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    Atari 2600/7800 FAQ

    v. 12.3, Sep 4, 2000

    Last minor update: Nov 22, 2000

    Zube (

    This FAQ is an evolving document. Please help make it better. If you have any additions, suggestions or corrections, please mail me.


    Previous maintainers
    What's new?
    What information is missing from the FAQ?
    Where can I find the latest version of this FAQ?


    What Usenet groups discuss or are relevant to the 2600/7800?
    What is the charter?
    Are there any mailing lists that discuss the 2600/7800?
    Where can I find cart lists?
    What magazines cover the 2600/7800?
    What magazines covered the 2600/7800 in the 80s?
    What books cover the 2600/7800?
    Any there any videos that cover the 2600/7800?
    Where can I view Atari TV commercials?
    Where can I view Atari print advertisements?
    What the heck? An Atari 2600 music video?
    Are there any other sources of general information about the 2600?
    What is irc, #rgvc and how do I get on them?
    What happened to the 5200 information that used to be here?
    What happened to Atari?
    But I still see games with the Atari logo. What's the story?
    What scores were needed to earn an Activision patch?
    What does the Atari symbol represent?
    What does the word "atari" mean?
    Where can I find Atari-like fonts?
    What shows, events or gatherings cover the 2600/7800?


    Where can I find games for my 2600/7800 or the consoles themselves?
    Where can I download game instructions?
    What are the best games for the 2600?
    What are the most common and most rare games for the 2600/7800?
    What was Gameline and what games were available for it?
    Which games use a lightgun?
    Which 2600 games use the kid's controllers/keypads?
    Which 2600 games use paddles?
    Which 2600 games use the driving controllers?
    Which 2600 games have voice?
    Which 2600 carts do not work on the 7800?
    What is the Starpath CD and can I still get one?
    Have any new games been released lately?
    What is a multicart and where can I get one?
    What are some cheats and Easter Eggs?
    What programming resources are available?
    What is the 7800 encryption algorithm?
    Is 7800 Impossible Mission really impossible?
    Where can I get solutions to the Swordquest series?
    I've seen pictures of 2600 Doom. Where can I buy it?
    Is there a list of 2600/7800 game programmers?

    Hardware (general)

    What are the different 2600/7800 models?
    What types of clones exist?
    What companies made 2600 adapters for their own systems?
    Are there any emulators for the 2600/7800?
    What 2600/7800 hardware was announced but never released?
    How do I hook up my Atari to a TV? / I've hooked up my system, but the picture is fuzzy.
    How do I fix my paddles?
    Where do I get my 2600/7800 fixed?
    Do Bally Astrocade joysticks work on the 2600/7800?
    Which light guns work with the 2600/7800?
    What hardware peripherals exist for the 2600/7800?
    What are NTSC/PAL/SECAM and why should I care?
    What is a TVboy and where can I get one?

    Hardware (tech)

    What are the specs for the 2600/7800?
    How large do 2600 games get?
    Are there any published 2600/7800 technical articles available?
    Pinout information?
    Power supply information?


    How do I build a composite/audio/chroma/luma output interface for the Atari 2600Jr/2600A?
    How do I build a video driver for the 2600/7800?
    I hate the two mods above. Does anyone have anything better?
    How do I build a composite output interface for the 7800?
    How do I convert Sega controllers to Atari pinout?
    How do I convert a Sega Master System lightgun to Atari pinout?
    How do I convert an NES controller to Atari pinout?
    Is there a general site that contains all this conversion stuff?
    What is an Atari Game Recorder and how do I build one?


    Acknowledgments of thanks.

    Q: Previous maintainers.

    A: A. Karl Heller ( maintained the 2600 FAQ up to version 11, and co-maintained it up to and including version 11.5. The classic community owes him a large debt of gratitude for his efforts.

    Karl also deserves high praise for graciously stepping aside when his interest in maintaining this FAQ waned. Karl allowed me to improve his creation (starting with version 11) without becoming angry or possessive. I sincerely hope that I am as gracious as he when it is my turn to pass this FAQ on to someone else.

    Maintainer's Note: This last sentiment, while sincere, surprised me by jumping out of Eric S. Raymond's "The Cathedral & the Bazaar" in a slightly different form. I believe there are only two explanations. Either Mr. Raymond and I think very much alike on passing things off when interest wanes or I've graduated from the "Remember What You Read But Forget Where You Read It" School of Innovation, or perhaps both. I apologize to Mr. Raymond if either of the latter two cases are true.

    Q: What's new?


    • (Sep 4) Version bumped to 12.3 and posted to Usenet.
    • (Sep 4) Mark Santora still has WOA98 and CGE99 tapes; information back from dead links file.
    • (Sep 8) CGE 2001 scheduled for August 11, 2001.
    • (Sep 10) Ballerup Transportable Hairdryer (!) for Atari 2600 added to hoax section.
    • (Sep 14) Jack Berg Sales has new carts and Superchargers.
    • (Sep 16) CCAG 2001 scheduled for June 23, 2001.
    • (Sep 18) Incredible Atari 2600 "music video" in .mov (quicktime) format available.
    • (Sep 22) O'Shea's out of 2600/7800 Dark Chambers.
    • (Sep 22) 7800 composite out entry added.
    • (Oct 19) Steven L. Kent's book due on November 1.
    • (Oct 20) Atari VCS/2600 UK Release List link added to cart lists.
    • (Oct 22) O'Shea's increases prices and minimum order.
    • (Nov 12) Kent's The First Quarter now available from Amazon.
    • (Nov 22) Links to Vic-20 2600 adapter ads added.
    • (Nov 22) Sea Battle and Swordfight available for $29.95.

    If you are the author of something in this FAQ and we have not given you a proper attribution and a thank-you, please email us.

    Q: What information is missing from the FAQ?

    A: Bunches of stuff, some of which includes:

    • 7800 encryption code (ha ha)
    • Any link found in the dead links file. These links worked in previous versions of the FAQ, but have been relegated to the dead links file until I can find out where they went.

    Q: Where can I find the latest version of this FAQ?

    A: The FAQ is maintained in html form and is amended as updates come in. Every so often (when there is enough new material), the html version is converted to text, edited a bit, and posted to,, rec.answers and news.answers. The text version is on the Web as well, but it is updated only before posting to Usenet.

    Q: What Usenet groups discuss or are relevant to the 2600/7800?

    A: There are several groups:

    • alt.atari.2600
    • alt.atari.2600vcs
    • alt.atari.2600.programming
    • alt.atari.2600.vcs
    • (rgvc) is probably the best place to start, as it is carried in most newsfeeds and generally has the most traffic. is for the buying and selling of video games and systems and is not limited to atari or even classic systems. It is dominated by post-classic ads, which is why you will often see buy/sell/auction posts in rgvc. usually contains Jaguar discussion, but will occasionally digress into 2600/7800 discussion when it pertains to the Jaguar (e.g. Tempest 2000). The five atari alt groups are not carried by many newsfeeds; consequently, the traffic in these groups is minimal.

    Do not post to alt.2600 or any of its subgroups about the Atari 2600/7800. That group is for discussion of hacking and phreaking and you will probably get flamed if you do.

    If you don't have a newsfeed at your site, but do have a newsreader (most web browsers have one built in), you can still get access to some, if not all of these groups. See the list of public news servers page for a list of places where you might point your browser to see the rgvc groups.

    Many of these servers have only a limited number of groups, so if the one you choose doesn't carry rgvc, try another. Another possible solution is, which does carry all of the 2600 related news groups. Make sure you use the "frames mode," or you'll get a new browser window for each news article.

    Maintainer's note: used to be recommended, but disappeared without a trace.

    Q: What is the charter?

    A: We have uncovered the following: is an unmoderated newsgroup which passed its
    vote for creation by 257:85 as reported in news.announce.newgroups on
    13 Apr 1993.  

    And from the second Call for Votes,these bits:

    5) Should a newsgroup be created?
    This newsgroup would carry discussions regarding older, "classic" home
    video entertainment systems like the Atari 2600, Coleco, Intellivision, 
    etc.  This newsgroup would supersede

    Finally, for those of you wondering if buy/sell/auction posts are discouraged on groups other than, consider the following:

    3) Should a newsgroup be created?
    This newsgroup would carry offers to sell and requests to buy home video
    entertainment products and accessories like systems, cartridges, etc.
    The netiquette of the* hierarchy would request that 
    people NOT cross-post buy/sell discussions to other* 

    Q: Are there any mailing lists that discuss the 2600/7800?

    A: There are at least three. Jeremy Wilson ( runs the classic videogames mailing list, which covers both home and arcade classic games. To subscribe, mail with the following message body:

    subscribe classic-videogames your@email.address Your Name

    There is also a UK Classic Videogame mailing list; for subscribe requests, for the list itself. For more information, see this link. The above page also contains a database of classic UK collectors. There is also a separate UK list ( exclusively for sale and trade posts; for subscription requests to that list as well.

    The Stella mailing list (also know as the Starpath CD mailing list and the Atari 2600 Programming list) is for those using the Starpath CD development tools to write 2600 games. To subscribe, mail with the following in the message body:

    subscribe stella your@email.address

    The informational snippet for this list is as follows.

    "This list was designed as as support group for Starpath CD owners who are writing 2600 games through the developer software. It is hoped that TOGETHER we can write some new games for the 2600. Exchanging uuencoded binaries is okay as long as it's in BIN form, not WAV."

    BTW, here are the stella list archives as well as the stella archive excavation, which culls many of the interesting bits.

    Q: Where can I find cart lists?


    The long out-of-date VGR cart lists have disappeared from VGR's site.

    Alexander Bilstein ( maintains a set of cart lists on his web site. These lists are updated frequently.

    Dean Dierschow ( maintains game lists for several systems including the 2600/7800. The relevant files are at2600.lst, at5200.lst, and at7800.lst. These lists are a good starting point for the new or general game collector; alas, these files have not been updated since Oct 94.

    The Giant List of 2600 Label Variations is for all of the sick collectors who want to know label differences in excruciating detail. John Earney ( maintains the list, which looks like this:

        Cosmic Ark                 IA3204
            silver label with no picture, "for use with..." in 5 languages
            silver label with picture 720104-1 Rev A.  1982 entirely to the
                    right of the picture.
            silver label with picture 720104-1 Rev A.  right edge of picture
                    is in the middle of 1982.
            ??? silver label with no picture
            Boxed: silver box (c)1982

    Digital Press ( markets its Classic Video Games Collector's Guide which covers the Atari 2600/7800 and many other classic and neo-classic systems. The fifth edition is sold out but the sixth edition will be available shortly. They are currently taking pre-orders for the sixth edition using the PayPal service.

    See the CVGCG home page or send $20 (checks should be payable to Joe Santulli) after the new edition is released to:

    Joe Santulli
    digital press
    44 hunter place 
    pompton lakes, nj 07442 

    The Digital Press Collector's Guide CDROM Companion is a nice complement to DP's paper guide. It contains box, cart and handheld scans, screenshots, manuals, TV commercials, emulators and much more in a two-cd, not-for-profit set for only $12. See Sean Kelly's DP CDROM page for the full story and ordering information., now run by Joe Cody, also markets a cart guide that was called JerryG's Guide to the Classic Video Games. It was available as a beta edition for $15, but alas, is now sold out. It is not clear if the proper First Edition will ever see the light of day, since it was originally scheduled to be released on December 12, 1998. See the JGCVC home page for more information.

    In addition, JerryG maintains a cart list grouped by manufacturer. It currently lists 1625 titles.

    Leonard Herman ( is the author of ABC's to the VCS , a low-cost ($8.00) book containing descriptions of nearly all VCS games. See the Rolenta Press home page for more information.

    For those with UK interests, Steve Rich ( and Chris Hind ( are the authors of the Atari VCS/2600 UK Release List.

    Q: What magazines cover the 2600/7800?

    A: The 2600 Connection is the premier bi-monthly Atari 2600 resource. This fanzine, published by Russ Perry Jr. (, is an excellent source of information about Atari video game collecting in general, including news, game reviews, interviews, and entertaining anecdotes. Rare and collectible games are frequently discussed. Classified ads in the Connection are relevant to all Atari game machines. Subscription price is $9 for a year's worth of bi-monthly issues (6) or $1.50 for single copies.

    To subscribe send a check payable to Russ Perry Jr. to:

    The 2600 Connection
    c/o Russ Perry Jr.
    2175 S. Tonne Rd. #105
    Arlington Hts, IL  60005

    Back issues of the 2600 Connection are available from Tim Duarte (, the previous publisher for $1.50. There is also a master index of articles published in issues 1-50 available from Tim for the price of a self-addressed stamped envelope with extra postage. You can reach Tim at:

    Tim Duarte
    P.O. Box 885
    Mattapoisett MA 02739-0885

    or visit the 2600 Connection Home Page.

    Digital Press also covers the 2600/7800, but it is mixed with information about both neo-classic and modern systems. Hard copy subscriptions are $10 for six bi-monthly issues. Back issues (#13-#40) are available for $2.25 each, issues #1-#12 are available as a set for $20. Contact Joe Santulli ( for more information.

    Russ Perry Jr. ( also publishes Slap-Dash , an eclectic collection of video game information, personal opinion, references to beer and pictures of women bassists. Although a bit offbeat, it does contain information about classic gaming not found anywhere else. For example, Issue 6 contains bits of information culled from conversations of many Ex-atari employees. Send $1.50 for the latest issue (#6) to:

    Russ Perry Jr.
    2175 S. Tonne Rd. #105
    Arlington Hts, IL  60005

    Classic Gamer by Chris Cavanaugh, covers what you might expect. The first issue is available for $8, the second and third issues for $6 and issue four for $4.50. Yearly subscriptions for Classic Gamer are $15.

    Also worth mentioning is Retrogaming Times, a free 'zine by Tom Zjaba.

    The January 1996 issue of Ultimate Gamer has an article called The Atari Quest which has both pictures and information about hardware and cartridge prototypes. Some topics include Mindlink, 2600 Tempest, Airworld, Looney Tunes Hotel, Microgammon SB, Meebzork, and Sport Goofy. For those of you who weren't quick enough on the draw, Dennis Brown's Library contains jpg's of the article.

    Q: What magazines covered the 2600/7800 in the 80s?


    • Atari Age
    • Blip
    • Electronic Fun w/ Computers and Games
    • Electronic Games
    • Joystik (Many complete issues are at stormaster and indexed at neonghost.
    • TV Gamer (UK) (not to be confused with the non-classic, currently publishing Japanese mag)
    • Video & Arcade Games (2 issues, Spring and Fall 83)
    • Video Games
    • Video Games Player (later Computer Games)
    • Videogaming Illustrated
    • Vidiot

    Cover scans of many of these magazines have been made available by Phaze (

    Q: What books cover the 2600/7800?

    A: Leonard Herman ( publishes Phoenix: the Fall & Rise of Home Videogames. It covers the home video game industry in detail from the pre-classic days, through the early 80s and up to 1993. At $12.99, it's a steal for the amount of information contained in it. The second edition is available for $10 to first edition owners, $19.95 otherwise (plus $3 for priority shipping or $1.50 for 4th class shipping). See the Rolenta Press home page for more information.

    Another book is Zap! : the Rise and Fall of Atari by Scott Cohen. Here is some information on this out-of-print book:

     AUTHOR       Cohen, Scott.
     TITLE        Zap] : the rise and fall of Atari / Scott Cohen.
     PUBLISHER    New York : McGraw-Hill, c1984.
     DESCRIPTION  xii, 177 p. ; 22 cm.
     SUBJECT      Atari, Inc. -- History.
                  Electronic games industry -- United States -- History.
     NOTE         Includes index.
     BIBLIOGRAPHY Bibliography: p. 164-168.
     ISBN         0070115435.

    "The Macra Terror" makes the following observation:

    It's a good history of Atari itself, but somewhat lacking in perspective (competing game systems receive few mentions) and sometimes snide in tone. It also covers the career of Nolan Bushnell, through the creation of PizzaTime (later Chuck E. Cheese) restaurants. It ends ironically in the middle of 1983, with Atari execs talking about the great things ahead.

    Also note that searching for Zap! among stacks of books may not be that difficult. The copy I (Zube) have seen was a thin, hardback, blue-covered book with the title written in white down the entire length of the spine.

    Thanks to John Hardie, the reprint of Zap! is now available. Send $15 to:

    John Hardie
    90 Judith Lane
    Valley Stream, NY. 11580

    This cost is probably for US shipping only. Contact him at for international orders.

    The November 1996 issue of Next Generation magazine has excerpts from a forthcoming book by Steven L. Kent called (at the time) Electronic Nation. It covers the roots of the video game industry, including bits from people like Bushnell and Alcorn. Next Generation has printed several other bits in other issues as well. CNN reported that Kent's book is now called The First Quarter: The 25-Year History of Video Games and as of November 1, 2000, it is available. Amazon has it listed for $15.96, and Next Generation (12/00, p. 21) reports that it is exclusive to Amazon, so you won't find it anywhere else.

    Halcyon Days: Interviews with Classic Computer and Video Game Programmers is an electronic book (html format) available from Dadgum Games. A review of the book and several snippets from it can be found in Issue #42 of the 2600 Connection. According to the review, only six of the twenty-eight programmers interviewed worked on the 2600, so much information contained in the book is not directly relevant to the 2600 world.

    Supercade: A Visual History of the Videogame Age 1971-1984 by Van Burnham is scheduled for a spring 2001 release from MIT Press. See the Supercade web page for more information.

    For comprehensive list of related material, see the Classic Video Game Literature List, maintained by Lee K. Seitz.

    Q: Are there any videos that cover the 2600/7800?

    A: Once Upon Atari is a four part series exploring the early days of Atari. Produced by Howard Scott Warshaw (, the series is a first hand look at Atari from the people who worked there. The four episodes are:

    • House of Video Games
    • The Enemy Within
    • They Just Have To Like It
    • The Agony & the Ecstasy

    Episode 4 is available for $29.95 ($25.95 + $4 shipping). Episodes 1 and 2 are available together for $49.95 ($45.95 + $4 shipping). Episode 3 has not yet been released. All videos may be ordered in NTSC or PAL formats, by phone (1-800-711-3627), by mail:

    Scott West Productions 
    PO Box 610787
    San Jose, CA  95161   

    or by the on-line order form, one click away from their Ordering Information page.

    Scott Crawford ( has this to say about the fourth part:

    Once Upon Atari: The Agony & the Ecstasy is a great start to Howard Scott Warshaw's Once Upon Atari video series. It's an entertaining, educational, and most importantly, REAL glimpse of what happened at good ol' Atari. The video focuses on interviews with 2600 VCS programmers like Rob (Night Driver, Demon Attack, Missile Command) Fulop, Todd (Pac-Man) Frye, Carla (Star Raiders, Warlords, Indy 500) Meninsky, and Larry (Air-Sea Battle, Kaboom!) Kaplan. These interviews are at times hilarious (Frye's description of how he programmed 2600 Xevious, Fulop's profanity-laden rant in praise of VCS programmer Rick Maurer), as well as insightful (Ex-Atari Director Of Software George Kiss' regret that he didn't write a line of code while at Atari, Fulop's description of the job as "the definition of his life"). While the video is a bit light on running time (at 28 minutes), it is well worth picking up, as I've watched it about a dozen times in the 2 months since I got it.

    Stella at 20: An Atari 2600 Retrospective is a series of documentaries from Glenn Saunders ( Both Volume 1, Tales of Stella and Atari and Volume 2, The Game Designers or One Person, One Game are around 90 minutes in length and are available for $25 each or $40 for both + shipping. If you buy both videos, you can add the Stella Gets a New Brain CD for just $10 more. See the ordering page for more information.

    Two videos, one documenting the 1998 World of Atari show and one documenting the 1999 Classic Gaming Expo are available from Mark Santora ( for $25 + $4 shipping each or $50 (shipping included) for both tapes. Contact him directly to order or to inquire about international orders or PAL format tapes.

    There is also a video of classic videogame commercials from Sean Kelly. See the next entry for details.

    Q: Where can I view Atari TV commercials?

    A: The Digital Press CDROM contains Quicktime versions of many classic videogame commercials from the early '80s. Also, the Commercial Archive site is the home to many of the same bits, in both Quicktime and Realplayer formats.

    For those of you who want it all just as it was, the Classic Videogame TV Commercial Archive video is available from Sean Kelly ( 63 commercials, 36 minutes, $20 + $3 shipping.

    Q: Where can I view Atari print advertisements?

    A: Tom Zjaba ( maintains a video game ad site that contains scans from various magazines and comic books.

    Q: What the heck? An Atari 2600 music video?

    A: This very creative work by (if the info in the file is accurate) Kevin Rodgers & Markus Karlusis is worth the hefty 7.3 meg download. You'll need a Quicktime viewer or equivalent to view it.

    Q: Are there any other sources of general information about the 2600?

    A: Christopher James Pepin ( maintains the Atari 2600 Fun Facts and Information Guide, which contains bits of information culled from Usenet postings, mailing lists and the 2600 connection.

    Q: What is irc, #rgvc and how do I get on them?

    A: irc is Internet Relay Chat, a global realtime chat network. #rgvc is the channel. At most times of the day or night you can find someone on the channel eager to talk shop. Thursday nights at 8 EST used to be the weekly gathering time, although it isn't clear if it still is. Note that the old rgvc irc channel #classic is no longer used for this purpose; stick to #rgvc if you wish to discuss the 2600/7800.

    If you are on a unix box and your sys admin doesn't mind irc, you might be able to get on with a simple

    irc -c '#rgvc'

    Alas, irc does not come preinstalled on most machines, so if the above command doesn't work or if you aren't using unix, you'll have to be more resourceful. Here is an irc primer, complete with listings of where to obtain irc clients. Alas, it is quite outdated.

    The Atari Gaming Headquarters site is the home of the #rgvc home page, which contains tips on irc etiquette, the #rgvc FAQ and a list of web pages and mail addresses of the regulars.

    Q: What happened to the 5200 information that used to be here?

    A: Most of the 5200 information that used to reside in this FAQ was either incomplete or horribly outdated. Keita Iida ( maintains the official 5200 FAQ, which is both extensive and up to date. Most of the old entries now live in an auxiliary document that is kept for historical purposes only and will not be updated.

    Q: What happened to Atari?

    A: The Atari that everyone knew, loved and hated is gone. On July 30, 1996, Atari merged with disk drive maker JTS with more of whimper than a bang. Don Thomas ( has written a short, insightful bit about the merger and the history leading up to it that asks more questions than it answers.

    The story doesn't end there, however. On Feb 23, 1998, JTS sold substantially all of the assets of the Company's Atari Division, consisting primarily of Atari home computer games and the intellectual property rights and license agreements associated with such games (the "Atari Assets"), to HIACXI, Corp. ("HIAC"), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hasbro Interactive, Inc., for $5,000,000 in cash. Read the entire 8-K form that was submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding this transaction.

    In a related note, JTS filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection on December 4, 1998, and then converted it to Chapter 7 on January 28, 1999. What is the difference between the two? Christina Wood from PC World magazine (July 1998, p. 41) says this:

    If the company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, don't worry. The business should operate as usual -- it's just reorganizing. If the company files under Chapter 7, worry. The enterprise is going out of business and planning to liquidate its assets to pay off certain creditors.

    Q: But I still see games with the Atari logo. What's the story?

    A: In 1984, Warner Communications sold off the home (console) and consumer electronics (computer) divisions to the Tramiel family. These divisions became Atari Corp., which later merged with JTS and whose assets are now part of Hasbro Interactive. The update of Centipede came (in small part) from the ashes of Atari Corp. Interestingly, Hasbro has resurrected the Atari name and logo; many of their recent classic releases (Atari Arcade Hits 2, for example) appear under the Atari name.

    You may have also seen the Atari logo for years in the arcades under the Time-Warner Interactive label (Atari Games). In 1996, TW sold Atari Games to WMS Industries (the Williams people), who turned around and spun off its Midway division (announced in 1997, completed (?) in 1998). Atari Games is now a subsidiary of Midway Games and was responsible for games such as Gauntlet Legends and Rush the Rock. You might also see the Atari logo for home conversions of these (and other) games under the Midway Home Entertainment label. In spite of this corporate shuffling, a few of the Atari veterans are still there including (as of Summer 99) Ed Logg, whose credits include the arcade versions of Centipede and Millipede as well as 2600 Othello.

    The March 2000 Electronic Gaming Monthly reports that Midway has abandoned the Atari name, renaming Atari Games as Midway Games West. This is probably the end of the line for the Atari Games name.

    Q: What scores were needed to earn an Activision patch?

    A: Rodney Siddall ( used to maintain the Activision Patch FAQ. The above page contains the FAQ itself, as well as pictures of some of the patches.

    Q: What does the Atari symbol represent?

    A: According to the Aug/Sep 1983 Video Games Player:

    The Atari symbol was designed by George Opperman in 1972. Pong was very big then, and the big letter A represented two opposing video game players with the center of the Pong court in the middle.

    Q: What does the word "atari" mean?

    A: The word atari comes from the game of Go, perhaps the world oldest board game. Several early 80's magazine references define atari as "you are about to be engulfed," but the FAQ denotes that word in this way:

    atari : A group of stones is in atari if it has only one liberty left.

    Q: Where can I find Atari-like fonts?

    A: iconsplus has made available an Atari-like font (the Atarian System v. 1.0) for both Windows and the Mac.

    Q: What shows, events or gatherings cover the 2600/7800?


    • Britmeet 3, the third annual UK Classic Video Games convention was held on June 24, 2000. The web page has all the details, as well as info and pictures from previous conventions.

    Q: Where can I find games for my 2600/7800 or the consoles themselves?

    A: Auction web sites seem to have taken over as the primary method of buying (and selling) on the net. Here are a few:

    Ebay seems to be the only one that has reached critical mass, as yet. A fairly complete list of online auctions sites can be found at Auctioninsider.

    There are still several sources for new game cartridges. Mail order firms such as Telegames USA are probably the best source for new games. They still stock many different games cartridges for all the Atari game machines. Some titles they carry are uncommon or rare.

    Jack Berg Sales carries a few new 2600 games, new Superchargers and a few Supercharger tapes.

    Here is a small list of places that carry new and used consoles and games:

    Video Magic ( carries both new and used Atari carts, some for sale, most for auction. Send the above address some email to request a paper catalog via snail mail.

    Once in a great while, some retail stores will still have Atari cartridges in stock, although sometimes they are hidden in the back room. Another good source is discount liquidator stores, such as Toy Liquidators, Big Lots/Odd Lots, and Sears Outlets. These stores typically have huge quantities of a limited number of titles at closeout prices.

    O'Shea Ltd. has 1.3 million bulk atari games for $2.00 each plus S&H (12 cart minimum). This is a new price (it used to be $.80) and a new minimum quantity. In the long past, games had to be ordered in bulk (quantities of 72, later 6). Then, for a long while, one could order single carts. This is no longer the case. Of course, you can still get the $.80 price if you order 1,000 or more carts. Contact Bill Houlehan ( for more information. They have recently sold out of many games; the following list reflects what's left according to their (insecure) order form (last updated July 16, 2000):


    • Asteroids
    • Ballblazer
    • Barnyard Blaster
    • Baseball
    • Centipede
    • Dig Dig
    • Donkey Kong
    • Donkey Kong Jr.
    • Galaga
    • Hat Trick
    • Jinks
    • Joust
    • Meltdown
    • Ms. Pac-Man
    • One on One (listed as Basketball)
    • Pole Position II
    • Tower Toppler
    • Xevious


    • Baseball
    • Battlezone
    • Dig Dug
    • Football
    • Galaxian
    • Gravitar
    • Joust
    • Jr. Pac-Man
    • Jungle Hunt
    • Kangaroo
    • Ms. Pac-Man
    • Pole Position
    • Venture
    • Solaris
    • Super Football

    If you care more about playing than collecting, Hozer Video Games ( will put almost any 2K or 4K image on a cart for $11 ($16 for royalty-included games); 8K and 16K images are $22 ($25 for royalty-included games). This may be the only way to play games such as Wizard, Chase the Chuckwagon or Cubicolor on your 2600. See the Hozer Video Games site for more information.

    Other sources for both new games, used games and consoles include:

    Q: Where can I download game instructions?

    A: Greg Chance ( maintains a doc archive among other things on his web page. Alexander Bilstein ( also maintains an instruction manual archive. Between these two sites, you should be able to find manuals for most of the 2600 library.

    Mitchell Orman ( maintains a doc archive for 7800 games.

    Q: What are the best games for the 2600?

    A: This can be a subjective matter, of course, but Mike Littau conducted an informal 2600 games poll on (before the split) a few years ago, trying to find answers to this very question. Here are the results, with some slight changes in format:

    From: littaum@jacobs.CS.ORST.EDU (Mike Littau)
    Subject: Atari 2600 poll results
    Date: 12 Jun 92 16:49:35 GMT
    Here are the results of the atari 2600 poll I conducted:
    Best overall                    Best original idea 
    1. Adventure                    1. Pitfall!
    2.(tie) Solaris,Yar's Revenge   2. Adventure
    4. Asteroids                    3. Yar's revenge
    5. River Raid                   4.(tie) Stampede, Kaboom, Kool Aid Man
    Best music or sound effects:                Best adventure game:
    1. Pitfall II                               1. Adventure
    2. Frogger                                  2. Raiders of the Lost Ark
    4.(tie) Haunted House, CA Games             3. Haunted House
    5. Asteroids                                4. Superman
                                                5. Secret Quest
    Best action game:                       Best sports game:
    1. Asteroids                            1. Activision Tennis
    2. Demon Attack                         2. Skiing
    3. Missile Command                      3. RealSports Tennis
    4. Warlords                             4.(tie)  Super Football, RS Football
    5.(tie) Chopper Command, Moon Patrol      Activision Boxing
    Best racing game:                       Best graphics for a game:
    1. Indy 500                             1. Solaris
    2. Enduro                               2. Pitfall!
    3.(tie) Sprintmaster, Grand Prix        3. Moonsweeper
    5.(tie) Barnstorming, Slot Racers       4.(tie) Barnstorming, Demon Attack,
                                              River Raid

    In addition, The 2600 Connection (issue #10) ran an article on the 2600 cartridge "Hall of Fame," listing the best 2600 games. There was an excellent capsule description of each game. Here is the list:

    Combat                  Asteroids                    Honorable Mention:
    Super Breakout          Centipede (and Millipede)    Dragonfire
    Defender                Donkey Kong (and Jr.)        Demon Attack
    Adventure               Mario Bros.                  Megamania
    Space Invaders          Pitfall! (and II)            HERO
    Missile Command         River Raid (and II)          Rampage
    Pac-Man                 Kaboom                       Miner 2049er
    Ms. Pac-Man             Frogger                      Skatboardin'
    Solaris                 Q*Bert

    Q: What are the most common and most rare games for the 2600/7800?

    A: Commonality and rarity of a game depends upon many things, including geographical location, cart and label condition, label variation and personal experience. VGR's cart list, the Digital Press Collectors Guide and's Beta One all give ideas to a cart's rarity and subsequent worth. (VGR and the Digital Press Collectors Guide #4 use a scale,'s Beta One and the DP cdrom use prices, and DPCG #5 uses both).

    For those of you who yearn to know the prices carts have fetched in the past, check out the Atari 2600/7800 Auction Price Database, which contains final auction price information for hundreds of carts culled from many net auctions.

    Q: What was Gameline and what games were available for it?

    A: Gameline was a service offered by Control Video Corporation that admitted the downloading of games to the the 2600 over regular phone lines. The Gameline used a variable 800-2000 baud modem, according to Kevin Horton's no-longer-there Gameline Page. The Gameline Master Module originally sold for $49.95 and there was a one-time membership fee of $15. Charges were about $.10 a game or $1 for up to an hour of play. Contest games were $1 and there was a $.50 charge to enter a score. On your birthday, not only were you given free play for a day, but you also received a Happy Birthday screen, complete with cake, candles and music.

    Perhaps the funniest bit of advertising from CVC was in the form of a Q&A session. The Q was, "What will happen if I don't join Gameline?" The A was "Eventually, you'll be the only one on your block without Gameline. Your friends will have mastered new games before you even hear about them. Are you willing to take that chance?"

    While the service did not last very long, the charred ashes of the service begat what is now AOL.

    The games that were available were:

    Airlock                 Alien                   Atlantis
    Bank Heist              Bermuda Triangle        Boing
    Bugs                    Cakewalk                China Syndrome
    Coconuts                Commando Raid           Cosmic Ark
    Cosmic Creeps           Cosmic Swarm            Cross Force
    Crypts of Chaos         Deadly Duck             Demolition Herby
    Demon Attack            Dragonfire              The Earth Dies Screaming
    Eggomania               Encounter at L-5        Entombed
    Fantastic Voyage        Fast Food               Fire Fighter
    Flash Gordon            Frankenstein's Monster  Gangster Alley
    Gopher                  Guardian                Infiltrate
    Jawbreaker              King Kong               Lost Luggage
    M.A.D.                  Marauder                M*A*S*H
    Megaforce               Mines of Minos          Moonsweeper
    Name this Game          The Challenge of Nexar  Nightmare
    No Escape               Picnic                  Piece O' Cake
    Planet Patrol           Polaris                 Porky's
    Raft Rider              Ram It                  R. of the Beefsteak Tomatoes
    Riddle of the Sphinx    Room of Doom            Save the Whales
    Shark Attack            Shootin' Gallery        Sneak & Peek
    Solar Storm             Space Cavern            Space Jockey
    Space Master            Squeeze Box             Sssnake
    Stargunner              Star Voyager            Tape Worm
    Threshold               Towering Inferno        Trick Shot
    Turmoil                 Warplock                Word Zapper
    Worm War I

    Q: Which games use a lightgun?


    • 2600
      • Sentinel
      • Shooting Arcade (prototype)
    • 7800
      • Sentinel
      • Alien Brigade (joystick ok)
      • Barnyard Blaster
      • Crossbow (joystick ok)
      • Meltdown

    Q: Which 2600 games use the kid's controllers/keypads


    • A Game of Concentration (Hunt & Score, Memory Match)
    • Alpha Beam with Ernie
    • BASIC Programming
    • Big Bird's Egg Catch
    • Brain Games
    • Codebreaker
    • Cookie Monster Munch
    • Grover's Music Maker (prototype)
    • MagiCard
    • Oscar's Trash Race
    • Star Raiders

    Q: Which 2600 games use paddles?


    • Astroblast (joystick ok too)
    • Bachelor Party
    • Backgammon
    • Beat Em' & Eat Em
    • Blackjack
    • Breakout (Breakaway IV)
    • Bugs
    • Bumper Bash
    • Canyon Bomber
    • Casino (Poker Plus)
    • Circus Atari (circus)
    • Demons to Diamonds
    • Eggomania
    • Encounter at L-5
    • Fireball
    • Guardian
    • Kaboom!
    • Mangia
    • Music Machine
    • Night Driver
    • Party Mix
    • Picnic
    • Piece O Cake
    • Solar Storm
    • Star Wars: Jedi Arena
    • Steeplechase
    • Street Racer (Speedway II)
    • Super Breakout
    • Tac-Scan
    • Video Olympics (Pong Sports)
    • Warlords
    • Warplock

    Q: Which 2600 games use the driving controllers?

    A: There are two: Indy 500 and Stell-A-Sketch. Interestingly, the driving controllers have found a use in another system: the Jaguar FAQ details their use in a home-built rotary controller for Tempest 2000.

    Q: Which 2600 games have voice?

    A: There are two: Quadrun and Open Sesame. Due to the limitations of the 2600, the screen is blank when the voice is played.

    Q: What 2600 carts do not work on the 7800?

    A: There are known incompatibilities with some NTSC versions of the 7800 (PAL 7800s seem to be unaffected). Games that may not work include Robot Tank, Decathlon, Space Shuttle, Time Pilot, Kool-Aid Man and the Supercharger. In a recent Usenet posting, Jay Tilton ( describes a series of tests with various versions of the 7800. In short, 7800s manufactured in 1984 seem to be fully compatible, whereas those manufactured later have inconsistent incompatibilities. Here is an edited version of the posting:

    I recently acquired another 7800 console, and discovered that it works with the notoriously cranky Activision carts and the Supercharger. I decided to sit down with all my 7800 decks and an armload of carts and see how much of the 7800 compatibility mystery I could sort out.

    Test decks:
                Serial #                           Board part#
    Deck#        72R4BR-  Country  Expansion port     CO25233-  Board Date
    -----  -------------  -------  --------------  -----------  ----------
      1    AT  8 5037836   Taiwan    Full port       001 REV A       84-25
      2    A1 76 5904610   Taiwan    Full port       002 REV A       87-17
      3    A1 77 5951337   Taiwan    Hole/no pins    002 REV A       87-17
      4    A3 87 5139813   Taiwan    No port         002 REV B       88-28
      5    A3 07 5298641   China     No port         002 REV B       88-30

    Board part number/revision is taken from the underside of the board, just above the cart slot. The full number always begins with "CO25233." The boards' top side has a different part number, "CO25234," but no revision level is given. Board dates are also taken from the underside of the board, near the Atari logo. I changed the notation a bit to make sorting by date easier. They're really written like "2584" instead of "84-25," which would indicate the twenty-fifth week of 1984.

    The carts tested were:

    • Decathlon (2 different carts)
    • Robot Tank (3)
    • Space Shuttle (5)
    • Supercharger (2)
    • 7800 Food Fight

    Results:  "Yes"  = cart works fine.
              "No"   = cart doesn't do a thing.
              "Roll" = cart works, but picture rolls.
              "Lock" = cart plays for a while, then locks up the system.
                    Deck #
         Cart          1        2        3        4        5
                    ------   ------   ------   ------   ------
        Decathlon 1    Yes       No       No      Yes      Yes
                  2    Yes       No       No      Yes      Yes
       Robot Tank 1    Yes     Roll     Roll     Roll     Roll
                  2    Yes      Yes     Roll     Roll      Yes
                  3    Yes      Yes     Roll     Roll      Yes
    Space Shuttle 1    Yes      Yes      Yes      Yes      Yes
                  2    Yes      Yes      Yes      Yes      Yes
                  3    Yes     Roll     Roll     Roll      Yes
                  4    Yes     Roll     Roll     Roll      Yes
                  5    Yes      Yes      Yes      Yes      Yes
     Supercharger 1    Yes       No       No       No       No
                  2    Yes       No       No       No       No
         Food Fight    Yes      Yes     Lock     Lock      Yes

    • Whether or not a given cart works on a given deck depends on both cart and deck. There's no real consistency among different carts of the same title.
    • It looks like the Supercharger is the proof test of whether a given deck will be fully compatible with any 2600 cart.
    • The conventional wisdom saying that a deck with the expansion port will work with anything is false. Presence or absence of the port is not a reliable indicator of compatibility with all 2600 carts.
    • Likewise, the deck's geographical origin is not a reliable indicator. The one manufactured in China (#5) has fewer compatibility problems than the others, but it still has some.
    • The oldest deck (#1) performed flawlessly in all tests. This is probably from the earliest production run, and was either sold in one of the limited test-markets or was warehoused until Atari Corp realized the home video game market was still viable.

    IMHO, the manufacturing standards of deck #1 are better than the others. All the major chips inside are all socketed instead of being soldered directly to the board. Some of the other decks also have had some minor factory patchwork performed. They occasionally have resistors bridging points where they were clearly not originally intended to be, i.e. soldered directly to a chip pin or placed on the underside of the board.

    Wondering if that 7800 deck sitting in the thrift store could be one of the fully-compatible ones? There are some very minor externally visible differences between my deck #1 and the others. I can't conclusively say these are 100% reliable indicators, but they are conspicuously different.

    • The labels on the undersides of decks 2-5 have a box drawn around the serial number. Deck #1 has no box drawn.
    • The serial number itself on deck #1 is different from the others. The "72R4BR" prefix is very much smaller than the rest of the number. "AT85037836" is one continuous string of black characters with no spaces, while on deck #2 (#3-5 are similar), "A1 76 5904610" does have the spaces, and the "76" is stamped in blue.
    • The cart contacts of deck #1 have a definite copper color, while the contacts of the others have a silvery appearance.

    Eric Chapin ( has also run a series of compatibility tests on his Atari 7800 and the results are on his web page.

    One other note: both Chris Cracknell ( and George Torch ( report that Superchargers may be permanently damaged when used on the 7800. Chris suggests trying Robot Tank first and then proceeding only if that cart works. George adds that his dead Supercharger was the original one (Arcadia, not Starpath) and that the serial number of his 7800 is 72R4BRA3055274987. If anyone else has experiences of 7800s ruining a Supercharger, please let me know.

    Q: What is the Starpath CD and can I still get one?

    A: The Starpath Supercharger Game Collection on CD, or Stella Gets a New Brain was a non-profit, long-awaited labor of love from the CyberPuNKs (Russ Perry Jr., Glenn Saunders, Jim Nitchals and Dan Skelton). This CD not only contains NTSC and PAL versions of most of the Supercharger games (PAL Survival Island is missing), but also development tools, a collection of Supercharger and Vectrex material, and several surprises (including SoundX from Hozer Video Games and the UR Polo from Carol Shaw). While it was an amazing value for $18 ($15 + $3 shipping), it is now sold out: you'll have to look for rgvc sales or auctions if you wish to obtain one now.

    But fret not. The commercial version (Stella Gets a New Brain v. 2.0) is now available. The cd is $20 + shipping + tax if you live in California and contains all the Supercharger games plus the Stella mailing list archives, company newsletters, projects notes, fonts, several homebrew games and bunches more. See for yourself. Here is the ordering page.

    Two notes on the new Stella cd: first, the makeup of the disk is different. Some things on the first disk were not included (e.g. the vectrex stuff, Polo) while other things were added. Second, you can purchase the "Stella Super Pack" which includes the Stella cd and volumes 1 and 2 of the Stella at 20 videos for only $50 (+ shipping and tax, if applicable).

    For general information about the supercharger, see the supercharger FAQ / Cyberpunks FAQ which contains some interesting information about the Starpath company, the supercharger, and the Cyberpunks.

    Q: Have any new games been released lately?

    A: Over the past couple of years, several new games have been developed for the Atari 2600. Ed Federmeyer wrote both SoundX, a sound generator, and Edtris, a Tetris clone. They are both available for $16 from Hozer Video Games (mail for information).

    Rescue Bira Bira by Chris Cracknell ( is also available from Hozer (here is the binary image). RBB is a modification of Jungle Fever with the adult bits removed. Chris' latest effort is a Video Time Machine meaning a 24-hour clock. It is also available from Hozer.

    Piero Cavina ( is the creator of Oystron, a shooter that is quite possibly the first game ever to feature space oysters. Get the full story and the game from the Oystron Home Page.

    Several carts were available in very limited runs to those who attended the Classic Gaming Expo (CGE). In 1999, both Eric Bacher's Pesco and Igor Barzilai's Merlin's Wall were offered. This year, it's Swordfight and Sea Battle (High Seas) from Intellivision Productions. (Both of these are now available for $29.95; see the Intellivision Classic Videogame System Store Page for more information.) There was also Escape from Supercade!, programmed by Bacher and Barzilai, released to commemorate the upcoming Supercade book. According to the web page, the first 26 carts will be given away at CGE 2000 and the other 74 will be distributed among people who "registered to win" at CGE 2000. Unlike the other games, the rom for Escape from Supercade! will eventually be available for download.

    Nick Bensema ( maintains a page of links to newly developed 2600 games. Many of the games listed in this section are there, as well as several others including Cubis, The Dark Mage and Mondo Pong.

    Bob Colbert ( seems to be the most prolific 2600 developer of late. Okie Dokie (a puzzle game), Cheetah (a Game Genie-type program for the Supercharger or emulator), and now Stell-A-Sketch (Etch-a-Sketch clone) are all available from Bob's home page.

    Yak (Jeff Minter), author of Llamatron, Tempest 2000, Defender 2000 and the Jaguar Virtual Light Machine had some fun turning Space Invaders into Beast Invaders. I've been able to track down only the picture of the game, but not the game itself. Anyone have a pointer?

    Hozer Video now carries many new games. To save space, here are the links:

    Q: What is a multicart and where can I get one?

    A: A multicart is simply a multiple game cart. Sean Kelly ( makes them for both the 2600 and 5200. Prices for the 2600 are $65 for a 64 game cart, $100 for a 128 game cart and $150 for a 256 game cart. The 5200 cart contains nearly all games ever made (including prototypes) for $125. Email him or see Sean's Web Page for more information.

    Randy Crihfield ( at Hozer Video Games also builds multicarts. A 128-in-1 cart is $100, as is a 32-in-1 Activision cart.

    Other examples of multicarts exist, including Atari's 32-in-1 for the 2600 (PAL) and their 32-in-1 for the 7800 (which is a relabeled 2600 32-in-1; all games on the cart are 2600 games).

    There is also the multi-game CD, Worship the Woodgrain, by Lee Krueger. The first run of 50 is sold out, but a second edition is shipping. You'll need a Supercharger to use the CD and you must modify your Supercharger to be able to play all the games (about 65% are playable without the mod).

    Q: Where can I find a list of cheats and Easter Eggs?

    A: Galen Tatsuo Komatsu ( maintains the B-TECH list; mail him directly with "Send B-TECH" as your subject line. Note: this is not a mailserver so please give him time to respond.

    Q: What programming resources are available?

    A: For 2600 users there is the 2600 Programming guide. The Stella Guide is another useful document.

    Schematic, bankswitching and other 2600 technical information is available at Kevin Horton's 2600 page.

    Another tech page which includes annotated source code for both combat and adventure is Dan Boris' VCS page.

    A fairly comprehensive page is Nick Bensema's 2600 Programming Page, complete with gobs of source examples and programming tools.

    John Saeger ( maintains the Atari Documentation Depot, which contains both 2600 and 7800 programming, development and game standards manuals.

    Bob Colbert ( provides many development tools for the Supercharger on his home page. These tools are different than those found on the Supercharger CD.

    Eckhard Stolberg's ( VCS Workshop Page also contains many tools and source code files. Of particular interest is which contains instructions on how to modify a 7800 such that it may be used as a development system and cart reader for 2600 and 7800 games.

    Mac PowerPC users might wish to mosey on over to the Mactari site, which houses 2600 development tools for the Mac.

    For the 7800 there was Harry Dodgson's ( Monitor Cart plus documentation. The 250+ pages included a stella guide, a 2600 programming manual which was a bit more readable, the Maria specs, and the 7800 docs plus numerous corrections to the Atari documentation. The package price was around $65. Alas, Harry has said that no offers will get him to make another monitor cartridge (he stopped making them a while ago when he didn't sell any in a 6 month period). About 3 dozen total were made.

    Dan Boris's 7800 Tech Page also contains a wealth of information on the 7800.

    Finally, see the Stella entry in the mailing list section. The stella mailing list is dedicated to 2600 programming.

    Q: What is the 7800 encryption algorithm?

    A: The 7800 uses a encryption key to determine whether or not the 7800 cartridge is valid and to allow the system to be put in 7800 mode as opposed to 2600 mode. The encryption algorithm is said to be proprietary. Rumors exist, however, that Atari released the algorithm for use on the the Atari ST series of computers. If anybody has this program we would all be very happy to have a look at it. It is also rumored that the code was released with the Lynx Dev-Kit for the Amiga, yet it does not appear in version 1.3. Rumors...rumors...

    Not a rumor, however, is that as designed, the 7800 required a valid 960-bit digital signature generated by Atari before a native 7800 game (as opposed to a 2600 game) would run on the 7800; no digital signature, no Maria chip. Also, crypto export restrictions (960 bits are a lot even for military-quality crypto) are probably the reason that European 7800 consoles and games have no digital signature.

    The final word on the encryption/authentication/validation/signature bits of the 7800 (save for the key itself) with respect to emulation comes from a section on Dan Boris' 7800 tech page called The Encryption Issue. You'll have to scroll about 3/4s of the way down to read the entry. In short, emulation of the 7800 is independent of the validation key, but the creation of new games that will run on unmodified 7800s isn't.

    Q: Is 7800 Impossible Mission really impossible?

    A: Yes.

    The cart was released with a bug where some of the pieces you need were hidden under computer terminals, but the terminals cannot be searched. This bug was fixed, but Atari probably never released the updated version. The PAL version is not impossible, as the programmer of the PAL version fixed the bug. A special thanks to Harry Dodgson for this tidbit.

    Q: Where can I get solutions to the Swordquest series?

    A: Walton C. Gibson ( maintains the SwordQuest Comic Book Archive which contains both the comics and the solutions.

    Q: I've seen pictures of 2600 Doom. Where can I buy it?

    A: You can't. It doesn't exist. The following list contains hoaxes, jokes, spoofs, parodies, fakes, etc. that do not exist. Some people were aiming for deception, others for humor and some for both.

    • 2600 Doom. Electronic Gaming Monthly covered this in their January 1998 (#102) letters section.
    • Pitfall III. Lee Krueger's bit of hijinx is documented on page 224 of DP #5.
    • Garfield. Some clever chap faked a label for this game, which has only recently turned up in prototype form. The DP cdrom has a jpg of the label.
    • Original artwork for the Starpath games Swords of Saros, Survival Island and Sweat!. The artwork for these games on the Stella CD was created by Dan Skelton. This item is not a hoax, as the CyberPuNKS were going after completeness, not deception.
    • perl for the 2600. Issue #12 (vol 3, no 4; winter 1998) of the Perl Journal shows perl as one of the carts in a 2600 cart stack. For all you future deceivers, this image modification was done with "the gimp."
    • The Mar/Apr 1999 2600 Connection takes April 1 very seriously by reporting on Quake 3, Timber, Tron, Wacko, Lucky Charms, a Camel Cigarettes game, (big breath here) Tomb Raider, Street Fighter II and a Microvision Emulator.
    • The Spring Special 1998 2600 Connection is also chock full of hoax. Therein lie ET 2000, The Battle of Jericho, Alien Vs. Predator Vs. Men In Black, the 2600 CD, Sonic the Hedgehog, the Atari 26000, MS Windows, Word and Excel 2600, and a 2600 Robot. Many other hoaxes are mentioned but not shown.
    • Final Fantasy VII.
    • Mortal Kombat Trilogy. On his old web site, Ed Boon displayed the box art for MKT for the Atari 7800 (and the Astrocade and the Channel F). These pictures were not carried over to his new web site. Did anyone save these pictures?
    • The John Deere Atari, complete with Johnny Tractor cart.
    • Metrowerks Codewarrior.
    • Battlesphere.
    • Russ Perry Jr. mentioned (in a personal email) some other hoaxes: Space Haggis, Frank Traut's Jiminy's Farm and Barn and The Monkey Adventure, and an anonymous someone's Cybermorph.
    • Lee Krueger has also created hoaxes for Alien vs. Predator, Planet of the Apes and the Greatest American Hero, as well as labels for Harry Dodgson's Monitor Cart and a new label for 2600 Pac-Man.
    • The iMac meets the 2600 in the iTari from the Aalgar Corporation. This one was humor only, folks.
    • The Ballerup Transportable Hairdryer for the Atari 2600. sent me this link claiming that he has "a pretty rare item." The site does have pictures of the case, the hairdryer and the cart, but it is lacking of detailed pictures of the connections between the hairdryer and the 2600. This stays in the hoax section until someone trustworthy independently verifies it.

    Q: Is there a list of 2600/7800 game programmers?

    James Hague ( maintains The Giant List of Classic Game Programmers. The list is both extensive and not limited to 2600/7800 programmers, so it may take a while to find 2600/7800-specific information.

    Q: What are the different 2600/7800 models?


    This list is horribly incomplete. If you go to the bottom of the next question, you'll see a link to JerryG's much more complete list of clones and changers. I will, however, continue to add systems that are not denoted in that list.

    2600 models

    Atari VCS CX2600 - Original model. Woodgrain and black plastic enclosure. Light and heavy weighted plastic. Six silver switches across the upper front panel. Bundled accessories included two CX40 joysticks, one CX30 paddle controller, AC adapter, TV switch and a CX2601 Combat game cart. Sample wording on label on bottom of unit:

    Mfd. by Atari, Inc., Sunnyvale, CA.  Serial # 048181.
    Mfd. by Atari-Wong Ltd. in Hong Kong.  Serial # 568213514.
    Manufactured for Atari Inc. by TRU Electronic Components Company in Taiwan.  
    Model NO: CX-2600 Serial # 81281713"

    Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade I - Same as above except external cosmetic differences (the "difficulty" switches are labeled "skill level", the switch panel is silver instead of black, and the woodgrain pattern is different.) Sample wording:

    Mfd. for Atari Inc. by Dimerco Electronics in Taiwan for sale to
    Sears, Roebuck, and Co.  Serial # 82077230.

    Atari VCS 2600A - Revised model. Externally it is nearly identical to the original, except there are four silver switches across the upper front panel instead of six. The difficulty switches were moved to the rear of the unit. Internally, the motherboard is a simplified one-piece design. Sample wording:

    Mfd. for Atari, Inc. by TRW Electronic Components Co. in Taiwan.
    Serial # 811510200.
    Mfd. for Atari, Inc. by Atari Taiwan Mfing. Corp. in Taiwan.
    Serial # 827030354.

    Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade I(A) - Same as above except for external cosmetic differences. Sample wording:

    Mfd. for Atari Inc. by Dimerco Electronics in Taiwan for sale to
    Sears, Roebuck, and Co.  Serial # 82299647.

    Atari VCS 2600A (black) - Second revised model. Externally it is nearly identical to the 2600A, except the enclosure has a more modern looking "black out" treatment. The areas of woodgrain on the original models are now simply black plastic. Internally, the motherboard is a slight revision of the 2600A. Sample wording:

    Mfd. for Atari, Inc. by Atari Taiwan Mfing. Corp. in Taiwan.  
    Serial # AT831150153.
    Manufactured for Atari Inc. by Atari Ireland, Ltd in Ireland. Model No CX-2600 AP.
    Serial 508 AI 0020153

    Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade II - Entirely new model of the 2600 designed exclusively for Sears. Black wedge-shaped enclosure, with push button switches and LEDs on top panel. Essentially an Atari 7800 shell. Four joystick connectors on lower front panel with rocker switch. Internally very different from other 2600 models, but still uses the same basic chipset. Bundled accessories include two combination joystick/paddle controllers, AC adapter, TV switch and a Space Invaders game cart. Sample wording:

    Sears, Inc. (Atari, Inc.) Serial # SV 392 005539.

    Atari 2800 -- same as Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade II but with Atari label. Released only in Japan. Very rare.

    Atari 2600 "Jr." - Third revised model. It is slightly larger than a VHS video tape case. Some versions have "Jr" stamped onto the bottom sticker. Large black buttons. Power and b/w switches slide, while Reset and Game Select are push buttons. Jet black with large metallic silver strip running lengthwise across the front with "Atari 2600" on it. Marketed as the "Under 50 bux, the fun is back!" machine. Bundled accessories include one joystick, AC adapter, TV switch box, and RCA connecting cable. Box is designed as a carrying case with handle and a white section which reads: "This Atari 2600 belongs to:". No bundled cart. The unit came in either a maroon or silver box. Sample wording:

             Atari Logo                           Atari 2600
             FCC ID: EBA72R2600
             MADE IN TAIWAN
             [FCC wording deleted]
                             S.N. A1 81 1494278
             [Atari logo embossed in plastic] [made in taiwan in plastic]
             MODEL NO. CX-2600 JR.
             4, 122, 422 OTHER PATENTS, AND
             PATENTS PENDING
                   S.N.|A1 873 412187 |
             [ATARI & FUJI LOGO]      MADE IN TAIWAN

    Atari 2600 "Jr." - same as above except silver plate has a larger rainbow strip without an embossed border.

    A few miscellaneous notes:
    All 6 switch Ataris had a large shield casing. There were at least two 6-switch versions:

    (6-1) The original. The entire bottom half of the console was made of quarter inch thick plastic (~6mm)! Combined with the thick aluminum RF casing, this is the heaviest 2600 ever made. Also, this 2600 has no 2/3 channel select switch. There is a channel select hole in the case and it's marked Channel A/B, but there's no switch inside on the PCB. These consoles came with "01 combat". (1977 models only)

    (6-2) The lighter 2600. No armor plating. Bottom half of console is made of thin plastic, like the 4 switch models. Channel switch now present. Thick RF shield still present. Plain ol' "combat" included.

    The were also minor variations on 4 front switch, woodgrain panel models. On some, the difficulty switches are marked "Expert/Novice" (or was it "Advanced/Beginner"?) and others are marked only as "A/B".

    Finally, a hodge-podge of facts that don't fit anywhere else:

    • Rumors persist that the pictures on the packaging varied.
    • Both Pac-Man (see Atari Age V2 #4) and Centipede were pack-in carts.
    • 2600s were made in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Sunnyvale, Ireland and China.

    7800 models

    Atari CX7800 - Vastly modified and enhanced 2600 model. Two joystick ports on lower front panel. New chipset (except sound chip; pokey chips could be added to carts). Side expansion port for upgrades and computer add ons. Bundled accessories included two CX24 ProLine joysticks AC Adapter, switchbox, RCA connecting cable, and Pole Position II cartridge. Plays all 2600 games except 3 or so (which ones?).

    Atari CX7800 - Second Revision. Expansion port connector removed from mother board but is still etched. Shell has indentation of where expansion port was to be.

    Atari CX7800 - Third Revision. As above but only a small "blemish" mark on shell.

    Q: What types of clones exist?

    A: Probably the most famous is the Gemini, an inexpensive clone 2600 made by Coleco. It sports an all black, box-shaped enclosure with six small slide switches (say that fast) on top of front panel. On the back panel, there is an RF modulator port and a power adapter port. Two joystick ports and difficult switches live on the front panel. Bundled bits include two dual-joystick/paddle controllers, a 9volt/500ma DC adapter, an RF cable, a TV switch and Donkey Kong and Mouse Trap carts. Sample wording:

    Coleco Gemini VGS - Coleco Ind., Inc., Serial # AG0145189.

    Q: What companies made 2600 adapters for their own systems?

    A: ColecoVision Expansion Module #1 - Black, 5" x 10", 1 3/4" high in front, sloping to 2 3/4" in back.

                   _____      a = expansion connector to ColecoVision
            ______|__a__|__   b = 2600 cart slot
            |      _____   |  c = color/b+w slide switch
            |     |__b__|  |  l = left difficulty slide switch
            |.........     |  r = right difficulty slide switch
            | clr gr :     |  g = game select push button
            |________:_____|  r = reset button
                       ^ ^  <---- joystick ports

    Chips inside are: "COLECO 73192 E4002" (TIA clone?), SY6507, SY6532. Curiously, there is an empty space for a 14 pin chip and assorted resistors and capacitors on the right side of the circuit board. The space for a "Y1" indicates that this was probably intended to be a clock generator. (Could this board also be intended for standalone use, such as in the VGS?) There is also an adjustment hole on the bottom that turns a potentiometer [probably color control]. The reset button on the main ColecoVision console acts as a hard reset for the expansion module. The connection to the ColecoVision unit isn't very physically stable, at least not on carpet, resulting in flaky performance. Sample wording:

            "ColecoVision [tm]
             Model No. 2405
             Coleco Industries, Inc., Amsterdam, NY 12010
             Serial # A0065820         For service help call:
             F.C.C. ID# BNV8432405     1+800+842-1225
             Coleco Industries, Inc.   (Nationwide)
             Made in U.S.A.            Printed in U.S.A. 74859A"

    Intellivision System Changer - Made by Mattel, copyright 1983. White, roughly about 5-6" square and 2" high, with a piece sticking out of the left side that fits into the Intellivision cartridge slot.

                ___________ <-Top face.
                |  _____  |
              __| [__a__] |  a == Atari cartridge slot  b == insert into Inty II
             | b          |  c == Game Reset (square button)
             |__   cdefg  |  d, f == left and right difficulty (toggle switches)
                |_________|  e == Color/B+W toggle switch

    Front face had two standard joystick ports. Known to work with virtually all 2600 carts except those that don't work with other adapters (i.e. those like Space Shuttle and Starmaster that use standard 2600 hardware functions). Does not work with the "original" (2609) Intellivision Master Component without factory modification. Sample wording:

    (one white label and one orange label) "Model No. 4610  FCC ID: BSU9RD4610  
    Serial No. 003255

    Commodore VIC-20/2600 game adapter - Rumored to exist. Was advertised by Protecto in mail order ads in during the 1983 time frame. Plugged into VIC expansion connector and provided 2600 software emulation. Original price, emulation quality, and reliability all unknown.

    The September 1983 issue of Electronic Games (page 41) shows an advertisement for Cardapter, a 2600 cart adapter for the Vic-20. The distributor was Cardco, Inc. in the US, LSI Distributors Ltd in W est Canada, Hobby Craft Canada in East Canada, and Audiogenic in Europe. Additional information on this bit would be interesting.

    JerryG ( maintains a list of both 2600 clones and changers.

    Q: Are there any emulators for the 2600/7800?

    A: Dennis Brown ( maintains the 2600 emulator FAQ. It focuses mostly on the Activision Action packs and is also out of date. Question 5.2 of the comp.emulators.misc FAQ discusses emulators for the 2600 as well.

    Speaking of the Activision Action packs, a word about them is an order since they aren't covered anywhere else in the FAQ. Activision released a total of 5 titles (which included the games + an emulator):
    • Atari 2600 Action Pack (Win 3.1, 486/33, 8 meg ram)
    • Atari 2600 Action Pack (Mac, 68LC040-25 MHz or PPC 601-60, 8 meg ram)
    • Atari 2600 Action Pack II (Win 3.1, 486/33, 8 meg ram)
    • Atari 2600 Action Pack II (Win95, 486DX (?), 8 meg ram)
    • Atari 2600 Action Pack 3 (?)
    According to Activision's Web site, here are the games on the three packs:
    • Action Pack I: Boxing, Chopper Command, Cosmic Commuter, Crackpots, Fishing Derby, Freeway, Frostbite, Grand Prix, HERO, Kaboom!, Pitfall, River Raid, Seaquest, Sky Jinks, Spider Fighter.
    • Action Pack II: Atlantis, Barnstorming, Dolphin, Dragster, Enduro, Ice Hockey, Keystone Kapers, Laser Blast, Megamania, Oink!, Plaque Attack, River Raid II, Skiing, Stampede, Tennis.
    • Action Pack 3: Breakout, Night Driver, Combat, Private Eye, Space War, StarMaster, Canyon Bomber, Checkers, Pressure Cooker, Title Match Pro Wrestling and Yar's Revenge.

    These packs used to be available for pre-paid download but the stores that used to carry them have disappeared. Any information on where to download the packs are appreciated.

    Activision also recently released its Classics Collection (30 games + an emulator) for the Playstation. Reviews of it can be found in Issue 51 of the 2600 Connection, and the December 1998 Electronic Gaming Monthly.

    Matt Pritchard ( mentions in a Usenet posting that the forthcoming commercial Intellivision emulator may include a 2600 emulator and images of all m-network/intv games (including unreleased ones). Alas, this one is on hold indefinitely as ownership questions need to be untangled.

    The January 1996 Ultimate Gamer mentions that Atari had some plans for a 2600 emulator for the Jaguar CD. Dave Staugas, who programmed both Millipede and Krull, was working on it. According to Slapdash #6, it was approximately 90% complete, although that number is probably optimistic. With the demise of Atari, the probability of the emulator seeing the light of day is almost 0.

    Temporary Sanity Designs was also developing a 2600 emulator for the Jaguar. Damien M. Jones ( was kind enough to send the following email detailing its development.

    In April-ish of 1995 we (Bryan [Edewaard] and I, Temporary Sanity
    Designs) approached Atari with this idea. Since they'd never heard of
    us, they asked us for some proof that we could actually program; over
    the weekend, we put together a program which looked like Combat,
    running on an Atari TT or Falcon. It looked like Combat because we
    disassembled the cartridge, converted the 6507 code to 68030 code, and
    then wrote routines to emulate the hardware. It wasn't complete, of
    course, but it drew the sprites and you could control them with the
    Apparently they were impressed enough to send us a Jag dev kit, and told us
    we had two months to prove the concept was workable on the Jaguar. We spent
    three weeks learning how the machine worked, and produced a morphing
    fractal animation. When we sent this to Atari, at first they thought it was
    just a compressed Cinepak movie; we had to explain that, no, it was
    real-time generated fractals using both RISC processors, etc.
    Five more weeks resulted in a 70% working emulator, which we sent to Atari.
    One of the problems with emulation in general is that you have to have a
    lot of work done before you get to see anything; we spent weeks working on
    the 6507 emulator, which because of some peculiar problems in the Jaguar,
    had to be extremely compact code. Also, because of the way the display
    hardware in the 2600 works (line-oriented instead of frame-oriented) the
    video hardware emulation was fiendishly difficult. The demo we sent to
    Atari had a 99% complete CPU emulator (we think there were a few bugs in it
    still, and we were fairly sure we would have problems with bank-switched
    cartridges) and a 40% complete hardware emulator. We had games like Pacman
    and Adventure running, with players and playfield, plus a hand-tuned
    palette. We sent Atari a couple of different versions, with different games
    included. (Trying to remember which ones we included--Berzerk and Yars'
    Revenge spring to mind.)
    Anyway, at some point during 1995 we heard that Jeff Minter had commented
    on a 2600 emulator, and we figured that was good... until we were told he'd
    mentioned *Dave Staugas* doing it, and not us. We got on the phone to Atari
    and asked what the hell was going on, and we were told basically that
    nobody was supposed to talk about anything that was going on. I'm told that
    shortly thereafter Jeff Minter posted a sort of retraction. We've never
    spoken to Jeff directly, and any e-mail we sent at the time went unreplied.
    (I can understand that, as I'm sure Jeff received zillions of messages and
    he ignored 99.9% of them.)
    Atari spent a few months deciding what to do about our emulator. We hadn't
    spent any more time finishing it, since Atari wasn't actually paying us.
    Eventually, they suggested that if we could finish the cartridge quickly
    and fit it into a 1M cartridge (scuttling our plans to include a lot of
    games on it, along with complete manuals) that maybe they'd think about
    publishing it. We never got a contract with them, though, before they axed
    all Jaguar products in early 1996 and merged with JTS.
    So there's a bit more on the story for you. None of it really matters at
    this point, but we had to come up with some really creative approaches to
    making the emulator work in the Jaguar. The CPU emulator--even with all our
    tricks--only just managed to keep up with the 1.2MHz 6507 in the 2600. The
    hardware emulators were equally pressed for performance.

    But all this work may not have gone to waste. Songbird Productions has obtained the rights and source code to TSD's emulator, (now?) called Virtual VCS (VVCS). While it is not certain that the emulator will be completed and released, it is under consideration as a future project for the company.

    There is also a VCS simulator by Christian Bogey ( called VCSS which simulates the functions of the Atari VCS 2600. VCSS isn't an emulator, so it won't run any rom images.

    For the 7800, we now have V7800 v. 0.12, courtesy of Dan Boris. He has also written a driver for the next release of MESS, the Multi Emulator Super System.

    Q: What 2600/7800 hardware was announced, but never released?

    A: The short answer is quite a bit . Here are some examples:

    • 2600 keyboard by Atari, called the Graduate or My First Computer. It was designed by Peripheral Visions Inc.
    • 2600 voice command system
    • a headband controller, Mindlink
    • Atari 2500
    • Atari 2700 - Remote control joystick/paddles, touch sensitive console buttons.
    • Atari 3600 - 10-bit system, made it to prototype stage.
    • Amiga Power Module for 2600. Similar to the Supercharger, it had dialup capability (to play against others). Also, some 3D games were planned for it as well.
    • U.S. Games Joystick, similar to Coleco Super Action Controller (EF May 83, p. 91)
    • 7800 adapter for the 5200 (!) (both a recent Usenet posting and Phoenix mention this oddity)
    • much, much more. Pictures of prototypes and the stories behind them for all three systems can be found at the Atari History site.

    Q: How do I hook up my Atari to a TV? / I've hooked up my system, but the picture is fuzzy.

    A: Consider the following diagram of a manual switch box and a 75-300 ohm converter:

            A                      B
       | C
     |             |
     |             |             ------
     |      ! F    | G         H|  I   |
     |      !      | -----------*  .   |
     |      !      | -----------*      |
     |      !      |            |      |
    --D            |             ------ 
     |             |
     |             |

    • A -- A manual switch box. It must be manual, not automatic, as the Atari 2600 does not emit a strong enough signal. If you try to use an automatic one, you'll get a snowy picture. Radio Shack carries manual switch boxes.
    • B -- A 75 to 300 ohm converter. If you have a fairly recent tv that has cable input (i.e. not a very old tv that has 2 screws for UHF and two screws for VHF), you'll need to get one of these too. Radio Shack has these as well.
    • Note: Some manual switch boxes end in a cable connector rather than two Y-shaped connectors. If this is the case, then A and B above are really just one item, so you don't have to buy a separate B.
    • C -- Game connector. The RF cable from the Atari goes here.
    • D -- 75 ohm input. If you want to keep this switch box permanently connected to your TV, run your cable input from the wall to D.
    • E -- 300 ohm input, usually labeled "To Antenna." This is only for really old cable input or antenna input. Safely ignored in most cases.
    • F -- The switch. The top is labeled "Game" and the bottom "TV." You move the switch to Game when you want to play the Atari and back to TV when you don't.
    • G -- Usually labeled "To TV VHF," it is two wires that end in Y-shaped connectors. On old TVs they are connected to the two VHF screws; in most cases they will be connected to the screws on the 75 to 300 ohm converter.
    • H -- The screws on the 75 to 300 ohm converter where the Y-shaped connectors connect.
    • I -- A male cable plug that plugs into your TV's cable connector.

    One way to hook up the Atari is:

    • Remove cable input from back of TV
    • Take A+B, connect I to back of TV
    • Run RF cable from Atari to C
    • Set my TV to channel 3
    • Put Switch on Game Setting
    • Turn on Atari

    If your picture is fuzzy, the most probable cause is that you are using an automatic RF switch (i.e. one that does not physically have to be switched between the "TV" and "game" position). Most (all?) systems starting with the NES use automatic RF switches. These will not work for the 2600/7800, as the signal is not strong enough to trigger the switch completely. A manual RF switch, available at any Radio Shack or equivalent, is the way to happiness. Another possible cause is that the TV is set to channel 3 but the Atari is set to channel 4 or vice versa.

    Also note that in my own (Zube) limited tests, a thick (well-shielded?) RCA cable worked just as well (if not better) than the traditional thin, black 75 ohm coax RF cables.

    Q: How do I fix my paddles?

    A: Dirty paddles are a cause of great frustration. To clean them, buy a can of Cleaner/Degreaser (available at Radio Shack, catalog #64-4422), open up the paddles and spray directly into the pot area. Close them up, give them a few twists and they should be good as new. Silicon spray, WD40 and TV tuner can also be used, although there are warnings about possible gumming with WD40, and possible plastic rot with TV tuner.

    Q: Where do I get my 2600/7800 fixed?

    A: In general, it is usually more cost effective to buy another console. Still, 4Jays repairs and reconditions consoles. Mail Jay Colen ( for more information. In the UK, you might contact Mark Hourahane ( who claims to fix consoles. He writes:

    "I would be happy to repair old Atari consoles of any format, although I may not be able to test non-PAL machines. Anyone wanting repairs, modifications etc. should e-mail me."

    He has recently made the following generous offer as well:

    "I would be happy to help with any Atari queries or repair needs, whether in the UK or not."

    Q: Do Bally Astrocade joysticks work on the 2600/7800?

    A: No. Even though they use the standard 9-pin connector, the pinouts are different. However, the Bally/Astrocade FAQ documents the proper rewiring scheme to allow them to work on the 2600/7800.

    Q: Which light guns work with the 2600/7800?

    A: There is no light gun made specifically for either system. However, Atari's light gun (model number XG-1) that came with the XE-Game-System works well. Also, see the entry for rewiring a Sega lightgun elsewhere in the FAQ.

    Q: What hardware peripherals exist for the 2600/7800?

    A: Note: This list is by no means complete.

    2600 peripherals

    • Compumate - 42 key touchpad computer add on from Spectravideo. Adds 16K ROM, 2K RAM, and has BASIC. Looks like a small keyboard attached to a cartridge, which is in turn connected to the joystick ports. Originally sold for $79.99
    • Copy Cart - from Vidco, allowed transfer of a game onto a blank cartridge. Battery powered, not all games can be copied because of memory limitations.
    • CVC GameLine - Play games via modem. See Gameline entry above.
    • Game Selex - from Starplex, allows 9 cartridges to be plugged in at once; turn a dial to choose the game.
    • Kid Vid Control - Coleco cassette recorder and cartridge interface. Additional wire connects recorder to joystick port. Voices and songs tell player what to do on screen. Tape shuts off automatically to wait for player input. 3 tapes per game, only games were Berenstain Bears and Smurfs Save the Day.
    • Personal Game Programmer - By Answer, similar to Game Genie.
    • ROM Scanner - from Marjac, allows 10 cartridges to be plugged in, press a button to choose game.
    • Starpath Supercharger - Large cartridge that plugged into the 2600 slot. It has a cable with standard 1/8" jack for plugging into tape recorders. Games were distributed on cassette tape. The unit itself contains 6K RAM and 2K ROM. ROM is in top 2K and RAM is banked in lower 2K.
    • Video Game Brain - from RGA International Limited. A multiple cartridge adapter that holds six games to play, and contains 2 dummy slots for additional cart storage. You select the game you want to play by pushing a button in front of that cartridge.
    • Videoplexer by Compro was an 8 cart bankswitcher. It had a smoke brown plexiglass hood and 8 sensor touch buttons on the front panel. The manual claimed to Reduce the wear on your expensive system and cartridges.
    • Unimex SP280 by Unimex. A game duplicator which copied games to a EPROM cart. Available EPROM carts were 2K and 4K; 8K (and perhaps 16K) EPROMs were announced, but none have been seen. The manual stated that the carts could be erased by opening them and placing the EPROM under a tanning lamp (Unimex also offered erasing services for a nominal fee).
    • A fantastic number of different controllers. Two lists, one containing Atari controllers and one containing all other controllers are courtesy of Alex Bilstein (

    Q: What are NTSC/PAL/SECAM and why should I care?

    A: NTSC (National Television Standards Committee), PAL (Phase Alternating Lines) and SECAM (SEquentiel Couleur Avec Memoire) are different worldwide, generally incompatible television standards. Some short, not completely accurate information follows.

    what               where                      freq/frames/scan lines
    ----               -----                      ----------------------
    NTSC               US/Japan                         60hz/30/525
    PAL                Europe                           50hz/25/625
    SECAM              France & many others             50hz/25/625
    For detailed and accurate (but muddled) information, see the Worldwide TV standards page. Why is this information important? Different carts will exhibit different characteristics based on what kind of TV and console are used. For example, a PAL cart on an NTSC console and TV will roll the screen and exhibit a strange color scheme. An adjustable vertical hold is a must in these situations. The console compatibility FAQ details much of this information for the Atari 2600/7800 and other consoles as well.

    Q: What is a TV Boy and where can I get one?

    A: The TV Boy is a handheld-sized Atari 2600 (made by SystemA) with 127 built-in games that connects to your tv (it does not have its own screen). While it features a built-in Gameboy-like joypad and external 9-pin ports so one can connect one's favorite controller, it does not, alas, have a cartridge slot. Inside the TV Boy is a jumper marked "NTSC/PAL," so it appears that it will work on either type of TV.

    There is also a TV Boy II which does not have external 9-pin ports. Thus, there is no way to play two-player (simultaneous) games (only the built-in directional pad is left) with two players; In two-player games the pad controls both players at the same time. For example, in Traffic (nee Freeway), the pad controls both chickens.

    For PAL preferers there is the MegaBoy which is nearly identical to the TV Boy, although it has only 126 predominately PAL games.

    If things weren't confusing enough, Ian Pleasance ( adds the following:

    "...there are also PAL versions of the TV Boy I and TV Boy II. The TVB1
    is exactly the same physically as the US version, whereas the TVB2 had
    a design change and is shorter, it also adds a 127th game (pirated
    MegaMania), and had the second joystick port removed (on games with a
    two-player option the second joystick is rerouted to the Joypad). Both
    the TVB1 and TVB2 were sold in the UK by SystemA.
    "SystemA also recently launched the "Super TV Boy", renamed the TVB2
    to "TV Boy" and dropped the TVB1.
    The Super TV Boy is the same internally as the TVB2, however the
    casing has changed drastically, and the internal joypad is now
    "removable" in that it clips on to the main unit case and is attached
    by a wire, so you can unclip it and play it at a distance. The Super
    TV Boy looks in some ways like a mini-NES except that half of the casing 
    is bright pink (!).

    More information on the TV Boy can be found courtesy of, which maintains the TV Boy page.

    The MegaBoy is not available from anywhere we know of. NTSC TV Boys ($199.95), PAL TV Boy II's ($89.95) and PAL Super TV Boys ($99.95) are available from Argos, a UK mailorder company, has TV Boys for 24.95 pounds, but they do not take orders from outside Great Britain or Northern Ireland. (Argos Customer Service: 01908 600 161; Direct Home Delivery: 0345 427 467; the TV Boy catalog number is 364/4834). Gultronics in Tottenham Court Road, London, England as well as Index, a UK-wide catalogue shop both sell the TV Boy and Super TV Boy. Finally, one can also purchase TV Boys direct from SystemA (SystemA (UK) LTD, 12 Albury Close, Loverock Road, Reading, Berkshire, RG30 1BB) for approximately $50.00 + shipping and handling.

    JerryG, in an email message, mentions a completely different MegaBoy (from South America) that does not include built-in games, but rather has a cartridge slot (!).

    Finally, The Maverick ( mentions that a 7800 controller plugged into the left joystick port (but not the right port) of the TV Boy will keep it from operating. Corroboration anyone?

    Q: What are the specs for the 2600/7800?

    A: The information here is incomplete in some places, misleading in others, and possibly just plain wrong in still other places.

                    2600                            7800
    CPU:            6507                            6502C (custom, NOT 65C02)
    RAM:            128 Bytes, in VLSI              4K, high speed (mostly VRAM)
    ROM:            4K max                          52K max
    Cpu Clock:      1.19 MHz                        1.79 MHz
    Graphics Clock: 1.19 MHz                        7.16 MHz
    Slot Config:    Rom access only                 Most CPU lines + video/audio
    CPU Avail:      less than 50%                   over 90%

    Notes: ROM specs are based on non-bank select scheme, the graphics clock is the master clock used to drive the video chips.

    Q: How large do 2600 games get?

    A: There are several 2600 games with 16K bytes (e.g. Road Runner). There are also games with 128 bytes of RAM on the cartridge (called the Atari Super Chip), such as Jr. Pac-Man. Supercharger games that do multiple loads may be even larger (which ones?; the Supercharger people should know.) Fatal Run is 32K. The 32-in-1 cart is 64K, 2K per game. The MegaBoy cart from Dynacom is also 64K, 16 banks of 4K.

    Kevin Horton ( maintains a detailed list of cart sizes and bankswitching methods, from which most of the above information is culled.

    Q: Are there any published 2600/7800 technical articles available?

    A: Andy Clayton was kind enough to type up Design Case History: the Atari Video Computer System from the March 1983 IEEE Spectrum. It is quite an interesting read although it contains no code.

    IBM's patent server also contains a wealth of information including many Atari patents.

    Q: Pinout information?


    Joystick Pinouts

    2600/7800 pinouts:
    \ o5 o4 o3 o2 o1/
     \ o9 o8 o7 o6 /
    pin #  2600 control     7800 control
      1    WHT- Up          WHT- Up
      2    BLU- Down        BLU- Down
      3    GRN- Left        GRN- Left
      4    BRN- Right       BRN- Right
      5    unused           RED- Button (R)ight (-)
      6    ORG- Button      ORG- Both buttons (+)
      7    unused           unused
      8    BLK- Ground(-)   BLK- Ground(-)
      9    unused           YLW- Button (L)eft  (-)
    2600 control (button)
    pin 6 ORG(+) --------------()------------BLK(-) pin 8
    7800 control (buttons)
                                           /----------YLW(-) pin 9
                                Button L  /
                          /---------()---| YLW splits
                         /                \----/\/\/-----\
    pin 6 ORG(+) -------| ORG splits           520 ohm    |---BLK(-) pin 8
                         \                /----/\/\/-----/
                          \---------()---|     520 ohm
                               Button R   \ RED splits
                                           \----------RED(-) pin 5
    Note that some controllers have 620 ohm resistors rather than 520 ohm ones.

    2600 cartridge pinouts

    A standard 2600 cartridge contains the equivalent of a 2716 or 2732/2532 with one notable exception: the chip select line is active high, not low. The high order address line of the 6507 (A12) is used as the chip enable. There was at least one company that used EPROMs with a 74LS04 inverter to compensate for this. Note that numbers indicate left to right numbering.

            Top Row                 Bottom Row
    Slot    2716    CPU             2716    CPU
    1       13      D3              1       A7
    2       14      D4              2       A6
    3       15      D5              3       A5
    4       16      D6              4       A4
    5       17      D7              5       A3
    6       *       A12             6       A2
    7       19      A10             7       A1
    8       NC      A11             8       A0
    9       22      A9              9       D0
    10      23      A8              10      D1
    11      24      +5V             11      D2
    12      12      Shield Ground   NC      Ground
        * to inverter and back to 18 for chip select
    (Looking at the bottom of the cartridge -- i.e. edge connectors first)
     D3   D4   D5   D6   D7   A12  A10  A11  A9   A8  +5V   SGND
    --1- --2- --3- --4- --5- --6- --7- --8- --9- -10- -11- -12-
     GND  D2   D1   D0   A0   A1   A2   A3   A4   A5   A6   A7
    Dx = Data line x
    Ax = Address line x
    +5V = +5 volts
    SGND = Shield Ground
    GND = Ground


    • On both cartridges that were opened, GND was also connected to SGND. Best to make sure that they are wired together.
    • A11 and A12 could be switched. On both the chips I've checked, A12 was hardwired to +5 volts which leads me to believe that it is the highest address line. Since I believe that these chips are only 4Kx8 ROMs, this seems logical, since A12 would actually be just the chip enable for ROM (right?). Only the 2600 info tells differently, and it doesn't give any connection for A11 on the EPROM, so I don't trust it. Unfortunately, since the 2716 EPROM is used as an example, we won't know without actually trying one, since the 2716 doesn't really use A11 or A12 and either one could be used as a chip enable.

    lines           Memory
    used            Available       EPROM   Memory
    A11             2048            2716    2K
    A12             4096            2732    4K
    A13             8192            2764    8K  (needs support chips for banking)
    A13             8192        2 x 2732    8K  (most common of 8K config)
        |   2716   |
    A7  | 1     24 | VCC [+5 V]
    A6  | 2     23 | A8
    A5  | 3     22 | A9
    A4  | 4     21 | VPP [Doesn't matter probably.  +5V]
    A3  | 5     20 | !Output Enable (always on) [GND]
    A2  | 6     19 | A10
    A1  | 7     18 | !Chip Enable (make high bit) [inverted A12]
    A0  | 8     17 | D7
    D0  | 9     16 | D6
    D1  | 10    15 | D5
    D2  | 11    14 | D4
    GND | 12    13 | D3
        |   2732   |
    A7  | 1     24 | VCC [+5 V]
    A6  | 2     23 | A8
    A5  | 3     22 | A9
    A4  | 4     21 | A11
    A3  | 5     20 | !Output Enable (always on) [GND] / VPP
    A2  | 6     19 | A10
    A1  | 7     18 | !Chip Enable (make high bit) [inverted A12]
    A0  | 8     17 | D7
    D0  | 9     16 | D6
    D1  | 10    15 | D5
    D2  | 11    14 | D4
    GND | 12    13 | D3
        |   2764   |
    VPP | 1     28 | VCC [+5 V]
    A12 | 2     27 | !Program Strobe (no connection?) [+5V]
    A7  | 3     26 | No Connection
    A6  | 4     25 | A8
    A5  | 5     24 | A9
    A4  | 6     23 | A11
    A3  | 7     22 | !Output Enable (always on) [GND]
    A2  | 8     21 | A10
    A1  | 9     20 | !Chip Enable (always on) [GND]
    A0  | 10    19 | D7
    D0  | 11    18 | D6
    D1  | 12    17 | D5
    D2  | 13    16 | D4
    GND | 14    15 | D3
    VPP was also set at +5V for the 2764.

    7800 Cartridge and Expansion Pinout

    7800 Cartridge port

    1       R/W         17       A15
    2       Halt        18       EAudio
    3       D3          19       A7
    4       D4          20       A6
    5       D5          21       A5
    6       D6          22       A4
    7       D7          23       A3
    8       A12         24       A2
    9       A10         25       A1
    10      A11         26       A0
    11      A9          27       D0
    12      A8          28       D1
    13      +5V         29       D2
    14      Gnd         30       Gnd
    15      A13         31       IRQ
    16      A14         32       CLK2

    Expansion port

     Gnd   +5v  CVideo MLum0 Mlum3 Blank OscDis ExtMen Gnd
    --1-- --2--  --3-- --4-- --5-- --6-- --7-- ---8-- --9--
    -18-- -17--  -16-- -15-- -14-- -13-- -12-- --11-- -10--
     Gnd  Audio   Rdy   MCol MLum2 MLum1 Msync  Clk2  ExtOsc


    • All signals starting with M are Maria signals
    • MLum* is 4 bits of luminance - giving 16 shades of each color
    • MCol is the color phase angle
    • Msync and Blank are Maria combined sync and blanking outputs
    • Extmen is an external Maria Enable input
    • OscDis disables the 14.31818 MHz master clock and ExtOsc is an input to replace it.
    • CVideo is the input to the RF modulator so it includes the modulated audio too
    • Clk2 is the phase 2 clock from the 6502
    • Rdy is an input to the 6502

    Q: Power Supply Information?



    Input: 120VAC 60Hz
    Output: 9VDC 500mA
    Polarity: Center +, Outer -

    European 2600

      PART NO.:CO 18084-319
          AC/DC ADAPTOR
      INPUT: AC 240 V#50Hz 9W
       OUTPUT: DC 9V 500 mA
      BS415 [Polarity C+, O- diagram]
         XEP 80 OR SX212
          WB JUN-AUG 87


    Input: 120VAC 60Hz 15W
    Output: 9VDC 1Amp
                               -----| |-----
                             - | o       o | +
    [looking into the power supply]

    If you cannot find a 7800 power supply but are comfortable with a soldering iron, one possibility is to find similar connectors and solder them onto a more easily-found power supply. Mitchell Orman ( suggests using an end connector from an old cordless phone battery. For the one he procured, the part was made by Philmore and is the Panasonic type #BC1000. Caution: the connector will plug in to the 7800 either direction so one needs to mark polarity correctly.

    Another possibility is to buy a more standard jack and just solder it in parallel with the original connector, then buy a power supply at Radio Shack for a few bucks.

    One good place to solder alternate power connections is to the two joints on the underside of the board, located near the original power plug (the polarity is easy to follow because the traces from the power and to the barrel capacitor are polarity-marked). Either an external jack (1/8" mono) can be run through the old jack's hole (or a vent hole) -or- an internal jack can be installed where convenient such as the thick "strut" near the original hole or on the right side (when facing the unit for play). You can use a 2600 power supply; the only difference is half an amp, which the techies say doesn't matter much.

    European 7800

    PART NO : C024943-309
    INPUT:240V~50Hz 15W
    MODELS PAL 1 7800
    WB 9340

    Q: How do I build a composite/audio/chroma/luma output interface for the Atari 2600Jr/2600A?

    A: Moderators' note: This entry has been left exactly as it was in the last version because of the copyright notice at the end. The author has been contacted, but he has not given his blessing to our edits as yet.

    [The following mod is for SOME Jr's.  Please see section end for
    2600A update.]
    File revision 1.1
    After finding my entertainment budget disappear (poor university
    student) I was forced to economize--I dusted off the Ole'2600.
    I figured I would hook it up to my computer monitor, but to my
    dismay there was no composite output on the beast (Atari).
    Determined to overcome, I quickly disassembled it. After some
    poking and prodding around I managed to locate the required
    Benefits:  No longer require a TV. You no longer require those
               god-awful switch boxes. No more interference patterns
               on the screen (from the RF cable being used as a bloody
               antenna). No longer requires the 100' hookup RF cable.
               Crisp clear audio etc;
    Drawbacks: No longer get to see sister trip in 100' RF cable. No
               longer get to fall asleep with psychedelic interference
               patterns on screen.
    Materials Required:
      Phillips screwdriver, a soldering iron, solder, a small piece of
      wire, 2 or 3 patch cables and a small pair of needle-nose pliers.
    * The following schematic is for the NEWER model which is sometimes
      referred to as the "Atari Junior".  The older model is much the
    1-Simply unplug everything from your console, turn it over and
      remove the 5 screws.
    2-Remove the top and bottom plastic case pieces. When removing the
      TOP piece carefully pull out the ribbon cable that connects it to
      the main board.
    3-You should now have the board (covered by a metal shield) in your
      hands. Turn it over, you will see little clasps on the edge of the
      shield that hold it in place. Straighten these with your pliers
      and you can then remove 2 LARGE shields (One on Bottom of unit,
      one on Top). The small shield remaining (On Top) covers the RF
    4-Orient the exposed board into the position that it would normally
      be in. ie: The way it is when you play (On/Off switch near Top
    5-Look in the LOWER RIGHTHAND AREA of the TOPSIDE (front) of the
      board. You will see a setup that resembles the schematic below.
    TOPSIDE OF THE BOARD,        |                  |
    LOWER RIGHTHAND CORNER       |O      RF         |
                                 |    MODULATOR     |
                                 |                  |
                                            ------ TP5 (Luma)
                                 _____      V      ___
                                |     | ||| o ||| | O |
                                |_____| RRR   RCR |___|
                                        |||   |||
                                          ^    ^
                                          |    |
                           R41 (Chroma) ---    --- C19 (Audio)
                           Gold/Red/Grey/Blue      Usually turquoise
                           Color-banded            colored
    NOTE: You can connect the Audio to EITHER side of the Capacitor,
          the best results are obtained by placing it on the BOTTOM
          of the Capacitor (as shown).
          The Chroma *MUST* be hooked up to the BOTTOM of the resistor
          (as shown).  It will NOT work if you hook it to the top of
          the resistor.
    To gain Chroma/Luma/Audio output you will need 3 RCA patch cables
    [the kind commonly used with stereos]. Simply solder the cables at
    the required points (Chroma/Luma/Audio) as shown. Remember to GROUND
    ALL cables! ie: solder the GROUND wire [the wire that wraps around
    the inner wire] to any point that the board shield connects to.
    To gain Composite/Audio output you need 2 RCA patch cables [the kind
    commonly used with stereos]. Here it gets a little different than
    above. Simply solder a "jumper" [a piece of wire] from R41 (Chroma)
    to TP5 (Luma), then connect a patch cord to TP5 [Presto! you now have
    composite]. Solder the remaining cable to C19 (Audio). Again, remember
    to GROUND all cables. Do *NOT* GROUND the jumper!
    Simply re-assemble the unit and you are done. You will find that it
    is easier to have the newly installed cables exit through the joystick
    port. Alternatively, you could cut a notch in the case for a separate
    exit. Having the cables exit through the RF output is not recommended.
    There will not be enough room (without pinching the cables) to hook up
    the RF cable. Adjust your brightness/contrast. Enjoy!
    If you ever wish to adjust your color (chroma) there is a "POT" that
    you can tweak. It can be found near the OFF/ON switch. It is the only
    pot on the left side of the board.
    I can not, and will not, be held responsible for any damages that you
    or your system incur.  This document is provided for informational
    purposes only.
    Send all Questions/Comments/Cartridges you are no longer using to:
    Thomas Clancy
    1 Hunt's Lane
    St. John's NF, Canada
    A1B 2L2
    (C)1993 Thomas Clancy
    This article is freely distributable so long as it is not modified.
    It must be distributed in it's entirety.

    chroma/luma output for 4 switch 2600

         TIA pin 2 -----Sync
         TIA pin 5 -----Lum 1                o 5V (TIA pin 20)
         TIA pin 7 -----Lum 2                |
         TIA pin 8 -----Lum 0                |  +
         R206(1K)/C208 Bottom ---Audio       |---|(----,
         C210/R210(6.8K) Top ----Color       |  100uF  |
                                             |         \/ GND (TIA pin 1)
            ,--------------------------------|                    10uf
            |    __________                  `------,---/\/\/---,--|(--,
            `---|1         |   CR1  750       1.6K  |    10     | +    |
                |         2|--|<]--/\/\/-,  ,-/\/\/-`           |      \/ GND
      TIA2<-----|3 CD4050  |   9.1K      |  |        ___/-------`        ..........
      TIA5<-----|5        4|---/\/\/-----|  |    Q1 /|/c\                .    RCA
      TIA7<-----|7         |   4.7K      |--|------(b|   )               .   Cables
      TIA8<-----|9        6|---/\/\/-----|  |       \|\e/          75    .       __
             ,--|14        |   18K       |  |           \-----,---/\/\/----Luma-O__
             |--|11      10|---/\/\/-----`  |  2K             |          .      |
             |--|8         |                `-/\/\/-,--/\/\/--`          .  GND \/
             |  |__________|           5v o         |    75              .
             |                            |     GND \/                   .
             \/ GND                Q2 ___/                               .
                             6.8K    /|/c\          75                   .       __
      Top of C210/R210<-----/\/\/---(b|   )   ,----/\/\/---------------->Chroma-O__
                                     \|\e/    |                          .      |
        CR1 - low power silicon          \----|     75                   .  GND \/
              (glass) diode (RS 276-1122)     `----/\/\/---,             .
        Q1,Q2 - 3904 or equiv. (RS 276-2016)               |             .
                                                           \/ GND        .
                                 1uF                                     .       __
      Bottom of R206/C208<-------|(-------------------------------------->Audio-O__
                                +                                        .      |
                                                                         .  GND \/

    The CD4050 is a video buffer. It provides a sharper signal than just picking the signals off of the TIA, which is an unbuffered and open collector. The unused buffer inputs are tied to ground to reduce noise (pins 14&11). On the outputs of the buffer, the 3 Luma pins and Sync are combined into what will become Luma. Each Luma signal is supposed to be twice as bright as the previous one, so the resistance on each Luma pin is roughly 1/2 the previous one. If you cannot find the exact values, at least try to be within 10% or stack values to get close. The Sync signal is added in via a diode to protect the output of the buffer and is dropped slightly through a 750 ohm resistor.

    Next, the combined Luma signal is connect to 5v & ground through resistors to reference the voltage for the base of Q1, our Luma amplifier. Its output is set to 75 ohm impedance (75 ohms is best but 70-100 ohms will work in the place of the 75 ohm resistors. The closest Radio Shack has is a 1/2 watt 82 ohm resistor 271-011 which works fine).

    The Chroma signal is picked off the board at the junction of C210 and R210. Looking at the board, R210 is the 4th component from the right in the bottom row of resistors/capacitors under the shield. It connects to C210 (5th component from the right) at the top of both components, and this is where to solder the wire for the Chroma circuit.

    The Chroma circuit is just a simpler version of the Luma amplifier. Again, the output is 75 ohm impedance.

    The Audio circuit is simply a capacitor to filter out the DC offset on the audio signal. Pick the audio signal off the board at the junction of R206 and C208. R206 is the 4th component from the right in the 2nd row of components at the bottom. Solder the Audio wire at the bottom of R206 and/or C208 (3rd component from the right).

    Be sure to solder the outer shield from the RCA cables to ground and connect the signal to the inner conductor. Also, do not disconnect any pins of TIA from the circuit (if the pins are lifted out of the socket or PCB, the open collector outputs will no longer function).

    I used a small piece of perfboard from Radio Shack and hot-glued it into the 2600 case and made a small hole in the RF shield to run the wires to the new board. I ran the RCA cables (Chroma, Luma, Audio) out the hole for the RF cable.

    I'd like to acknowledge Ben Poehland and Charles Cole whose Super Video upgrades are the basis for this project. When you complete this circuit, your 2600's picture quality will be comparable to a Super Video upgraded Atari 8-bit.

    Q: How do I build a video driver for the 2600/7800?

    A: Parts list:

    • T1 2SC1815
    • R1 2.7K
    • R2 150
    • R3 68
    • L1 180 uH
    • L2 2.7 uH
    • C1, C2 100 uF 6.3 V

    wire list:

    • R1:1 to Ground
    • R1:2 to Video In
    • R2:1 to Video In
    • R2:2 to T1 base
    • R3:1 to Ground
    • R3:2 to T1 emitter
    • L1:1 to +5V
    • L1:2 to T1 collector
    • C1:1 to Ground
    • C1:2 to T1 collector (positive lead of C1)
    • C2:1 to L2:1
    • C2:2 to T1 emitter (positive lead of C2)
    • L2:1 to C1:1
    • L2:2 to Video Out
                                      +5 Volts
                                      L1 (
                            R2      |/---+---+
       Video In -------+---^^^------| T1     |     + C2      L2
                       |            |\       |
                       |              >>-+---|-------| |----nnn----  Video Out
                       >                 |   |
                    R1 >                 >   _ +
                       >              R3 >   - C1
                       |                 >   |
                       |                 |   |
                       +-----------------+---+--- Ground

    This is a simple common emitter amplifier. It is a non-inverting current amplifier and serves here to allow the video signal from the game to drive a standard composite monitor with 75 ohm impedance.

    In order to prevent the audio from interfering with the video signal, the mixing oscillator must be disabled on the main circuit board. On a 7800, remove the base lead of Q1. It is located near the RF modulator.

    The audio doesn't need any extra buffering.

    Places to get signals:

    1. from RF modulator
       pin 3 is video
       pin 1 is ground
    2. from Expansion Interface on 7800
       pin 1 is ground
       pin 2 is +5V
       pin 3 is video
       pin 17 is audio
    3. from main circuit board
    on a 7800, video and ground are across C7; +5V and audio are across C4

    This circuit may not work or be required with all versions of the 2600. It is required for the 7800 and the Sears Video Arcade II version of the 2600. It is probably not necessary for a 5200.

    Q: I hate the two mods above. Does anyone have anything better?

    A: Yes.

    Q: How do I build a composite output interface for the 7800?

    A: Ben Jirou ( was kind enough to pass along his researches.

    I rejected the video driver because the 2SC1815 transistor is not easily obtainable. On the other hand, you can easily find the 2N3904 at Radio Shack.

    The resulting circuit is below. It is a very much simplified version of the "chroma/luma for 4 switch" entry. Most of the parts can be found at Radio Shack. For the 75 ohm resistors, I used two 150ohms connected in parallel. I think 1.5K can be substituted for the 1.8K without any problem.

                o 5V
                |  +
                |  100uF  |
                |         \/ GND
                 1.8K  |           |
               ,-/\/\/-`           |
               |        ___/-------`
               |    Q1 /|/c\
      Video  --|------(b|   )
               |       \|\e/          75
               |           \-----,---/\/\/-----O Composite out
               |  2.2K           |
                       |    75
                   GND \/
    Q1 is 2N3904         

    I mounted everything on a little circuit board. I removed the RF modulator and channel selector switch. The circuit board mounts in the place of the modulator. +5V, gnd and the video signal are taken from the connector to the modulator.

    Audio was a problem. The FAQ mentions that you can take audio from the Expansion Interface for the 7800. That's incorrect. (mod note: confirmation anyone?)

    I took audio from one of the pins of a capacitor. From tracing the circuit, this is also connected to the EAudio pin of the cartridge port. The capacitor is the second on the left of the cartridge port:

    ------------------------------ Back of the machine ----------------
                              |  |   |
                              M  M   |
                              M  M   |
                              M  M   |
                        X---> |  |   |   Cartridge port
                              |  |   |
                              M  M   |
                        Y---> M  M   |
                              M  M   |
                              |  |   |

    Y is a component with a translucent case (a coil). X is where the audio can be obtained.

    Q: How do I convert Sega controllers to Atari pinout?

    A: [Note: Based on a non-random sample of size 2, it was found that unmodified Sega controllers work fine on the 2600/7800, with B acting as the single fire button. As an aside, Sega Master System controllers (model 3020) work too, with button 1 as the fire button. Use the instructions below if you wish to have a truly 7800 compatible stick with 2 separate fire buttons.]

    [editor's note: who is this talking?]
    First the Disclaimer. I am not responsible for:
    1. Any damage done to your Atari 7800 or Atari 2600.
    2. Any damage done to the Sega Genesis Controller.
    3. Any errors in these instructions.

    This design is free for you to make your own controllers or adaptors. If you make controllers or adaptors to sell to other people, I would like (no surprise here) a cut of the profits. The only other thing I ask is that if make your own, drop me an email so I get an idea of how many people are using my design.

    I'm not going to give step by step instructions. I'm going to assume that the reader has some basic knowledge of electronics and can figure out what to do with the schematics and info presented here. I will, however, answer questions if asked.

    This design works with the Atari 2600 as well as the Atari 7800. Also, any system that can use Atari 2600 joysticks, should be able to use this design. This design can be put inside a Sega Genesis controller or with the addition of two 9 pin connectors, it can be made into an adaptor. It works with any Sega Genesis controller including those with autofire.

    Parts List

    • 2 3906 PNP Transistor
    • 2 1K Resistor
    • 2 620 Ohms Resistor

    For Adaptor only

    • 1 9 pin Male Subminiature D connector
    • 1 9 pin Female Subminiature D Connector
    Sega B button --> Atari Left Button:
                             ____ Atari 6
                  1K      | /
    Sega 6   __/\/\/\/\___|V PNP
                          |\ 3906
                            |_______ Atari 9
    						< 620 Ohms
                          Atari 8
    Sega C button --> Atari Right Button:
                             ____ Atari 6
                  1K      | /
    Sega 9   __/\/\/\/\___|V PNP
                          |\ 3906
                            |_______ Atari 5
                            < 620 Ohms
                          Atari 8
    Sega 1 -------- Atari 1      (Up)
    Sega 2 -------- Atari 2      (Down)
    Sega 3 -------- Atari 3      (Left)
    Sega 4 -------- Atari 4      (Right)
    Sega 8 -------- Atari 8      (Ground)
    Sega 5 ___.
              |---- Atari 7      (+5V)
    Sega 7 ___|

    Pins listed as Sega refer to the 9 pin male connector that the Sega Controller plugs into. Pins listed as Atari refer to the 9 pin female connector that plugs in the Atari 7800.

    Q: How do I convert a Sega Master System lightgun to Atari pinout?

    A: The Aug 1988 (Vol 7, Num 4) Antic Magazine contained an article called First look: Inside the XE Game System: Hardware surprises revealed. It described the conversion:

    To modify the Sega gun for the Atari, you'll have to cut off the incompatible connector. The wires must be stripped back and soldered into an Atari joystick connector as follows:

            SEGA GUN                    ATARI JOYSTICK PORT
            Blue wire                   Pin 1 stick FWD
            Gray wire                   Pin 6 trigger
            Green wire                  Pin 7  +5 volts
            Black wire                  Pin 8 Ground

    Because of the close fitting connections for the XEGS ports, don't wire in a DB9 female connector that has "ears". Most joysticks don't have wires for unused signals, so cutting up an old joystick cable may not work. Specifically, an Atari joystick does not need the +5 volts, so there isn't likely to be a wire connected to Pin 7. However, you can find joystick extension cables at Radio Shack, which have all nine pins wired from male to female. Antic disclaims responsibility for any damages that might occur during improper implementation of this, or any, hardware modification project we publish.

    Once it's all hooked up, you'll notice that gun fires when you release the trigger, which is annoying. The Sega trigger wiring is the opposite of what the Atari light gun uses. To rewire the trigger switch, remove the five screws (one is under the Sega logo on the side). Find the trigger micro-switch with three connections. Wire to the normally closed contacts.

    Q: How do I convert an NES controller to Atari pinout?

    A: See the following link for step-by-step instructions. You will need a 2600 controller connector cable to make this work.

    There is also a mod to convert an NES controller to 7800 pinout.

    Q: Is there a general site that contains all this conversion stuff?

    A: Yes. Jay Tilton ( maintains a page of various video, joystick and lightgun pinouts and conversions for the 2600, 7800 and many, many others.

    Q: What is an Atari Game Recorder and how do I build one?

    A: An Atari Game Recorder is a device that copies carts to cassette tape and also admits the playing of games from tape. Instructions and schematics are in the following issues of Radio Electronics (it's a three-part article):

    Dec 84 vol 55 no 12 p. 69-72.
    Jan 85 vol 56 no 1 p. 51-58.
    Feb 85 vol 56 no 2 p. 69-72.

    The article was written by Guy Vachon and David A. Chan. The construction of the AGR is not for the faint of heart, but if anyone does decide to construct an AGR, please mail Zube and provide details of how well it works and any problems encountered in its construction. BTW, the AGR as described in the article does not handle bankswitched carts.

    Here is the article, in twelve separate jpg files (one for each page). Here is a another page containing the files.

    Acknowledgments of thanks.

    Much thanks to the following people:

    • Karl Heller ( for giving me (Zube) a shot at revising this FAQ.
    • NightThing ( for the 7800 Impossible Mission entry.
    • Bruce Tomlin ( for the Expansion Module #1 entry and for the last paragraph of the 7800 encryption entry.
    • Jeff Coleburn ( for the Intv System changer entry.
    • Greg Alt ( for the 2600/7800 Joystick pinouts.
    • Brian Hammock ( for the 95 Radio Shack list, the redo of the 7800 polarity diagram and the last paragraph in the 7800 power supply section.
    • Thomas Clancy ( for the chroma/luma 2600 Jr bit.
    • Bryan Edewaard ( for the chroma/luma 4 switch 2600 bit.
    • Harry Dodgson Jr ( for the video driver information, the 7800 pinouts, the keypad cart list, the PAL Impossible Mission bit, and much more of this FAQ than we give him credit for.
    • The Macra Terror ( for the review of Zap!
    • Mike Doughty ( for the info about Video and Computer Games Fall 83 issue.
    • Ken Kopin () for the birthday information in the Gameline entry.
    • Craig Harris ( for mentioning the 7800 adapter for the 5200 in a posting to
    • Glenn Saunders ( for pointing out the official home of the supercharger faq, for information on the commercial Stella CD, for mentioning information about the Stella artwork in an rgvc posting, for the Stella at 20 info, for Hasbro/Atari info, for the Ed Logg bit in the Atari Games section, for the M-network emulator update and for the note about the 2600 emulator for the Jag.
    • Kevin Horton ( for pointing out the 2600 technical information on his web page, for most of the cart size entry, for noticing the NTSC/PAL switch inside the TVboy, and for the Gameline baud information.
    • Leonard Herman ( for previous Gameline bps information.
    • Dan Boris ( for mentioning his vcs tech page in a rgvc posting and for gobs of 7800 information, including his emulator, tech page and explanation of the validation key.
    • Jay Tilton ( for the 7800 incompatibility information, a pointer to his tech site and a note about the Garfield cart in an rgvc posting.
    • Christopher James Pepin ( for the Fun Facts link, the NES controller link, the stella mailing list info, and a pointer to the 7800 32-in-1 cart.
    • Greg Legowski ( for the second fire button explanation of the Sega controller to Atari pinout entry.
    • Russ Perry Jr. for Slap-Dash info, for information on how complete the Jaguar 2600 emulator is, for a correction to the list of CyberPuNKs, two Stella updates (2600 connection), the Video 61 link (2600 connection), for a great list of additional hoaxes and for information I regularly purloin from the 2600 connection, including the fact that Joe Cody has taken over from JerryG.
    • Jerry Greiner ( for pointers to his clone list, the Beta One Guide, Don Thomas' bit and especially for the TVboy information.
    • Sean Kelly ( for the multicart info and Classic Videogame TV Commercial Archive Video from his web page.
    • Rich Arroyo ( for the Atari Game Recorder info.
    • Colin Woodbridge ( for the Auction Price database info, the UK classic videogame mailing list info, and for the information regarding JTS' sale of Atari.
    • Mike Davidson ( for TVboy and TVboy II information.
    • Dennis Remmer ( for the 7800 32-in-1 info and picture.
    • Chris Cracknell ( for the Rescue Bira Bira info, for the info on the 7800 damaging the Supercharger, and for the Easy Composite mod link.
    • Scott Charles ( for Radio Shack info and warnings about using tv tuner spray on paddles.
    • Bert Whetstone ( for references to several files on his ftp site.
    • Matthew Pritchard ( for mentioning the Intellivision emulator bit in a rgvc posting.
    • Hans Reutter ( for the Videoplexer and Unimex SP280 info.
    • Howard Scott Warshaw ( for mentioning his video in an rgvc posting.
    • Scott Crawford ( for his review of the Once Upon Atari video.
    • Nick Bensema ( for his tech page and game page link.
    • The Maverick ( for 7800 joystick/TV boy info.
    • Sean McGrail ( for additional games available from O'Shea.*
    • David H. Hovemeyer ( for mentioning in an rgvc posting that mpja has Atari Track balls.
    • Andy Clayton (aclayton@leland.Stanford.EDU) for a link to the IEEE article and IBM's patent server.
    • Greg Troutman ( for mentioning his game in a posting to the stella mailing list.
    • Lance F. Squire ( for the Astrocade joystick rewiring pointer.
    • Dauer ( for the O'Shea information regarding single carts.
    • Phil Gorski ( for mentioning that O'Shea has 2600 Crossbow as well.
    • Piero Cavina ( for the Oystron home page.
    • Bob Colbert ( for many things already mentioned in the FAQ and for the Usenet announcement of alt.atari.2600.programming.
    • Ian Pleasance ( for additional info regarding the CCNUK web page, separate trade/sale CCNUK list, a link to the console compatibility FAQ, gobs of PAL TVboy information, 7800 PAL compatibility information, and for posting information about Britmeet 3 to rgvc.
    • Dennis Brown ( for the old Atari emulator FAQ and for the pictures from Ultimate Gamer.
    • for TV Boy II, Super TV Boy information, and SystemA's address and ordering information.
    • Michael Bennett ( for mentioning that
    • Walton C. Gibson ( for the Atari Age and SwordQuest pages.
    • for the link to the Once Upon Atari home page.
    • Ben Sipriano ( for the bit that Radio Shack's newest pages were out.
    • Garon Grainger ( for mentioning Randy Crihfield's page in a stella list posting, for a link to the Joystik mag index and to the original Joystik scans, for mentioning the Mactari site, for a link to the stella archive excavation and for various other suggestions.
    • Sean R. O'Neill ( for the Gemini pack-in info.
    • Keith Ainsworth ( for the TV Gamer info.
    • Alexander Bilstein ( for his gallery of controller pictures, his cart lists, his instruction archive, his library archive, many good suggestions, for mentioning Bill Connolly's Atari Font find and for the VCSS link.
    • Chris Cavanaugh ( for the Classic Gamer link.
    • Tom Zjaba ( for the Retrogaming Times link and for the video game ad site link.
    • David J. Robbins ( for mentioning that Centipede was once a pack-in cart.
    • Phaze ( for the link to his page of mag cover scans.
    • Mark Hourahane ( for mentioning his repair service.
    • Scott Stilphen ( for the Atari Age reference to Pac-Man. as a pack-in game, for mentioning the Classic Videogame TV Commercial Archive Video in an rgvc posting, and for mentioning that JerryG sold off
    • James Catalano for the 2600 Doom page.
    • Jim Agar ( for a link to the Classic Videogames Collector's Listing.
    • "Mark" ( for pointing out that Bugs and SW: Jedi Arena are paddle games.
    • Nick Blesch ( for mentioning the FF VII hoax in a rgvc posting.
    • Eric Chapin ( for his 7800 compatibility page.
    • George Torch ( for the info on the 7800 damaging the Supercharger.
    • Billy Ray Connolly Jr. ( for adding several entries to the paddle list, for mentioning iconfiles' Atari-like font and for keeping a sharp eye out for dead links and outdated information.
    • The Atari Corp v. Atari Games bit was a patchwork of bits from the comp.sys.atari.8bit FAQ, a CNN article, the WMS web page and the Atari Games web page.
    • John Hardie ( for the Classic Gaming Expo '99 Update of 7/15/99 posted to rgvc, for mentioning the Garfield proto in a Usenet posting,and for the Zap! re-release information.
    • Jay Colen ( for the 4Jays link and for the fact that 4Jays repairs consoles.
    • Shaun Stephenson ( for mentioning the commercial-archive site in a ccnuk posting.
    • Kevin Savetz ( for the link to the Sega lightgun pinout article in Antic.
    • Damien M. Jones ( for the information on Temporary Sanity Designs' 2600 emulator for the Jag.
    • Gimpy ( for hosting the AGR files.
    • Cheesepimp ( for hosting the AGR files.
    • Chris Hind ( for cover scans of TV gamer and Joystik.
    • Lee Krueger ( for the link to the John Deere hoax, for many other hoaxes (should I be thanking him for these?) for the link to the Worship the Woodgrain page, for the link to the 7800 mod page, and for mentioning the NWCGE meeting in a rgvc posting.
    • Ben Combee ( for the link to the Codewarrior hoax.
    • for the link to the Battlesphere hoax.
    • Mark Santora ( for the link to his CGE 1999 Video page.
    • William Augustine ( for mentioning CinciClassic in an rgvc posting.
    • Jason J Leinen ( for noting that that polarity in the 7800 Power Supply diagram was reversed.
    • John Soper ( for posting his composite mod with hints to rgvc.
    • steve c ( for noting that SMS controllers work on the 2600/7800.
    • Paul and Shannon Budd ( for reporting that Radio Shack no longer sells 2600/7800 games and accessories.
    • John Saeger ( for the Atari Documentation Depot link.
    • Gaz Reese ( and Jim Groom ( for separately mentioning 2600s made in Ireland.
    • kevdempsey ( for various and sundry 2600 Jr. info, the PAL 7800 power supply info and for mentioning that 2600s were made in China.
    • Mitchell Orman ( for an updated Oshea's list, a link to the NES to 7800 controller conversion, for catching that the buttons were reversed in the Sega controller mod, for the 7800 controller 620 ohm note, for the ersatz 7800 power supply connectors bit, for the 7800 doc archive,for the new VCSS link and for noting that Hozer now has 16K images.
    • David Newman ( for mentioning the PhillyClassic event in an rgvc posting.
    • Eichman ( for noting that Barnyard Blaster does not work with a joystick.
    • James Hague ( for the link to The Giant List of Classic Games Programmers.
    • Carl Forhan ( for the VVCS information.
    • Eckhard Stolberg ( for a link to his VCS workshop page.
    • Ron "Aalgar" Watt ( for the clarification of the hoax section.
    • "PAUL BUDD" ( for noting that Jack Berg Sales carries new Superchargers.
    • J.W. Krych ( for mentioning CCAG 2001 in a usenet posting.
    • for the O'Shea's Dark Chambers info.
    • Ben Jirou ( for the 7800 composite out entry.
    • Colin Stein ( for posting the Amazon link to Steven L. Kent's book on the ccnuk mailing list.
    • Steve Rich ( for the Atari VCS/2600 UK Release List link.
    • Chip Morrow ( for pointing out O'Shea's price and minimum order increase.
    • Ted ( for the Vic-20 2600 adapter ads.
    • All people previously mentioned in the FAQ.