What’s the story?
Originally announced in May 1984, the 7800 is the console that almost never was. A month later the company was sold, and the successor to the 5200 spent 18 months gathering dust. After a successful launch in America in 1986, Atari’s latest machine made it to Europe a year later, where it went up against the NES and Sega’s Master System.
Why should I want one?
The 7800 was the first Atari designed by an external company. Arcade game maker General Computer Corporation handled the blueprints and gave the 7800 more pixel-pushing power than its competitors, meaning it was capable of moving more sprites without slowing down or flickering. Sadly, its limits were rarely pushed because games that used its extra graphical grunt were harder to make.
What to look for…
By the time of the 7800’s demise on New Year’s Day 1992 (with a modest 12% of the American market), Nintendo had been crowned undisputed winner of the 8-bit console war. That means second-hand 7800s are hardly gold dust, but they’re not ten-a-penny either. Thanks to its backwards compatibility with the Atari 2600, games to play on it are plentiful. And if you can find one of the unreleased laser disc attachments, you win the whole internet.
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