The Atari 2600 VCS is the world’s first popular home video game system. The Atari 2600 Video Computer System revolutionized the way we play video games and popularized the concept of interchangeable TV games in a home console. The Atari 2600’s massive popularity through the late ’70s and ’80s is very much responsible pioneering the home video game industry. The 2600’s popularity turned Atari into a household name synonymous with video games. The 2600 was first introduced in September, 1977 and went on to become one of the longest-selling, most popular video game consoles in history, remaining in production until 1992.
The Atari 5200 was introduced in November, 1982 as Atari’s second generation 8-bit video game system. Much of the 5200′s technology was designed in 1978 as a second generation game system to replace the 2600, which would be obsolete by 1980. It featured advanced analog joysticks, an arcade-like trak-ball, more sophisticated games than the 2600, and absolutely striking industrial design. Interestingly, Atari didn’t present the 5200 as a direct replacement for the 2600, but a higher-end alternative to compliment the 2600 in the existing product line.
The Atari 7800 ProSystem is a third-generation video game system introduced in June, 1984 as Atari’s premiere 8-Bit console for the 1980s. The 7800 features 2-button digital joysticks, near arcade-quality gaming style and graphics, out-of-the-box compatibility with Atari 2600 games, and mind-bogglingly handsome industrial design.
The Coleco Gemini is a game system made for playing all Atari 2600 cartridges. The Gemini was much more compact than the large woodgrain console that Atari was selling at the time, and retailed for much less. Its controllers were a unique combination of both joystick and paddle. The controllers of the Gemini are known as the best controllers to play Atari 2600 games with, and the Coleco Gemini also inspired the sleek design for later consoles. Coleco had been successful in manufacturing an Atari 2600 adapter for their ColecoVision system. Atari brought a $500 million lawsuit, but since the 2600 was designed entirely using off-the-shelf parts, courts determined that anyone could make a 2600 clone. Coleco wasted no time in creating an Atari clone they cleverly named "Gemini". Soon other firms were copying the 2600, adding to the video game market collapse in the early 80's.
EARLY ATARI INFLUENCE : I was first exposed to computers at an early age shortly after the introduction of the Atari 400 computer with a Pacman game. I was hooked immediately. My neighbor was a Computer Systems Analyst and he would give me books about computers. I devoured these books and even bought some others about Atari and BASIC programming. I enjoyed typing in the program examples and modifying them even though the Atari 400 keyboard and cassettes were very slow and tedious.