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Wednesday, November 17, 1999

ALAS POOR ATARI, I KNEW HIM WELL... AGAIN

Are you my age?

Are you older?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, then you probably remember the FIRST time video games were big. It was the late seventies and the only thing I wanted for Christmas as an 8 year-old was the newest version of this little machine that my Dad would hook up to the family's TV set. The machine as I recall ran on batteries and allowed me to play one of five games. Pong, two-player Pong, Squash and two-player Squash and something else I don't recall. The graphics were very simple - just small rectangles batting about a small square. The rectangles were controlled by small dials on the machine itself and you could play the five games by adjusting a slider.

Now, mind you, these memories are about 20 years old, so they may not be entirely accurate. One memory I KNOW was accurate is the memory of just how much FUN I had playing those simple little games. Then, when word came around that the company was releasing a new machine I was ecstatic. It was to be called the Atari Video Game System, or, the Atari VCS. It was, as far as I know, the first of it's kind.

It could run an infinite number of games thanks to a cartridge system. One game (sometimes more) per cartridge. Of course, the cartridges at the time ran in excess of thirty dollars. Twenty years later, the games cost a little more and they come on CDs instead of cartridges. Of course the games have changed as well - a slew of tiny aliens moving monotonously back and forth slowly creeping downward while you try to blow them away has turned into an all too realistic, sex pot in a tank top and khakis running around tombs.

Games aren't games anymore - they're insane challenges that actually make you believe that movies like The Matrix are not that unbelievable. This is why I prefer the simpler games of years past. I'd much rather zip a little yellow creature around a maze while trying to gobble up as many little pellets as I can. Thanks to many people around the United States (and even some elsewhere) I can enjoy my favorite kind of games again.

Thanks to the wonderful world of online auctions I am able to get in touch with many people who are willing to sell their ORIGINAL Atari 2600 consoles only to be outbid by people more passionate for their childhood memories than me. SHEESH!

PS Buy your own Atari 2600 at bloatedmonkey.com for $50!
OR check out all of the Atari stuff for auction at Ebay and Amazon!

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