Atari XE Clean-up and Restoration


Last month I acquired a box of some Atari computer equipment, including a 400 and an XE. Everything had been in an open cardboard box for many years, condition unknown but very dirty. I spent yesterday afternoon cleaning up the XE as a first effort. Didn't document too much of the process but the end result is a very clean XE.

Every key on the keyboard is now working well. The peripheral inputs seem to all function as intended. The cartridge slot, after some additional cleaning, is reading them fine. However, the small micro-switches for the main case buttons (Start / Select / Option / Reset) are defective and unresponsive even after attempting manual repair. I should be able to replace them with pretty standard tactile switches (around 11 mm tall with 6 mm gap between both leads). Once that is done I anticipate the system should be working perfectly.

I never had Atari computers before, and my first experience with a 400 was at the WCC Robocup Tournament this year. I've been listening to some Atari podcasts and studying more about their history and it has been a fun journey. I know someone who grew up programming on an Atari 400 in school and at home, and all I can do is think how tedious that process would be on a membrane keyboard. I think that the XE is the best of the line of original 8-bit Atari systems with its handy self-diagnostic tool, regular keyboard, expanded hardware and backwards compatibility with 400/800 titles. I enjoy the native composite output too, versus the home computers of the era that only have RF.

I do also have a disk drive for it that is next on my list to clean and test, although I don't believe I have any Atari disks.




I always liked the look of the XE machines, they had one at the VCF show but it wasn't running when I went through. I'd assume it's comparable to the later 600/1200 machines, but that's just a guess.

I really like the angled connector ports on it- not too many machines out there ever did that. Many thanks for sharing!