Atari 2600

Published: December 30, 2021
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The Atari 2600 was released in October 1977, and is the video game console credited with popularizing the use of microprocessor based hardware and cartridges containing game code. The first game console to use this format was the Fairchild Channel F. However, it was the Atari 2600 that made the plug-in concept popular among the game-playing public. It was immense successful, and during the 1980s, "Atari" was a synonym for this model in mainstream media. The 2600 was typically bundled with two joystick controllers, a conjoined pair of paddle controllers, and a cartridge game: initially Combat and subsequently Pac-Man. Originally known as the Atari VCS (Video Computer System) the machine's name was changed to "Atari 2600" (from the unit's Atari part number, CX2600) in 1982, after the release of the more advanced Atari 5200.

Atari 2600

Have You Played Atari Today?

The console that refused to die

Atari 2600 in its 1986 cost-reduced version, also known as the "2600 Jr."Although not formally discontinued, the 2600 was de-emphasized for two years after Warner's 1984 sale of Atari's Consumer Division to Commodore Business Machines founder Jack Tramiel, who wanted to focus on home computers. In 1986, a new version of the 2600 was released, and the new redesigned version of the 2600, unofficially referred to as the 2600 Jr., featured a smaller cost-reduced form factor with a modernized Atari 7800-like appearance. The redesigned 2600 was advertised as a budget gaming system (under $50) that had the ability to run a large collection of classic games.

Its final European release was Acid Drop in 1992. The Atari 2600 was officially retired by Atari on January 1, 1992, making it the longest-lived home video game console in US game history. It had a lifespan of 14 years and 2 months, nearly three times the typical lifespan of a console.

Homebrew games

At the turn of the millennium, 25-years-plus after the launch of the Atari 2600, new home brew games for the Atari are still made and sold by hobbyists with several new titles available each year. The console and its old and new games are very popular with collectors because of its significant impact on video game and consumer electronics history and also due to its nostalgic value for many people.

Additionally, Benjamin Heckendorn has created several different versions of a portable Atari 2600, created by cutting apart full-sized vintage units, adding screens and putting them into new enclosures.

Atari Flashback

The Atari Flashback 2 console, released in 2005, contains 40 games, with four more unlockable by a cheat code. The console implements the original 2600 architecture and can be modified to play original 2600 cartridges by adding a cartridge port, and is compatible with original controllers.

The Atari insignia has become an iconic pop cultural logo.

Atari logo

Best Atari 2600 games

According to the internet, these are the top ten Atari games of all time:

  • Pitfall
  • Yars Revenge
  • Hero
  • Pole Position
  • River Raid
  • Super Breakout
  • Space Invaders
  • Combat
  • Ms. Pacman
  • Enduro
  • Missile Command


Atari 2600 documents

Instructions & manuals

Looking for the instructions?
Download here the Atari 2600 manual (PDF).

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Atari 2600 value and price guide

What's your Atari 2600 worth in 2022? Here are some recently sold items with prices.

Item Title Date Price
Atari et atari 2600 Mutants Both Et Atari 2600 Mutants Both Graded By 11/2021 $2250
Atari Halloween 1983 Atari 2600 Halloween 1983 Atari 2600 Wizard Games 10/2021 $2000
Atari NTSC Atari 2600 Star Wars NTSC Atari 2600 Star Wars Arcade Game 10/2021 $1803
Atari ULTRA RARE NTSC CIB Springer ULTRA RARE NTSC CIB Springer Atari 2600 12/2021 $1699
no pictureSee all sold items on eBay for more prices01/2022-.--

Atari 2600 forum

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