Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 10 / MARCH 1981 / PAGE 154

32K Ram Expansion For Atari 400, 800 Announced

Sunnyvale, Calif.—AXLON, Inc. of Sunnyvale has announced its new memory expansion system for the Atari 400 and 800 personal computers.

According to John Vurich, AXLON's President, the memory modules, called RAMCRAM, can expand the Atari 400 system to 32K, and the Atari 800 to up to 48K-bytes of random access user memory. RAMCRAM contains 16 memory chips, yielding a total of 32K-bytes of additional user program memory.

In the case of the 400, RAMCRAM is installed by removing the top enclosure of the computer console and unplugging the 8K RAM module supplied by Atari. The RAMCRAM module is then plugged into the same slot.

According to Vurich, this modification allows the user of the 400 system to plug in disk drives, printers, and any other peripheral devices formerly compatible only with the much more expensive Atari 800 product. "It really lets one upgrade a 400 to provide all of the capabilities of the 800 with 32K of RAM," he commented. "Any 32K Atari 800 software on the market will run on a 400 with RAMCRAM."

The advantages of RAMCRAM over the Atari plug in memory modules are a little less obvious when it is used with the 800 system. But users with future expansion in mind will immediately see that putting a full 32K-bytes into one memory slot allows upgrading of the system to 48K with one entire slot left over for future expansion.

Are there any devices that can use the extra slot? According to Vurich, "There are many things in the near future." While somewhat reluctant to discuss future products, he did mention that a bus extender could be plugged into the third slot. Such an extender might terminate on the other end with a series of "slots" for use in plugging in "all sorts of interesting things."

This is reminiscent of Atari's competitors who use built-in slot connectors for connection of printers, modems, terminals, and other devices intended to establish contact between the computer and the outside world.

Developing the logic necessary to make the system "think" that two slots are being used instead of one was a relatively small problem for Vurich and his fellow designers of the RAMCRAM modules. The Atari operating system actually does some bank selecting anyway, and they were able to take advantage of this for their own purposes.

"The whole idea", says Vurich, "is to take the Atari 400 system out of the sophisticated toy category and turn it into a useful computer tool." With the ability to plug in printers, disk drives, and other previously incompatible Atari 800 peripherals, Axlon has certainly accomplished that goal!

For more information, please contact John Vurich, AXLON, Inc., 170 N. Wolf Rd., Sunnyvale, CA 94086