Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 6, NO. 5 / SEPTEMBER 1987

New 8-Bit Atari Disk Drive

Twice as fast, twice as much room, same $199 price

By Nat Friedland, Antic Editor

With the XF551 8-bit disk drive, Atari came up with at least one surprise at a June, 1987 Consumer Electronics Show that wasn't supposed to bring any new hardware announcements.

The XF551 is a 360K double-sided, double-density 5 1/4 inch disk drive that runs 2.9 times faster than the Atari 1050. The compact, XE-gray XF551 is about three-fourths the size of a 1050 which it now replaces. The XF551 also replaces the previously-announced 3 1/2 inch drive for 8-bit Atari computers.

Due in the stores this summer according to Atari, the XF551 will have the same $199.95 list-price as the 1050. Essentially, the XF551 is an adaptation of the standard disk drive mechanism being used for Atari's IBM clone.

Thr XF551 can automatically adapt itself to today's single density and enhanced density DOS disks. However, ADOS will be the new operating system provided with the XF551. It is being programmed by OSS creators of Atari DOS 2 and 2.5. Some ADOS features include a tree structure allowing subdirectories, easy switching between menus or keyboard commands, and a high degree of file recovery safety.

Bill Wilkinson of OSS says that ADOS will run on any Atari-compatible disk drive, from the old 810 to a 16Mb hard disk. Although 8Mb is the upper limit for efficient operation, a larger hard disk can be partitioned into several logical drives. DOS 2 and 2.5 files can be read into ADOS, but ADOS is not fully compatible with the older operating systems.


Along with the XF551, the Atari products announced in January at the previous CES are now also scheduled for summer release. This impressive list includes the Mega ST in 1, 2 and 4 megabytes, a $1,500 laser printer, the Atari PC clone and the XE Game System version of the 65XE.

On the 8-bit side, the 80-column XEP80 display box and the 12OO-baud SX212 modem are now also promised for summer delivery. According to Atari, final assembly of these products was held up because of delivery delays key microchips.