Historians Rebuilding Old Atari Chips

The Atari Museum is reconstructing several of the original company's proprietary chips - including those from the 2600/VCS, 5200, and the 8-bit personal computer line - using data recovered from the reel-to-reel tapes used in their original manufacture.

The Museum's Curt Vendel says the project has a practical application beyond the living history factor. "What is the potential of this?" he said to Atari Age. "Doing the chips in smaller SMT packaging, and potentially bringing back to life some of the later CMOS designs of combo chips which could lead to a SoC - System on a Chip.

"The future just got a little brighter in terms of preserving and continuing the legacy of Atari's custom IC chips," he added.

The more technically inclined can follow a deeper discussion here. The project involves the TIA, used in the Atari 2600; the GTIA, used in the 5200 and the 8-bit line (the Atari 400 and 800) and the MARIA (used in the Atari 7800).

Atari Chips Reconstructed [GameSetWatch]


    First... Atari. Next... dinosaurs.

    Has anybody here played an Atari 2600 game on the Stella emulator? With the TV simulation turned on? Good times. Good times indeed.

    This is fantastic. There's a few preservation groups out there now who strive to secure copies of software, manuals, hardware, blueprints etc. Even though society as a whole often sees games as diversionary and inconsequential, video games have had such a profound effect on our society that it's imperative we preserve all this information.
    The fact that the Atari Museum is going back to the original Reel to Reel tapes is amazing. A lot of data this old has been lost, so it's great that they're taking these designs and trying to make the hardware more accessible today. Existing machines aren't going to last forever.

    I've helped with a similar group - the Classic Amiga Preservation Society. They're preserving copies of games in lossless images, but I don't believe they've ever gotten anything of this importance.

    Sorry for the rant - even though I remember more of the 16bit generation than the 8bit gen, I think it's important that older gaming hardware and software remains part of the culture rather than fading into obscurity - and I imagine lots of other Kotaku readers are too.

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