The Ataribox name is dead—long live the Atari VCS

Remember the Ataribox retro console? Well, it's not called that anymore. Yesterday, Atari revealed that its upcoming game system will be called the Atari VCS—just like the original Atari VCS 2600 whose design it mimics. The company also revealed the two types of controllers for the machine: a modern gamepad with dual analog sticks, and a joystick with a single button, just like the one included with the original VCS.

Atari's latest announcement didn't include much new information about the system. Presumably it is still based on an AMD processor of some description and will run some form of Atari-flavored Linux. The company says that the VCS is "so much more than a retro-box" and that it will offer modern PC games and streaming video content alongside the classic games you'd expect from an Atari system.

The VCS is hardly the first PC-like console to hit the market—Nvidia's Shield Android TV is probably the most successful system of that type. Nevertheless, Atari insists that the machine will "change the way you interact with your TV." While that seems a bit ambitious, it does seem like Atari's new console could be an interesting platform, akin to what Valve wanted to achieve with its Steambox idea. Unfortunately, there's still no release date or final price for the VCS, but Atari says it intends to reveal the opening date for preorders next month.

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    • Kevsteele
    • 2 years ago

    I wonder if this thing will mine Atari Token cryptocurrency?


    • venfare
    • 2 years ago

    V1807B and i will consider it.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 2 years ago

    Can’t ship a product on time? Never fear: the Rename-o-Matic will drum up some attention for you.

    • UberGerbil
    • 2 years ago

    So I got the original Video Computer System for Christmas 1977, out of the Sears “Wish Book.” (“Star Wars” in the theaters that summer, Atari at home that winter. It was a good year.) We never heard the term “2600” until years later — that was a backronym created after Atari introduced the 5200. For what remained of the 70s, what I heard was “Can I come over after school and play your Atari”? Those big blocky low-res graphics and bloopy mono sound effects that seem so ridiculous now were so much better than “pong” at the time. We wasted a lot of afternoons torquing those signature Atari joysticks, immersed in those blocky games.

    And at some point, I got to wondering [i<]how[/i<] those games were created. So I rode my 3-speed (with its metal-flake paint and banana seat and sissy bar) to the public library and then to the university library and then the computer science library and then somebody said "here kid" and handed me a dog-eared photocopy of a 6502 assembly language reference and an old issue of Creative Computing and... down the rabbit hole I went. I think that guy was hoping I'd just shut up and go away; but without knowing it he changed the course of my life. Him, and that Atari VCS. It was only later, once I had learned 6502 assembly on the Apple ][ , and then went back and looked at listings of the Atari cartridge ROMs, that I realized what genuine artists those anonymous (at the time) Atari programmers had been. The things they crammed into 4KB of ROM and 128 bytes of RAM.

      • meerkt
      • 2 years ago

      There are some pretty cool modern(ish) 4K demos(/intros).
      Though they use much more than 0.1K of RAM. 🙂

      • atari030
      • 2 years ago

      Your story sounds eerily similar to mine (except I think I had some type of BMX knock-off with ‘mag wheels’), but in all the best of ways. That VCS later got me into the Atari 400->800XL->ST route and thus began my interest in all things computer.

      I actually had an Atari Falcon in the early 90’s, and my first time running Linux was via an m68k port to that machine in like ’94? It was so much more interesting to me than PCs were back then. I thought the PC was pathetic then (and it kind of was).

      I love the current day PC now of course, but the days of computing yore in the late 70’s and all of the 80’s were filled with so many interesting platforms and custom approaches…and everything was so ‘new’… just seemed magical. Perhaps I feel that way because I was a kid then, but I think it’s more to do with the fact that they were simply different times.

        • anubis44
        • 2 years ago

        I also had a BMX-style bike with knobby tires! I had an Atari in 1978 or so, but by 1981, I was getting tempted by Intellivision. The last Atari game I bought was perhaps one of the most impressive made for the VCS: Demon Attack by Imagic. When I asked my dad for an intellivision in 1981, he said “I’ll get you something, but you’ll have to type the games in yourself.” That ‘something’ he got me was a TI-99/4A. First 16 bit home computer. I had to buy copies of 99’er magazine and type in program listings. After several sessions of typing in various card games, a checkers simulation, a couple of games that just never ended up running (the error handling on the interpreter was pretty crude, and sometimes, you just never figured out where the error was, because there were times when line number where the error occured wasn’t the line with the actual mistake). But the 99/4A also had a cartridge slot, and when I managed to save up the ~$50 or so to buy one (which took me months on a $5/week allowance), I bought Parsec. By 1983 or so, I also had a ColecoVision and an Apple II clone, and by mid- to late 1983, there was the Commodore 64. Ah, the Commodore 64. For the first time, games on the 14″ Sony Trinitron were starting to actually look and sound like the ones in the arcades.

        Then, in 1985, a real taste of the future. In retrospect, I must have been pretty spoiled. My dad actually took me to the Toronto Airport where there was a consumer electronics show, and there being demonstrated, was my first experience of essentially the computing world we still have even today: the Commodore Amiga 1000. A colour (the Mac was still monochrome), mouse-driven, hardware multi-tasking OS PC with graphics co-processor and advanced 8 bit sound synthesizer. To his credit, my dad sprang for the Amiga 1000, the monitor, the 2nd (external floppy drive) AND the 256KB memory expansion, for a total of 512KB RAM. This machine could actually do ray tracing, for crying out loud. You could add objects to a scene, adjust the lighting, and tell it to render at 640×400 resolution. Of course, it would take hours and hours to render a single scene, but it could DO IT. I managed to get a B&W security camera, and took colour scans (using a separate red, green and blue colour filter that you had to hold over the lens for each pass) of my girlfriend in high resolution (and yes, some were naughty!). It was my first encounter with digital photography. Nothing quite blew my mind in computing like the Amiga 1000 did until the first 3Dfx Voodoo card I bought in 1998, playing the first Unreal.

        Eventually, the Commodore 2000 and then the 3000 replaced the 1000. After that, stepping down to my first PC in 1991 seemed like a massive demotion: a crappy windows 3.0 GUI running on top of DOS. Could only run one program at a time. Garbage. But somehow, everybody insisted on using a PC instead of the vastly superior Amiga. I did understand the appeal of being able to put in and replace functionality with built-in slots, however, and I still use a PC to this day.

      • Pville_Piper
      • 2 years ago

      My brother worked at a computer manufacture at the time in as an electronics tester. They used to buy a game, burn a rom with the game on it and we had a modified cartridge with a quick release so that we could change out the roms… I must have had about thirty of those games and never paid a dime.

      Sometimes it was worth having an older brother…

    • bthylafh
    • 2 years ago

    But why?

      • MOSFET
      • 2 years ago

      I have a ShieldTV, and nothing could be farther from the truth than this: “Nevertheless, _____ insists that the machine will [b<]change the way you interact with your TV.[/b<]"

      • emphy
      • 2 years ago

      For the past few years infogrames has been releasing a steady stream of shitty nostalgia-named games; I suspect this is more of the same, only now it will have shitty hardware included.

    • NTMBK
    • 2 years ago

    Any indication what kind of APU is in this? It could be literally anything from dual core 40nm Bobcat with single channel DDR3, up to a semi-custom Zen2 with Vega 7nm and a 2048-bit HBM2 bus. It’s a totally meaningless description. Sigh.

      • auxy
      • 2 years ago

      They said before it’s probly gonna sell around $300 so I don’t think it will be anything exotic. It’s probly either puma+mini-vega akin to the big consoles, or MAYBE something like a R3 2200G. Or maybe harvested Raven Ridge dies with 2 CPU cores disabled. That’d be something.

      Either way it’s not gonna be super duper awesome. (‘ω’) Could be neat for what they intend for it tho, like a dinky HTPC.

        • ronch
        • 2 years ago

        How about something along the lines of the A8-7600? For whatever reason I find the idea of having a Bulldozer CPU-derived APU driving a game console intriguing.

      • UberGerbil
      • 2 years ago

      If it’s not a 1MHz 6502-derivative with 13 address lines, who cares? 😉

        • willmore
        • 2 years ago

        If it’s not, I’m going to call my TIA and she’ll start a RIOT!

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