Atari 7800 Specs:
RELEASED: 1986 (Competition was Colecovision and NES).
CPU: 1.79 Mhz
Graphics : 256 colors
The Atari 7800 system was the successor to the not so great "Atari Super-system 5200". That is why it was touted as the "Pro system". It was thought it was going to be a huge success and an overwhelming gaming system when it was released in 1986. It was touted as to be in line with the most off the shelf arcade type games, since Atari was a major force in the United States arcade game development. Atari had most of the great games in the arcade rooms at the time and licensing them and bringing them to the home was as natural as baking an apple pie. Unfortunately it never really took off and one hardly finds people who remember this system.
The system was designed by General Computer Corporation (GCC) (which by the way did a lot of work with the miserable 5200). It was designed in a good fashion actually. It is backwards compatible with the Atari 2600, which is a huge plus since the library from this older system is HUGE!!! It debuted with 2 controllers, the power pack and tv adapter and the game Pole Position II. It probably is by far the most sought after early Atari systems by collectors, just for the simple fact it is backwards compatible and that the joy stick problem is not nearly as bad as the Atari 5200 joystick fiasco. There was also a lot of talk on this system being capable of being upgraded to a home computer type system, but this idea never came to be. You would ask youself, why would I want to even bother with this system? The answer is fairly obvious if you like games such as Robotron, or the popular game Galaga. It can take many enemies on the screen at the same time without any slow down or flickering (ghosting). These games in itself are a great reason to invest into this system.
You can still find quite a few bargins out there on this system if you are patient. I definitely would suggest that you pick one up if you are serious about classic gaming. There were not too many games released for this system, but the ones which were released were high end as far as licensing goes. They managed to fix the crappy video controllers with this system. The 5200 were a disaster. They did not hold up well to time and broke all the time and then they did not self center. You can see how frustrating that could be when your character takes off in a direction that you never intended him to. Talk about wanting to break the controller yourself by throwing it into the television. The prosystems controllers were much more durable and much more practical. They finally got it right. The timing of the system is questionable though. It came out towards the end and then it was delayed a few years on its release. It never really caught on and that is a shame.
An example of the atari 7800 graphics
An example of the cartridge of the Atari 7800