Happy 35th Birthday, Atari!
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.