Atari 2600: Why You Need One

Atari 2600

By Connor Saari
April 29, 2020

The Atari 2600 is one of history's most memorable pieces of nostalgia and is primarily remembered for its grand selection of gaming cartridges and revolutionary design. It is remembered for iconic games such as Space Invaders, Pac-man, and Pong. These were played on read-only memory cartridges, or ROM’s, which Atari expanded to include a vast library of games for everyone to enjoy. It got to such a point of variability that “in addition to buying more 6502 microcomputers than anyone else in the world, Atari's purchases of ROMs for its various divisions is greater than that of all other companies in the world combined” 1 .

This particular console is one that can only be truly experienced in person, with the consolidation of Atari and other major companies this is being taken away. “The recent owners of Atari’s intellectual property and brand have sought to give Xbox and PlayStation players an opportunity to access their favorite Atari VCS games on their current home consoles” 2 . By being able to connect these nostalgic games on next generation consoles, the experience of interacting with an original Atari 2600 is lost. I doubted this concept myself, until I played one for the first time this year. It was unequivocally, one of the most unique and fun experiences of my life. This is why I urge you to genuinely consider owning this piece of hardware. Nothing will beat the feeling of operating those robust controllers, and pushing your thumb into the large red button on the top of the controller, watching as a pixelated laser frames its way up the television screen exploding the alien invader in a flash of genuine RGB and 8-bit tunes.


  1. T. S. Perry and P. Wallich, "Microprocessors: Design case history: The Atari Video Computer System," IEEE Spectrum, vol. 20, no. 3, (March 1983), 45.

  2. Nick Bontfort and Ian Bogost, Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System (Cambridge, MA: MIT University Press, 2009), 140.