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Your Atari "firsts" memories and experiences...

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#1 Clint Thompson

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Posted 10 June 2016 - 09:34 AM

Figured this would be a fun topic and shed some light into the lives of everyone here and their background or experiences with Atari as a whole. Looking forward to hearing everyone's stories!


My first Atari 1040ST I lucked out and found at a local Goodwill for less than $20, which was in incredible deal!  Not only was it in really good condition, it also seemed to work flawlessly. Mind you, this was before the eBay and scalper or flipping days where people would buy things just to turn a profit immediately because they knew it was retro/vintage or what have you. I think I only owned the ST for a few years as I didn't have much software and this was before I had learned about LGT, which unfortunately now charges for all downloads. I want to say I remember the disks being downloadable for free at some point but maybe my mind is playing tricks on me. That was my first and last Atari ST and the plan is to get an 4MB STe sometime in the near future to fill that void.


Sometime in early 1999, I received my very first Atari Falcon, which I had always wanted since seeing them in the Toad Computers catalogs around the . At the time, I also had what I was finally happy with as a very fast PC as well - with an AMD K6-II 450Mhz and 64MB of RAM, WinTV card and eventually a 3DFX Voodoo 3 3000 16MB AGP card. Anyways, back to the Falcon - it arrived COD and I had no experience with cash on delivery. Needless to say, it wasn't exactly cash on delivery as I would soon learn lol and they had to re-deliver the next day because only money orders were accepted. So due to my own ignorance, I had to delay it another day. Had that machine for several years and enjoyed the many demos and capabilities of the machine for what I could use before selling it off. It had a BlowUpFX and some other board installed which made it highly incompatible with a lot of the software I wanted to try, as it turned out.


To kind of extend on that story, later on I would end up with yet another Falcon which was also modded unfortunately, as it had a Centurbo II installed and something was wonky with the DSP as a result and I also re-sold this unit as it just had problems. I remember learning from that point on to make sure I would only get another Falcon if it wasn't modded. I would finally end up with a really nice unit sometime in 2001 or 2002, upgrading it myself with an FPU and maxed out the RAM to 14MB. Foolishly, I would sell it years later due to financial constraints and still regret having to had done so.

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#2 Ballblaɀer



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Posted 10 June 2016 - 11:59 AM

The year was 1984, and I had just turned four years old a few weeks before Christmas.  It turned out that Santa Claus not only brought a 5200 for me that year, he hooked it up to the console TV in our living room overnight!  I later heard through the grapevine that Santa had bought the 5200 pretty close to Christmas, but didn't realize until he got it back to his workshop and opened it that the included pack-in game was Super Breakout and not Pac-Man.




Apparently I was a Pac-Man fiend even at that early age -- I think the neighborhood club where my parents often dated in the late 1970s had a Pac-Man cabinet, and they must have taken me there at times to play on it.  I definitely recall playing arcade Pac-Man at a very young age, but couldn't tell you where or when.  I certainly remember watching the Pac-Man cartoon on ABC when it aired in '82 - '83, and I *was* Pac-Man for Halloween one year, too.  I'd love to find a photo of that -- I was this enormous, bulky, yellow, homemade cardboard monstrosity -- but so far no luck...


Anyway, at the 11th hour, Santa and his helper were scrambling around trying to find a store and/or elf that still had Pac-Man in stock.  It came down to the wire, but long story short: I was a very happy kid on Christmas morning.  I can't recall what other games were under the tree that first year -- I'll have to dig out the old family photos to take a look.  For Christmases every year after that for the next 6-8 years, there would be at least a game or two under the tree.  I'd guess that I played Joust, River Raid, and Star Raiders more than any of the others over the years, but 5200 Pac-Man was the start of it all for me.  I never had another console in the house growing up, so video gaming at home was Atari 5200 or nothing until we saved up and bought our first computer (a Mac LC).

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#3 greenween


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Posted 10 June 2016 - 09:19 PM

I'm going with my first 5200 moment also. 1984 as well. I loved my 2600, I spent the night at a friend's who had just got a 5200. Holy crap!! After playing Pac Man I spent every weekend at his house! I was 12 then, 30 years later I finally bought my own 5200 and have 25 cartridges for it, even bought some awesome end labels for them from a member of this forum! I don't care how great the graphics get, I will always go back to my Atari.

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#4 greenween


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Posted 10 June 2016 - 09:22 PM

Dang though!!! The night my mom brought home the 2600, with Combat, Breakout, Space Invaders, and Night Driver!!!! That might be the greatest moment of my life!!

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#5 Lost Dragon

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 07:18 AM

My folks bought me a 2600 from a mail order firm (probably likes of Empire/JD Williams, that sort of thing) along with a handful of games, like Defender, Kangaroo, MS.Pac-Man, Crystal Castles etc, for Xmas 1 year, possibly THE best Xmas present, ever...


I'd previousily had a Sinclair ZX81, which i loved, but it was primitive in terms of B+W graphics, no sound and loading from tape was frustrating.I think we all fell in love with the VCS, not only for the games, but the art on the carts and packaging.


From there, i convinced them to get an Atari 800XL, hell it was ATARI, the 2600 had blown us away, so how could there be any other choice made? :-)



I'll always remember loving Lone Raider, Eastern Front etc and then moving onto games like Ghost Chaser, Encounter, Elktraglide, Dropzone, Rescue Of Fract., Ninja, Red Max, Spellbound,L.A Swat, Crystal Raider, hell even my sister was sending games to me from Exmouth where she was working at the time, sadly these were things like Gun Law, but i appreciated them all the same.


Sadly crippling loading times and severe lack of software saw the 800XL replaced with the C64 and it wasn't until the 520STFM that i went Atari again, Discovery Pack+being £100 cheaper than Amiga saw me head the Atari route, but i was very dissapointed by the ST sound chip, coming from POKEY and SID, plus awful scrolling and wretched positioning of mouse/joystick ports often did my head in.



From there? a Lynx Mk 1, then MK II onto a Jaguar....



When i got into Retro, picked up another 800XL, with disk drive and 100's of copied games (so wish i'd kept that) inc lot of unreleased stuff, plus a 600XL, but i realised my love for the A8 range had turned into reading up on/researching rather than actually playing, so these 2 were sold off....




I was very fickle once bitten by Retro bug, would buy a system, hammer it for few months, then off it went...

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#6 kamakazi20012


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Posted 12 June 2016 - 12:58 AM

My first Atari was the 5200 on its initial release. It was a gift for Christmas...but Santa left the system on Mom's coffee table. Between four and five in the morning I had to navigate, in the dark, past that table without waking anyone up, to reach the bathroom. I tripped over the cords to the 5200, fell to the floor, slung it and the controller under the TV. Yes, under...Mom's TV was an RCA that stood on four legs and have a full stereo built in the top under sliding wood panels. I didn't seem to hurt anything and spent the next three hours or so playing Super Breakout. Opening gifts later revealed Space Invaders, Galaxian, and I believe Missile Command. Great memories for sure.

Edited by kamakazi20012, 12 June 2016 - 12:59 AM.

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#7 MaximumRD


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Posted 12 June 2016 - 04:53 AM

I knew this topic reminded me of an earlier post I made and I found it! I will paste it below as well as a link to it  ;)
Posted 10 August 2015 - 02:24 AM

Yeah oddly, my first 2600 playing back in the day was on a friends console. Oh, I had many of my own loose cartridges but I spent more time looking at them in the little plastic storage case then actually playing them since I had to take them to my friends lol. The thing though, his mom was weird, very strict and on top of that like many adults back then believed having it running to long would end up wrecking the TV. But it was not only enough to simply turn off the system, no, you had to disconnect, wrap everything back up and store it back in the box, like I said, weird. So needless to say playing it usually took place after Gord's mom went to bed and of course we had to be quiet as well. But between my carts and his I still managed to play a lot despite the circumstances and it usually resulted in Gord falling asleep while I continued playing into the wee hours, some favorites were Cosmic Ark, of course Space Invaders and Breakout. It was not until some time later I got my own Vader model finally.

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#8 Dan Iacovelli

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 09:35 AM

remember getting my 2600 for xmas in '77 (I got my first 2600 when it came out for xmas, got my 7800 for xmas when it was out,lynx the same way,the jag was the only exception wasn't for xmas,but brought from local atari store on first release in chicago)

there was one game I would beat everyone on that was flag capture

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#9 Atari Creep

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Posted 20 December 2016 - 09:44 PM

After reading a few memories of receiving their consoles I quickly realized, I do not for the life of me remember how or when we got our VCS. Call it an Atari LACK of memory!


I only know it was a Sears Tele-Games heavy 6'r and one day it was there, what day that was, how or why I couldn't tell ya!! HAHAH 

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Don't just watch TV, PLAY IT!

#10 atarilbc


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Posted 25 May 2017 - 07:40 PM

My sister just sent me some old photos she found. Here is me circa 1983 (age 6) with my beloved Atari 2600 clone, the Coleco Gemini. I cropped Chopper Command which was laying loose on the floor out of the photo. Other items of interest include "The Fall Guy" board game. :)

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#11 StormSurge


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Posted 25 May 2017 - 07:51 PM

Love it!! I had those ESB sheets too!

My sister just sent me some old photos she found. Here is me circa 1983 (age 6) with my beloved Atari 2600 clone, the Coleco Gemini. I cropped Chopper Command which was laying loose on the floor out of the photo. Other items of interest include "The Fall Guy" board game. :)

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#12 Karyyk


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Posted 18 June 2017 - 02:35 AM

I remember getting mine for Christmas in '86 (we got into gaming a bit late...my father was always worried we'd turn into cave dwellers if we ever started playing them). It was the "Fun is back for $50" 2600 Jr., along with Space Invaders (Battlezone and Chopper Command followed within a week, so I usually count those as my first games). For the life of me, I don't recall us having any pictures of it, although we still have an old reel-to-reel tape recording of the request, telling my family that I wanted a "BMX Bike and an Atari system." It was the 80's after all...

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#13 Keatah


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Posted 18 June 2017 - 04:04 AM

Gosh I never thought to go through the "hundreds" of cassettes I still have of the old days. We used to leave a recorder running a lot of the times when playing video games. Not unlike the rambling youtube commentaries of today. There's gotta be some classic moments in there!

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#14 dauber


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Posted 07 July 2017 - 06:16 PM

My first Atari experience was probably some very brief futzing with my brother's Touch Me. He was into those handheld LED games. He had a lot of the Mattel ones -- Auto Racing, Basketball, Football, Baseball.....and of course Atari Touch Me. He also had Comp IV.


The first Atari experience to ever have an impact on me had to be at my uncle's house. He and my cousins introduced me to Space Invaders on the 2600. Played that for a while, and then my uncle took out Space Invaders and put in Super Breakout and showed that to me. I don't think I actually played Super Breakout that day, just watched him play. I don't remember for sure when it was, but it must have been 1981, because my next Space Invaders experience after that was playing the arcade game on President's Day weekend in 1982 at the game room in the Holiday Inn in Bradley, IL. I didn't know it was an arcade game until then.


And I remember when K.C. Munchkin! was out on the Odyssey2, except I didn't know what console it was on. It piqued my interest because I knew it was a Pac-Man clone, and the thought of playing Pac-Man at home really blew my 7-year-old Pac-Maniac mind. I said out loud, "Ooh, I hope Uncle Phil gets that Munchkin game!" My brother said nope, it's an Odyssey2 game, not for Atari. Ahhhh, well. (My aunt did say they ordered it though!)


I think the next time I played Atari was that summer, briefly at my next-door neighbor's house. Never liked those neighbors, but hey, when the opportunity to play Atari Pac-Man arose, I couldn't turn it down! It was my first time playing the 2600 Pac-Man, and as big a Pac-Man fan as I was (and still am), the huge differences didn't really put me off at all. I played that and a little bit of Freeway. I didn't care for Freeway; I saw it as a cheap Frogger rip-off (and only recently found out that both games were actually developed at roughly the same time, so one didn't necessarily influence the other.)


Got my first Atari 2600 (four switch woodgrain) for Christmas in 1982. Hung on to it for about 24 years, when I got a 7800 and traded my 4-switch for a huge stack of MAME CDRs. Since then I've had three heavy sixers (I got an eBay lot that came with two heavy sixers and a junior -- and the item description did NOT mention the heavy sixers!), two juniors, a Vader (which I modded and gave away in a podcast contest), and currently in my possession are two Sears light sixers and two additional 7800s. I don't want to have too many consoles around, but I always loved the look of the Telegames sixers (I only want one -- the other came in a recent eBay lot I bid on); I decided to get a second 7800 when I realized what a pain it was to pack up my one 7800 when I went to Midwest Gaming Classic, so I wanted a backup. Well, the backup isn't friendly with 7800 carts (even without the plastic sleeve over the cartridge port it has a death grip on 7800 cartridges!), so I got another 7800 that I plan to mod and keep as my backup.


About five years ago I bought a 5200 from a store in town for fifty bucks. I kept it a year or two; didn't like it. So I traded it with the aforementioned friend for his 600XL, which I then modded with 64k RAM so it's essentially an 800 XL. Haven't used it much though...


And for Christmas my parents got me the Atari Flashback Portable. :)


So yeah...in sum, my retro stuff consists of:

- two Sears sixers (one of which I plan to keep)

- three Atari 7800s (two of which I plan to keep, the third I'll probably sell off if I can get that cart port to be friendlier!)

- an Atari 600XL

- Atari Flashback Portable

- GPD XD handheld, which I use not only for arcade, NES, SNES, and N64 emulation, but also for handheld 2600 gaming on the ROMs that don't work well on the FBP. :)

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#15 CrossBow


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Posted 14 July 2017 - 05:42 PM

My first Atari experience was likely sometime during its initial release in the late 70s as friends of my parents had them and I can remember playing breakout and Freeway. We didn't get our own 2600 until Christmas '81 or maybe '82 when I would have been about 7 or 8 years old. But it didn't come from Santa (for a number of reasons..not the least of which, was because I already knew the truth about that since I was about 4 years old.) But it also wasn't much of a surprise, because my parents had wrapped it as it was in the normal box. So it was maddening to me for the last 2 weeks before Christmas because I knew what it was under that tree!!!

Kept that 4 switcher until I finally gave it to my cousins about 5 years later. 

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#16 Starbuck66


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Posted 15 July 2017 - 07:30 AM

My first Atari experience was in 83 I believe... my dad came home with a Vader model 2600 with Pac Man as the pack in cart. I don't remember playing it though, my first memories of playing the Atari were Q*Bert and Super Breakout.

Through the 80's and early 90's I played a ton of Atari. I had people at church giving me stacks of games when they found out I had a 2600 and still played it; they had moved on to the NES by then. We had a video game rental store next door to our house, and one of the guys there gave me a huge collection of games (about 50 or so) and a bunch of accessories, including Indy 500 with driving controllers, a Wico Command Control joystick, the kids touchpad, and Star Raiders CIB!

I finally (after much begging) convinced my parents to get me an NES in 1990, but I still played the Atari off and on through the 90's. Sadly my collection got lost after I moved out of my parents house; I managed to keep my NES and games, but I don't know what ever happened to the Atari stuff.

Fast forward to 2012, took my daughter to see Wreck it Ralph, and I realized she had no clue who most of these video game characters were. I decided to start retro gaming, and of course the first place I wanted to start was Atari. I got a Flashback 4 for 15 dollars off of eBay, but with no Activision titles I decided I needed a real console. I got a 7800 bundle with 50 games off eBay for about 60 bucks shipped, and now I've got over 200 2600 games, and 20 7800 games. I've also got a 5200 (thanks again RickR!) with 21 games, and I've enjoyed learning the quirks and charm of the 5200.
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#17 BlackCatz40


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Posted 17 July 2017 - 01:34 PM

We got our first A2600 (and experienced Atari for the first time) from my aunt in 1982. The game system had cost $129.99, at the time, and I believe it was bought from JCPenney. We had Pac-Man, Dodge 'Em, Night Driver, Space War, Combat (of course, as it came with every 2600 then), and Outlaw as the first games in our collection. Over the years, the collection grew to more games. Soon, we had Frogger, Taz, Crystal Castles, and Space Attack to name a few. Fast-forward to Christmas 1987. I received an Atari 7800 from my parents. I was overjoyed. Eventually, my father gave up the A2600 collection and gave it to me. Now, in 2017, I have five Atari platforms (every one made by Atari for the US market except for the A5200) and over 300 games for my Atari platforms combined.


Oh, and did I mention that I have two Atari computers? Well, I guess, now I just did. I have a 130XE and a 1040STE computer. There have to be over fifty games for those two in a combined collection alone. Yup. In thirty-five years, I have been quite busy collecting.



Edited by BlackCatz40, 17 July 2017 - 06:32 PM.

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#18 BlackCatz40


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Posted 17 July 2017 - 06:35 PM

Love it!! I had those ESB sheets too!

He's also wearing a SW: ROTJ T-shirt. True to form. Cool. :)


Looking forward to seeing SW: TLJ, coming out this December!

Edited by BlackCatz40, 24 July 2017 - 02:40 PM.

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#19 Mcorleonep


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Posted 03 August 2017 - 01:43 PM

My first experience with Atari is always going to my friend's down the street.  He got his Atari 2600 in 1978 just after they came out.  We had some JC Penny Pong knockoff device at the time.  I was amazed by the color graphics and the variety of games he had.  Two years later on my birthday, my mom brings home an Atari system of our own along with Space Invaders.  Of course it wasn't that new to me anymore since I'd been playing it every other day or so down the street but it was still great to have in our home...

Edited by Mcorleonep, 03 August 2017 - 01:43 PM.

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#20 Keatah


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Posted 03 August 2017 - 02:18 PM

Don't recall exactly, specifically the very first moment. But close enough.


It was a rather pedestrian experience, some nondescript winter evening or Saturday afternoon in 1977. I remember exploring the "worlds" of combat. All the different terrain. That and playing Surround. The full aweseomness of the VCS would be revealed to several decades later, when I could appreciate how much was done with so little.


I don't think I ever had a first "wow" moment with videogames because I grew up with them. It's as if they always existed and the exploration of the electronic gaming field was a given. Even back in like 1976 and 1975.


The "wow" moment was with the discovery of red LED handhelds. Those were amazing, and I always thought there was a special sort of intelligence inside the chips. I didn't know how they all worked. And it would have been totally plausible (to me) that they were like mechanical mazes inside, with control levers and chutes and valves. Like a big-ass Hot-Wheels track setup going everywhere.


Of course each console from the dedicated pong units to my latest emulation PC, each one, had their impressive moment. I was rarely disappointed.

Edited by Keatah, 03 August 2017 - 02:19 PM.

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