Jump to content

Joe Decuir's Keynote on the 40th Anniversary of the Atari 400/800 Computers

Recommended Posts

On the 40th anniversary of the release of the Atari 400 and 800 computers, Joe Decuir, co-designer of those computers, keynoted Vintage Computer Festival East to discuss the creation of those machines and what was learned.

Joe Decuir is a vital part of Atari history. He was part of the Grass Valley development team responsible for the development of the Atari 2600 Video Computer System, and later the Atari 400/800 Computers. Joe Decuir worked as an engineer at Atari from 1975-1979, where he helped develop the Atari VCS and Atari 800. He then worked at Amiga from 1982-1984 on the Commodore Amiga 1000 computer.


This presentation last 1 hr 18 mins, and Joe Decuir talks about:

  • How he got to Atari
  • What they learned from the 2600 that informed the 400/800
  • What they wanted to accomplish, which was different from what they actually accomplished
  • What they designed: Hardware & Software
  • What happened in the market and industry
  • What they learned from that, which animated the Amiga computer
  • Where they are now
  • Partial Design Credits
  • Resources




Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, RickR said:

He's a great guy.  I met him at PRGE a few years ago, and he signed a Combat cart for me and I got to speak with him for a while. 

Absolutely is a great guy. That's wonderful that you got to meet with him! Had they kept Grass Valley busy and focused on the right things, and had Atari not lost the Amiga technology that would've gone a long way to helping Atari get back on track imo.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, he is a great guy and seems to love engaging folks and sharing his knowledge and experiences.

While I've been an Atari fanboy my entire life, I knew none of the names behind the hardware except Nolan Bushnell. Only earlier this week, I learned about Joe Decuir through a post on Facebook (someone had asked who he was). After googling him, I commented in the thread that I also worked at Microsoft on Windows during the last three years of Joe's stint there as the thought that I may have walked past him without knowing was exciting to me. Joe replied to my post and told me to look him up on LinkedIn, and we continued our conversation there. Turns out he's a prof at University of Washington Bothell campus where my eldest is attending school. I also went to UWB and finished half of the courses for a CS degree before dropping out. Joe lives about 40 minutes from me and invited me to meet up with him when this pandemic dies down a bit. The little kid in me is very excited for that opportunity when it comes.

The other funny thing is that a few weeks ago, a "Joe Decuir" had sent me a Facebook friend request. Not knowing him, I ignored the request and simply forgot about it. After chatting with him, I vaguely remembered someone with a similar name sending me a friend request. I went back to see the list of friend requests, and sure enough, he had sent a request to me (I'm not sure why he did unless he has a habit of connecting with everyone who loves Atari). This year just has been a whirlwind for me and my reconnecting with all things Atari after a thirty year separation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How interesting that this topic came back up just now.  Yesterday, I was reading a thread about a SIO device that's being developed to emulate various drives/modem on the SIO bus of the 8-bit Atari computers.  The designer noted how similar the SIO interface is to modern-day USB.  Well, wouldn't you know...Joe Decuir designed the SIO interface....AND worked on USB 1.0 and 2.0! 

So there is a little piece of Atari on every modern-day PC thanks to Joe.  How f-ing cool is that?



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...