It was the year 1986. The Nintendo Entertainment System proved there was money to be made in the videogame industry and companies like Sega and Atari wanted a piece of the pie. Sega released its Master System and Atari would re-release the 7800 and the 2600 with plans to repackage their 65XE computer into a sort of hybrid entry computer / advanced game system.
In 1987 Atari Corporation released the Atari XEGS. It came in two retail configurations:
Basic set: Game console with Missile Command built in and a matching gray CX-40 joystick.
Deluxe Set: Basic set plus keyboard (with Atari Basic built in), Flight Simulator II cartridge, XG-1 light gun and Bug Hunt cartridge.
As stated before, it was a repackaged 65XE computer which in turn was a redesigned 600XL which in turn was an update of the Atari 400/800 line. The 8-bit line began in 1979, so it was pretty dated technology for the time.
There were some advantages though, for the somewhat low price of $199 USD you had an entry level computer which could play games. It was fully compatible with the existing Atari 8 bit software and peripherals.
So you could expand it with tape and disk drives, attach a printer and get some work done while being able to chill out and play some good games from the early 80s.
Software was made during the XEGS era which in turn would work with other 8 bit computers granted they met ram requirements.
In terms of gaming it was what the 5200 should have been but nothing impressive compared to competing systems like the NES and the Master System.
Atari XEGS specs:
CPU: MOS Technology 6502B @ 1.78 Mhz
Colors: 16 On screen out of a 256 palette
Video output: Composite and RF
Audio output: Mono RCA and RF
On future articles I’ll cover some its games and accesories, until then.