First Atari home console in twenty-five years, Atari ‘VCS’ coming soon


Cristina Gomez

After more than 20 years, video game pioneer Atari has reentered the video game console market with the “Atari VCS.” The gaming console is available for preorder on May 30.

Nolan Sanders, Staff Writer

Last year on June 8, Atari CEO Fred Chesnais announced the developing of a new gaming console based on revolutionary PC technology.


From the concept photographs, the new “Atari VCS” seems to be a great-grandson of the 2600. The same original wood grain frame and ribbed black design present in the 2600 are fused together with a more modern design to create a sleek, contemporary yet classic look.


In 1972, co-founders of Atari Inc. Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney installed the first Pong machine in a local bar in Sunnyvale, Calif.


The prototype was a crude device; a black and white television set sat on top of an orange-painted cabinet. A small slot in the cabinet was cut out and connected to a milk jug to store inserted quarters.


Pong became an instant hit. Patrons flocked to the bar, some of which visited solely to play. The popularity of the game encouraged the founders of the company to produce more machines. Bushnell talked with two manufacturing companies and realized that the newly founded Atari Inc. had much more to gain by producing their game on their own.


By the end of 1972, Pong machines were being shipped and installed around the country. The following year, they were being sent around the world. Pong could be found in amusement parks, dive bars, pizza parlors, cafes and hotels all around America. These original orange and yellow cabinets were what really established a base for the popularity of video games in the United States during the late ‘70s and 1980s as well as what gave the Atari company its identity.


The video gaming industry was revolutionized in 1977 when the Atari 2600 was released. The 2600 was a home computer video game system that allowed one to play arcade games, such as Pong, on a television set in the living room. Although it was not the first home video game console, it certainly turned people’s heads to the new emerging gaming industry.


By the 1990s and 2000s, however, the company was obsolete. Atari was unable to keep up with larger and cutting edge video game companies such as Nintendo and Sega. During these years, Atari lost a lot of its worth. Ownership of the company changed hands several times. Computer and console production was halted and generated revenue fell by large percentages. Bankruptcy was filed multiple times. The last console released by Atari was in 1993. The once-powerful company has since then been revived, in name only, until now.


“The VCS seems promising,” said Jordan Smith, Game X Change manager in Denton. “Only time will tell. I know it will be able to play all of those old games you could play on the 2600, but it also comes with some of the more modern features one can find in a next gen console.”


This new Video Computer System will be produced with a unique processor manufactured by AMD with “Radeon” graphics technology, which means the new Atari will be able to run advanced PC games. According to Polygon, the VCS will also be able to display crystal-clear 4K graphics and will be able to run at 60 frames per second. Basic necessities of a modern gaming console are included, such as Bluetooth capabilities, USB ports, dual-band Wi-Fi and more.


“I am very excited for [the new Atari],” CHS sophomore Ben Smith said. “Although we weren’t born in that era, the name Atari brings a sort of nostalgic sense to it. The idea that a company with roots as old as Atari is creating a new, modern console is very cool.”


The Atari VCS will come in two versions at its release; faux woodgrain and the nicknamed “Darth Vader” edition, both of which were styles of the 2600 console released in 1977. The consoles will come with both an old-school style joystick along with a modern gamepad for player’s preference. As homage to its past, the corporation also intends to include more than 100 classic games on the VCS.


Atari is targeting a price range of $250 to $300 for this new console. Pre-orders can be placed starting May 30 for the new Atari on Indiegogo.