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Atari Video System X


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#1 RickR

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Posted 20 March 2016 - 04:19 PM

Just watching the Video System X video here:

 

http://www.atari.io/atari/atari-5200/

 

 

So Justin, do you actually have that prototype?  How absolutely cool!  I remember reading about the "Video System X" right after the show in Electronic Games magazine.  Exciting times!


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#2 Justin

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 02:24 AM

Yes, and I think we may have more to talk about regarding the Atari Video System X sometime soon   :atari_5200:

 

The Video System X to me is much more than what the 5200 ended up being, it's the embodiment of that hope and that idea we dreamed of when reading about "the next new Atari" in magazines like Electronic Games. Atari had so much promise at that time. It was inconceivable that the next Atari system would be anything other than out of this world.


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#3 RickR

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 09:33 AM

I'll find that EG article later.  But you are correct.  We all anticipated something truly awesome from Atari back then.  Failure was unimaginable. 


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#4 Video 61

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 05:31 PM

here are some of the mock-up games shown when atari first showed the video system x. games included Football, Pac-Man, Galaxian, Asteroids, Adventure, Skiing, Soccer, Baseball, Tank Battle, and some others.

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#5 kamakazi20012

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 08:36 PM

All I can do is drool.  The 5200 was my first gaming console and has always had a soft spot in my heart and memories.  To have the Video System X would be the holy grail system in my collection.  You are very lucky.  Do you ever play it?



#6 RickR

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 08:50 PM

Here it is...from the Jan 83 edition of Electronic Games.  Look...it's YOUR prototype right there. 

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#7 Clint Thompson

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 10:02 PM

Are there any interviews of Regan Cheng? I suppose I should do a YouTube search. I had no idea he also designed the Mindlink. Is there any information regarding the small three rectangle logo to the right side of the text on that system?

I remember seeing this video before but watching it again made me remember just how much I enjoyed the trakball and just how arcade perfect the games appeared.
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#8 Justin

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Posted 22 March 2016 - 12:57 AM

Here's what the mock-up VSX Asteroids box looked like

 

vsx_asteroids_2.jpg

 

 

Are there any interviews of Regan Cheng? I suppose I should do a YouTube search. I had no idea he also designed the Mindlink. Is there any information regarding the small three rectangle logo to the right side of the text on that system?

 

 

I don't have any video interviews with Regan, I suspect there may not be any out there. I had the honor of working with Regan for a number of years along with other Atari alumni on another project.

 

Regan spoke of Atari often and we would end up spending hours discussing topics like this. The origins of the 5200's size... the Bang & Olufsen influence on the Roy Nishi wedge... and how films like Blade Runner and 2001: A Space Odyssey influenced Atari's industrial design group. (They were big fans of Syd Mead's design work in Blade Runner and elsewhere, and the matte glow of the red LED in the 5200 was inspired by HAL 9000.)

 

I've wondered about the three rectangle logo to the right side of the VSX logotype, and I clearly remember Regan giving an answer to that question, but this was about ten years ago and I can't remember what that answer was. I do remember there was a thought behind the design.

 

5200-profile.jpg

 

If you look closely, you'll note that the Atari VSX in this image (same as Rick's PDF) is physically different than the production models, as are the joysticks.

 

You'll notice the power button is perfectly flush with the plastic around it, and there's a grooved line just below the power button that runs the width of the system. This is reminiscent of the 7800. The smooth design looks great and is more in keeping with Regan's 1200 XL styling. Compare with a production 5200 console and you'll see the 5200 power button has a bit of a "moat" carved around it, and it lacks that additional groove. And take a closer look at the joysticks. The base of the joysticks are solid plastic and raised up a bit, with much smaller, tighter rubber boots than the production models. Were these the earlier 5200 joysticks that everybody loved that used a yoke and gimbal mechanism from an RC airplane controller kit?

 

This leads me to believe that the Video System X models that we've seen so far are "pilot production models" where as the VSX in the image above is an earlier design model.


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#9 Justin

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Posted 22 March 2016 - 01:13 AM

1980s Bang & Olufsen products that inspired Atari's Industrial Design Group and contributed to the look of the Video System X

 

olufsen4500.jpg

 

images.jpeg


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#10 Clint Thompson

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Posted 22 March 2016 - 12:44 PM

Very revealing and you can see how much of a huge influence they had in a lot of Atari concepts/prototype designs. It's interesting to note that some of Atari's modular designs also resemble that of Bang and Olufsen products. It all definitely comes across as distinctive and high quality.

 

At some point, I had entertained the idea of using NOS of 5200 power switch buttons for a PC Console concept we created that is still under wraps, which would now be called a Steambox I suppose, but it turned out they only had a few pieces left so that plan was ditched.

 

I would be interested to hear about the logo story though and as to why it's just 3 lines. I'm not a fan of the mockup font on the Asteroids box but I love how huge the artwork is!


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#11 Clint Thompson

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Posted 22 March 2016 - 08:17 PM

Love the styling - gives you a letter more insight to their designs and really shows the sections and lines:

image.jpg

image.jpg

Is this where they lifted the XEGS button color pallette from?

image.jpg

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#12 Atariman

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 03:37 PM

Just got my system X!!! Yes its dirty but it has the original plastic protector over the system X overlay. 

 

What an awesome day!

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#13 RickR

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 03:38 PM

woah!  Where did you find it?



#14 Atariman

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 04:01 PM

My Uncle was a VP at Atari when I was growing up. Last week I had the chance to go through his Atari stash and got quite a few awesome things from the system X to engineer sample cartridges.

 

Looking to having it restored. Do you have any recommendations? 


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#15 RickR

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 04:09 PM

If you can, make sure to post pics of what you found.  I'm sure we'd all be interested to see.

 

As for a restoration -- not sure.  I'd be afraid to open that up, as I might damage it. 



#16 Ballblaɀer

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 04:19 PM

My Uncle was a VP at Atari when I was growing up. Last week I had the chance to go through his Atari stash and got quite a few awesome things from the system X to engineer sample cartridges.

 

Looking to having it restored. Do you have any recommendations? 

 

That's really cool -- we need to hear more about and/or see this stash! 

 

As for restoration of the X -- what needs to be done?  As far as I know, the Video System X is entirely the same as a retail 5200 except for the nameplate, so I suggest making it functional a lower priority.  It would be super amazing to have a working one, of course.  Did it come with joysticks that say "ATARI" in red and green on the keypad (instead of * and #), by any chance?



#17 Atariman

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 04:42 PM

 Here is a picture of the controllers. 

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#18 Justin

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 05:25 PM

I can help you with your restoration if you'd like Atariman  :)


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#19 Ballblaɀer

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Posted 02 September 2016 - 05:35 PM

I can help you with your restoration if you'd like Atariman  :)

 

Atariman: Justin owns (or used to own?) a VSX, so he'd be an ideal person to help you out.  Send him a PM, or post here so we can follow along?  Also -- welcome to the site, hope you stick around!

 

The joysticks with the red/green buttons are also VSX prototypes.  The Atari 5200 Diagnostic Cartridge Rev. 1.3 refers to them for some reason -- presumably Atari planned for the final joystick design to include the prototype keypad before switching to the one that was eventually used.  Really awesome.

 

What sample cartridges did you find with all of this wonderful stuff?


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#20 Atariman

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Posted 08 September 2016 - 06:25 PM

here are a couple of updated pictures of my system X after the cleaning. I did hook it up and everything works on the system. 

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