Sharing Your AV Mac's Monitor
with an Atari 8-bit

If you have an AV Mac (see list below) or a third-party video input card, your Mac monitor can be used as the display for your Atari 8-bit computer.

Here are screen snapshots showing an Atari screen being displayed on a Mac in a medium-sized window and full-screen on a 640 x 480 monitor.

How to set it up

The video input on an AV Mac is designed to accept any conventional NTSC (or PAL) video signal. It's just a matter of connecting the composite video output from the Atari's monitor output port to the Mac's video input. You will need a composite monitor cable. If you don't have one, you can make one or buy one from sources such as B&C, or scrounge one through Usenet, etc. If you've been using a composite monitor with your Atari, you probably already have one. You will probably need a Y connector to tie the luminance and chroma outputs together. You can also route the sound output through the Mac's sound input if you wish.

In order to view the video image, you use the Apple Video Player application. This is installed with most recent versions of the MacOS. If you can't find it on your Mac, you probably removed it. If so, you can usually find it on your Apple system CD-ROM. Once you have it up a running, turn on your Atari to view the display. You may need to adjust the preferences and other settings for your specific requirements (such as NTSC vs. PAL).

That's all there is to it.

Some benefits of this setup


One small problem I have found is fidelity of some colors--especially lighter shades, which tend to look more or less white. This can be fixed somewhat by fiddling with the contrast, brightness, and saturation controls of the Apple Video Player.

Also, you must remember to use the right keyboard. Working in full-screen mode helps to keep things straight. And remember not to use the mouse with the Atari. ;-)


Atari 8-bit models with composite monitor outputs:

All but the 400.

Mac models with composite video/sound inputs as standard equipment:

Quadra 660av
Quadra 840av
Macintosh TV
Power Mac 7500/100
Daystar Genesis MP 480
Power Mac 8500 series
Power Mac 5400/120
Power Mac 7600 series
Power Mac 8600/200
20th Anniversary Mac

Mac models with composite video/sound inputs as an optional card add-in:

Macintosh LC 630
Quadra 630
Performa 630
Performa 6110 series
Macintosh LC 580
Power Mac 5200/75 LC
Power Mac 6200/75 (available only in Asia)
Performa 640 series
Performa 5200 series
Performa 6200 series
Power Mac 5300/100 LC
Performa 6300 series
Power Mac 5260/120
Performa 5400
Performa 6400 series
Power Mac 6400

Note: A number of other Mac models also have optional AV capabilities which include S-Video input, but not composite video input. For these, all you need is an S-Video to composite adapter.

Newer Macs have USB which can be used to capture video from any source, including an Atari computer, using a third-party video adapter. I have not tried this, however.

Firewire is another possiblity, though the options are somewhat different. I have not seen anything similar to the Apple Video Player for Firewire. On the other hand, you could certainly capture Atari video using a DV camcorder and transfer that to a Firewire Mac. Again, I have not tried this myself. When I do (sooner or later) I will update this page.

Mac/Atari Fusion: Atari 8-bit Resources for Mac Users Copyright 2001 Mark Simonson.