The Atari Video Computer System, better known as the “Atari 2600”, is the first commercially successful programmable video game console and was first produced in 1977 by Atari Inc. The console connects to a television through an RF antenna switch-box and has a cartridge port for game programs. Two controller ports allow for the connection of player controllers including joysticks, paddles, steering, and keyboard controllers. Game variations and difficulty settings are selected through its front-panel switches.
The console features an 8-bit MOS Technology 6507 CPU, a cost-reduced version of the 6502 CPU running at 1.19 MHz. The system architecture provides 128 bytes of RAM and can address 4K of ROM. The system was designed in Grass Valley, California by Joe Decuir, Steve Mayer, Ron Milner, and Jay Miner. Atari sold the system from September of 1977 until discontinuing it on January 1, 1992. It is estimated that 30 million consoles were sold. The system originally retailed at $199.
There are several variations of the Atari 2600 console in the collection:
Model CX2600 is the initial production early-model VCS. Manufactured in California, is it known as among video game collectors as the “heavy-sixer” for its six front-panel switches and heavy-gauge metal RF shielding. The game program Combat was included with the system.
Model CX2600A is a Hong Kong-manufactured unit nicknamed the “light-sixer” for its six front-panel switches and lighter-gauge internal RF shielding. It is my first video game console and was given to me as a Christmas present by my parents in either 1981 or 1982. The game program Combat was included with the system.