51 Shades of Geek

Atari 5200 SuperSystem

Atari 5200Not long after the Atari 2600 debuted, Atari tried to extend its market dominance into the home computer market with the Atari 400 and Atari 800, home computers with, respectively, 16k and 48k of RAM, the ability to add disk drives and modems, and more. But at the heart of both machines was the same industry that had made Atari a household name to begin with – both of Atari’s computers required RF connectors to use a TV as a display, and both had cartridge slots for games.

See the videoAfter failing to set the young home computer market on fire – at that time, Apple and IBM had already conquered the world with the Apple IIe and the original PC – Atari took its computers’ Atari Video System Xprocessors, put them in a keyboard-less casing, repackaged the cartridges, and created the Atari 5200 – rather more expensive than the Atari 2600, but capable of coming much closer to emulating everyone’s favorite arcade games.

It’s easy to criticize Atari for making the 5200 unit completely incompatible with the far more prolific Atari 2600 – and more to the point, incompatible with most 2600 owners’ growing collection of cartridges which would be useless with a new platform – and this made the Atari 5200 strictly a high-end luxury niche platform with a small audience. By the time they wised up and put a 2600 Adapter on the shelves, it was too late.

Atari 5200

Atari 5200

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