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MaximumRD

The Atari 5100 (Little PAM)

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http://www.atarimuseum.com/videogames/consoles/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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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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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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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

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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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