Happy 35th Birthday, Atari!

Posted on 26. Oct, 2012 by in Blog

Ok, so it’s not the 35th birthday of the iconic company itself, which actually turned 40 this year, but of the famous Atari 2600 – the first games console to really make a significant impact in the home video game market.

In homage to the spiritual ancestor of the consoles of today, we round up a few facts you might not know about the Atari 2600.

The Atari 2600 is responsible for game cartridges: The Atari 2600 expanded on the concept of selling games on individual ROM cartridges, which had been introduced by the now virtually-unknown Fairchild Channel F.

The Atari 2600 is responsible for DLC: Well, almost.  The ill-fated Sega Dreamcast was the first console to actually offer downloadable add-ons or enhancements for disc-based games, but the Gameline cartridge was the first example of digital distribution of games, allowing Atari 2600 users to download games like Stargunner, Bank Heist and Alien via a phone line.

The Atari 2600 is responsible for movie tie-ins: Raiders of the Lost Ark was the world’s first movie tie-in video game in 1981, and the terrible E.T. tie-in was one of the precursors of the 1983 video game crash.  Remember where it all started to go wrong if you ever get a chance to sit down with Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The Game.

Atari 2600 games can be worth thousands: If you owned one of the 30 million Atari 2600 consoles that were made and sold and you still happen to have some of your old cartridges sitting in a box in the attic, go and take a look through them and do some research – you might have a digital downpayment on your mortgage. The ultra-rare Air Raid for the Atari 2600 is worth over $30,000 to collectors – only 13 copies are known to exist worldwide.