Atari VCS / 2600 (1977 – 1992)

The Atari 2600 (originally named VCS until the 1982 introduction of the Atari 5200) was introduced in 1977. It was second-generation video game console and was very successful. Although the Fairchild Channel F was the first console to use ROM cartridges, the Atari 2600 was the system that popularised them.

The unit was originally shipped with two joysticks and a Combat cartridge (eight additional games were available at launch and sold separately). Cartridges were normally limited to 4 KB, but later games used bank-switching to increase this. Cartridges were produced in a number of different shapes and designs by third-parties.

Public disappointment with the Pac-Man and E.T. games, and the market saturation of poor third-party titles are cited as big reasons for the video game crash of 1983.

The Atari 2600 continued to be produced until the beginning of 1992. Over its lifetime, an estimated 30 million units were shipped.

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