The computer

This PERITEL Atari 800 computer was officially released by Atari in France, probably in Q3-Q4 1982. It is not the DIY project of a fan, as demonstrated by the additional Atari components with specific references (see below) and the very existence of the tape "Initiation à la programmation en BASIC – Version PERITEL".

As explained on the PAL Atari 800XL page, France was neither a PAL nor NTSC but a SECAM country. So, Atari had to find a workaround to sell the Atari 400 & 800 computers locally. The quick fix was to add an RGB signal, generated in an additional PERITEL daughterboard-card, available in a PERITEL/SCART connector. On the PERITEL Atari 800, the cable is detachable and plugged into the computer. On the PERITEL Atari 400, the cable is not detachable. Consequently, it is even more difficult today to find a PERITEL Atari 800 with its cable – which was often lost.

Aesthetically, the PERITEL version can be spotted by the additional 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.

Peritel Atari 800 Top

Top

Peritel Atari 800 Left side, with Peritel connector

Left side, with PERITEL connector

Peritel Atari 800 Peritel connector close-up

PERITEL connector close-up

Peritel Atari 800 Rear

Rear (cable removed for the photo)

Peritel Atari 800 Front

Front

Peritel Atari 800 Front joystick connectors

Front joystick connectors

Peritel Atari 800 Right side

Right side

Peritel Atari 800 Right side connectors close-up

Right side connectors close-up

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

Sticker close-up, with PERITEL PTL serial number

3 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.

Peritel Atari 800 3 computers, view #1

Three computers...

Peritel Atari 800 3 computers, view #2

...easy to identify

2 revisions (at least?)

Among my 3 machines, I noticed two different revisions:

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

Peritel Atari 800 Chassis with CO61131 REV.A

Chassis with CO61131 REV.A

Peritel Atari 800 Chassis with CO61131 REV.X2A

Chassis with CO61131 REV.X2A

Inside the 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.

Peritel Atari 800 With CAO61034 adaptator

With CAO61034 adaptator

Peritel Atari 800 With CAO61034 REV.X1A adaptator

With CAO61034 REV.X1A adaptator

Peritel Atari 800 PTL internal sticker

PTL internal sticker

Peritel Atari 800 Below #1

Below #1

Peritel Atari 800 Daughterboard-card inside the chassis

Daughterboard-card inside the chassis

Peritel Atari 800 Power card

Power card

Peritel Atari 800 Below #2

Below #2

Peritel Atari 800 Below #2 (close-up)

Below #2 (close-up)

The PERITEL adaptator daughterboard-card

Peritel Atari 800 CAO61034 adaptator

CAO61034 adaptator

Peritel Atari 800 CAO61034 adaptator (close-up)

CAO61034 adaptator (close-up)

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

CAO61034 REV.X1A adaptator (close-up)

The RGB signal from this PERITEL adaptator

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

High quality RGB signal

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 adaptator)

Atari rainbow (PERITEL adaptator)

Peritel Atari 800 displaying Atari Artist (PERITEL adaptator)

Atari Artist (PERITEL adaptator)

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.

Running software (games!) on the two video outputs

On the large display (left): RGB signal from the PERITEL adaptator. On the small display (right): signal from regular 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

Invitation à la programmation, version PERITEL

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 specific version of the tape "An invitation to programming" especially for these PERITEL 400 & 800. The French version titled "Initiation à la programmation en BASIC – Version PERITEL" is not only a French translation: it also features different colours. This update was needed because all the colours had to be reconsidered, and selected according to their luminosity. Later, another French version of "Initiation à la programmation en BASIC" will be released for the XL computers, this time matching the original colours of the "An invitation to programming" tape.

To be comprehensive in my evaluation, I loaded the tape "Initiation à la programmation en BASIC – Version PERITEL", on a PAL 800XL. And, yes, it features colours – and not only a monochrome choice of colours, selected for their luminosity.

Peritel Atari 800 Invitation a la programmation, version Peritel, Tape

Tape

Peritel Atari 800 Invitation a la programmation, version Peritel, New colours #1

New colours #1

Peritel Atari 800 Invitation a la programmation, version Peritel, New colours #2

New colours #2

(*) 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.

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.

Peritel Atari 800 PEEKs to important addresses

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]