Jump to content
Gianna

What was Atari doing with the 5200 in 1984?

Recommended Posts

Before the Tramiels showed up, does anybody know what Warner Communications Atari was going to do with the 5200 in 1984 after the 7800 would've come out? Were they going to keep developing games? 

They were going to release a 7800 cartridge adapter so 5200 players could upgrade. It's crazy to think that the 5200 died 18 months after it came out. I'm wondering what other plans they had?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From what I recall, the 5200 was done.  No more games.  The release of a new console was their sole focus.  

The Colecovision trounced the 5200 in sales.  I think CV outsold 5200 2 to 1.  The focus was on fixing all the 5200 design mistakes and releasing something simpler, with newer tech and backwards compatibility with the 2600.  

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did a little more research and here is what I found:

Quote

On May 21, 1984, during a press conference at which the Atari 7800 was introduced, company executives revealed that the 5200 had been discontinued after just two years on the market. Total sales of the 5200 were reportedly in excess of 1 million units, far short of the Atari 2600’s sales of over 30 million.

A May 22, 1984 article by David E. Sanger of the New York Times entitled "Atari Video Game Unit Introduced" (P.3 Section D) states:

Quote

The new product, which Atari calls the 7800 Prosystem, will sell for $149 and appears to be a replacement for the company's current top-of-the-line machine, the 5200. Company officials disclosed for the first time yesterday that the 5200 is no longer in production, and Atari appears to be selling off its inventory.

I guess that’s the answer, no matter what happened with Warner and the Tramiels, Atari was killing off the 5200. It’s crazy to think a game system could come and go in 18 months!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that the A5200 could have been a better design, but a lot of games still play well on there. I like Super Breakout and Space Dungeon, for instance. Especially Space Dungeon, since the right joystick fires when you move it in the firing direction. It's like Robotron: 2084, in that respect. So, some games still play OK on there. Gyruss, however, could play better. The fire button operates too slow on that game. But, I have heard about someone making new controllers for the A5200 that work better. More responsive. I saw it on YouTube once. I don't have the link to that video at this moment, but there are experiments being conducted right now, leading to a better controller. But, Gianna, you're right. Eighteen months is too short a time for any game system. The A2600 lasted almost fifteen years, for crying out loud! :O)

Edited by DegasElite

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, RickR said:

The technology within the 5200 dates back to the Atari 400 (which had 4 controller ports in 1979).  So while the 5200 only lasted 18 months, it's underlying technology lasted 6 years+.  The same tech lived on in the XEGS and Atari 8-bit computer lines. 

 

 

That's true. It has all of the innards of that particular computer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
48 minutes ago, BlackCatz40 said:

Is the XEGS like a 65XE or like a 130XE in CPU architecture? I have one, but I was curious. I am amazed by it, though. You can use it as a game system and computer at the same time. It certainly is an interesting piece of 1980s video gaming technology.

The XEGS is essentially a 65XE or 800XL with a cost-reduced motherboard, and Missile Command added.  

Atari rehashed that 400/800 architecture over and over.  400/800, XL, 5200, XE, XEGS....all pretty much the same.  My opinion is that when Ray Kassar became president of Atari, innovation and R&D were considered non-essential and were cut.  

Edited by RickR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
42 minutes ago, RickR said:

The XEGS is essentially a 65XE or 800XL with a cost-reduced motherboard, and Missile Command added.  

Atari rehashed that 400/800 architecture over and over.  400/800, XL, 5200, XE, XEGS....all pretty much the same.  My opinion is that when Ray Kassar became president of Atari, innovation and R&D were considered non-essential and were cut.  

Perhaps. Innovation went out the window with future CEOs of Atari because they cut corners to save money. Only, those things that they cut out really would have made the computers and game systems that much more innovative. Greed in the interim drove these people. It blinded them to the fact that these games would have been better if they were invested in.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The 5200 is my top favorite game system of all time.  After years of asking Mom for an Atari when I was a kid the 5200 was what I woke up to one Christmas morning.  I spent hours on Super Breakout before Mom woke up (I was an only child so...yea...it was all mine I tell you...MINE!!  Bwaahaaahaha!!)  Oh...excuse me.  Where was I?  I probably spent a good 30 minutes learning the system and controller before I paid attention to the game itself.  I didn't care that it was Super Breakout, it was an Atari.  That's all I cared about.  There was an Atari in my living room ready to be played.  That was in 1982.  I was 8.  That machine became my best friend almost instantly.  

1983 I seen a lot of arcade favorites make into our home but there were some I wanted that I either never found, our area never got, or I simply missed them.  Gyruss being one of them.  Mom loved Centipede...that was her game.  Mine was Pole Position and Vanguard.  Those were my two favorites.  I liked Pac-Man, Dig Dug, and others but had played them soo much at the arcades that by the time I got home I wanted to play something different.  

My 5200 stayed with me for almost 7 years.  I have another one now that is still going strong and still gets played regularly.  The controller is doing everything it can to hang in there but, sadly, has not aged as well as the machine.  My last game for the 5200 was in 1985.  That's when I got Moon Patrol and when I realized Atari stuff disappeared off store shelves practically overnight.

On 5/21/2020 at 12:00 PM, BlackCatz40 said:

I think that the A5200 could have been a better design, but a lot of games still play well on there. I like Super Breakout and Space Dungeon, for instance. Especially Space Dungeon, since the right joystick fires when you move it in the firing direction. It's like Robotron: 2084, in that respect.

Super Breakout was the only official game to support all four controller ports in a four-player game that I am aware of.  Space Dungeon is exclusive to the 5200 and was not officially released on any other console.  The same for Countermeasure.  The 5200 does have a few exclusives that were fun to play and the system does bring home the arcade experience.  There were some really killer games in the works for the 5200 that appeared complete but were finished at a time when Atari was gearing up for the 7800 release and a change of ownership.  We all know the rest of that story.  

Look up Super Pac-Man on the 5200 sometime on Youtube.  That was one of the prototypes that were completed.  Also look up Millipede and Jr. Pac-Man 5200 prototypes while you are there.  Those were done on the 5200, also. 

Was it a bad system?  Nope.  Not if what I had lasted as long as did.  The controllers were still working well when the system blew a resistor for some reason. 

Are games on the 5200 identical to what the A8 got and vise versa?  Not all of them.  Pac-Man on the 5200 is completely different than the Pac-Man on the 400/800.  The ghost AI is more arcade accurate on the 5200 version and the 5200 version has the intermissions; the 400/800 version ghosts are not arcade accurate and lacks the intermissions completely.  While it would be easier to play the game on the 400/800 using a standard 2600 joystick the 5200 version is the one that is closer to the arcade.  Centipede and Tempest (released later) actually use the sounds directly from the arcades since those arcades also used POKEY for the sounds.  A no brainer.  

3 hours ago, BlackCatz40 said:

Is the XEGS like a 65XE or like a 130XE in CPU architecture? I have one, but I was curious. I am amazed by it, though. You can use it as a game system and computer at the same time. It certainly is an interesting piece of 1980s video gaming technology.

RickR already answered but it's basically a stripped down 65XE.  It's probably the only console/computer hybrid that actually worked right.  If only it's technology hadn't aged and Atari supported it better it might have been more successful.  As it is the XEGS is a great little console.  If one is willing to invest in it the XEGS is a great little computer.  And as odd as the cartridge slot is it is easy to get use to. The XEGS is where I first learned Atari BASIC.  I put a lot of hours in learning how to program it. I also put a lot of hours in Racing Destruction Set from EA.  I played that one often.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, kamakazi20012 said:

Was it a bad system?  Nope.  Not if what I had lasted as long as did.  The controllers were still working well when the system blew a resistor for some reason. 

Did you ever get the resistor replaced? Because, if that is the case, it could have been easily repaired. Anyway, do you still have that particular A5200 system?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/17/2020 at 8:00 PM, RickR said:

The ColecoVision trounced the 5200 in sales.  I think CV outsold 5200 2 to 1.

Yeah. I would bet that it would. For the system that it was, I thought it was pretty good. I had a CV with over twenty games at one time. I traded it in so I could go strictly Atari in my collection. It never failed me. I also had the A2600 add-on for it. Pretty fun and very expandable. However, I never had an ADAM computer. I think that the ADAM would have been cool if I had Dragon's Lair with it, but I eventually got that game for the Jaguar CD. I was able to beat it before, but I need to practice at it again to do that. Anyway, both versions of the game were good, and the ADAM version blew everything else away at the time. Even though I have never played that version, I have seen screenshots of it. It looked pretty good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/17/2020 at 7:37 PM, Gianna said:

They were going to release a 7800 cartridge adapter so 5200 players could upgrade.

I had never heard that one until I read your post, Gianna. That would have been interesting, to say the least. I don't know how feasible it would be to do it, but it's interesting anyway.

Edited by DegasElite

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, BlackCatz40 said:

Did you ever get the resistor replaced? Because, if that is the case, it could have been easily repaired. Anyway, do you still have that particular A5200 system?

No.  While I was getting the replacement mom's boyfriend at the time seen my Atari and tossed it in the trash on a rainy day no less.  He didn't know I was attempting to repair it.  So, no, its long gone.  But all the controllers were still functioning like new when that happened.  I may have played it everyday but I didn't let it get dirty.  I babied that thing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, kamakazi20012 said:

No.  While I was getting the replacement mom's boyfriend at the time seen my Atari and tossed it in the trash on a rainy day no less.  He didn't know I was attempting to repair it.  So, no, its long gone.  But all the controllers were still functioning like new when that happened.  I may have played it everyday but I didn't let it get dirty.  I babied that thing.

That sucks, man. But, you do have an A5200 now, correct? Glad that you took great care of it. That's dedication. :O)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/20/2020 at 9:01 PM, Gianna said:

I did a little more research and here is what I found:

A May 22, 1984 article by David E. Sanger of the New York Times entitled "Atari Video Game Unit Introduced" (P.3 Section D) states:

I guess that’s the answer, no matter what happened with Warner and the Tramiels, Atari was killing off the 5200. It’s crazy to think a game system could come and go in 18 months!

What you found is interesting.  A year after that last article is when I got Moon Patrol.  The 5200 was really not ready when it was released.  While I didn't experience any issues with mine others did which I learned much later. It ended up costing Atari. As much as I love the system it practically ended Atari.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, BlackCatz40 said:

That sucks, man. But, you do have an A5200 now, correct? Glad that you took great care of it. That's dedication. :O)

I wouldn't be caught without one.  I'm sure everyone who plays video games has that one console that played an important role in their life; the one console that no matter what will always be remembered.  Mine is the 5200...and it has to be a four port. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, BlackCatz40 said:

I had never heard that one until I read your post, Gianna. That would have been interesting, to say the least. I don't know how feasible it would be to do it, but it's interesting anyway.

They made the 2600 adapter for the 5200, so they were going to do the same for the 7800. I don't think they wanted 5200 owners to feel left out when the system was canceled so soon! 😣

IMG-5554.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
48 minutes ago, Gianna said:

They made the 2600 adapter for the 5200, so they were going to do the same for the 7800. I don't think they wanted 5200 owners to feel left out when the system was canceled so soon! 😣

IMG-5554.JPG

Looks like the same shell used for the VCS adapter.  I bet the 7800 circuitry inside could be used as a stand alone system as well.  If that is the case then the 5200 was a very flexible and expandable unit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes...both this and the VCS adapter are basically separate consoles inside a small box with only the power from the 5200 being used to run them. The video was still being generated from the onboard TIA inside the VCS adapter and I'm sure the same for the 7800 prototype as well. This is also why all the current AV mods for the 5200 kill the ability to use these adapters. The AV mods do NOT take into account the video signals from the VCS adapter and so you end up with a blank screen when trying to use one. I wonder how much the VCS adapter was original BITD. Be curious to know the cost of it vs just getting a 2600 you know? Because you still had to plug 2600 sticks to it and it didn't have a B/W - COLOR switch so some games wouldn't have been as playable through the adapter.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

VCS adapaters have increased in value over the years.  Even when it was released I seen no purpose to have it.  I remember the thing costing as much as an entire 2600 system when I first seen one in the mid 1980's.  I think it was like $149.  See why I said it made no sense to me?  Why would I want to put something in my 5200 that basically down graded the thing.  I understand backwards compatibility now and how important it can be but back then it just didn't make much sense.  To be honest it still doesn't make no sense to me today but only on the 5200 system.  It was a nice feature on the 7800.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Gianna said:

They made the 2600 adapter for the 5200, so they were going to do the same for the 7800. I don't think they wanted 5200 owners to feel left out when the system was canceled so soon! 😣

IMG-5554.JPG

I remember seeing this at PRGE in the Video Game Museum exhibit.  I was very surprised when I saw it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, kamakazi20012 said:

VCS adapaters have increased in value over the years.  Even when it was released I seen no purpose to have it.  I remember the thing costing as much as an entire 2600 system when I first seen one in the mid 1980's.  I think it was like $149.  See why I said it made no sense to me?  Why would I want to put something in my 5200 that basically down graded the thing.  I understand backwards compatibility now and how important it can be but back then it just didn't make much sense.  To be honest it still doesn't make no sense to me today but only on the 5200 system.  It was a nice feature on the 7800.

I would not mind getting a VCS adapter for my A5200. I think that it would enhance my collection exponentially. As previously stated earlier in this topic, I used to have a VCS adapter for my ColecoVision, when I owned one. It was a fun add-on. It played all my A2600 games with virtually no compatibility issues, of course it was a stripped-down A2600 in the first place. But, I guess that there are some issues with some A2600 games and the A7800 in compatibility. Sometimes, like with Activision's Decathlon and Robot Tank, they will not work. I guess that there might be a fix for that, but I am not worried about it. I have an A2600 Junior Short Rainbow that plays every game I have anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...