Throwback Thursday: the Atari 2600

Adam Sandler’s “Pixels” was a heavy-handed attempt to invoke nostalgia for the video arcade games of the early 1980’s.  For me, it actually recalled the second wave of the video game invasion — the home video game consoles.

Not every kid in the 1980’s had easy access to arcades.  When I tell people I grew up in New York, I think they often assume I mean the city — where virtually any adolescent could catch a bus or a train.  But Suffolk County was a ruralish suburbia — home game systems were really how the kids in my neighborhood got swept into the craze.

Which brings us to the Atari 2600.  Just look at that relic.  To a kid today, that probably looks like a gigantic Underwood typewriter or a crank telephone.

Yes … those are indeed metal levers that were used to activate game functions.  And that is indeed faux-wood plastic siding.  They … actually designed a video game console to look as though it were made of wood.  They did the same thing with televisions back then.  It was a questionable stylistic choice even for the time, I think.  Did we really want technological products plied by a carpenter?

And check out the screenshots for “Combat,” which came standard with a console purchase.  It actually was a really fun two-player game.  (I can’t remember if players could play against the computer.)

Everyone’s favorite game, of course, was “Pac-Man.”  “Space Invaders” was the other Big Thing.  My family never got its hands on those, however, so I grew to love “Frogger.”  (Lord knows I still went nuts amassing the collectible “Pac-Man” stickers to trade with the kid next door.)  “Berzerk” was a close second favorite of mine; I was into killing robots before 1984’s “Terminator” made it cool.

Honestly, I think it would be a real kick to get a hold of an old 2600, and set it up and play it, just for old time’s sake.  It would be a pretty kitsch excuse to throw a party.

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4 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: the Atari 2600”

  1. You know you can download emulators or play online? A couple of minutes of that usually reminds me how far we’ve come. (I was always partial to Pitfall, myself.)

    Liked by 1 person

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