If you do not know what these acronyms refer to, please read the article "NTSC/PAL/SECAM/PERITEL" in the knowledge base first.

The computer

When it was made available in France in early 1984, this PAL Atari 800XL came to fill a gap that had to be occupied by Atari. The Atari 800 was a machine from the past. The Atari 1200XL (NTSC only) had not been imported in Europe. The SECAM Atari 800XL was not ready yet, but the competitors were already there and occupying the market. I'm mainly referring to the Commodore 64 and the Apple II in the case of the French market. So, Atari France had no choice but to make available a PAL machine in a SECAM country. The machine was priced approx. 3.500 FRF (French Francs). But for an additional 900 FRF, you could easily buy a PAL to RGB converter: that colour signal physically transported by a PERITEL cable could be plugged and decoded by any SECAM TV set available in France (PERITEL sockets were legally mandatory on TV sets at this time).

Some movies enthusiasts, already owning high end equipment such as PAL LaserDisc players, etc, already had a PAL & SECAM TV set, able to decode both signals. These amateurs were able to plug their PAL Atari 800XL directly in their PAL & SECAM TV set.

The PAL to RGB converters manufactured by "CGV" (the company still exists, www.cgv.fr) were very popular and widely available in the computer shops, especially the PVP-80 model (actual pictures available: cgv-pvp80.zip). Eventually, it was even sold as Atari-CGV branded in an Atari XL-look box.

PAL Atari 800XL Top


PAL Atari 800XL Keyboard, left

Keyboard, left

PAL Atari 800XL Keyboard, right

Keyboard, right

PAL Atari 800XL Right side

Right side

PAL Atari 800XL Joystick connectors close-up

Joystick connectors close-up

PAL Atari 800XL Rear


PAL Atari 800XL Left

Left side

PAL Atari 800XL Bottom #1

Bottom, my own Atari!

PAL Atari 800XL French sticker close-up #1

French sticker close-up, my own Atari!

Remark #1: The serial number sticker was removed by a 13yo technician, during a space bar repair operation, because he believed the sticker was hiding a screw. Eventually, he was proved wrong but the serial number sticker was destroyed in the operation. I still regret it today.

Remark #2: The French sticker reads "Si cet appareil est directement connecté sur la prise d'antenne de votre téléviseur, il est interdit d'utiliser un dispositif de raccordement permanent non homologué. En cas d'infraction, l'usager s'expose à des poursuites."
This could be roughly translated as "If this device is directly connected to the antenna plug of your television set, it is forbidden to use a non homologated cable for a permanent use. If case of malpractice, the user can be sued."

Fortunately, many years later, I was able to acquire another of these PAL 800XL sold in France.

PAL Atari 800XL Bottom #2

Bottom, another Atari

PAL Atari 800XL French sticker close-up #2

French sticker close-up, another Atari, B-404 is manufacturing date in WWY format: Week 40 of (198)4 = Oct 1984.

The connectors

PAL Atari 800XL Monitor connector close-up

Monitor connector close-up

PAL Atari 800XL TV/Switch box connector close-up

TV/Switch box connector close-up

PAL Atari 800XL Power connector close-up

Power connector close-up

PAL vs. SECAM versions

PAL Atari 800XL (top) SECAM (bottom)

Atari 800XL PAL (top) SECAM (bottom)

PEEK identification

Using "PEEK" commands in BASIC to find out about the OS, Basic and NTSC/PAL versions.

PAL Atari 800XL PEEKs to important addresses

PEEKs to important addresses

For your information, the results are:
PEEK(53268) = 1 [PAL/SECAM]
PEEK(65528) = 140 [Not a 400/800]
PEEK(65527) = 2 [XL OS Rev. 2, 1983-05-10, 800XL(most)/65XE(most)/130XE(most)]
PEEK(43234) = 96 [Atari BASIC Rev. B]