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Modified/Prototype Atari 7800 on eBay?


nosweargamer

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http://www.ebay.com/itm/322247214065?_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

 

This is kind of interesting. If legit, it seems less of a prototype and more of modified system by Atari Corp.

And to Tengen. Were they thinking of making some 7800 games? 1989 might have been too late to jump in the market.

And is that Asteroids I see booted up without a cart?

Is this some sort of a PAL NTSC hybrid?

 

The No Swear Gamer on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChtJuo040EOCTVziObIgVcg

Host of The Atari 7800 Game by Game Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and YouTube

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I knew I recognized the name on the mailing label from somewhere... Steve Calfee was (among other things) a senior microprocessor engineer with Atari Inc; you can hear his voice in the A8 version of Sinistar:lol:

 

Calfee later was with Tengen (hence the mailing label), but I wonder if perhaps the encryption algorithm for the 7800 MARIA wasn't his doing while he was with Atari Inc; if nothing else, it probably passed over his desk.

 

Euro 7800s have a universal PAL/NTSC BIOS with Asteroids built-in.  An NTSC BIOS (protoype?) with Asteroids was also found.

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Yeah, PAL had Asteroids built in, that's why i wondered if this was a modified hybrid.

 

And I doubt its a prototype....UNLESS they were modifying a current model into a slight upgrade (hence the FCC tag). No need to completely rebuild if the next system if it is just a slight upgrade.  But again I doubt it.

 

However, it is interesting this was going to Tengen and several unpublished prototypes for the 7800 were Atari Games games that were published under the Tengen name on other systems (like Pit Fighter, Klax & Rampart)

The No Swear Gamer on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChtJuo040EOCTVziObIgVcg

Host of The Atari 7800 Game by Game Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and YouTube

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The seller of this 7800 is a well-known Atari collector -- he purchased Midway's liquidation of Atari stuff in 2003, and I believe he's the sole known owner of a Bradley Trainer (U.S. Army's version of Battlezone) and Marble Man (Marble Madness 2) cabinets.  Here's a few photos of his gameroom.  Maybe atariscott (KLOV/VAPS) can provide more information if he's out there, but per the eBay listing I'm not sure he knows any more about the provenance of this thing than he's already posted.

 

I really would like to know how "Calvin" defeated the 7800 encryption without the private key -- presumably it's using a modified BIOS or a hardware hack like the one discussed in this AA thread.

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would be nice if there were pics of the insides on that eBay lot

Brian Matherne - owner/curator of "The MOST comprehensive list of Atari VCS/2600 homebrews ever compiled." http://tiny.cc/Atari2600Homebrew

author of "The Atari 2600 Homebrew Companion" book series available on Amazon! www.amazon.com/author/brianmatherne

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This sounds like an Atari engineering sample 7800 console modded with a universal PAL / NTSC upgrade version 7800 OS chip. These were unlocked region-free consoles used by engineers at Atari. You can mod your 7800 to do this too!  Best Electronics sells upgrade kits for $17.95. 

 

 

From Best Electronics:

Atari Engineering 7800 Euro Operating System Upgrade Mod for US 7800 Consoles!

Atari 7800

http://www.best-electronics-ca.com/7800.htm

 

Atari Engineering released two versions of the Atari 7800 Operating System chips. The US version has the known 7800 boot up / delay screen with the Atari Logo / color bars, before the inserted Atari 7800 game cartridge screen appears. The Euro 7800 OS chip / 7800 Euro Consoles have a built in Atari 7800 Asteroids game (turn on your 7800 with no game cartridge inserted and 7800 Asteroids would be the default game) and will instantly start any 7800 game (no more Atari 7800 Logo delay screen) when a 7800 game cartridge was installed. Both versions of the Atari 7800 OS chips both instantly start up all 2600 Game Cartridges. This Atari Euro 7800 upgrade chip will also allow you to play more of the Atari 7800 PAL Games that will not normally / properly run on the NTSC / US version Atari 7800 consoles.

 

When Best Electronics cleared out Atari Engineering department we found several Atari Engineering samples of US 7800 consoles modified with a Universal PAL / US upgrade version 7800 OS chip. This Atari Engineering Enhanced / Hybrid / Universal Atari 7800 OS Upgrade chip can be installed in any US / NTSC 7800 console and will give you the same above upgraded features as Atari Euro version 7800 consoles produced. To Install / Upgrade in a US 7800 console, requires some soldering, additional I.C. chip, trace cutting and an extra wire jumper added to a US 7800 Motherboard. 

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History Note: It was intended for U.S. Atari 7800 systems to have a built-in game (Pole Position II) included that would automatically start when you turn on your 7800 without a game cartridge inserted. Atari didn't have the built-in game feature ready to go in time to ship for the May, 1984 rollout to test markets, so they shipped the test market units with Pole Position II as a physical pack-in cartridge instead. This was only meant to be a temporary work-around, which is one reason why the original Pole Position II cartridge label looked so basic. Future NTSC Atari 7800 units were going to include Pole Position II built into the system. This didn't happen in the US after Tramiel bought the company. Why Europe got built-in games with d-pad controllers and the United States didn't seems like a mistake in my opinion. 

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I think that the 7800 would have done well, even against Nintendo, if it could have received more modern-for-the-time games instead of the same games that graced every Atari console before.  The games that only required a small amount of your time were no longer wanted.  Instead the gamer wanted a reason to play...and that's where the likes of Nintendo and Sega shined.  You could "beat" those games, save a princess, and feel like a virtual hero if even for a short while.  It also led to gamers being more social discussing about some of the levels in those games.  This is something that the 7800 really didn't offer.  It doesn't mean it was a bad system it was just not supported as it should have been.  The system should have been pushed as hard as the 2600 was.

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Looks like the winner is already trying to flip it to make a couple hundred bucks.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/ULTRA-RARE-Atari-7800-Modified-System-for-Tengen-Development-READ-S232-/291889103147

The No Swear Gamer on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChtJuo040EOCTVziObIgVcg

Host of The Atari 7800 Game by Game Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and YouTube

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