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As fond as people are of the Spectrum and Commodore 64, it’s the Atari VCS that casts the longest shadow over the games industry.

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The Games

From highs like River Raid and Pitfall, to lows such as the infamous E.T. and VCS conversion of Pac-Man, the variation in the quality of VCS games was huge. But then, with Atari’s own arcade divison as well as the company’s linkage with Namco providing a steady stream of arcade titles for conversion, the sheer quantity of releases was just as massive.

Star Raiders
Doug Neubauer’s classic space combat game originated on the Atari 400/800, with later conversions for a variety of Atari consoles and computers.

Accessories

The huge success of the VCS meant that a wide range of add-ons from both Atari and third-parties were released.

Starpath Supercharger
Starpath Supercharger (£19 including free Phaser Control cassette) connected the VCS to a cassette recorder and a number of £10 multiload tape based games were released, including the colourfully titled Communist Mutants from Space and Killer Satellites.

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People

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Major events

October 1977
US launch
The Atari VCS came bundled with a joystick, a paddle and the Combat cartridge
May 1984
Atari 7800 announced
1986
Atari 7800 finally released
Atari 2600 Jr. launched

Emulators

Mac OS X

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iOS

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OUYA/Android

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Features

Atari 2600 VCS

1.19 MHz 6507 processor

Atari 2600 “Jnr.”

Diddy-sized, budget-priced version of the VCS

Atari 7800

265 colour (25 on screen at any one time), 320×242 maximum resolution
Backwards-compatible with the 2600