Retro Scan of the Week: Atari’s (Obscure) Supporting Cast

June 19th, 2006 by Benj Edwards
Atari Supporting Cast

Here’s an interesting segment scanned from a 1983 Atari Game Catalog. In it we see various peripherals for Atari home game consoles — most of them obscure, and some never even released.

Highlights include the prototype-only “2600 Keyboard” (at the top, which turns the Atari 2600 into a “real computer”) and “2600 Voice Commander” peripherals. Then there’s the VCS Cartridge Adapter, which was released but is relatively uncommon as far as I know.

Then we move to the bottom of the scan, which shows the 2600 Trak-Ball Controller, the bulky 2600 Remote Control Joysticks (anybody ever used these?), then a curiosity in the form of the 2600 “Pro-Line” joystick (which, in 1983, predates the release, but not the design of the 7800). Then we move onto the ray-gun-looking “Space Age” joystick and the numeric-keypadish “Kid’s Controller” (you know how kids love their numbers!), neither of which I have ever seen in person and don’t know if they were actually released. Finally, we come to the 5200 Trak-Ball controller, which was probably the largest, bulkiest console controller devised until the great Steel Battalion fiasco of 2004. Fittingly, this Trak-Ball controller matches the largest, bulkiest console of its day (the Atari 5200) quite nicely.

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7 Responses to “Retro Scan of the Week: Atari’s (Obscure) Supporting Cast”

  1. Xerone Says:

    Dang… I wonder how fast those wireless controllers ate your batteries…

    and how many did they need? O.O

  2. G. Turner Says:

    I remember seeing the Kid’s Controller at Game On 1.0 in Chicago, as it was paired with an, at the time, non-functional copy of Codebreaker. Here’s a picture!

  3. J Hays Says:

    I have, indeed, had the kid’s controller. It used overlays for the Sesame Street games. From what I heard, it’s pretty much identical to the Star Raiders controller, only… larger. From what I remember, it was extremely bulky, and even for kids hands, it was pretty unusable.

  4. The World of Jakanden » Links For 06/19 Says:

    […] Retro Scan of the Week RedWolf has posted another entry in his weekly “Retro Scan of the Week” column this time showing various peripherals for Atari home game consoles. I can tell you that I do not remember a single one of these things, but considering that some of them were never released, I guess it is not surprising. […]

  5. Tony Says:

    I had the wireless controllers… and I still do… somewhere. They were very bulky, and I think they used 3 or 4 C batteries in each joystick. It was so tough to put your hand around the thing; you had to rest it on a table. The receiver unit was smaller, had a telescopic antenna, and two cables for joystick 1 and 2. I bought them cheap at KayBee Toys a few years after the crash. The range, by the way, was pretty short… like 5 feet!

  6. RedWolf Says:

    Thanks for your comments, everyone. I think what Tony said is funny about the 2600 wireless joysticks. They’re no Wavebirds, that’s for sure. 🙂 The combination of having to use C batteries and be no more than about five feet away definitely remind us how far we’ve come in wireless technology. With such a short effective range, it’s no wonder most people stuck to regular corded joysticks.

  7. Wiley Wiggins Says:

    I had a space age controller as a kid and currently have a couple of the kids keypad controllers. That space age controller probably saved me from a life filled with arthritis. The original joysticks had been ruining my hands.

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