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2600 Memories

Atari 5200 Guy

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Hi Again!


I would like to share my 2600 story with other members here.  This one is bit lengthy so you might want to grab a snack and drink.


The 2600 was the first game machine I would play sitting at a kiosk in Wal-Mart.  The ones that actually closed at night.  Space Invaders, Asteroids, a couple of other titles would be attached by chains to the kiosk.  I don't know how many times I would ask Mom for one using birthday and Christmas excuses.  Never worked.


I woke up with a 5200 instead of a 2600 Christmas morning in 1982.  The 2600 was getting games by the hundreds while my 5200 was slow to receive new games.  Space Invaders was there, if you want to call it that, but I would wait for Asteroids that would never come.  The 2600 games I would play would be in kiosks.  Then Pac-Man came along and I was more than proud to say I owned a 5200.  It wasn't a bad game but it was nothing like the Pac-Man I had at home.  Still...I enjoyed Space Invaders and Asteroids on the 2600 and thought that the 2600's Invaders was closer to the arcade than what I had.  I did like the morphing effect in the 5200 Space Invaders, though.  That was cool.


So...when did I get a 2600?  Oddly enough in 1988.  8th grade, spring time, and after lunch I was outside enjoying the sun and visiting with classmates.  We were talking about Zelda which had just been released in our area.  One classmate started saying that they didn't have enough allowance to buy Zelda and offered me their entire 2600 system with a few games for what they needed.  I asked how much, they said that $10 would seal the deal.  I agreed.


The next day I was handed a large brown paper bag.  If there ever was such a thing as an Atari grab bag this would have been it.  $10 netted me not only a working console (very dusty at that) but all kinds of controllers, paddles, and at least 30 to 40 games along with a game center console to keep it all in.  You have no idea how much I wish I could have skipped school that day.  Yes I had an NES which I loved dearly but a 2600 with a ton of games just waiting to be played was torture.  I placed it in my locker and waited until time to go home.  The bus trip home was another hour but I could at least look at the games I had.


When I got home I immediately hooked the system up to my TV in the bedroom.  I had all kinds of familiar friends to pick from.  E.T. was here, which at the time I didn't understand how to play, Enduro, Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Galaxian, Frogger, Dig Dug, Moon Patrol, Video Pinball, Pitfall!, and my old friends Asteroids and Space Invaders.  Defender and Joust was here, too.  I also remember Super Breakout, Warlords, and Night Driver being in the mix as well.  The old 4-switch Atari and myself had a blast for the remainder of the day.  


At the time I wasn't quite sure what to make of my purchase.  I could have saved that $10 for another NES game but I also had more games to play on a system I never owned before.  So I enjoyed my purchase from time to time but I didn't spend near as much time on it as I did my NES.  Atari, to me, was gone and I wasn't sure I would ever find more games for it.  I eventually sold it off to a family member, and all of the games that came with it, so I could grab an NES game.


Fast-forward to 1989.  I had picked up a summer job working at Sonic Drive-In.  My first check I got I wasn't sure what to do with.  Mom helped me get it cashed and we went shopping.  Our first stop was a store called Alco.  It was originally Magic Mart and the only other store like Wal-Mart in our area.  Alco had relocated their electronics section to the front of the store where I was browsing through any games for the NES I could find. Nothing was of interest there. 


Then I walked around to the other side of the shelving and seen some new 2600 games hanging.  I was stunned.  There were at least a dozen old favorites in red boxes with a few new titles I had not seen before.  I also discovered the games from Froggo here as well.  I looked down and there were a few 2600 JR consoles on the bottom shelf.  I picked one up and looked at it.  Wow...did they ever give the 2600 a face lift!  It looked nice.  And then I seen the price tag of $50.  I grabbed it along with Spideroid, Jr Pac-Man, and Space Invaders to take home.  I still remember Mom shockingly saying, "They still make those?!?"


I went to my Grandmother's house after my purchase because it was her weekend and she was close to work, easily within walking distance.  My purchase made me want to work more so I could grab more titles.  My grandmother always took interest in what video games I brought with me and I showed her the little Atari machine I spent my first check on.  Her question to me was if they had more games?  I said yea but I could only grab the system and three games.  God bless grandmothers...she handed me more cash to get more games for it.  I ended up with three more titles of which I don't remember them all now.


Come the fall season pollen had become bad in our area.  Mom had asthma really bad and needed medicine.  So I sold off most of my game consoles and games at that time to help her out.  I kept the Genesis I eventually got and the Sonic game that sealed the reason for buying a Genesis in the first place.  Mom got the rest of the money to get her meds.  So that is where that JR console went.


It wouldn't be until 2010 when I would pick up another 2600.  Another JR console to be exact.  My wife had told me about the 2600 games she use to play which sparked my interest yet again.  That and a high score tracking website I was part of was holding a 2600 tourney so I started hunting down another 2600 and a few games.  I eventually ordered from Collector's Cards and Games the system and a few games...some still new in the box.  Later I would pick up some games from Atari2600 (dot) com under the "wounded warriors and nakid ladies" section.  


Today I still don't play that system often, and it is actually hanging on my wall inside two zip lock storage bags.  I take it down from time to time when I get a wild hair and want to play some Space Invaders.  Everytime I play it memories of that brown bag, Mom popping off that question in the store, and both Mom and my Grandmother picking up games for that thing when they were out and about as if they were hunting for them, are played back in my mind.  And I occasionally get teary-eyed only because I no longer have them around.  They are the real reason I ever got any video games at all except for that first JR console I picked up.




I learned, and am still learning, about that little console and it impresses me more all the time.  Here was a little console, with a shelf life of what...a year or two?...and still that little machine is going stronger than ever.  It never has really stopped.  That is impressive!  The 2600 was not my favorite but I respect it for what it did.  Today, I couldn't see my collection being without the little fella.  I hope to obtain a wood-grain model sometime in the near future because that is the console I like the looks of most out of all of the 2600 variations.


Oh...did you know you could power a 2600 with a 6-cell R/C battery pack?  Yep...just figure out the connection for power and find a portable TV that works on battery power and you will be good to go the next time your power goes out due to weather.  I did it once.  

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