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Atari 2600

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― Todd Howard
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Have you played Atari today?
Developer: Atari
Release Date: NA: September 11, 1977
EU: 1978
JP: October 1983 (Atari 2800)
Successor: Atari 5200
Competitors: Intellivision
Fairchild Channel F
Generation: Second Generation
Discontinued: January 1, 1992

The Atari 2600, originally named Atari Video Computer System before 1982 (known as Atari 2800 in Japan), is a video game console developed by Atari Inc., best known for predating the Nintendo Entertainment System. It is famous for popularizing the use of microprocessor-based hardware and ROM cartridges using game code, even though the previous Fairchild Channel F and RCA Studio 2 systems were able to do this first. It was first released on September 11, 1977 and discontinued on January 1, 1992.

Why It Plays Atari Today

  1. It revolutionized home gaming with the use of replaceable cartridges, especially by bringing popular arcade games into the home such as Space Invaders.
  2. Even though the graphics looked primitive on the console, which makes sense because it was released in 1977, they are still fun to look at and still some games had amazing graphics and animations like Enduro, a racing game published by Activision.
  3. Many games are in the arcade genre of gaming, focusing more on a high score than actually beating the game.
  4. Quirky and fun sound effects.
  5. The basic controller of the 2600 is the iconic CX-40 joystick, which had a control stick and a single button, making it very easy to learn.
  6. Over 596 games to choose from, counting homebrews.
  7. The secondary controller, the Paddle controller, allowed for rotation and made it great for games like Break-Out.
  8. You can plug a Sega Genesis controller and it'll work.
  9. It had GameLine, world's first digital distribution service.

Bad Qualities

  1. Due to its old age, finding a functional unit can be difficult. It can also be expensive because collectors hunt them down.
    • It's also very difficult to use with a modern TV because those mostly no longer have ports (due to analog to digital transitions which led to RF port being removed on some TVs) for the cables the Atari 2600 uses without a RF to composite/RGB/HDMI adapter, or modding the console to support these mentioned output. You can play 2600 games in modern TVs via Plug and Play systems, emulators through PC or compilations, but they aren't the same.
  2. Lack of control over quality and publishing resulted in its library being flooded with shovelware games made by people trying to make a quick buck from the video game craze. This made the Atari 2600 a major contributor to the North American Video Game Crash of 1983.
  3. The Paddle controllers wear out over time, causing them to create jittery movements.


While not the first to do so, the Atari 2600 is often credited for being the one that made the use of exchangeable game cartridges viable. It is also considered the one that made gaming popular. Mike Matei of Cinemassacre is a huge fan of the system and owns nearly the entire library.


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