The Atari 2600 (originally known as the Atari Video Computer System before 1982) (known as Atari 2800 in Japan) is a video game console 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 Rocks
It revolutionized home gaming with the use of replaceable cartridges, especially by bringing popular arcade games into the home such as Space Invaders.
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.
Many games are in the arcade genre of gaming, focusing more on a high score than actually beating the game.
Quirky and fun sound effects.
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.
Over 596 games to choose from, counting homebrews.
The secondary controller, the Paddle controller, allowed for rotation and made it great for games like Break-Out.
It had GameLine, world's first digital distribution service.
Due to its old age, finding a functional unit can prove difficult. It can also be expensive because collectors hunt them down.
It's also very difficult to use with a modern TV because those no longer have ports for the cables the Atari 2600 uses. You can play 2600 games in modern TVs via Plug and Play systems or compilations, but they aren't the same.
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.