In the late 1970s and early ’80s, the toy most coveted by kids was the Atari 2600 Video Computer System. While the graphics seem rudimentary by today’s near photo-realistic 3D gaming standards, when the VCS was released for Christmas of 1977, it was revolutionary to be able to interact with your TV set in such a way.
In fact, Atari set the whole video-game craze in motion with its 1972 coin-operated arcade game Pong. Even though Nutting Associates technically produced the first arcade computer game, 1971’s Computer Space, no one paid attention to this new form of entertainment until the game’s creator, Nolan Bushnell, formed a new company of his own called Atari and released Pong. During the arcade years that followed, Atari made several coin-operated hits: Breakout, Atari Football, Asteroids, Battlezone, Missile Command, Centipede, Dig Dug, Pole Position, Marble Madness, Gauntlet, and even Star Wars.
Atari also did not introduce the first home video-gaming console, but it did make the most successful one of the era. Kids would cram around TVs in rec rooms, fighting over the black joysticks with red fire buttons, playing games like Canyon Bomber, Adventure, Kaboom!, Superman, Spike’s Peak, Barnstorming, Yars’ Revenge, and Pitfall! Atari churned out hundreds of game cartridges, including some of popular coin-operated machine titles like its own Pong and Midway’s Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man, as well as games based on movies.
At the height of its success in 1982, Atari introduced the new 5200 system. Even though the company was advertising its games during prime Saturday morning cartoon time, Atari now faced tough competition from the Commodore 64 and ColecoVision. Atari faded out of fashion by 1985, when the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was introduced.
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One child held the evolution of gaming in his graspBoston Globe, December 20th
Baio laid out the schedule in his piece: “Start with the arcade classics and Atari 2600, from Asteroids to Zaxxon. After a year, move on to the 8-bit era with the NES and Sega classics. The next year, the SNES, Game Boy, and classic PC adventure games...Read more
How I Put Away My Atari 2600 and Learned to Love School ChoiceReason (blog), December 20th
I put away my beloved Atari 2600 and spent my summers studying Shakespeare's comedies. My parents were generous enough to hire a college drama student to give me private lessons, once a week, to teach me how to recite a monologue and improvise ...Read more
Unearthed ET Atari Cartridge Phones Home to SmithsonianPC Magazine, December 17th
"The [E.T. Atari 2600] cartridge is one of the defining artifacts of the crash and of the era," Robarge wrote in the blog. "In addition to the crash, the cartridge can tell many stories: the ongoing challenge of making a good film to a video game...Read more
Welcome. An Atari ET Cartridge is Going to The Smithsonian Institution - IGNIGN, December 16th
In 1982, after acquiring the license to create an E.T. game for the Atari 2600, Atari took a gamble. For the gamble to pay out, Atari needed to sell some four million cartridges to break even. Of the four million target, Atari actually sold around one...Read more
Father Makes Son Play Through Video Game History, ChronologicallyKotaku, December 10th
That's an Atari 2600 (VCS) and an Atari cart there. Atari 2600 Pac-Man looked nothing like this: oldtaku. View discussion >> · 2. That sure as hell isn't on the 2600. anacanapana. View discussion >>. For the last ten years, Andy Baio has been...Read more
ET For the Atari 2600UConn Daily Campus, November 30th
In April of 2014, an excavation project in the Nevada desert unearthed over 700,000 copies of “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” for the Atari 2600. What was this disaster, this mess that someone saw fit to publish and how did it end up in the desert? Thus...Read more
15 vintage Atari games based on moviesDeath and Taxes, November 26th
“Shark JAWS” also established a tradition that the company carried over into its phenomenally popular Atari 2600 home video game system. Beginning with an official “Superman” cartridge in 1979, Atari created movie tie-in games throughout its early-'80s ...Read more
Buried Atari 2600 'E.T.' games are for sale on eBayMashable, November 5th
Remember those E.T. game cartridges that were uncovered in a New Mexico desert in April? Now they're on eBay. Decades of video game speculation was brought to an end earlier this year when a crew unearthed a bunch of Atari 2600 cartridges in ...Read more