Classic Home Videogames Museum: Third Generation

Third Generation Systems: 1981 to 1983

The ads read "Special Sale on Atari's Super Game system." Elsewhere in the same ad, equally large letters announce, "ColecoVision: State of the Atari Video System. Bring the Arcade Experience Home." Both systems carry the same price tag. Which of the "best" is the best?
-- Mark Brownstein, Colecovision vs. Atari 5200, Video Games Player August/September 1983

The Systems


While the home gaming community was content with the Atari 2600 and the Intellivision for a few years, the machines began to show their ages as the quality of arcade games took off. Atari and Mattel made sure that their machines had ports of the most popular arcade games, but many conversions were simple shells of their arcade counterparts--the graphics and memory capabilities were too limiting to satisfy home gamers.

Coleco, a veteran of the "pong" era with its Telstar Arcade series, took this opportunity to in mid-1982 introduce its ColecoVision home system which boasted an arcade-quality experience. Atari, also wanting part of this new market, introduced its 5200 Supersystem the same year. Both systems have similar capabilities and loads of arcade licenses.

Later in 1982, Milton-Bradley bought the rights to the Vectrex from General Consumer Electronics. As the first home system with a built-in vector-based display, the Vectrex was another first from Milton-Bradley (the "first first" being the handheld Microvision). Despite these advances, however, all three systems and their second-generation siblings still in production were doomed to failure in the upcoming videogame market crash.

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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.