In 1982, the Atari 2600 was the dominant game system in North America. Amid competition from both new consoles and game developers, a number of poor decisions from Atari management affected the company and the industry as a whole. The most public was an extreme investment into licensed games for the 2600, including Pac-Man and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Pac-Man became the system's biggest selling game, but the conversion's poor quality eroded consumer confidence in the console. E.T. was rushed to market for the holiday shopping season and was critically panned and a commercial failure. Both games, and a glut of third-party shovelware, were factors in ending Atari's relevance in the console market. Atari's downfall reverberated through the industry resulting in the video game crash of 1983.
Atari, Inc. was founded by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney in 1972. Its first major product was Pong, released in 1972, the first successful coin-operated video game. While Atari continued to develop new arcade games in following years, Pong gave rise to a number of competitors to the growing arcade game market. The competition along with other missteps by Atari led to financial problems in 1974, though recovering by the end of the year. By 1975, Atari had released a Pong home console, competing against Magnavox, the only other major producer of home consoles at the time. Atari engineers recognized, however, the limitation of custom logic integrated onto the circuit board, permanently confining the whole console to only one game. The increasing competition increased the risk, as Atari had found with past arcade games and again with dedicated home consoles. Both platforms are built from integrating discrete electro-mechanical components into circuits, rather than programmed as on a mainframe computer. Therefore, development of a console had cost at least $100,000 (equivalent to about $504,000 in 2021) plus time to complete, but the final product only had about a three-month shelf life until becoming outdated by competition.
Atari obtained a license from Taito to develop a VCS conversion of its 1978 arcade hit Space Invaders. This is the first officially licensed arcade conversion for a home console. Its release in March 1980 doubled the console's sales for the year to more than 2 million units, and was considered the Atari 2600's killer application. Sales then doubled again for the next two years; by 1982, 10 million consoles had been sold in the United States, while its best-selling game was Pac-Man at over 8 million copies sold by 1990.[a] Pac-Man propelled worldwide Atari VCS sales to 12 million units during 1982, eventually selling 15 million consoles worldwide by the end of the year.
Activision, formed by Crane, Whitehead, and Miller in 1979, started developing third-party VCS games using their knowledge of VCS design and programming tricks, and began releasing games in 1980. Kaboom! (1981) and Pitfall! (1982) are among the most successful with at least one and four million copies sold, respectively. In 1980, Atari attempted to block the sale of the Activision cartridges, accusing the four of intellectual property infringement. The two companies settled out of court, with Activision agreeing to pay Atari a licensing fee for their games. This made Activision the first third-party video game developer and established the licensing model that continues to be used by console manufacturers for game development.
Activision's success led to the establishment of other third-party VCS game developers following Activision's model in the early 1980s, including U.S. Games, Telesys, Games by Apollo, Data Age, Zimag, Mystique, and CommaVid. The founding of Imagic included ex-Atari programmers. Mattel and Coleco, each already producing its own more advanced console, created simplified versions of their existing games for the 2600. Mattel used the M Network brand name for its cartridges. Third-party games accounted for half of VCS game sales by 1982.
The first VCS bundle has two types of controllers: a joystick (part number CX10) and pair of rotary paddle controllers (CX30). Driving controllers, which are similar to paddle controllers but can be continuously rotated, shipped with the Indy 500 launch game. After less than a year, the CX10 joystick was replaced with the CX40 model designed by James C. Asher. Because the Atari joystick port and CX40 joystick became industry standards, 2600 joysticks and some other peripherals work with later systems, including the MSX, Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari 8-bit family, and Atari ST. The CX40 joystick can be used with the Master System and Sega Genesis, but does not provide all the buttons of a native controller. Third-party controllers include Wico's Command Control joystick. Later, the CX42 Remote Control Joysticks, similar in appearance but using wireless technology, were released, together with a receiver whose wires could be inserted in the controller jacks.
An Atari VCS port of the Breakout arcade game appeared in 1978. The original is in black and white with a colored overlay, and the home version is in color. In 1980, Atari released Adventure, the first action-adventure game, and the first home game with a hidden Easter egg.
A company named Mystique produced a number of pornographic games for the 2600. The most notorious, Custer's Revenge, was protested by women's and Native American groups because it depicted General George Armstrong Custer raping a bound Native American woman. Atari sued Mystique in court over the release of the game.
The Atari 2600 was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong in Rochester, New York, in 2007. In 2009, the Atari 2600 was named the number two console of all time by IGN, which cited its remarkable role behind both the first video game boom and the video game crash of 1983, and called it \"the console that our entire industry is built upon\".
Hello guys!! I thought I'd make the official Atari 2600 4 switch woody serial number thread. There is a serial number thread for the Heavy Sixer, Light Sixer, Vader, and Junior models. After extensive searching, there is none for the CX-2600A 4 switch woodies manufactuted from 1980-1982. Share your 4 switch woody consoles and their serial numbers. I'll lead off with mine. And the one out of my 5 different 2600's that get the most play time. My official game room system.
Trying to get the game in stores by Christmas, the developer of the game, Howard Scott Warshaw, was only given five and half weeks instead of the normal six to nine months to develop the game. The expense of licensing the game meant Atari had to sell four million cartridges to break even. When the game came out, over one million customers bought the games, but Atari did not sell anywhere close to four million. To add insult to injury, stores received returns from customers who found the game frustrating to play. The poor performance of this game meant a massive loss for Atari and was one of the contributing factors to a crash in the video game industry that started in 1982 and would last until 1985. The crash was a pivotal point in video game history, bankrupting many companies and souring the video game experience for many consumers. Atari, Mattel, and Coleco were no longer household names in video games as they were in the early 1980s. The void left allowed companies from Japan to enter the market such as Nintendo, Sega, and Sony. It wasn't until Microsoft released the Xbox in 2001 that an American company had successfully released a console with a considerable market share, although Atari did try again by releasing the Atari Jaguar in 1993, only to see it flop.
Atari first introduced Video Pinball in 1977 as a dedicated console able to play seven different video games. In 1980 it was released for the Atari 2600. Some people complained that the controls were too difficult to use.
This is the original 1977 Atari Video Computer System, and this particular design was only produced for one year. Because it features six chrome-like switches and has heavy internal RF Shielding, some collectors refer to this as a \"Heavy Sixer\". At first glance it looks just like the CX2600 that follows in 1978, but it is noticably heavier when compared, and has some extra plastic molding around the back and sides of the unit. These units were manufactured in Sunnyvale, California, and there is a tag on the underside from the manufacturing plant to indicate this. There is also a serial number on the unit itself with a matching serial number sticker on the box. The later model was manufactured in Hong Kong.