The computer

This PERITEL Atari 800 computer was officially released by Atari in France in September 1982. The event was announced by a full-page advertisement from Atari in the magazine "L'ordinateur Individuel" (Issue 40, September 1982). The computer was previewed at the SICOB trade fair held from September 22 to October 1 in Paris/La Défense, at the CNIT. Atari occupied booths 162-163.

The revision with an attached cable was probably released first, whilst the second revision — more elaborate — with a detachable cable was probably released later. This is an official Atari product, as demonstrated by the additional Atari components with specific Atari references (see below) and the very existence of several "Version PERITEL" French software, such as these tapes (see below):

As explained on the PAL Atari 800XL page, France was neither a PAL nor NTSC but a SECAM country. So, Atari France had to find a workaround to sell the Atari 400 & 800 computers locally, despite the lack of SECAM versions. The quick fix was to mod a PAL computer to add an RGB signal, generated in an additional PERITEL daughterboard-card, available in a PERITEL/SCART connector. This brings the total number of video cables for this machine to 3, and the total number of video signals to 4:

  1. Antenna
  2. Monitor (video composite aka CVBS) and
  3. Monitor (S-Video aka YC)
  4. PERITEL (in RGB mode)

On the PERITEL Atari 400 & early PERITEL Atari 800, the cable is not detachable.

On the later PERITEL Atari 800, the cable is detachable and plugged into the computer, in a DIN 8-Pin connector. Consequently, it is difficult today to find a later PERITEL Atari 800 with its PERITEL cable – because it was often lost.

The common (later) revision with detachable PERITEL cable

Aesthetically, later revision of the PERITEL Atari 800 can be immediately spotted by the additional DIN 8-Pin connector on the left side of the computer (usually without any connector there). If you are very lucky, a PERITEL hand-written sticker will also be present on the bottom.

Later Peritel Atari 800 Top

Top

Later Peritel Atari 800 Left side, with Peritel connector

Left side, with PERITEL connector

DIN 8-Pin connector for PERITEL cable, close-up

DIN 8-Pin connector for PERITEL cable, close-up

DIN 8-Pin to PERITEL video cable

DIN 8-Pin to PERITEL video cable

Later Peritel Atari 800 Rear

Rear (antenna cable removed for the photo)

Later Peritel Atari 800 Front

Front

Later Peritel Atari 800 Front joystick connectors

Front joystick connectors

Later Peritel Atari 800 Right side

Right side

Later Peritel Atari 800 Right side connectors, close-up

Right side connectors, close-up

Later Peritel Atari 800 Sticker close-up, with Peritel PTL serial number

Sticker close-up, with PERITEL PTL serial number, 472 is manufacturing date in WWY format: Week 47 of (198)2 = Nov 1982.

3 later PERITEL Atari 800 computers

I am the happy owner of 3 of these machines, with two different revisions of the model. They all came fitted with 48Kb (and the PAL OS cartridge CX801-P), with or without protective plastic shells, surely to reduce the heat.

Later Peritel Atari 800 3 computers, view #1

Three computers...

Later Peritel Atari 800 3 computers, view #2

...easy to identify

2 revisions (at least?) of the later PERITEL Atari 800

Among my 3 machines, I noticed two different revisions:

The resulting RGB video signal is almost the same, quality-wise.

Later Peritel Atari 800 Chassis with CO61131 REV.A

Chassis with CO61131 REV.A

Later Peritel Atari 800 Chassis with CO61131 REV.X2A

Chassis with CO61131 REV.X2A

Inside the later PERITEL Atari 800 machine

Atari started the mod with a classic PAL Atari 800 as base (PAL computer with PAL OS), and added components. Please note that the regular video composite output (hidden here) is still present and still works, in parallel with the PERITEL output (see below).

Inside, you might spot an unusual "PTL" sticker; I assume that "PTL" stands for "PERITEL". Outside, in addition to the regular sticker with serial number, a hand-written sticker was also added with a PERITEL "PTL" specific serial number. I really wonder how many of these machines were made.

Later Peritel Atari 800 With CAO61034 adaptor

With CAO61034 adaptor

Later Peritel Atari 800 With CAO61034 REV.X1A adaptor

With CAO61034 REV.X1A adaptor

Later Peritel Atari 800 PTL internal sticker

PTL internal sticker

Later Peritel Atari 800 Below #1

Below #1

Later Peritel Atari 800 Daughterboard-card inside the chassis

Daughterboard-card inside the chassis

Later Peritel Atari 800 Power card

Power card

Later Peritel Atari 800 Below #2

Below #2

Later Peritel Atari 800 Below #2 (close-up)

Below #2 (close-up)

The PERITEL adaptor daughterboard-card inside the later PERITEL Atari 800

Later Peritel Atari 800 CAO61034 adaptor

CAO61034 adaptor

Later Peritel Atari 800 CAO61034 adaptor (close-up)

CAO61034 adaptor (close-up)

Later Peritel Atari 800 CAO61034 REV.X1A adaptor (close-up)

CAO61034 REV.X1A adaptor (close-up)

Another Atari fan drew my attention to this "OAK" logo on the CAO61034 adapter, explaining that it matches the logo of OAK Industries, Inc., who were a manufacturer of cable TV decoders in the 1970s and 1980s. It might suggest that OAK may have made the PERITEL adapter daughterboard for Atari...

Moreover, when you think about it, I find it strange that the card is labelled "PERITEL adaptor". A card made in France, for Atari France, for computers sold in France would have mentioned "Adaptateur PERITEL". Finally, the date 12-82 is not in French format.

The rare (early) revision with attached PERITEL cable

Just when I thought I had seen them all, I was able to acquire another variation of the PERITEL Atari 800 computer, this time with an attached cable (just like the PERITEL Atari 400). Curiouser and Curiouser. The mod is really professionally made, though, and the chassis nicely cut. The original computer was manufactured in late 1981, so that variation must have appeared before the one with the detachable cable (which usually comes with computers manufactured later, in 1982).

Please note that the PERITEL adaptor daughterboard-card is very different from the one usually found in the later PERITEL Atari 800.

Early Peritel Atari 800, overview with the long, attached cable

Overview with the long, attached cable

Early Peritel Atari 800, inside

Inside

Early Peritel Atari 800, clean cut in the chassis

Clean cut in the chassis

Early Peritel Atari 800, 001 PERITEL adaptator, front

001 PERITEL adaptator, front

Early Peritel Atari 800, 001 PERITEL adaptator, back

001 PERITEL adaptator, back

Early Peritel Atari 800, computer underside

Computer underside

Early Peritel Atari 800, Week of manufacture, ATARI/371 engraved

ATARI/371 engraved, 371 is manufacturing date in WWY format: Week 37 of (198)1 = Sep 1981.

Early Peritel Atari 800, serial number

Serial number

The RGB signal from this PERITEL adaptor

And now the strangest part. This high quality RGB signal in a PERITEL/SCART connector only displays 8 colours. In fact, it ignores the actual colour to display. It simply translates the luminosity of the original colour into a new colour, picked in a palette of 8.

Peritel Atari 800 PAL to PERITEL conversion palette

PAL to PERITEL conversion palette

Peritel Atari 800 High quality RGB signal (PERITEL adaptor)

High quality RGB signal (PERITEL adaptor)

Peritel Atari 800 displaying the Atari rainbow (video composite)

Atari rainbow (video composite)

Peritel Atari 800 displaying Atari Artist (video composite)

Atari Artist (video composite)

Peritel Atari 800 displaying the Atari rainbow (PERITEL adaptor)

Atari rainbow (PERITEL adaptor)

Peritel Atari 800 displaying Atari Artist (PERITEL adaptor)

Atari Artist (PERITEL adaptor)

Obviously, this yields to very strange colours in some games, although they remain "playable". It is also important to note that there is a noticeable delay in the PERITEL output. This is obvious with this "test setting" where the two signals are both displayed, side by side. The delay probably creates difficulties in game which are really time-critical.

Something strange

A video expert got my attention about something weird in that "luminance" to "new colour" conversion.
If you are familiar with the very classic colour PAL/SECAM test card, you know of course that the colours were not selected randomly. In that specific order, these colours create a perfect gradient from white to black when displayed on a black and white tv set.

Peritel Atari 800, PAL colour test card, on colour tv set

PAL/SECAM colour test card, on colour tv set

Peritel Atari 800, PAL colour test card, on black and white tv set

PAL/SECAM colour test card, on b&w tv set

But look what happens here... Take a black to white gradient in the Atari (any dark to bright gradient of any colour will produce the same result). Now see how this gradient is converted into 8 solid colours for the signal sent to the PERITEL/SCART connector. And now look what happens when that signal is displayed on an actual black and white tv set: the perfect gradient from white to black is lost, altered.

Peritel Atari 800, What the computer generates

What the computer generates...

Peritel Atari 800, What is displayed via PERITEL on a colour tv set

What is displayed via PERITEL on a colour tv set

Peritel Atari 800, What is displayed via PERITEL on a black and white tv set

What is displayed via PERITEL on a b&w tv set

You had expected the original black to white gradient to re-appear, right? Well, no, because the PAL test card uses this order:
White, yellow, aqua, green, pink, red, blue, black (The RGB colours componant are alternated as depicted below)
And this order of colours was not chosen at random, it is based on an equation that defines luminance:
The relative luminance of a color is defined as L = (0.2126 * Red) + (0.7152 * Green) + (0.0722 * Blue)
If you look at this equation carefully, you can see that green provides 72% of the luminance, red 21% and blue 7%.
So, to get this colour test card, you first vary the green, then the red, then the blue.

Peritel Atari 800, Order of colours on the PAL/SECAM test card

Order of colours on the PAL/SECAM test card

Peritel Atari 800, Order of colours on the PAL/SECAM test card, on a black and white TV set

Order of colours on the PAL/SECAM test card, on a b&w tv set

Whilst the signal generated by the PERITEL/SCART connector uses this order:
White, aqua, yellow, green, pink, blue, red, black
The PERITEL Atari changes the usual order. It first varies the green, then the blue, then the red.

Peritel Atari 800, Order of colours generated by the PERITEL Atari

Order of colours generated by the PERITEL Atari

Peritel Atari 800, Order of colours generated by the PERITEL Atari, on a black and white TV set

Order of colours generated by the PERITEL Atari, on a b&w tv set

There must be a good reason for this. My assumption (to be confirmed) was that the purpose was to get a blue background with a yellow cursor in BASIC, without any alteration of the OS or the BASIC.

The colour settings in BASIC are as follows:
SETCOLOR 4,0,0 --> Black outer border, brightness 0
SETCOLOR 2,9,4 --> Blue background, brightness 4
SETCOLOR 1,0,10 --> Text brightness 10 (same colour as background)

With the standard OS settings and standard BASIC colours, if you use the order of colours on the PAL/SECAM test card, you get a red (brightness 4) background and a cyan (brightness 10) text and cursor.

Peritel Atari 800, Order of colours on the PAL/SECAM test card

Order of colours on the PAL/SECAM test card

Peritel Atari 800, Order of colours on the PAL/SECAM test card, BASIC

Order of colours on the PAL/SECAM test card, BASIC

With the same standard OS settings and standard BASIC colours, but this time using the order of colours generated by the PERITEL Atari, you get a blue (brightness 4) background and a yellow (brightness 10) text and cursor.

So it was much more natural, in line with what you saw on many computers at the time.

Peritel Atari 800, Order of colours generated by the PERITEL Atari card

Order of colours generated by the PERITEL Atari

Peritel Atari 800, Order of colours generated by the PERITEL Atari, BASIC

Order of colours generated by the PERITEL Atari, BASIC

Running software (games!) on the two video outputs

On the large display (left): RGB signal from the PERITEL adaptor. On the small display (right): signal from regular Monitor (video composite) connector.

Peritel Atari 800 running Atari Artist

Atari Artist

Peritel Atari 800 running Dig Dug

Dig Dug

Peritel Atari 800 running Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong

Peritel Atari 800 running Moon Patrol

Moon Patrol

Peritel Atari 800 running Ms. Pac-Mac

Ms. Pac-Mac

Peritel Atari 800 running Pole Position

Pole Position

PERITEL Specific software

Since Atari considered from the start (*) that the 400 & 800 models were serious computers for learning – and not only excellent computers for gaming! –, they made the extra effort to create a French specific version of existing educational programs especially for these PERITEL Atari 400 & 800.

Peritel Atari 800 Initiation a la programmation en langage BASIC I, version Peritel, Tape

Tape, Initiation à la programmation en Langage BASIC I

Peritel Atari 800 Initiation a la programmation en langage BASIC I, version Peritel, Image via PERITEL adaptor #1

Initiation à la programmation en Langage BASIC I (PERITEL adaptor)

Peritel Atari 800 Initiation a la programmation en langage BASIC I, version Peritel, Image via PERITEL adaptor #2

Initiation à la programmation en Langage BASIC I (PERITEL adaptor)

Peritel Atari 800 Centrale nucleaire, version Peritel, Tape

Tape, Centrale nucléaire

Peritel Atari 800 Centrale nucleaire, version Peritel, Image via PERITEL adaptor

Centrale nucléaire (PERITEL adaptor)

Peritel Atari 800 Centrale nucleaire, version Peritel, Image via Monitor (video composite)

Centrale nucléaire (video composite)

Peritel Atari 800 Etats et Capitales des Etats-Unis, version Peritel, Tape, Side A

Tape, Etats et Capitales des Etats-Unis, Side A

Peritel Atari 800 Etats et Capitales des Etats-Unis, version Peritel, Tape, Side B

Tape, Etats et Capitales des Etats-Unis, Side B

Peritel Atari 800 Etats et Capitales des Etats-Unis, version Peritel, Tape, Box

Tape, Etats et Capitales des Etats-Unis, Box

(*) The first cartridge, CXL4001, is "Educational System – Master cartridge". Then comes "Basic" (CXL4002), then "Assembler editor" (CXL4003), then the first game "Basketball" (CXL4004).

Power supply

Last but not least, the PERITEL Atari 800 came with unusual power supplies, that provided 2x 9V AC at 1.7A + 1x 6V DC at 350mA.

This is very convenient: it allows to power 3 machines, with only one transformer:
[1] An Atari 800 computer (9V AC)
[2] An Atari 810 floppy disk drive (9V AC)
[3] An Atari 410P cassette tape recorder (6V DC, with the 3.5 mono jack)

Peritel Atari 800 Power supply top

Top

Peritel Atari 800 Power supply french label

French label

Peritel Atari 800 Power supply bottom

Bottom

PEEK identification

Using 'PEEK' commands in BASIC to find out about the OS, Basic and GTIA versions.

Please don't pay attention to the ratio, it's the TV set displaying 4:3 in 16:9. Obviously the generated image is 4:3.

Early Peritel Atari 800 PEEKs to important addresses

Early PERITEL Atari 800, PEEKs to important addresses

Later Peritel Atari 800 PEEKs to important addresses

Later PERITEL Atari 800, PEEKs to important addresses

For your information, the results are:
PEEK(53268) = 1 [PAL/SECAM]
PEEK(65528) = 214 [400/800 OS Rev. A/PAL, 1979-06 (common)]
PEEK(65527) = 255 [Not a XL/XE]
PEEK(43234) = 162 [Atari BASIC Rev. A, in external cartridge]