View Full Version : Any tips for getting a "new" Atari 800 up and running the right way?

May 29th, 2012, 10:45 PM
Hi, ...New in these here parts…

Looks like I might be getting an Atari 800 system that has been basement-stored since the 20th century.

Curious if there are any general maintenance tips for getting a "new" Atari system - that hasn't been powered up in a couple of decades - up and running the right way?

(If it were a Mac II series, for example, some might start by popping the lid, blowing out the dust, checking the board for obvious leaks/corrosion, and installing a new PRAM battery.)


May 31st, 2012, 02:47 AM
Nothing special, you can open it as well and clean the dust, press firmly all the socketed ICs (if any) and check visually for any corroded IC or leaking capacitors. There're no batteries.

Once powered up, try a increasing pattern, I mean, first power it only for some seconds, then power off for ten seconds, next do it for twenty seconds, power off and after ten seconds, give it power for a couple of minutes. After that, try some stability tests typing some easy programs and let the machine run for an hour.

May 31st, 2012, 02:46 PM
Thanks for the tips. I hope BASIC is like riding a bike…you never forget how.

May 31st, 2012, 02:56 PM
IIRC BASIC isn't built-in on the Atari computer line but you can find the cartridges which are pretty cheap and common.

June 5th, 2012, 12:04 AM
Was told there are cartridges including BASIC - and Q*bert. Hope this works out.

June 5th, 2012, 07:21 AM
Besides the internal checks above when I power up a newly purchased computer I use a varible transformer known as a variac I slowly bring up the voltage 5 volts at a time I leave it for 10 mins then turn it another 5 volts till I reach full voltage.This way will renew the Electrolytic Capacitors in the system.

June 6th, 2012, 01:34 AM
Fascinating procedure. Wish I had more electronics experience.

For some reason I associate the word variac with a fairly heavy, semi-cylindrical, electric-motor-looking, dull-color painted unit - with a single large egg-timer type knob on top. But not sure where from. (Old physics lab??)

If I may display my ignorance and ask a followup. Does this mean you slowly ramp up the source AC power which is supplying whatever external power-brick or built-in DC transformer/PSU, from 0 to the full 110/120V? Or some sort of electrical splice directly into the guts of the equipment?


June 7th, 2012, 03:59 PM
Thats what it looks like and yes you slowly ramp up the AC Voltage I collect vintage AUDIO too and mine gets a lot of use. You can get them on ebay they are vary easy to use. I also use Deoxit D5 contack cleaner on all the pins and connectors. Radio shack has it but in a small can I get mine from Parts Express on line. Need any more help let me know.


The computer plugs right into the variac.

July 7th, 2012, 11:36 AM
Atari BASIC isn't going to be quite like what you're used to coming from a different computer. They originally tried to squeeze Microsoft BASIC down to an 8K ROM but failed so they had to make their own version to make it fit in 8K. There are also 3 versions, revisions A, B and C. If you can find a revision C cartridge, that's the one you want. It will have a silver label. Revision A had some bugs that were fixed in revision B but revision B introduced some new bugs of it's own. Revision C fixes everything.

Oh, and get yourself a floppy disk drive. Trust me, you need one.