Atari 2600

The Atari 2600 (Video Computer System)

The Atari 2600 is a video game console. It was first released in the United States in October 1977. The Atari 2600 uses game cartridges which can be changed in and out to change games, which was a new idea in video games at the time. Before the 2600, people had to buy a different system for each game they wanted to play. Over 30 million Atari 2600 consoles were sold.

Name

While Atari designed their console, they code-named it Stella. When released in 1977, they called it the Video Computer System (VCS for short). There was also a version that was sold at Sears called the Sears Video Arcade. It was not called the Atari 2600 until the Atari 5200 released in 1982. The 2600 is called this because that is the part number the company used to tell the difference in versions.

Launch

When the Atari 2600 came out, it usually came with two joystick controllers, a pair of paddle controllers, and a game cartridge. There were initially nine games available at launch, featuring Combat (packaged with the console), Air-Sea Battle, Basic Math, Blackjack, Indy 500, Star Ship, Street Racer, Surround, and Video Olympics. The 2600 originally sold for $199.

Colors and graphics

The Atari 2600 uses different sets of colors depending on the television used with it:

  • In North America, the NTSC format is used, which has 128 colors.
  • In many parts of Europe, the PAL format is used, which has 104 colors.
  • A third format, called SECAM, was used in France; it only has 8 colors: black, blue, pink, mauve, neon green, sea-foam, yellow and white.

Games

When the Atari 2600 was released nine games were available. Those games were Combat (which came with the console), Air-Sea Battle, Basic Math, Blackjack, Indy 500, Star Ship, Street Racer, Surround, and Video Olympics. Later more games came out, including Pac-Man, Missile Command and Space Invaders. The best-selling Atari 2600 game was Pac-Man, which sold 7 million copies.

Combat

Combat was chosen to be included in the box with the Atari 2600. It contained 27 games in one cartridge. Each game involved tanks, bi-planes, or jets.

A photograph of an orchestra on a dimly lit stage. Above the group is a projection screen with a black, white, and green image of pixel art. The pixel art is of an oval object wearing headphones with eyes and four tentacles. Below the pixel art is the phrase "Video Games Live".
A pixelated alien graphic used at the concert event Video Games Live

Space Invaders

Space Invaders began as an intensely popular Japanese arcade game. In 1980 a version of the game was released for the Atari 2600. The pixelated aliens from this game are still used as a popular symbol for video games today.

Pac-Man

Pac-Man began as an arcade game developed by Namco. In 1982 a version was released for the Atari 2600. It sold the most copies of any game released for the Atari 2600 (7 million copies). Despite this, the game was not popular with critics and consumers, because of the major differences in gameplay between the 2600 version and the arcade version.

See List of Atari 2600 Games for a bigger list of games.

Third-party Game Development

In 1980 the Atari 2600 was at the middle of an important development in video games, the beginning of third-party developers for console video games. In 1980 a group of four dissatisfied Atari employees founded the company Activision, who then released four games: Dragster, Fishing Derby, Checkers, and Boxing. This was an important moment in video game history as now every video game console on the market depends on some third-party game support.

Atari Emulators

Today those who want to play the games designed for the 2600 do not have to try to find the original console and cartridge as many of the games have been recreated in video game emulators. One such emulator, Stella, will function on most any operating system. After downloading this emulator users can download games from other websites and use this program to play them.

Atari Jr

The Atari 2600 Junior

In 1986, a cheaper version of the Atari 2600 was released. Some people called this the Atari 2600 Junior. It was smaller than the original version. This system cost $50.

Sources

Other Languages
العربية: أتاري 2600
asturianu: Atari 2600
brezhoneg: Atari 2600
català: Atari 2600
čeština: Atari 2600
Deutsch: Atari 2600
eesti: Atari 2600
English: Atari 2600
español: Atari 2600
Esperanto: Atari 2600
euskara: Atari 2600
français: Atari 2600
한국어: 아타리 2600
hrvatski: Atari 2600
Bahasa Indonesia: Atari 2600
íslenska: Atari 2600
italiano: Atari 2600
ქართული: Atari 2600
lietuvių: Atari 2600
lumbaart: Atari 2600
magyar: Atari 2600
مصرى: اتارى 2600
Bahasa Melayu: Atari 2600
Nederlands: Atari 2600
日本語: Atari 2600
norsk: Atari 2600
norsk nynorsk: Atari 2600
polski: Atari 2600
português: Atari 2600
română: Atari 2600
русский: Atari 2600
slovenčina: Atari 2600
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Atari 2600
suomi: Atari 2600
svenska: Atari 2600
Türkçe: Atari 2600
українська: Atari 2600
ייִדיש: אטארי 2600
粵語: Atari 2600