The Atari 2600 Video Computer System (VCS) - Gamasutra's "A History of Gaming Platforms"

Bill Loguidice's picture

Gamasutra has posted the latest book excerpt, this time on the Atari 2600 Video Computer System (VCS), as part of their "A History of Gaming Platforms" series.

From the article:
Gamasutra's A History of Gaming Platforms series continues with a look at the seminal Atari VCS, also known as the Atari 2600, the undisputed star of the early console rush - at least until the Great Crash of 1984. Need to catch up? Check out the first three articles in the series, covering the Apple II, the Commodore 64 and the Vectrex.]

Although not the first video game console and astonishingly primitive by today's standards, the Atari 2600 Video Computer System (VCS) became a fundamental part of Eighties culture and remains one of the most revered 8-bit gaming platforms ever designed. However, the explosive growth triggered by the 2600 led to The Great Videogame Crash of 1984, which toppled the industry and threatened the future of electronic gaming in America.

Even though they rearranged things as usual in the article, they only dropped one image this time, which was just a Kaboom cartridge scan:

08a - Kaboom Cartridge Front
Front of the cartridge for Activision's popular Kaboom! (1981), which made use of the paddle controllers.

The next article will be on the Intellivision, followed by the finale for Gamasutra, the Atari 8-bit. Enjoy!

Comments

3NV7 (not verified)
Great article... one correction

"Oddly, when Atari released the 5200, no such backward compatibility option was offered, confusing some consumers and hurting system sales. Atari tried making amends with a smaller 5200 system redesign and an awkward add-on module that enabled the backwards-compatibility gamers demanded. Unfortunately, this add-on was incompatible with the earlier, larger 5200 consoles without modification at a service center."

There was never a "smaller" 5200 redesign (one was prototyped, but never released, IIRC). The redesigned 5200 that was compatible with the VCS adapter had 2 joystick ports instead of 4 and went back to a more conventional RF switch design, but the actual size of the unit remained unchanged.

Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Yes, smaller was not a good word choice
3NV7 wrote:

"Oddly, when Atari released the 5200, no such backward compatibility option was offered, confusing some consumers and hurting system sales. Atari tried making amends with a smaller 5200 system redesign and an awkward add-on module that enabled the backwards-compatibility gamers demanded. Unfortunately, this add-on was incompatible with the earlier, larger 5200 consoles without modification at a service center."

There was never a "smaller" 5200 redesign (one was prototyped, but never released, IIRC). The redesigned 5200 that was compatible with the VCS adapter had 2 joystick ports instead of 4 and went back to a more conventional RF switch design, but the actual size of the unit remained unchanged.

Absolutely, thanks. I'll make sure that gets clarified and fixed.



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Mark Vergeer
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Joined: 01/16/2006
The 5200 never caught on in the Netherlands

The 2600 could be seen in stores, but the 5200 was just not a mainstream thing in Dutch stores at the time.



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IT Services (not verified)
Well i indeed remember my

Well i indeed remember my first Atari console it was really the era of the gaming revolution,.till then no one worry about playing video games and even many of them not heard of any such thing presnt,but it was then only we been able to play high definition 3D games noow,i still remember playing Tetris and Mario in my Atari..it was really a great experience.

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