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The Atari 5100 (Little PAM)


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#1 MaximumRD

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 01:13 AM

http://www.atarimuse.../5100/5100.html
 
 
The Atari 5100 (Little PAM) 
5100front.jpg
 
5100vs5200.jpg
Marketing for Atari said that Bigger is better so the 5200 was HUGE to say the least, but it was cool.  It had this big bad ominous look to it that said "I'm the Most Powerful Video Game System Around".   Well, to be quite frank, the 5200 was too big.   Sure it had storage for its controllers, but it was just too big and more importantly, too expensive (think of the shipping on those things alone!).   Atari commissioned its engineers to design a smaller, more low cost version of the 5200 dubbed the 5100 (nicknamed the 5200jr. or Little PAM)    The unit functioned exactly as the 2 port 5200, however it was a smaller system board and lacked the expansion port.
5100-1.jpg
 
5100.jpg
 
The System looked more or less like a smaller version of the Atari 5200.   The case design was done by Mark Biassotti who also did the Atari 2600jr case design.     The unit is a functional equivalent of the Atari 5200 2 Port system.   It uses the same Power supply and also uses a standard TV Switchbox instead of the Atari 5200 4 port version automated switch box/power box.   The main difference is the lack of a storage area for the 2 5200 Controllers. 
 
51005200.jpg
 
It's interesting to note; the Atari 2700 console (unreleased) also had a storage compartment for its 2 remote controllers and they were very close in size to the 5200 controllers.    The Atari 2700 console is nearly the same size as the 5100 though...
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#2 kamakazi20012

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 06:32 AM

I would buy that 5100 without hesitation if it would have made it to production. Someone needs to make that system.
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#3 AlamoAtari

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 03:46 PM

Wow, totally learn something new from you guys! Thanks for sharing!
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#4 RickR

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 03:50 PM

Would have loved that version of the 5200.  They should have released improved controllers too ;) 


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#5 RickR

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 03:52 PM

Here's a picture of the better Atari 5200 they actually DID release a few years earlier:

 

Atari-400-Comp.jpg


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#6 jmjustin6

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 09:04 PM

So did they ever make any 5100 or is there only like 1 prototype of it?
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#7 Clint Thompson

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Posted 09 May 2016 - 05:36 AM

Did the lines near the cart port of the original 5200 really work as heat vents because that's what it looks like they are on the 5100. I only remember them being there for design purposes but haven't owned a 5200 in well over 10 years.


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#8 kamakazi20012

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Posted 09 May 2016 - 02:55 PM

Did the lines near the cart port of the original 5200 really work as heat vents because that's what it looks like they are on the 5100. I only remember them being there for design purposes but haven't owned a 5200 in well over 10 years.

 

On my four port model the right "grill" marks are actually used as heat vents.  This is the area that gets hot the most when the unit has been in operation for a few minutes.  There are two voltage regulators and two rather large heat sinks under that set of gills.  

 

As for the 5100 I think they should have released it.  I can't express that enough.  It's a sexy beast!  It looks more attractive than the 5200, and I am most likely one of few that like the 5200's design.  I would be OK with the original controller design.  The 5200 was the first console I ever owned and the controllers I actually enjoyed using.  And I was only 7 years old then.  I still say that they aren't too bad.  I have had more issues with PS2 and 360 controllers going bad than 5200 controllers.  And the 5100??  Yea...I'd love to see that machine sitting here in my living room.  Very beautiful piece of gaming hardware.


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#9 kamakazi20012

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 01:55 AM

I wonder how hard it would be to silkscreen that motherboard on the 5100?  I would gladly help in getting production runs of that console if all aspects of it could be maintained from the motherboard design to the shell design including the chrome strip.  I would assume, however, that the costs would be more today than when the 5100 prototype was produced.


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#10 The Professor

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 04:00 AM

Was the 5100 canceled under Warner or was it dropped after Jack Tramiel owned the company? It seems like a decision was made to drop most support for the 5200 so why continue to make systems?
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#11 Lost Dragon

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 07:49 AM

What an awesome piece of kit :)

 

Huge thanks for putting this up here so we can all enjoy looking at what might of been.

 

 

Looks like a good few questions to be answered regarding it, hopefully the answers aren't far from being found.



#12 kamakazi20012

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 07:50 AM

Was the 5100 canceled under Warner or was it dropped after Jack Tramiel owned the company? It seems like a decision was made to drop most support for the 5200 so why continue to make systems?

 

To help sell off leftover video game inventory for the system.  Make a newer, smaller, cheaper console, and the thought might have been that in doing so the games would fly off the shelves.  Just a theory, though.  I have a few 5200 games that have the Atari, Corp. ownership displayed instead of Atari, Inc.  And we all know that Jack didn't want to do video games when he purchased Atari so somewhere, after Jack bought Atari, 5200 games were being produced.  


Edited by kamakazi20012, 31 August 2016 - 07:55 AM.

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#13 Lost Dragon

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 08:19 AM

@kamakazi20012:I'm very interested in that chain of thought, regarding the 5200 Pam, i.e it would of been considered a means of basically clearing old inventory and all that was needed was a case redesign and a cheaper price and you'd get enough interest from high street stores and public, so stores would be looking to stock it, as the new, lower price made it attractive and gamers who had been put off by visual factor and price, would now flock to it.

 

Atari seemed to go with that line of thought with the XEGS, but at least there some token effort was made to produce new games to go with it and some older tape/disk games put onto cart and some proper advertising carried out (2 page adverts in UK magazines), so once they had the idea, they did run with it, despite it's eventual failure.

 

 

And you had reports after that, that a UK High Street chain who'd stopped stocking the 520STFM, after a good few years support, started re-stocking it, once Atari put together the 520STFM Discovery pack, which was cheaper and came bundled with a great range of 'free' software..older titles, near end of their commercial lifespan for publishers i'm sure in many cases.

 

 

 

I wonder IF Atari had planned any bundles for the 5200 Pam, plus new marketing campain, to give it that extra bit of a nudge to gather interest?

 

 

Befantastic to hear what else can be discovered about this...



#14 Ballblaɀer

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 09:22 AM

Atari stopped producing new 5200s in February 1984.  There was a May 21, 1984 press release announcing the 7800 and the cancellation of the 5200 at the same time.  The sale of Atari to Jack Tramiel wasn't until that July.

 

I've seen 1983 and 1984 cited as dates for the 5100.  There's not a chance it was designed and produced after the transition to Atari Corp.

 

Atari-ComputerMuseum.de says 1983.

CyberRoach.com says 1984.

 

Mark Biasotti designed the 5100 case.  He himself says he worked from Atari from 1981-1984.

 

My feeling is that 1983 is correct -- that was the same year that Atari designed a 5200 paddle controller and a kids' controller that also never got past the prototype stage.  At least one of the CX-5100 PCBs say 1982.  About 20 CX-5100s were produced and five are known to have survived -- one as a loose board only.

 

The 5200s that Atari Corp. produced/sold were all assembled from existing stock.  This is why you sometimes will find a 4-port in a 2-port box, for example.  Check out my 5200 serial number timeline for an overview!


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#15 Protestari

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Posted 07 September 2016 - 09:55 PM

Very interesting. Would love to own a 5100 but still very happy to own a 5200 my first home console.


Edited by Protestari, 07 September 2016 - 09:56 PM.

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