Hackaday Prize 2022: The Baffatari 2600 Adds Atari Compatibility To Retrocomputers

A PCB carrying several Atari 2600 chips

Like today’s Intel-AMD duopoly, the market for home computer CPUs in the 1970s and ’80s was dominated by two players: Zilog with their Z80, and MOS Technology with their 6502 processor. But unlike today, even if two computers had the same CPU, it didn’t mean the two were software compatible: differences in memory layout, video interfaces, and storage media meant that software developed for an Atari 2600 wouldn’t run on an Apple I, despite the two sharing the same basic CPU architecture.

[Augusto Baffa]’s latest modern retrocomputer design, the Baffatari 2600, cleverly demonstrates that the difference between those two computers really is only skin-deep. The Baffatari is a plug-in board that adds Atari 2600 functionality to [Augusto]’s earlier Baffa-6502 system, which was designed to be Apple I-compatible. Since both the Apple and the Atari are powered by 6502 CPUs, only a few peripherals need to be swapped to change one into the other.

Sitting on the Baffatari board are two chips essential to the Atari 2600’s architecture: the 6532 RAM I/O Timer (RIOT) that contains the RAM and joystick interface, and the Television Interface Adapter (TIA) that handles the graphics and audio. These chips connect to the Baffa-6502’s system bus, enabling the main CPU to communicate with them and run Atari 2600 software titles. In the video embedded below, you can see several classic games running on the Baffa system.

The basic idea is similar to this RC2014 plug-in board that enables a Z80-based retrocomputer to run MSX and Colecovision titles. In fact, [Augusto] also built such a board for his earlier Z80 project.

16 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize 2022: The Baffatari 2600 Adds Atari Compatibility To Retrocomputers

      1. Made especially famous by Nintendo’s use of ZIF socket on their NES. Those can be a tad touchy if the NES deck isn’t on very secure surface. My games were ruined by my dog walking by. I am glad no one else used this design in any future video games since then, too touchy and unreliable

    1. Ask Coleco, somehow they won lawsuit Atari filed over Coleco’s 2600 module for Colecovision. No one has been able to show off the shelf TIA substitute. Mattel Electronics also made 2600 adapter for the Intellivision II, and works with other Intellivision with a minor hardware mod.

  1. All I need now it to figure out how to combine a big box amiga with pistorm, and PPC accelerators, a bridgeboard, an evergreen upgrade to the PC card, shapeshifter, the apple IIe card for mac and a megaPC card all into one box and I have the one system to rule them all!!! muhuahahahaaaaa

    1. Don’t forget 486 DOS card for Mac! If you can get 0x0 or first gen PowerPC running with MacOS 7, there are 486 card for NuBus and PDS slot, it could somehow be hacked in.

      My Quadra 650 has a 486DX2 with 32MB RAM and Soundblaster clone. I’ve been looking for Mac286 and OrangePC 386 or 486, both NuBus so I could triple or quadruple boot MacOS, DOS, Windows 3.11 and Windows 95 all at the same time.

  2. Did you know there is a C64 and Apple II in one setup? C64 system plus the extremely rare Spartan module (a few hundreds were made) allows one to run either C64 or Apple II in one setup. Both uses 6502 based CPU. Maybe find a way to hack in 2600 adapter as well?

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.