Talk:Atari 2600/Archive 1

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Archive 1 Archive 2

Happy memories

I have a lot of fond memories of the 2600. It's not much when compared to what's out there today with the complex, immersive games available today. But there are times when I like nothing more than to pull up one of the old games via the CD of old games I bought a couple months ago and play those games.

JesseG 21:15, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Same here; like many other 'old fart' gameplayers I feel that many games of the 8-bit era are far superior in playability over most of today's offerings (the latter being more like beautiful graphics demos and not much more). OK, some Playstation (PS1) games are well executed, but since then it has mostly been a downward spiral in my opinion...
Thanks for the cart images, by the way! Makes the article more interesting/readable. :) --Wernher 10:08, 6 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Ohhhh...memories. My dad owns one of the first six-switch versions to chug out of the factory. Do you have the game known as 'Combat' where one controls tanks or planes to shoot down the opponent? That was fun. I called it the 'futuristic footrest' for some reason. Lady BlahDeBlah 23:14, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

This is the main reason the console turned pop cult icon and many believe introduced humans to cybernetic era. Hideo Kojima talked about in EGM july 99.

Hooking up 2600 to new TV

Does anyone know how to hook up a 2600 console to a new TV, I have two consoles, about 60 games that would be nostalgic fun to play. I was told Radio Shack had the necessary parts, but they are unable to give me step by step instruction to hook up. Does anyone have any knowledge of this? --Anonymous

There's a description of/comparison on/link collection to various DIY procedures for getting at the 2600 video signals at the pages of Nathan Strum's Atari 2600 Video Mods Comparison Project. Have a look. --Wernher 02:00, 19 Jun 2005 (UTC)
There shouldn't be a lot to it -- you've got a straight-forward modulated video signal coming out of there, on either channel 3 or 4 (depending, obviously, on the switch on the back of the console.) The only weird thing is that the cable ends in an RCA plug. Get RS 15-1268, which is pretty much what came with the Atari, and connect it to your cable jack. TV on channel 3, and away you go! David Duncan Scott 21:19, 10 October 2005 (UTC)
I usaully go old school, i use a tv (freaking nobs!) that was made in the same era atari 2600 was made so when i play it i get the full effect!.. i'll have to try the suggestion cause the older tv is in b/w and is rather small (15 inch) heh --anon —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 01:45, 14 December 2006 (UTC).

Woody 2600 image

I put a photo of the first generation 2600 that I have on the page. I don't know about anyone else, but the joysticks weren't the most durable items on the market. Our Atari manufactured joysticks broke so easily, that we went to third party joysticks. The third party ones were a bit more durable.

JesseG 02:23, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
FYI: the pictured 2600 is actually the second version of the console, with 4 switches instead of 6 as in the original 1977 machine. Nevertheless, it was great to get a photo of the wood'ish 'cool 70s' 2600 in addition to the 1986 'ugly 80s' one :) --Wernher 15:22, 10 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Hey thanks. Up until now, I hadn't even known that there was a version of the 2600 before the type of machine I have. Would anyone have a picture of the first generation machine, because I'd love to see one of those consoles.
JesseG 03:40, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Here is a picture of the 6 switch 2600. I don't know the copyright info on it, so I can't post it here, but here is the link:Thanks buddy Original Atari- Armaced 23:07, 18 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I'll try to take a picture of a six-switch 2600 tonight at home and upload it. Nandesuka 13:52, 23 September 2005 (UTC)

Technical Quibbles

"The console had only 128 bytes of RAM (working storage) that was used by the system to store game state data, i.e. data identifying where the player was in the game, what the score was, etc. RAM was so expensive that there was simply no way to have a "screen buffer", a portion of memory that holds the pattern to be drawn to the screen, at least not with the resolution they wanted. Instead they decided to have enough memory for only one line of the display at a time. When the TV completed drawing that line, the game was expected to quickly stuff the next line into the TIA while the TV was resetting for the next line or just before the beam reached the position of the object that has to be displayed. This is part of the reason that black lines can be seen on the left side of the screen when playing 2600 games."

Not quite correct, in my view. The 128 bytes were actually part of the PIA, which also gave you the switches and the joysticks. And it wasn't exactly that they only gave you enough memory for one line at a time, but rather that the display wasn't memory-mapped to start with; instead, one wrote to various control registers, which maintained their values until altered (so that if you didn't update, you got stripes down the screen) which in turn drew the screen line. You couldn't get ahead of the scan, it's true, but conceptually I find the description a little misleading. David Duncan Scott 21:04, 10 October 2005 (UTC)

Article states "128 colours (16 on screen)." There's no such limitation. Perhaps the author intended to point out that the 128 colours are 16 colours times 8 luminance (brightness) levels, but in fact all 128 colours can be onscreen at once, since there is no video buffer or palette on the machine to limit this.

Uneven Description

I was just thinking, the comparison of the Atari 2600 to a typical modern computer is perhaps interesting, but it's comparing apples to oranges. The 2600 was a console, not a home computer, why not compare it to modern consoles? I don't have the necissary information, otherwise I'd post it myself. Fëaluinix 10:39, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

PS2: CPU - 128 bit, System Clock - 300 Mhz, Memory - 32 Mb, Floating Point Performance - 6.2 Gflops (
Xbox: CPU - 733 Mhz, Memory - 64 Mb (
Gamecube: CPU - 485 Mhz, Memory - 40 Mb, Floating Point Performance (?) - 1.94 Gflops (

(found by googling [console name] specs) Avoided the usual modern measurment - polygons per second - because an Atari 2600 doesn't doesn't make polygons in the same sense. This is raw data, probably needs some tweaking and reexamining before inclusion in the article.


I agree with Fealuinix. Nobody will i.e. write that "The Spirit of St. Louis flew 8.5 times slower than a modern Jumbo Jet".

Kahuameah 15:18, 14 December 2005 (UTC)

Unnecessary full-article reverts

To the anonymous contributor behind the recent full-article reverts: please only remove/edit those parts of the article that you disagree with---not the entire article! Also, it is good wikiquette to explain non-trivial edits to the article here on the talk page. --Wernher 09:04, 14 December 2005 (UTC)

Removed Simpsons reference

The graf about Atari's license purchases and the video game crash of 1983 mentioned three major Atari licenses for Pac-Man, E.T., and The Simpsons (arcade game). Since that third game was released in 1991, I took it out. Either the reference was incorrect or its timing (in the flow of the article) was way off. | Klaw ¡digame! 21:55, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

Fairchild vs. Magnavox

The notes in the article stated the Fairchild Channel F to be the first console to use cartridges, but the actual Fairchild article gives it the title of second, right after the Magnavox Odyssey. While i'm certainly no expert on '70s and '80s game systems, i do recolect seeing a documentary on early game consoles that placed the Magnavox Odyssey before the Fairchild Channel F. I corrected this discrepancy in the article notes. 18:09, 15 April 2006 (UTC)

The confusion arises over the association of programmable cartridges with all cartridges. The Odyssey used cartridges, of a sort, but they effectively served only as glorified switches: they merely told the console which preprogrammed game to run. The cartridges themselves contained none of the actual game data, and there was no way to create a new game without modifying the console deck itself, since that was where all the program data resided. The Channel F, on the other hand, was the first programmable system: game data was stored in the cartridges, and it was therefore possible to create new games without having to rebuild the console itself. Depending on what your definition of cartridge is, either one could concievably qualify as the first cartridge-based system. – – Sean Daugherty (talk) 17:38, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
This is late, but I've changed the wording in the article. Inside of the Odyssey are several (I think eight, but can't remember exactly.) sections. Each section contains analog circuitry for a certain task. Ball physics, drawing the center line, drawing the paddles, etc. Electric current will go through a section and then back to the cartridge. The cartridge will then redirect the current at another section. The carts that were distributed with the Odyssey relied completely on the console's internal hardware. It's possible to create Odyssey carts that could use new sections on the cartridge (Ralph Baer designed several, but Magnavox decided the cost would be too prohibitive.) but these would work in a way that is entirely different from the VES or VCS, even their function seems the same.Altarbo 01:07, 14 June 2007 (UTC)
Just a correction - digital circuitry, not analog. Ralph takes a big exception at that. And yes, the cartridges basically helped reconnect the various logic circuits inside. He designed several expansion cards before and after the Odyssey release that added more circuitry to the unit by including it on the card. One of the before ones for example, was an analog circuit to add realistic ball motion physics. An after release example was a card that added sound to the odyssey. --Marty Goldberg 01:45, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

Atari Force

I'm simply wondering wherein should there be a mention of the comic book series: "The Atari Force".. Here's a link to which the whole series can be read, and then some: Atari Comic Books. DrWho42 06:52, 23 April 2006 (UTC)


Need to add the reason for the Atari 2600's development (to counter the proliferation of Pong consoles out there). Atari wanted to take back the home gaming market, hence the 2600 (known as the VCS at the time). Then they needed financing, hence the Warner deal. —Pelladon 03:43, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

The number of units sold does not have a source sited. I found two sources that support a figure of 25 million units, rather than the +/- 40 million units listed. source 1 source2 --Elangsto 03:55, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

Max ROM size?

This page says the max ROM was 4KB, or 32 with paging. History of computer and video games says it was 2KB and 16 with paging. Which is correct? Ace of Sevens 03:05, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

The linear address space on the 2600 is 4K. With paging, the number of additional 4K banks is theoretically unlimited. I think the largest cart produced so far has been 64K. Clayhalliwell 18:49, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

Atari 2600 not a dedicated console?

I think it was sometime between 1990 and 1992 when my parents bought me my first console which looked exactly like Atari 2600. It had two joysticks and cartridge slot. But it had tons of games built-in. I'm not sure if it was a real Atari 2600, but it looked just like one on the picture. And it had some wooden parts too. So I'm just curious why there is no mention of this strange clone of Atari? It's bad that my parents gave it to my cousin and I can't actually make pictures of it or give more detailed information, but I remember it had Pitfall! built-in and some other commercial games too which I cannot remember now. I must mention that I'm from Moscow, Russia and this might be some Chinese clone, not American console. But there was Atari logo on the box for sure. Neoforma 20:48, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

-There are so many clones of the 2600 with built in games, it's nothing special.

Video Game Critic Link?

May I suggest that a link to The Video Game Critic ( be tacked onto the end of this article? The site contains 389 Atari 2600 game reviews (at last count). The reviews are short and concise, with no profanity. I think it would be a useful addition. Dmrozek 01:28, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

Mr. Mrozek, it seems a little redundant with Atariage (AA) already linked. I was under the impression that AA's game entries contained links to your reviews when possible. Perhaps the AA link should have its description changed to reflect that AA is now much more than a rarity guide?Altarbo 18:30, 1 July 2007 (UTC)

Atari 2600, Sears Arcade, Tele-Games

All three are Atari 2600 systems manufactured by Atari with different labels but still the same machines, I added the other names this system is known by, as well as it's link to the start up and successful continuation of the Telegames of Video Game Publisher, both are parts of the Atari's history and properly referenced. (Floppydog66 14:05, 6 October 2007 (UTC))

Sears Tele-Games and Telegames Inc. are different companies, the publisher made more games then just ones for Atari, while the Sears version was a label that was placed on items manufactured for Atari and sold to Sears, the Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade had a manufacturer's label that read;

MFD. For Atari Inc. By Dimerco Electronics in Taiwan For Sale To Sears Roebuck & Company —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:48, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes, two completely separate companies. Tele-Games was simply a brand name used by Sears for their OEM based video game merchandise, starting with the original Pong in 1975. They released other OEM'd consoles (APF and Coleco) during the Pong years, but maintained a close OEM relationship with Atari (releasing three different versions of the 2600 as the Sears Video Arcade) until 1984. Telegames (no-hyphen) is a company founded in 1979 (with branches here and the UK) that got in to software publishing in 1986. --Marty Goldberg 17:24, 7 October 2007 (UTC)


WHEN WAS ATARI2600 RELEASED IN AUSTRALIA? I WENT ON WIKIPEDIA TO LOOK IT UP AND I CANT FIND IT —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:13, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

4 bit?

is the atari2600 4bit technology? this question has been hanging on my ear all my life. Slipknot6477 12:33, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

No, it uses the 8-bit 6507 CPU. --Marty Goldberg 15:10, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

why do the graphics suck so bad then? super mario bros. has 2 times the graphics as it, and it is also 8 bit? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Slipknot6477 (talkcontribs) 00:42, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

Because the bitness of the CPU has little to do with the graphics capabilities in these consoles, unless you're talking about the graphics processor (on the 2600 its the TIA chip). The 2600 of course has an older designed graphics processing chip (2600's were designed in '75-'76, the NES's were designed in '82-'83). Look at it this way, the Intellivision has a 16 bit cpu, making it a 16 bit system. But its graphics (via its STIC) would in no way be confused with the graphics capabilities of 16 bit systems like the Genesis or SNES. And I wouldn't say the 2600's graphics "suck so bad", that's applying childish hind site rather than understanding that for the time it was released they were considered high level graphics. Just like saying the NES's graphics suck compared to the TurboGrafx console (which also had an 8 bit cpu, but a more advanced graphics processor). Anything in hind site is going to look worse than a later generation. --Marty Goldberg 04:16, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

There are a LOT of reasons why the 2600's graphics are arguably inferior to those of the NES:

  • As Marty pointed out, 8-bit processor does not mean 8-bit graphics.
  • The A2600 had NO video memory whatsoever - it had to draw each scan line on the fly.
  • The A2600 had an extremely small amount of system memory to work with, making its ability to render objects extremely limited.
  • The processor was much, much slower than the NES processor.
  • The supporting hardware in general was much more primitive - it had all evolved quite a bit by the time the NES came around.
  • So was the software - in the NES era, programming techniques and capabilities had evolved quite a bit.
  • Hardware was also VERY expensive in the A2600 era, further limiting what they could do with it at the time.

Basically, it all boils down to gradual evolution of the technology, both in hardware and software. There's no way the developers would have known HOW to generate the NES's graphics at the time even if the hardware to do it had been readily available, since programming in general was still evolving. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 21:23, 13 November 2007 (UTC)

Notable games section cleanup

I added a {{prose}} tag to the Notable Games section based on a recent revert war regarding whether that section should be here at all. Most console articles do make note of their most notable (usually most famous) titles, so it stands to reason that this article should include that too. However, straight lists within the article are not encyclopedic, so the section should be rewritten as prose that not only points out the games, but explains why they are noteworthy. That will help establish the context and justification for this section.

It may also turn out that we should prune the list a bit further - the person/people removing this section have a point that "notable games" is somewhat subjective - what's notable to one person may be totally unimportant to another. Prose that describes the popularity of these games and what they did for the console as a whole will help keep the section from being prone to POV accusations. (This prose should reflect verifiable facts about notability, such as the number of copies sold or produced, the game's contribution to the success or failure of the console - E.T. comes to mind as part of the latter - etc.) — KieferSkunk (talk) — 21:15, 13 November 2007 (UTC)

I just reformatted the section into a prose format that discusses the games and their notability as requested. What I don't understand is why he also removed the references to the opening paragraph regarding pack-ins. Unless he's just interested in reverting anything I do? --Marty Goldberg 21:48, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
I sent you both 3RR warnings to try to keep the revert war in check, and did a little more work on the section to try to establish the context better. It still needs some work, though - it's very short as-is, but I think it's a good start toward a more complete section that will help flesh out the A2600's history better. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 22:41, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
How do you see it expanding more? Maybe more background info about the specific games and possibly well documented "milestone" games? I'll try and move it towards the direction you're looking at, but tonight I'm kinda busy working on a feature for a well known "old" video game company that's been gone for a time and starting up again. --Marty Goldberg 22:46, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
Since the article already has a history section that talks about its rise and fall in popularity, it makes sense to simply integrate notes about its flagship/milestone titles into that section. I doubt that we really need a full section devoted to notable games. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 22:52, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
Ok, I'm confused now. On one hand you were saying about the section needing more expansion. Now you're saying it should be moved in to the history section and the section is not really needed? Or were you specifically addressing my milestone comment and that milestones shouldn't be added to this section, but rather the history section? --Marty Goldberg 22:59, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
Sorry for the confusion. Lemme start from the beginning:
The original issue was that Tokchief was removing the section as POV. I pointed out that other console articles do mention their notable (most famous) games, and that it makes sense to do so here as well. But an exhaustive bullet-point list was not the best way to do so, both because of format and lack of context. The current version of the section is a decent start toward contextual prose, but it either needs to be expanded to give more useful information (and to justify the info being in its own section), OR it needs to be integrated with the already-established History section. I believe the latter method makes more sense, since there is already some information there about notable game sales and popularity, and there's really no need to duplicate that info. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 23:10, 13 November 2007 (UTC)

Color palette

I would like to preserve this. Somebody put a lot of work into it. Asher196 17:18, 13 November 2007

I moved it to the TIA page, where its more applicable. --Marty Goldberg 22:26, 13 November 2007 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:PacManCrt260007052004.jpg

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Image:PacManCrt260007052004.jpg is being used on this article. I notice the image page specifies that the image is being used under fair use but there is no explanation or rationale as to why its use in this Wikipedia article constitutes fair use. In addition to the boilerplate fair use template, you must also write out on the image description page a specific explanation or rationale for why using this image in each article is consistent with fair use.

Please go to the image description page and edit it to include a fair use rationale. Using one of the templates at Wikipedia:Fair use rationale guideline is an easy way to insure that your image is in compliance with Wikipedia policy, but remember that you must complete the template. Do not simply insert a blank template on an image page.

If there is other fair use media, consider checking that you have specified the fair use rationale on the other images used on this page. Note that any fair use images uploaded after 4 May, 2006, and lacking such an explanation will be deleted one week after they have been uploaded, as described on criteria for speedy deletion. If you have any questions please ask them at the Media copyright questions page. Thank you.

BetacommandBot (talk) 20:31, 26 November 2007 (UTC)

I took care of this one via Template:vgrationaleKieferSkunk (talk) — 00:36, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

Second Generation? Really?

Atari 2600 - 1977 Atari 5200 - 1982

Both "second generation" consoles. Something doesn't ring right.

Well, the whole first generation are simple pong units. The Magnavox Odyssey had jumpers on a card, not a cartridge. How exactly is this 2nd generation classification justified? (talk) 01:41, 16 February 2008 (UTC) Hal

Your gripe is better discussed at Talk:History_of_video_game_consoles_(second_generation), where its been discussed over and over again. --Marty Goldberg (talk) 01:55, 16 February 2008 (UTC)
It is a gray area when it is comes to the classification of computer generations. For instance, the NES ran on the same basic processor as the Atari 2600. -DevinCook (talk) 22:30, 16 February 2008 (UTC)

Recent overhaul

Hello all. I recently made a huge number of changes to the article to attempt to organize it better. One of the main changes you will notice is the absence of hardware. There was actually an article on Wikipedia dedicated to Atari 2600 hardware - and was unlinked and quite forgotten. I updated that article using the current Atari article. Afterwards, I removed the content from the Atari 2600 article and added a "main article" tag to link them. With the independent article for hardware, we should be able to add information about keyboards, joysticks, etc... without worrying about making the main article bloated. I also updated the TIA page with a new graphic. This section definitely needs more information. Have a great day. -DevinCook (talk) 22:30, 16 February 2008 (UTC)

hooking up the atari

should i put a section on how to hook it up to a modern tv?Vadahata2 (talk) 14:56, 4 May 2008 (UTC)

Probably not necessary. Hooking up a 2600 to a modern TV is not really any different than for any other old console - the 2600 supports an RF out, which can be hooked up to the coax-cable input of virtually any TV. Discussing other adapters and the like would be outside the scope of this article. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 15:51, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps people don't know that you can eliminate the switch boxes that used to be standard for hooking up an Atari and simply use and RCA to F-type connector to provide a much better signal transfer.Asher196 (talk) 20:24, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
I think in most applications, people still prefer to have switchboxes involved (whether manual or automatic) because the TV in question usually only supports one coax input, and without the switchbox, you'd be limited to either the console's output or a cable signal, but not both at the same time. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 20:54, 21 May 2008 (UTC)


I think it would be interesting to have links to collectors on this page somewhere...there are certainly enough out there to constitute a good links section. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:20, 21 May 2008 (UTC)

That type of content is beyond the scope of an encyclopedic article, and such a collection of links would also go against wikipedia link policy. Wikipedia does not exist to provide a directory of links, there's plenty of other sites (and search engines) for that. --Marty Goldberg (talk) 20:23, 21 May 2008 (UTC)

Units Sold

I have seen media reports ranging from 25M-40M units sold. Does anyone have something more definitive than a random reporter who probably is just going by previous reporters articles who were just going by previous reporters articles... :) --ThaddeusB (talk) 23:24, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

limited editions

Like the vader atari should be included in this article(It has black pannel instead of wood.)—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

It's already in the article. Asher196 (talk) 04:10, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
And its not a "limited edition". By that standard, all the different revisions would be "limited editions". --Marty Goldberg (talk) 05:55, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

Did the Atari VCS Really Sell Thirty Million Units?

Quite frankly, I do not see how this is possible. Here is a press release from Atari from November 22, 1988 reprinted in its entirety:

Atari (ASE:ATC), the company that pioneered the video game industry with "Pong" in the early 1970s announced Tuesday that it has sold its 26 millionth video game system.

The unprecedented sales milestone comes as the revived video game industry dominates toy sales for the third straight year.

According to Michael Katz, president of Atari's Entertainment Electronics Division, Atari has now sold more than twice as many video game systems in total than any other company.

"We are very pleased to be the first video game company to reach the 26 million unit sales plateau, and we are confident it is a sign of another strong holiday sales season for Atari," said Katz. Atari's latest sales milestone, based on third quarter 1988 sales, was announced today at an executive meeting at Atari corporate headquarters.

After experiencing a slump in the early 1980s, the video game industry is enjoying a surprisingly strong second wave of popularity. Video games were the leading category in the toy industry last year with $1.1 billion in sales at retail, and the category continues to lead toy sales heading into the 1988 holiday season.

Atari has doubled its video game sales for two consecutive years, and expects strong sales through 1989.

Since 1985, Atari has sold more than 3 million video game units. The company estimates it holds a 30 percent share of the U.S. home video game hardware market, second in the industry behind Nintendo.

Atari is in the midst of an aggressive marketing campaign to increase its market share. Among other moves, Atari has doubled its advertising budget from last year, has signed up sports stars to endorse products, and has initiated a number of new national promotions and sales incentive offers.

Atari has also hired a group of acclaimed video game industry veterans as part of its commitment to bolster its game development and production capabilities. The company will introduce more than 20 new games before the end of the year.

Atari is the only company to offer three video game systems -- the starter 2600 ($49.95), the arcade-quality 7800 ($79.95) and the highly advanced XE ($149.95). Atari has the industry's largest library of game cartridges -- with a combined total of well over 200 games for the three systems.

Introduced in 1987, the XE is the most powerful video game system on the market and the only system with a keyboard that expands into a home computer. The 7800 system, introduced in 1986, offers arcade-quality graphics, has a memory large enough to run entertainment software designed for home computers, and runs all 2600 games as well.

Introduced in 1973 and redesigned in 1984, the 2600 is the most popular video game system in the world in terms of number of units sold, and now features many new games with greatly improved graphics.

Atari is the world's first video game company and a leading international manufacturer, marketer and distributor of video game hardware (2600, 7800 and XE home video game systems), software (a library of hundreds of games), peripherals and accessories.

Atari has sold more home video game hardware and software than any other company in the world.

Atari itself states it has only sold 26 million video game systems of all types through its third quarter in 1988, 3 million of which were sold after the revival of the industry by Nintendo. I presume this means cartridge systems only and not Home Pong, but that still means that Atari is lumping together sales of the 2600, 5200, 7800, and XE, the last of which history considers a computer but which Atari is clearly pushing as a video game system. Even if all 26 million in sales were of the 2600, which they are not, though the other systems could not have accounted for more than a couple million of sales at best, Atari would still have had to sell an additional 4 million units in the three year period from December 1988 through December 1991 in order to reach thirty million. That is more total systems than Atari sold from 1985-88. While this release boasts of doubling sales in each of the last two years, it is hard to believe that Atari could actually continue to increase sales, especially of the aging 2600, during that period as the transition to 16-bit began and Nintendo experienced its best years with the NES. Right now, the thirty million figure is sourced from an article that took the figure from a 2004 video game price guide. That does not seem reliable enough a source to counter the strong evidence here that Atari could not have reached that lofty figure. Several other recent sources on the web also give that 30 million figure, but for all we know they are just parroting the same source, as I can find no official info from the company that claims over thirty million sold nor any press sources contemporary to the system. Unless better evidence can be presented, I think the 30 million figure needs to be removed. I look forward to seeing what others may be able to turn up. Indrian (talk) 20:25, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

There's this article from May 1984 that states more than 16 million 2600's sold, and this NY Times Article from 1988 that states an established based of about 26 million 2600 units. There's also The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge which states the 2600 selling "more than 25 million units over its product life" through 1990. I'd say the 26 million range seems feasible given the references uncovered here until a definitive resource comes along. --Marty Goldberg (talk) 06:03, 27 February 2009 (UTC)
Just found this one as well from Businessweek that states 30 million and the "2004 Video Game Price Guide" as the reference. --Marty Goldberg (talk) 06:11, 27 February 2009 (UTC)
I saw the New York Times article too, but it is from June 1988 and this press release is from November. The press is often working with estimates from analysts when giving sales numbers and that one is clearly wrong because a press release from the company itself is more reliable in this case. Heck, the 26 million number may even be generous because companies often manipulate figures in their own releases. In the press release, Atari gives itself 30% of the market, which is ridiculous as most analysts estimated Nintendo's share at around 80% in that time period and Sega had a slice too. Anyway, I think we are in agreement here, but I want to be sure. I certainly believe it likely the VCS sold 25-26 million over its life. What I do not believe is that it sold 30 million as our article currently states. What do you think? Indrian (talk) 15:56, 27 February 2009 (UTC)
I think if there's this much ambiguity in the numbers through our sources, then the article should either state "between X and Y million units" (25-30 million?), or call attention to the fact that "no reliable release figure exists, but industry analysts estimate the number to be between X and Y million units." If we don't have a reliable source definitively giving us a number, then it's technically WP:OR to try to pinpoint one. It would, however, be fair to state a range and give multiple sources showing the conflict. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 16:21, 27 February 2009 (UTC)
I am with you to a point, but I think this research shows that 30 million is pretty impossible and calls into question any source that uses that number. I think the best approach is to establish a base point and say something like "the system sold at least X units over its lifetime." That way we stick with a number that is probably reliable while at the same time indicating that it may have sold more. What that reliable base point is, we still need to discuss. Indrian (talk) 16:28, 27 February 2009 (UTC)
Well, this conversation seems to be dead for now. I think all who posted agree that the 30 million figure has been contradicted too much to be used alone. There is still some disagreement over whether it should be included as part of a range of figures. I will leave this post up another day for more comment, but at that time I will remove the 30 million figure if there is no further discussion. I will not make a decision on my own, however, on how to replace it. Indrian (talk) 18:15, 3 March 2009 (UTC)
I wouldn't just remove it - that is unlikely to be helpful, as the next editor will just re-add it. I strongly suggest the 25M-30M range approach, probably with a separate site for each number. I personally do not find the 30M to be a very large stretch given that unit sales in other parts of the world (esp. South America) continued to be fairly strong in the late 80s, and indeed continued even after Atari went into bankruptcy in the US. --ThaddeusB (talk) 20:12, 3 March 2009 (UTC)
I think the range is the way to go for now. On another note, bankruptcy? Atari Inc and Atari Corporation never went in to bankruptcy, where did you hear that? --Marty Goldberg (talk) 22:03, 3 March 2009 (UTC)
My bad. I was thinking it went into bankruptcy and then sold, but I was mistaken. The company was bought up before bankruptcy was necessary. --ThaddeusB (talk) 22:47, 3 March 2009 (UTC)


What?! Did the Atari 2600 use tape as a media? I never knew that, is anyone sure about that? mcjakeqcool Mcjakeqcool (talk) 23:20, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

Yes. See Starpath Supercharger. --Marty Goldberg (talk) 06:17, 14 March 2009 (UTC)

Predecessor: Video Pinball

Article lists the predecessor as Pong, but wasn't it Video Pinball ( Video Pinball had several user-selectable games, not just one as in Pong. Didn't want to update the page in case some Atari expert knows better than me. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:41, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

  • 1) Video Pinball is still considered a dedicated PONG console, most of the PONG consoles after the initial ones in '75 had multiple games. 2) Video Pinball was released at the same time as the 2600. --Marty Goldberg (talk) 03:11, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
  • I agree. The 2600 was technically a computer and not even in the same category as the pinball consoles. -DevinCook (talk) 08:47, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

Question about sales

How did Atari 2600 sales go from 10 million units in 1982, shortly before the North American video game crash of 1983, to 30 million by 2004? Where did those extra 20 million sales come from? Jagged 85 (talk) 11:10, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

You missed all the article text about its extended lifespan as the 2800 and 2600 Jr, particularly in what are gamely called "emerging markets", then? Knock 'em down, sell 'em cheap, shift them in huge numbers to people who are unlikely to be able to afford anything better for quite a long time. They were still selling off the back stocks in the UK in the early 1990s - I can definitely imagine it continuing in less affluent markets for some years still afterwards. 2004 is probably a bit late in the day to be counting the total sales, however, as Atari completely and utterly ceased to be around 1995, and so wouldn't have been able to tally any final figures... (talk) 13:45, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
I agree they probably would have doubled the pre-crash figure over the years, but tripled it? I live in the UK, and I certainly don't remember the 2600 selling anywhere here (at least not in major retailers) by the early 90s. It would be more helpful if we could have some figures leading up to that 30 million figure (like what we did at the Sega Master System article with its 13 million figure), because, as it stands now, it sounds like a bit of an exaggeration. Jagged 85 (talk) 05:24, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
I actually brought this up once on the talk page, which can be seen in the archives. To summarize the important bits, Atari issued a press release in late 1988 celebrating the sale of 26 million video game systems, of which 3 million were sold between 1985 and 1988. I reproduced the full release in the previous thread if you want to check it out. This figure presumably does not include dedicated consoles released in the 1975-77 period, but does include combined sales of the 2600, 5200, 7800, and XEGS. There are no breakdowns between systems, but no more than 3-4 million of those probably represent sales of the non-2600 systems. The 5200 and XEGS were both failures, although the 5200 moved at least a million and probably closer to two since Jack Tramiel dumped backstock on the market to clear out inventory. The 7800 sold about 3 million in North America in the late 1980s, but since this press release only covers to third quarter 1988, not all of those sales have been recorded yet. Assuming (and this is just an assumption and not intended as a reliable statement suitable for wikiedia sourcing) that 21-23 million of those 26 million systems sold were VCS systems, I think 30 million is a bit of a stretch, but not completely outside the realm of possibility. Indrian (talk) 15:32, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
Okay, that makes more sense now. And this might sound a bit dumb, but I didn't realize there was an archive page above (I couldn't find it at first for some reason), but I've just found it now after you mentioned it. 30 million still sounds a bit high, but it does seem at least somewhat plausible now. Jagged 85 (talk) 15:41, 27 August 2012 (UTC)

Rough video resolution and sound capabilities?

Just wondering what these may be, in order to better compare against the 5200 and 7800 (which, at first sight, don't seem to make massive leaps forward in these areas, even though they have much more memory and better sprite handling)... IE pixel resolution, colour depth (amount on screen at once and palette size), audio channels and what sort of output each one made etc.

The screenshot looks something like the typical 160x200, 8 or 16 colours from 128/256 that the other Atari 8-bits tended to use... (talk) 14:14, 26 July 2012 (UTC)

The horizontal resolution is indeed 160; typical vertical resolution for North American games is 192 pixels, but because of the way the system generates the video (line-by-line instead of a screen buffer) that can actually be more or less than 192 depending on the game itself. The Television Interface Adaptor article gives some more details on the color and sound capabilities. 28bytes (talk) 14:43, 26 July 2012 (UTC)

Atari 3200 10 bit CPU?

Is a reliable source? The schematics show 650X, with D7-D0 lines, which seems to indicate a traditional 8 bit CPU. The text says the 10-bit CPU is a popular myth. Change the Wikipedia article perhaps? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:38, 19 July 2013 (UTC)

Yes, it's considered a reliable reference here having previously passed a reliability query. It's been used as a reference by both the media and books, as has the site's owner. As far as 10 bit being a myth, that's correct. The full story behind Sylvia and some of the schematics are in our book Atari Inc. BusinessbIs Fun. --Marty Goldberg (talk) 16:51, 19 July 2013 (UTC)

Yes, Atari Museum is a reliable source. It's maintained by Curt Vendel who has an archive of original Atari documents and who is the designer of the Atari Flashback 2. (ZadocPaet (talk) 10:30, 6 January 2014 (UTC))


The Atari 2600 until the JR. Redesign was dead and came back. it is clear that the 2600 continued to sell as evident by the long shelf life: "===Decline and resurrection=== During this period, Atari Inc. continued to grow until it had one of the largest R&D divisions in Silicon Valley. However, it spent much of its R&D budget on projects that seemed rather out of place at a video game (or even home computer) company; many of these projects never saw the light of day. Meanwhile, several attempts to bring out newer consoles failed for one reason or another, although Atari Inc.'s home computer systems, the Atari 8-bit family, sold reasonably well, if not spectacularly. Warner was more than happy anyway, as it seemed to have no end to the sales of the 2600, and Atari Inc. was responsible for over half of the company's income.

The programmers of many of Atari Inc.'s biggest hits grew disgruntled with the company for not crediting game developers and many left the company and formed their own independent software companies. The most prominent and longest-lasting of these third-party developers was Activision, founded in 1980, whose titles quickly became more popular than those of Atari Inc. itself. Atari Inc. attempted to block third-party development for the 2600 in court but failed,[1][2][3] and soon other publishers, such as Imagic and Coleco, entered the market. Atari Inc. suffered from an image problem when a company named Mystique produced a number of pornographic games for the 2600. The most notorious of these, Custer's Revenge, caused a large number of protests from women's and Native American groups[4] because it depicts General George Armstrong Custer raping a bound Native American woman.[5] Atari Inc. sued Mystique in court over the release of the game.[6]

Atari Inc. continued to scoop up licenses during the shelf life of the 2600, the most prominent of which included Pac-Man and E.T. Public disappointment with these two titles and the market saturation of poor third-party titles are cited as major contributors to the video game crash of 1983. Suddenly, Atari Inc.'s growth meant it was losing massive amounts of money during the crash, at one point about $10,000 a day. Warner quickly grew tired of supporting Atari Inc., and started looking for buyers in 1984. Although not formally discontinued, the 2600 was de-emphasized for two years after Warner's 1984 sale of Atari Inc.'s Consumer Division to Commodore Business Machines founder Jack Tramiel, who wanted to concentrate on home computers. He froze all development of console games, including a 2600 Garfield game and an Atari 5200 port of Super Pac-Man.

Later in 1984, Atari introduced the Atari 2600 Jr., a redesigned system that gave the console a different look and a low price point. Atari 2600 sales were strong in 1985, around a million units.[7] In a way this made the 2600 the starting point for the popularity of video game consoles, and for restoring the industry after the video game crash of 1983. The 2600 would go on selling until 1992, a total of between 30 and 40 million units in varying estimates. "

  • To start, for clarity's sake, the only part of the above passage that this user added and which was subsequently removed, is the part that he bolded at the end. As is the case on several other pages, you have cited a true statement, taken it completely out of context, and then made a conclusion unsupported by any sources. As multiple sources will attest, 1985 was the low point in both sales and dollar value for the industry in the US, which only generated $100 million in revenue in 1985, down from a high of $3.2 billion in 1983. There is not a source under the sun that tries to claim that 1985 was a good year for the industry or that it began to revive that year. You are correct that the 2600 sold around one million units in 1985, as your cited source indicates, but there are no sources that attribute those sales to an upturn in the industry, which again, declined to its lowest dollar value of the period that year. Just to provide a little further context, according to the Electronics Industry Association (EIA), there were roughly three million video game consoles sold in the US in 1984. Unfortunately they did not say how many of those were Atari systems, but based on historical patterns and marketshare, it was probably well more than one million of them. As such, one million units sold in 1985 was probably a decline in sales for the 2600, not an increase, which further invalidates your unsupported conclusion. That is why this info should not be included here. Indrian (talk) 01:19, 7 January 2014 (UTC)
  • That newsletter with the CES coverage from January '86 would be a reliable source (it's just being reprinted at a fan site or whatever that is) for when the 7800 was being re-released and why, and Katz and Atari did actually release that statement at the show. However it was nothing but pure PR. During our interviews with Katz for the book, we verified the 2600 JR was indeed released for Christmas '85, however it's release and the release of the 7800 had nothing to do with 2600 sales over Christmas or over '85 as that statement claimed. The 2600 Jr project was started up again in August '84 and Tramiel had plans to release it and the 7800 for Christmas '84. Legal negotiations caused a delay for the release of the 7800 and financial problems caused him to have to shut down any 2600 development. Both took until Summer '85 to be resolved at which point he sought out Katz to restart a video game division. It literally had nothing to do with 2600 sales for the year. Coverage at the summer '86 CES were stating that the presence of Nintendo and Atari on the market with new consoles and the forthcoming console by Sega were a sign that the market was most likely reviving. But that's the most that could be said about Atari Corp.'s involvement in revitalizing the US consumer console industry.--Marty Goldberg (talk) 01:50, 7 January 2014 (UTC)
This is silly because the 2600 did start selling millions again regardless of the reason from 85 on up until 1992. To leave a section just named declin in this case would make no sense unless you put the word "Revival" or "Ressurection" next to it. As that is exactly what happened after its brief downturn. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:44, 26 January 2014 (UTC)
Did the 2600 begin selling again? Of course it did, but the extent of its later success and whether it posted significant enough sales to be considered a "revival" is a completely different issue that needs to be backed with sources. Not saying you are necessarily wrong, but you do need to back up such a change with cites. Indrian (talk) 01:09, 27 January 2014 (UTC)
Then put a citation tag instead of deleting it. Also the famicom was discontinued in 1995, which explained its last game being in "1995" the production afterward is just repairing and reselling stock units. So yes, the 2600 was as I QUOTED, longest "Active" console. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jakandsig (talkcontribs) 01:37, 27 January 2014 (UTC)
No, the NES was discontinued in North America in 1995, the Famicom was not discontinued in Japan until 2003. Nintendo's own financial statements show sales of new consoles through 2004 ( Indrian (talk) 01:44, 27 January 2014 (UTC)
The Very last game for the famicom was the SAME YEAR (1995) before they discontinued it and removed the licensing restrictions. The famicom was also selling STOCK, so yes it would COUNT as "sales" but you seem to love selective reading. And the citation is all that is needed as it is clear that the 2600 sold through after 1985. The only thing you can even argue is sells, but with a million claimed to be sold in 1985 and most likely more so after that I think it's pretty clear i am correct.
No, the console was manufactured until 2003. They were not just selling "stock." ( Indrian (talk) 01:51, 27 January 2014 (UTC)
And once again i prove you don't read everything in a conversation because of selective reading. You only read part of one line forgot what I wrote before hand. And I am still correct, The Famicom was not "active" until 2003, it had no support, the last official game was 1995, Adventure Island IV(V?) and they has been removed the licensing restrictions for the consoles so that it was a free consoles. A production run does not mean anything whatsoever. It's why no other source has the NES as the longest lasting console. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jakandsig (talkcontribs) 01:56, 27 January 2014 (UTC)
You are both WRONG. The longest production run, and official support of any video game console is the SEGA Master System by DECADES now.... It technically was never ended in South America and is still being manufactured and supported today for that market by the original licensee. Tectoy held the exclusive manufacturing rights to the console in that market from the beginning, and they still pay Sega the licensing rights for the console's manufacturing. Apart from a brief period of hiatus in the late 00's, Tectoy have continued to release new updated models of the console with new games for it. Colliric (talk) 02:15, 29 January 2014 (UTC)

40 million!

Please stop oozing your disruptive behavior to other articles [1]. That 40 million figure was removed from this article as well for a reason. « Ryūkotsusei » 23:44, 27 January 2014 (UTC)

You better shut up and stop being an jerk, especially when you have no idea what the hell you are talking about. Disruptive what? I did not even edit I went straight to the talk page, best you be quiet from now on instead of you being an ass.

Now then, you have on source for 30 million, a very bad reference from business week. The other mention of 30 million in the article does not even have a source. There are multiple better sources to choose from and we could have talked about this instead of you spitting out mean spirited nonsense. Here are some source= The TOY HALL OF FAME/Salon- PC World, then reported by Lnews- Arkansas News- Gamespot: The Guiness World Recrods:

There are more sources as well. Much better sources, especially the fact 40 million will be under Ataris name in the toy hall of fame which would be very odd if 40 million as not the closest accurate number.Jakandsig (talk) 22:20, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

"The Atari 2600 proved so popular that it is believed to have sold more than 40 million units worldwide in its life span" -Guinness.
So in short, they have no idea.
If you bothered to read what I already said[2] (and the article), you wouldn't cite this. Wikipedia is not a reliable source yet the article constantly cites Wikipedia. Unless... this is just a coincidence Wikipedia said 40 million at the time. Maybe the console really did sell 10 million units in 6 years. 2001, 2007
PC World
Probably blindly regurgitating Salon. Their own sister sites contradicts this: techhive,
Not only could you not link me to GameSpot itself, you've decided a sketchy third-party source that is quoting a GameSpot forum post to be good enough?
At this point I'm assuming you're just causally browsing around and seeing what sticks. What makes this site reliable?
So there you have it. Only one "legitimate" article. It is probably citing Wikipedia just like Salon, but is not telling the reader. Consider asking more questions on the talk pages and taking less action in articles. If you got editors (and IPs) challenging you here, going somewhere else claiming it to be true is just being disruptive. « Ryūkotsusei » 01:38, 29 January 2014 (UTC)
"You better shut up and stop being an jerk, especially when you have no idea what the hell you are talking about", "best you be quiet from now on"..... Threatening language is not going to win you friends on this issue. And I think it's against Wikipedia policies to threaten other editors. Colliric (talk) 01:59, 29 January 2014 (UTC)
2 of those aren't even threatening language. at least try to lie correctly. At least we came to an agreement. There you go. also how can Salon quote wikipedia if Wikipedia did not have it at 40 million? Again, it's a thing, i am sure they did research for that number, and again, that will be the number under the label of the 2600, in the toy hall of fame, and that is what it is. Now that we have agreed we can now change it. See not hard. Also i like how you are using the word "probably" and them using estimates yet use a horribly sourced piece of one article for 30 million to downplay sources. not cool man. Also against wikipedia policy. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jakandsig (talkcontribs) 21:39, 29 January 2014 (UTC)

Another third opinion request

There (again) is currently a disagreement on whether this text should be kept in the article; With its introduction came a resurgence in software development both from Atari Corp. and from a few third parties (including Activision, Absolute Entertainment, Froggo, Epyx, Palan, and Exus).

This text is not verified in anyway. There are no pictures of flyers saying this, no reliable references to support it, and yes I tried looking. There where also third parties still developing making games through 1983/84 onward for the system looking online, which makes this whole statement seem very unreliable.

But I think we may need a third opinion on this. I Invite User:Mr. Gonna Change My Name Forever(again) to come by, along with a few users who have given me suggestions before(again), User:Wgungfu and User:Sergecross73 to share their thoughts(again). Golden Cog Afternoon Karate Exit (talk) 19:08, 2 March 2014 (UTC)

Absolute, Froggo, Palan and Exus weren't successful in the early 1980s as Parker Brothers, Activision, Imagic, and Epyx. IX|(C"<) 20:08, 2 March 2014 (UTC)

Do you have a reference to verify what you just said? Golden Cog Afternoon Karate Exit (talk) 20:19, 2 March 2014 (UTC)

SMS comparison

The Atari 2600 was officially retired by Atari Corp. on January 1, 1992,[citation needed] making it, at the time, the longest-lived home video game console (14 years, 4 months) in video game history. It was later surpassed by the Sega Master System, a console which never formally ended production in Brazil.

TecToy has dropped the actual Master System a long time ago. What they sell now, the ones with a ton of built-in games but no cart slot, are different machines that merely emulate the old games. Does this count as "still in production"? --Stormwatch (talk) 04:33, 27 April 2014 (UTC)

Golden Shower - Video Computer System music video

I was surprised to see no mention of Golden Shower's award-winning music video "Video Computer System" in the music section of this article. - Sorry, I don't know how to make that an internal wiki link. I assume that the music and graphics are actually made using Atari 2600 sound chips and graphics chips, but I don't know any background information on the video, and it could be just designed to appear like the original system. (talk) 09:08, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

Atari 2600 Hardware should be merged with this article

There are a lot of reasons. For one, the information in the other article needs a massive rewrite as it is very wrong...the use of the term "pixel" instead of "color clocks" is very confusing and wrong especially since it links to the Wikipedia page on "pixels". The other article has barely any sources...most of which have nearly nothing to do with the "hardware" only dealing instead with the aesthetics of the shell. The technical explanation of how the display works...I can only describe it as being similar to trying to show how a small block works by using a motor from a blender. Apparently years ago there was a suggestion to merge that was shut down. If the current state of that article is anything to go by, it should have been merged a long time ago.

No offense to whoever first wrote the article, but they did not have a sufficient understanding of the hardware to write about it and nobody seems to have fixed it since. I don't edit Wikipedia and even if I did my knowledge of the Atari 2600 hardware is relatively weak as well which is why I was looking it up, so I wont be editing it. I do think the merge and rewrite of the Atari 2600 Hardware article needs to be revisited at the very least as currently the hardware article severely hurts understanding of the topic. A good source is the text from one of the original Stella programming guides by Steve Wright (1977) and later edited by Darryl May (1988). If you follow the hyper link there you can go to a scan of the original text, this link takes you to the transcription of that text.

If somebody wants to make the argument that the various shells should have their own article I would actually support that, but the engine that drives the system belongs here in the main article. (talk) 18:45, 22 May 2015 (UTC)Nick F. S. Jr.


Under "Design" > "Hardware", in the 3rd paragraph, where it says, "One advantage the 2600 has over more powerful contemporary competitors such as the ColecoVision is that the 2600 has no protection against altering settings in mid-line."

Is it meaning to say "against altering settings mid-line" or "against altering settings in the mid-line"?

A bit of ambiguity in this sentence for those just learning, or inexperienced, about this topic... — Preceding unsigned comment added by SarahTehCat (talkcontribs) 00:30, 31 August 2015 (UTC)

  1. ^ [3]
  2. ^ [4]
  3. ^ [5]
  4. ^ "AGH - Third Party Profile: Mystique". Retrieved 2009-07-06. 
  5. ^ Fragmaster. "Custer's Revenge". Classic Gaming. Retrieved 2009-07-06. 
  6. ^ Gonzalez, Lauren. "When Two Tribes Go to War: A History of Video Game Controversy". GameSpot. p. 3. Retrieved 2009-07-06. 
  7. ^ Atari 2600 History, Atari Age