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Updated on September 11, 2015

Atari 2600

If you played computer games back in the 80s then this "system" will be a walk down memory lane. Reignite your nostalgic passion for the old school.

While they lacked the special effects and graphical wow factor the games were big on playability and positively addictive.

Powered by four AA batteries these compact units are nothing more than an old style joystick that you plug straight into the television. Yes, all the magic is self-contained in that old school unit.

All the games are G rated. And most of the violence is restricted to blowing up large pixel blocks.

Humble Beginnings

The seeds were sown as far back as 1966 when Nolan Bushnell saw the game "Spacewar!" for the first time at the University of Utah. Deciding there was commercial potential in a coin-op version, several years later he and Ted Dabney worked on a hand-wired custom computer capable of playing it on a black and white television in a single-player mode where the player shot at two orbiting UFOs. The resulting game, Computer Space, was released by an existing coin-op game company, Nutting Associates.

Computer Space did not fare well commercially when it was placed in Nutting's customary market, bars. Feeling that the game was simply too complex for the average customer, Bushnell started looking for new ideas.

After seeing a demonstration of the Magnavox Odyssey in May 1972 Nolan got Al Alcorn (their first design engineer) to produce an arcade version of the Odyssey's Tennis game which would become Pong.

Magnavox later sued Atari and Atari had to pay a licensing fee Magnavox.

The first arcade Pong (November 1972) consisted of a black and white television from Walgreens, customize hardware, and a coin mechanism from a laundromat on the side with a milk carton inside to catch coins. Placed in a Sunnyvale tavern by the name of Andy Capp's to test its viability, it took only one day to realize they had a hit.

After talks to release Pong through several companies broke down, Bushnell and his partner Ted Dabney decided to release Pong on their own, and Atari, Inc was established as a coin-op design and production company.

In 1975, Bushnell started an effort to produce a flexible video game console that was capable of playing all four of Atari's games. Development took place at an offshoot engineering lab, after getting over the initial difficulties in producing such a machine, the result was the Atari 2600, one of the most successful consoles in history.


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    • b opinionated profile image

      b opinionated 

      10 years ago from California

      Atari... just so awesome! Reminds me of being very very little and watching my big older cousins playing games! GOOD TIMES... GREAT HUB!

    • donnaleemason profile image


      10 years ago from North Dakota, USA

      Sure was a stroll down memory lane. Thanks

    • compu-smart profile image


      10 years ago from London UK

      A stroll down memmory lane!!


    • kellyfilmgirl profile image


      10 years ago

      I miss Atari. I think I had an Atari 2600 though I could be wrong. I may sound like a complete dork, but I kinda liked the graphics on some of the games such as Pole Position. Kinda left a bit to the imagination, which I loved. :)

    • white atlantic profile image

      white atlantic 

      10 years ago from INDIA

      i hv 1 in my mobile

    • rodney southern profile image

      rodney southern 

      10 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      Loved this game as a child. Great memory!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      10 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Man-o-man memory lane here we come. My son had most of those games...then there was the all time fave Pacman

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 

      10 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      These were great thats for sure. I played pitfall too, but on my computer recently.

    • solarshingles profile image


      10 years ago from london

      I still remember them very vividly. I've also got atari, commodore, sinclair spectrum, amiga a bit later. Later microprocessor M68000 was so very nice to program in assembler...and all those games and hundred of playing hours...but, I'd started with hitting the ball on TV set still in black&white

    • DJ Funktual profile image

      DJ Funktual 

      10 years ago from One Nation Under a Groove

      I like this but I need more pix of the games. missile command? Dig Dug?

    • rmr profile image


      10 years ago from Livonia, MI

      I've got one of these. It's pretty cool. I still have my original Atari 2600, too. I used to play pitfall for hours on end.


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