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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Recent News: Atari Video Games
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The Atari Mindlink and other outrageous controllersComputerandvideogames.com (blog), March 10th
Amiga Joyboard Despite its name, this was actually a 2600 peripheral made by Amiga Corporation (before Commodore bought it and started making Amiga computers). It was a very early precursor to the Wii Balance Board, with only one game - skiing title ...Read more
A Candid Talk With Mark Cerny, Who Designed The PS4, Among Other ThingsKotaku Australia, March 10th
Cerny worked and lived through the gaming crash of the early 80s, the one that is often blamed on a glut of bad games including the notorious, unsellable Atari 2600 rush-job E.T. But when the crash came up in our conversation, Cerny turned out to have...Read more
Producer Reveals Plans to Unearth Worst Game EverTom's Guide, March 8th
Any gamer worth his or her salt knows that one of gaming's most infamous urban legends is actually true. In 1983, Atari dumped 10 truckloads of "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" for Atari 2600 in the New Mexico desert, but one film crew is now on the cusp...Read more
Gaming's Area 51: Excavating Atari's Secret Burial GroundReadWrite, March 8th
Atari's mega-flop, 1982's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600, was commissioned as a companion experience to the wild success of the feature film. Atari's parent company Warner Entertainment misgauged the gaming community in a decision that ...Read more
The search for the infamous Atari ET game cartridges landfill heats upThe Guardian, March 7th
Universal/Everett/Rex Featur. Is E.T. somewhere to be found in the New Mexico desert? Not aliens, but game cartridges: millions of unsold copies of Atari 2600 title E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, whose landfill burial is one of the games industry's...Read more
Developer "Demade" "Halo 2600" Going Into Smithsonian CollectionComplex.com, February 28th
So called reboots, remakes all spruce up a fan favorites or put a fresh coat of paint on a much-loved but dated classic. But what happens when a developer “demakes” a game? Programmer Ed Fries demade Halo into an Atari 2600 version and you can play it ...Read more
Interview with Ed Fries, creator of Halo 2600Boing Boing, February 28th
In 2010, Ed Fries, a former Microsoft VP of game publishing, programmed an Atari 2600 version of Halo. The game, titled Halo 2600, has now been added to the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Smithsonian magazine interviewed Fries:...Read more
Flappy Bird mania continues with Atari 2600 version now available.Here Is The City, February 13th
One of the oldest games consoles ever gets its own version of the addictive Flappy Bird game. The unofficial home-brew game cunningly titled 'Flappo Bird' is now available on the ancient, wooden look early 80's console, the Atari 2600. Whilst it looks ...Read more