?  I know that Jr. Pac-Man on the 8-bits would have sold well.  It's a well made game even if it is missing the intermission scenes.  There were a few others as well.  

 

I've never had an XE computer other than the XEGS and I found that keyboard to be horrible.  Seriously, if all XE keyboards are like the one I had for my XEGS then I can't imagine how anyone would have liked them compared to the keyboards on the original 8-bits and the XL line that followed.  They are mushy, don't always respond as they should, and feel flimsy.  I'm not saying the computer itself is bad but that keyboard killed it for me.  


  • RickR and Lost Dragon like this

#8 RickR

RickR

    The Don

  • Member
  • 4,837 posts

Posted 05 February 2016 - 07:04 PM

Yea...but Jack had games that were finished but never released.  If he wanted to move software then why didn't he publish those games?  I know that Jr. Pac-Man on the 8-bits would have sold well.  It's a well made game even if it is missing the intermission scenes.  There were a few others as well.  

 

I've never had an XE computer other than the XEGS and I found that keyboard to be horrible.  Seriously, if all XE keyboards are like the one I had for my XEGS then I can't imagine how anyone would have liked them compared to the keyboards on the original 8-bits and the XL line that followed.  They are mushy, don't always respond as they should, and feel flimsy.  I'm not saying the computer itself is bad but that keyboard killed it for me.  

The keyboard on the 65XE I had was horrible, as you might expect.  As someone who used an 800XL in high school and college, it felt much lower quality than what I was used to. 

 

But on the plus side...the machine and every keyboard key did work. 


  • Lost Dragon likes this

#9 Lost Dragon

Lost Dragon

    Banana Member

  • Member
  • 2,942 posts

Posted 05 February 2016 - 07:44 PM

Whilst i was an 800XL owner during it's era and when i got into Retro, i picked up another 800XL (this time with a Disk Drive) and a 600XL, the 65XE i just never went with.

 

When it was released here in the UK, Atari UK's P.R department was very active, proclaiming it to be the 'flagship A8 Product' and talked of it revitalising the Atari 8 Bit sector and how it would carry the flame for the A8 etc, along with talk of a lot of ST conversions down to the XE etc...

 

But then you looked at how the flagship software houses responded:

 

Ocean Software's Chairman, David Ward said although Ocean's existing A8 games were compatiable with the 65XE (and these were a megre number to start with), Ocean had no plans to convert them to cartridge....

 


Unless you had the BIG NAMES signed up to convert existing titles and or develop exclusive titles for the hardware, on just what merits you were supposed to sell it on, i never really understood...

 

 


Atari UK/April 1987:Ronald Whitehouse, manager of marketing and software: 'We need and are actively looking for, more cartridge based software for the 65XE.The response has been excellent'.

 

May 87 saw Roland Whitehouse saying that he was reciving assurances from UK software houses that there would be plenty of software for the A8 range, espically the 65XE games machine...

 


Yet where was it?

 

The 65XE, unlike the C64/ZX Spectrum/Amstrad CPC etc didn't have the essential support from likes of:Ocean/US Gold/Elite/System 3/Activision/Hewson/Domark/Gremlin Graphics....

 

It simply had 'token support'....



#10 The Professor

The Professor

    Moderator

  • Moderator
  • 1,032 posts

Posted 05 February 2016 - 08:56 PM

Yea...but Jack had games that were finished but never released.  If he wanted to move software then why didn't he publish those games?


Because the software he wanted to move was the overstock he inherited from Warner, rather than throwing it out or let it sit around and have to pay taxes on it. New games were halo products to attract new customers who would also buy other games.
  • Lost Dragon likes this

#11 Lost Dragon

Lost Dragon

    Banana Member

  • Member
  • 2,942 posts

Posted 06 February 2016 - 05:25 AM

Plus, you have to look at the games Atari were/were planning to bring to the XEGS:

 

Deflektor:A title Gremlin Graphic's Ian Stewart told me they aquired via distribution, they had no in-house A8 specialist coders themselves and this was a 1989 XE game that had appeared on the mainstream 8 Bit home Micro's in 1987 and the ST got the sequel (Mindbender), same year Atari were set to release the original game on the XE.

 

Commando XE version 1989, yet Elite had brought the game to the C64/ZX Spectrum/Amstrad CPC etc back in 1985.

 

You weren't going to revitalise the A8 market with ports from mainstream systems, even if developed around same time (Tower Toppler/Nebulus) let alone years later.

 

Airball, a conversion from the Dragon 32/TRS-80 which according to the claim on Mobygames, its author, Jason Harper, said the Apple IIgs version only sold 144 copies, a small amount even on the IIgs platform. It was Microdeal's first and last IIgs game.

 

Even when Atari went for the more upto date coin-ops to convert to XE, they picked the more Marmite ones...Xenophobe split reviewers on 8/16 Bit Home Micro's as was:

 

http://amr.abime.net/review_6847

 

People out there in the wider online world can pour scorn on my claims as much as they like :-) but the proof points to itself here.



#12 Yo-Yo

Yo-Yo

    Apple Member

  • Member
  • 548 posts

Posted 07 February 2016 - 02:01 AM

Atari 130XE with a disk drive and a nice joystick, that's what you want.
  • MaximumRD, Clint Thompson and Lost Dragon like this
Welcome to the short bus.

#13 Lost Dragon

Lost Dragon

    Banana Member

  • Member
  • 2,942 posts

Posted 19 February 2016 - 02:13 PM

C+VG's Tony Takoushi, has been (part, lol) quoted in mainstream magazines looking at Atari hardware like the 7800 Console, not so long ago, so here's his thoughts on the XE system, from C+VG's Mean Machines section:

 
"The Atari XE is very much the dark horse, there are 1000's of A8 owners out there and the XE is simply an 8-Bit machine with a tasty new casing.
 
So who's going to buy it?.Atari is pitching it at under 10 year olds and new console/micro owners."


#14 Lost Dragon

Lost Dragon

    Banana Member

  • Member
  • 2,942 posts

Posted 07 June 2016 - 08:00 AM

I've read over the past few years the implied thinking that Atari UK saw the XEGS as kind of the sole piece of hardware to replace the then very long in the tooth 2600, but that is kind of misleading...it was more the hardware they went with, after previousily annoucing and showing off other hardware.

 

I've already mentioned inital plans and then cancellation of the 5200 in the UK:

 

http://forums.atari....d-for-the-5200/

 

But after that they showedcased the 7800 Pro System in London, talked of pricing, potential release dates etc (think Sept'84 was suggested).

 

You had Atari UK's Andrew Swanston telling UK Press Atari were not going to make the same mistakes that were made with the 5200 and then lo and behold, next thing we were reading was how Bob Gleadlow had brought prototype XEGS hardware back from States, had been showing it to UK software houses etc.

 

 

So in essence, the XEGS was really Atari UK's 3rd strike in terms of finding an 8 bit console to replace the 2600.

 

 

I personally do feel it should be mentioned as part of the overal time line as part of the whole inital plans/what could of been, rather than folks go with a suggestion that Atari UK simply ploughed on regardless with 2600 until XEGS was ready.

 

So far i've only the P.R releases Atari UK put out to go on, but even these provide an insight into the thinking and show there were earlier plans at least.


  • RickR likes this

#15 Lost Dragon

Lost Dragon

    Banana Member

  • Member
  • 2,942 posts

Posted 07 June 2016 - 01:46 PM

The main reason (other so the community on here can enjoy them of course) i'm sending or indeed have sent, Clint all the UK articles quoted from here, is so people can honestly see what really was reported by UK Press at the time, in FULL unedited, not select quoted etc and then they can see for themselves just how Atari UK (miss?) handled PR releases for planned UK launches of the 5200 and then 7800, as well as the XEGS.

 

A recent UK article on the 7800, might, i feel of been better worded had it said:..."As far as this writer is aware, Atari had no inital plans to release the 7800 in the UK, to replace the 2600, opting instead for the 65 XE because....."

 

 

At least that way, nothing is being presented as fact.

 

As well as the 5200 PR release, it seems UK writers missed annoucements by Atari UK, when the  press at the time  were reporting that Atari were planning to showl the 7800 for it's UK Launch, at the Christmas Atari Show in the Royal Horticultral Hall, Westminster, London, where it would be the centerpiece of the show, expected UK launch price £69.95, lot of USA software and some UK titles ready for UK launch...along with later columns like Tony Takoushi talking of Atari's decision to go with the XE Range in the UK:

 

'Atari has changed their plan to release the 7800 in the UK, they have opted for the 65XE computer instead'.

 

 

There has sadly been a lot of miss information put out over the years, by those only recently really discovering the A8 range from a UK viewpoint, at least now the collected resources can be viewed on here and a timeline of sorts be established.

 

Plus it's not going to be locked behind a pay to read paywall and articles put up/sourced by people who do it as they want others to enjoy reading articles they no doubt missed 1st time around and no motivation other than that.

 

 

Clint has on the memory card the quoted edge article, in full, as well, but it's a big old file, scanned at high res.

 

So fingers crossed it can go up here.


  • Greyfox and RickR like this

#16 Lost Dragon

Lost Dragon

    Banana Member

  • Member
  • 2,942 posts

Posted 27 June 2016 - 09:25 AM

The Retro section if Gamestm covered the XEGS briefly in the Console yourself feature they ran on computers turned into consoles.

Odd how UK article mentioned it could play a decades worth of discs (though should not that be disk?) and cartridges but nothing about tapes, when UK market was tape driven and this was reason Atari UK convinced USA side to go with XEGS instead if 7800, at that time...
  • Greyfox likes this

#17 Lost Dragon

Lost Dragon

    Banana Member

  • Member
  • 2,942 posts

Posted 31 August 2016 - 08:29 AM

Answer from Atari themselves:

 

https://groups.googl...y4/zNYxPzguppgJ


  • RickR likes this

#18 Paul

Paul

    Cherry Member

  • Member
  • 38 posts

Posted 04 September 2016 - 12:23 AM

I like the looks of the XE line, but boy, are they cheap compared to the XL line. Single layer motherboards, that are never socketed, and it's easy to pull up a trace during repairs. On of these days I'm going to get a blank XEGS mobo and put in all the components ( with sockets ).
  • Justin and Lost Dragon like this

#19 Lost Dragon

Lost Dragon

    Banana Member

  • Member
  • 2,942 posts

Posted 29 March 2017 - 05:34 AM

UK Magazine ads Atari UK were running trying to get people interested in the XEGS as a games machine.

Attached Thumbnails

  • cvg7800016.jpg
  • cvg7800017.jpg





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users