"Atari is now a sophisticated
October 17, 2000 7:36 AM   Subscribe

"Atari is now a sophisticated computerized programmable unit...." Magazine ad for the 2600, back when TVs had handles and video games were blue, pink and magenta. (Obviously not the same meaning of "programmable" today.)
posted by bison (17 comments total)
Heh. Nice ad, here's a bit of comparison big mac zealots might not like. 'The first supercomputer on a chip. What makes a supercomputer “super” is its ability to execute at least one billion floating-point operations per second. It’s a staggering measure of speed known as a “gigaflop.”'

posted by tiaka at 8:32 AM on October 17, 2000

Well, it was programmable in that you could put different cartridges into it. That was a huge step over Pong systems and the like that were essentially hardwired to play one (or a few) game(s). If you had the expertise, you could program it. It was just really hard.

Tiaka, I'm not sure I understand your quote and how it will hack off Mac advocates, but since I'm all in favor of hacking off Mac advocates (heh, just teasing, guys!), please explain. Maybe I'm dense this morning.
posted by daveadams at 9:32 AM on October 17, 2000

I like that they had the phrase "Game Program" trademarked.
posted by internook at 9:54 AM on October 17, 2000

There was a cartridge that allowed you to program in very simple basic, ie: make coloerd squares flash and beautiful chirpy sounds. I never knew anyone who had it, but I remember looking at the box cover in a tiny brochure for hours on end. I was a dumb little kid with visions of programming running through my head. I also thought sea-monkeys wore pants and played guitars. I promptly switched over to desiring the TRS-80, which I also never got. I am always thinking about 1980.
posted by thirteen at 9:59 AM on October 17, 2000

Actually daveadams, it was slightly more programmable than just switching cartriges. Don't you remember games like Combat where there were like 30 different "modes" of playing? (ex. bomber plane vs. 3 small planes, 2 tanks fighting, different maps in different modes, etc)
posted by grank at 11:14 AM on October 17, 2000

So what game is playing on the TV? My guess is some sort of Western-themed shooter; the combatants appear to be firing at one another through a Conestoga wagon.

How many school-shootings in Indiana that game encouraged, we'll never know.
posted by lileks at 12:15 PM on October 17, 2000

I seem to recall that game being Boothill. Kind of like Breakout in that you could not hit each other untill you chipped away at the wagon. I remember hoping one day there would be a finite amounts of ammo, and that you could squat, to add to the realism. I hoped for something like network first person shooters, but never really thought it possible. I am so pleasantly surprised.
posted by thirteen at 12:32 PM on October 17, 2000

Emulator for the PC, classic games here and here.
posted by tremendo at 2:14 PM on October 17, 2000

Nearly, thirteen. The wagon also moved up the screen in another game 'mode'. There was also any other variation on the theme you could possibly dream up (thats how they managed to get 1300 modes from 20 games).
I remember my babysitter was the first person I knew to get one of these, to a kid raised on Space Invaders, those 'modes' were so high-tech, I couldn't believe what these things could do at the time (I was only 8), we used to imagine what we'd have in 2000 - apart from the grey hair, I think I've got most of the stuff I'd imagined (except the flying car that is.....)
posted by Markb at 2:22 PM on October 17, 2000

I noticed on the bottom left corner it says A Warner Communications Company. I never knew that, and so, i am thoroughly shocked.
posted by Zool at 3:39 PM on October 17, 2000

Atari was sold to Warner Communications in '76 for $28 million. To read about the history of Atari before and after that, check out the Atari Historical Society

And go play some ColecoVision!

posted by gluechunk at 3:55 PM on October 17, 2000

wallow in the nostalgia
posted by john at 4:03 PM on October 17, 2000

ObJetPackReference: And where's my JetPack?!

(credit: Unca Joe, of course. :-)
posted by cCranium at 4:06 PM on October 17, 2000

Anybody remember holding down the reset button, while switching the power on and off to get doubleshots in Space Invaders?
I have been looking on and off all day for that BASIC programming cartridge, does anyone know what I am talking about?
posted by thirteen at 4:08 PM on October 17, 2000

thirteen: manual and photo of the box. Do a search to find more on it.
posted by gluechunk at 4:22 PM on October 17, 2000

How embarrassing! Thanks Gluechunk, I did a google search, but my parameters were not as good as yours and I found nothing. Don't ask why my parameters were so bad, I don't know what I was thinking about.
posted by thirteen at 4:29 PM on October 17, 2000

Thirteen, as some one who had a TRS-80, let me assure you that I would rather have has a Atari 2600. Why? Color!My mom refused to let us get any kind of videogame that would hook up to the TV. She thought it would blow up or something. She was kind of neurotic that way. Which is why I got a Vectrex, which was very cool. Light pen, 3-D, vector graphics, good games.Still no color though.
posted by Mr. skullhead at 7:15 PM on October 17, 2000

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