Atari 400 / 800 fan cooling mod?

Dale Mahalko

Jul 25, 2019
Has anyone ever tried modding a fan onto the Atari 400 / 800?

The system had a terrible design due to stupid USA FCC restrictions in the 1970s, where the main CPU, memory, and ROMs are all inside a solid metal aluminum shell. Later the FCC relaxed the rules so that newer computers did not have to be designed like a military tank vehicle.

But meanwhile the 400/800 has essentially no airflow whatsoever, and the Atari 800 I obtained about 20 years ago had a problem where it would just stop working after a couple hours because of the heat buildup inside the shell. As a result of this, I took the computer apart... and then at some point discarded the entire outer casing and the aluminum metal shell, and I just use it as a bare pile of circuit boards on the table..... it does not look exactly graceful, but it works. :D

It would be nice to find a middle ground here, perhaps by getting another Atari 800, taking it apart, and drilling air circulation holes into the solid aluminum shell on the left and right sides, and putting a small 50x50mm 5 volt cooling fan on one side of the aluminum shell.

I do not recall if the outer plastic casing had any air vents, so the case plastic may also require modification to add air vent holes.


New Member
Oct 16, 2019
South Carolina
I'm not too well versed in modifying hardware, but I think it would work. I presume your biggest problem would be sourcing power from the power supply without frying yourself or the machine and having the thing actually work. Some additional input based on images of the 800 and my own knowledge, there were slits above the removable expansion boards. If I was doing this, I'd try to do the hole at the back of the plastic and shielding near the boards, and put the fan there, bringing cooler air in and through the boards. It'd be a bit of a challenge, and the airflow wouldn't be GREAT, but it'd be a heck of a lot better than a stock 800.