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Atari 2600: A Video Computer System

Atari 2600

Atari 2600

A video game console that was introduced by Atari in 1977 and is sometimes referred to as the Atari Video Computer System is called the Atari 2600.

Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., and Mario Bros. are the three instalments of the Mario game series that have been made available for this console.

Additionally, adapters allowed the games for this system to be played on other systems, including the Atari 5200, ColecoVision, and Intellivision.

Additionally, the games could be played on the Atari 7800, which was instantaneously backwards-compatible.

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Atari 2600 Sales

Only four million Atari 2600 consoles were sold in the first year of its production, which ran from 1977 to 1979.

The release of Space Invaders in 1980 contributed to a surge in sales that reached 12 million copies that year.

The Atari 2600 had already sold 24 million units by the time the Great Videogame Crash of 1983 occurred. As of the 18th of August in 2021, it had sold a total of 27.64 million units.

Atari 2600 Type

The original purpose of the Atari 2600 was to play variations of the game Pong, as well as simple action games, crude racing simulators, rudimentary instructional titles, and other games of a similar nature.

The console was equipped with a mere 128 bytes of random-access memory (RAM).

However, following the launch of Space Invaders in 1980, sales of the system surged, and it quickly established itself as a standard in arcade conversions.

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Technical specifications Atari 2600

The system included two well-tuned paddle controllers in addition to two stiff but sturdy joysticks. Because neither type of controller had more than one fire button, game designers had to be inventive with the joystick (and occasionally the console itself) to create more complex games.

The game console has the following switches: on/off, color/b/w, reset, choose, difficulty level (for each player, novice and expert), and, obviously, color/b/w.

The Atari 2600 had its fair share of accessories and add-ons during its prime, including a plethora of third-party joysticks, a touch pad for Star Raiders, a trackball, a joypad that players could stand on for Mogul Maniac, a Kid’s Controller for Sesame Street games, a driving controller for the Indy 500, a keyboard controller, and more.

Atari 2600 Jr.

A new 2600 iteration was introduced in 1985. (although it had been planned for release two years earlier).

The newly updated 2600, sometimes known as the 2600 Jr. informally, had a smaller, more affordable design that resembled the modernised Atari 7800. A huge selection of vintage games could be played on the rebuilt 2600, which was marketed as a low-cost gaming console (around $50).

Its release sparked a revival in software development from Atari Corp. and a few outside companies (including Activision, Absolute Entertainment, Froggo, Epyx, and Exus). Up until 1991, the Atari 2600 was still in demand in North America, Western Europe, and Asia.


ROM cartridge-based games were natively supported by the system. Although Tod Frye’s port of the popular Namco arcade game Pac-Man (1980), which received harsh criticism for its blatant infidelity to the original and extremely raw graphics and sound, was the system’s best-selling cartridge and (together with other versions of the game) the World’s best-selling video game.

Atari later replaced it with their own Combat (programmed by John Decuir and Larry Wagner).

Other Atari 2600 launch titles from 1977 were Video Olympics, Basic Math, Blackjack, Indy 500, Star Ship, Street Racer, and Air-Sea Battle.

The first instance of a third-party game publisher was created by former Atari workers. In 1979, with the aid of music attorney Jim Levy, Alan Miller, who had worked on early launch games like Surround and Basketball, split off with other designers Bob Whitehead, Larry Kaplan, and David Crane to found Activision.

For a period, Atari tried to stop Activision from releasing games on their platform by suing them, but they were unsuccessful.

The following year, former employees of Mattel Electronics and Atari created Imagic, a different publisher.

Publishers like Parker Brothers and CBS started creating and releasing video games, which led to a rush on the Atari 2600, which had no copy protection at all.

Numerous customers’ dissatisfaction with the abundance of games and the absence of quality control from competing businesses ultimately contributed to the 1983 video game crash.

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