The Atari 1200 XL was the predecessor of the Atari 600/800 XL. It had much of the same characteristics, except the size of its ROM (16 KB instead of 24 KB) the BASIC Interpreter being supplied on a cartridge. Because the built-in Operating System was not designed very well, people are known to have swapped the OS ROM chip from their 800XL & put in the 1200 XL.
This machine was a flop in the marketplace and would be produced for only 4 months before being replaced with the 600 & 800 XL machines. This computer was not distributed in Europe.
Curl Vendel says:
The Atari 1200 XLS was an original concept design of the 1200XL. This design was done by Regan Cheng and was an empty non-functional shell.
Martin Scott Goldberg says: People found out really quick it wasn't compatible with most 400/800 software (a translator disk was later available), which is why Atari rushed to produce the 600 and 800 xl's and put them out that same year. What the 1200XL is known for though, is having the BEST keyboard of any Atari computer - including the ST/TT/Falcons.
Dante Stella specifies:
The Atari 1200XL did not suffer from widespread compatibility problems; a relatively small amount of software that (generally) did not precisely conform to 400/800 standards (primarily 3rd-party games) did not work.
The Translator disk was a relatively obscure product (I think it cost less than $5). A cool trick was to boot from the translator disk, press and hold reset, insert an incompatible cartridge and reboot (ok, it was 20 years ago - but I think I remember that right). I think it was from the 600XL and 800XL that Atari added built-in Atari Basic, an expansion bus and the DIN video connection. Atari also moved distribution from department stores and standalone computer shops to mass-marketers like K-Mart.
An anonymous visitor comments:
The only issue I ever had with my 1200XL, was that sometimes it would have both lights suddenly go on for no reason when Id start it up the first time. It would take several rounds of resets and on off switches before it would go back to normal.
The 1200xl was replaced because the 800xl was less expensive to produce (much worse keboard), and the 800xl also included a BUSS port which atari was then going to sell expansion devices for. That never actually happened, but a company called ICD did invent a plug in interface that allowed a hacker to connect SCSI hard drives up to it! There was also a printer interface that I have in my basement that claims to have hooked up to the 800xl buss, but I never managed to get it working. (Plus the same ICD interface adds printer support as well as the hard drive)
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