A Mini-ITX Atari 800

As a community has grown up around the 8-bit microcomputers of the 1980s, there have been some beautifully crafted rebuilds of classic machines to take advantage of newer hardware or to interface to peripherals such as keyboards or displays that were unavailable at the time. Often these have taken the form of small boards, or boards that are designed to follow the form factor of the original machine, and fit in an original case.

[mytekcontrols] has taken a different tack with his Atari 800 build, he’s produced an Atari clone designed to take the most popular upgrade boards produced by the 8-bit Atari community, as daughter boards. And he’s followed an existing form factor, though it’s not one from the Atari world. Instead, he’s made it as a mini-ITX motherboard of the type you may well be familiar with from the world of PCs.

He’s calling it the 1088XEL, because with a popular 1MB upgrade board fitted it boasts a generous 1088k of memory. It sports the original five Atari LSI chips, and manages the task without resorting to surface-mount construction.

The forum thread linked above is a long one that makes for a fascinating read as it deals in depth with the design of an 8-bit micro clone. But if you want to skip straight to the hardware, start at about page 13.

We’ve had more than one 8-bit Atari on these pages over the years. Most memorable though is probably this laptop.

Thanks [Lenore Underwood].

21 thoughts on “A Mini-ITX Atari 800

  1. Cool clone, very well made!

    FYI the POKEY chip used in the Atari to produce sound and read paddles / keyboard doesn’t have to come from an old Atari: some Atari 7800 games (Ballblazer or Commando) include a POKEY, as well as some old Atari arcade boards.

  2. Love it! It’s probably going to need some fans or put it on one side and elevate it so the air can enter underneath. Older chips from the 74xx era generate some heat.

    I have a computer here with a similar form factor. It’s the same width, length but half the height and surprisingly has a quad core and reasonable specs.

    It must have been hard to stay with DIP chips. There are a couple of PIC’s in there as hardware emulators to integrate the PS2 keyboard.

    There is one SMD board/module and that is the audio amp. I have just ordered some of these for a similar purpose.

    1. That would be this:


      However, the cost for that will be around $200-220 whereas the 1088XEL bare board costs around $10 to make in quantity of ten according to the PCB fabricator receipt image I’ve seen (don’t know what he’s selling them for), but then you need to scavenge an Atari for five custom ICs and, of course, buy the other parts to populate the board.

        1. It can, but as far as I know, the sources on the custom Atari chips haven’t been released. A fella by the name of Curt Vendal, who has the original DATA tapes and extracted the read-outs from them several years back, has released the information to the public, yet. At one point, shortly after he disclosed he had extracted thgem, he had plans to recreate them, but so-far, nothing has come of it.

  3. That’s not based on an Atari 800; it’s based on the Atari 800XL. The 800 maxed out at 48K RAM (original production units had just 16K; mine had the factory 48K upgrade), had 2 cartridge slots and no parallel bus. The 800XL (of which I also had one) had 64K, one cartridge slot and the parallel bus. I remember reading that one of the expansions available for that parallel bus was a memory upgrade, but I never saw one in the flesh.

    Incidentally, USB is not the first attempt at a serial bus technology. The 13-pin Atari SIO connector was also a serial bus. With it you could connect up to 4 single- or dual-disk floppy drives (just imagine: 8x 5.25″ floppy drives!!!), a cassette deck, Atari-branded serial printers, other PC-standard printers using various serial-to-parallel interfaces, a multi-port serial interface (with RS232 and maybe RS485), a modem, and even a voice synthesizer module.

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