NTSC/PAL/SECAM & PERITEL?
If you do not know what these acronyms refer to, please read the "NTSC/PAL/SECAM/PERITEL" article in the knowledge base first.
Although it was produced in limited quantity for a few months only, the Atari 1200XL is common in the USA. Still, it remains much more difficult to acquire for European collectors like me.
Note the presence, just above the keyboard, of two LEDs labelled L1 and L2. They are normally off.
L1 lights up when the keyboard is disabled.
L2 lights up when the new International Character Set is selected.
Note the presence, just above the keyboard, of four function keys labelled F1 to F4. These are unique to the 1200XL and will disappear in later computers. In fact, they should also have been present in the 1400XL and 1450XLD computers, which were never released and remained as prototypes.
Nowadays, I am still amazed by the timeless modern look of the XL series. An Atari XL (800XL) was recently included in a French auction of 2.000 objects with iconic design, ranging from Dieter Rams (for Braun) to Le Corbusier (who was credited for a radio set).
I am very lucky — for a European Atari collector — to own several 1200XL, including a model made in the USA and another model made in Taiwan.
The superb Atari logo on boot up
For me it was not a waste of time, but a demonstration of power. I regret that this boot screen has been removed from subsequent versions of the OS.
For the video: Altirra emulator, Atari 800XL, PAL, 1983 OS rev. 2, running the 1200XL rainbow boot screen code in loop.
The new embedded "Self-Test" program
The "Self-Test" which will be an integral part of the OS on all subsequent machines first appeared with the Atari 1200XL. Please read the "Self-Test" article in the knowledge base for all details.
The keyboard test allows you to test the function keys F1 to F4 (introduced with the 1200XL). These keys will be physically removed from the 600XL and 800XL onwards but the "Self-Test" keyboard test will not be updated immediately, offering to test keys that no longer existed...
On the 1200XL, the RAM test will cause the L1 and L2 LEDs above the keyboard to flash alternately. As the 1200XL is the only model equipped with these L1 and L2 LEDs, this specificity will disappear with the 600XL & 800XL.
Also, on the 1200XL, Scott Stilphen mentioned in the FAQ (section: "What is the Atari 1200XL?") that if you select "All tests", when it gets to the keyboard test it'll type out the programmer's name: Michael Colburn. The updated version removes this name and types in some letters that don't mean anything.
The memory test is particularly long on the 1200XL. Skip to 4:40 to see the rest.
For the video: Altirra emulator, Atari 1200XL, NTSC, 1982 OS rev. A, running the "Self-Test".
Using "PEEK" instructions in BASIC to find out about the OS, Basic and NTSC/PAL versions.
For your information, the results are:
PEEK(53268) = 15 [NTSC]
PEEK(65528) = 191 [Not a 400/800]
PEEK(65527) = 10 [XL OS Rev. A, 1982-10-26, 1200XL (most)]
PEEK(43234) = 162 [Atari BASIC Rev. A, in external cartridge]