Classic Home Videogames Museum: Third Generation: Atari 5200

Atari 5200

Atari 5200 two-port console

Atari introduced the 5200 in 1982 as its third-generation contender. Basically an Atari 400 computer with no keyboard and analog joysticks, the 5200 didn't really have any ground-breaking technological advances, but it was an improvement over the 2600 and could compete with the ColecoVision. Atari's extensive arcade licenses gave the 5200 an edge over the ColecoVision, though Coleco was successful in snatching up major licenses on its own. The 5200 was popular enough to be included in some hotel rooms in a unit by Spectravision which allows the user to watch TV or play one of four games in the unit.

The analog joysticks might have been the Achille's Heel of the 5200. The sticks didn't center well making them awkward for the popular maze games of the time. The buttons were unresponsive and got dirty easily. Alternative joysticks and adapters to use 2600-style joysticks were created but they represented an added expense over the ColecoVision (with its unpopular, but more reliable, joysticks) that many buyers didn't pay.

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Dennis Brown, dgbrown (at) pixesthesia (dot) com, creator and maintainer. E-Mail me with corrections and additions. All contents copyright 2006, Dennis Brown. All trademarks are properties of their respective companies.