All About The Atari 2600

Released in 1977, the Atari 2600 can lay claim to being the system that truly popularised home video gaming.

System Overview

The system was the first popular machine to utilise microprocessor hardware and game cartridges. This approach is something that continued to be utilised right up until the N64 in 1996,

Originally known as the Atari VCS, Atari rebranded the machine as the ‘2600’ in 1982 to coincide with the release of the Atari 5200.

Utilising a MOS 6507 CPU and 128 bytes of RAM, this is tiny when compared even to systems a few years later. So the technical achievements of many of the games for the Atari 2600 cannot be underestimated.

This system is often attributed to being the machine that both created the video game boom and crash of the 1980s. This was predominantly in the US though. Computing and gaming in other regions, primarily Europe, still boomed beyond the US crash of 1983.

Still popular to this day, the system has had many clones and reissues produced. Its form factor and classic design joysticks remain iconic.

Atari 2600
The Atari 2600

How To Emulate This System?

All About The Atari 2600 emulation is reasonably well catered for, we recommend taking a look at RetroArch if you are seeking an all-in-one solution. RetroArch emulates a large number of systems including the All About The Atari 2600. RetroArch is a front end that utilises emulator ‘cores’, it is reasonably easy to use and has lots of good supporting documentation on how to use it. RetroArch is available across a number of platforms including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Raspberry Pi, and many consoles. Take a look at our quick start guide for RetroArch which can get you up and running in 5 minutes.

Check out RetroArch here

Also, check out the other All About The Atari 2600 emulators we enjoy using:

StellaStella is a well-established Atari 2600 VCS emulator for multiple platformsWindows / Mac / Linux
AltirraAltirra is now fairly old but does emulate the Atari 400/800, 1200XL, 600/800XL, 130XE, XEGS, and 5200 systemsWindows
ProSystemProSystem is a popular Atari 7800 EmulatorWindows

Raspberry Pi Atari 2600 Emulator

The Raspberry Pi is a compact single-board computer that has become very popular for emulating retro computers and consoles. You can buy the Pi very cheaply and has a whole community supporting and building accessories and applications that are compatible with it.

Significantly, for Retro Gaming enthusiasts, the Raspberry Pi offers fantastic round emulation of many systems. It offers the ability to play All About The Atari 2600 games on HDTVs via HDMI or older CRT TVs via composite outputs. Combining the Raspberry Pi with Retropie, you have a device capable of emulating anything from the Atari 2600 to the Sony PlayStation.