Let’s Go Retro – 1977: Atari 2600
The Commodore 64 was ultimately one of the godfathers of the modern video game system, but we couldn’t go back in time and not revisit the other legendary console which single-handedly created the gaming industry.
In this week’s Let’s Go Retro we travel back to 1977 and pay homage to the Atari 2600.
What: Atari 2600
Type: Video game console
Media: ROM cartridge
When: 11 September 1977
Credited with popularising the use of ROM cartridges over hardware with built-in games, the Atari 2600 was released on 11 September 1977 and became a pioneering piece of tech.
Responsible for turning the public into a population of gamers, the console bundle consisted of two joystick controllers, a conjoined pair of paddle controllers and the cartridge game Combat.
Originally priced at $199, the relatively inexpensive system also had eight additional games available, with Atari Inc. going on to license the arcade hit, Space Invaders.
This ingenious move greatly increased the unit’s popularity, doubling sales to over two million, making Atari synonymous with video gaming.
By 1980 the firm had grossed more than $2 billion and two years later, the console broke the 10 million sales figure, while cartridge game Pac-Man went on to become the best-selling game, shifting seven million copies.
In 2007 the Atari 2600 was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in New York and in 2009, IGN named the console the second greatest video game system of all time, calling it ‘the console that our entire industry is built upon’.
Atari 2600 – we salute you.
So that’s the tech, what else did 1977 have to offer?
Well into the decade of disco, 1977 saw iconic films such as Annie Hall, Star Wars and Saturday Night Fever released, while TV shows such as The Love Boat, The Professionals and Fantasy Island made their debuts.
In terms of music, the charts were filled with offerings from ABBA, Rod Stewart and The Jacksons. But before you go looking for your white suit to pull off some John Travolta-inspired dance moves, here are some of the other notable events from 1977:
February 4 – Fleetwood Mac released their Grammy Award-winning album Rumours
March 28 – The 49th Academy Awards took place hosted by Richard Pryor. Best Picture went to Rocky
June 5 – The first Apple II series computers went on sale
December 3 – Wings scored the UK Christmas number one with ‘Mull of Kintyre’