Retronauts Episode 387: The Atari 8-bit Legacy

We cover literally "hundreds" of computers in this episode!

Any conversation about video game history will invariably include lots of Atari, Atari, Atari. Atari helped put video games on the map. Atari had the first hit home console in the United States. Atari produced some of the biggest arcade games of the golden age.

Not all Atari news is good news, though. The company's business practices and miscalculations helped bring about the American video game crash of 1983, and Atari rather famously had an opportunity to become the U.S. distributor of the NES (and later, the Sega Genesis) but couldn't close either deal.

On this week's episode, Jeremy is joined by Ben Elgin and Atari expert Benj Edwards to talk about an arm of Atari's games division that doesn't get as much attention as everything cited above: Atari's 8-bit home computers. Before the NES took off, personal computers were all the rage in American homes in the early-to-mid 1980s, and Atari tried to conquer that market. Things didn't quite work out that way, but that didn't stop Atari from releasing multiple iterations of game machines with increasingly hard to parse names. Still, it makes for a fascinating story as I owned none of these post-2600 machines and a few of them sound like they could have been special.

Description: Retronauts East returns as Benj Edwards and Ben Elgin school Jeremy Parish about the history and greatness of Atari's 8-bit computer line, as well as its unloved console counterpart, the 5200.

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Artwork for this episode by John Pading and editing thanks go to Greg Leahy.