A Brief History of Atari 8-bit Computers, Part 1
Atari brings the computer age home
In the 1970s, Atari was primarily making arcade games. Due to the success of home versions of Pong that connected to a TV, a project to create a home video game system with swappable games was started in the mid-1970s and it eventually became the Atari Video Computer System (VCS), released in 1977.
The team that worked on the VCS expected it would have a lifespan of about 3 years, so they began working on its replacement almost immediately.
But also in 1977 was the release of the “trinity” of home computers: the Apple II, Commodore PET and the Tandy TRS-80. Atari quickly pivoted and decided to transition their planned next-generation video game system to a computer system.
In late 1978, the Atari 400 and 800 computers were announced, but they didn’t start shipping until a year later.
When released, the Atari computers blew the doors off the other computers that were available at the time. The PET and TRS-80 were only black and white and text-based. The Apple II had color and two graphics modes, but no support for gaming features. The Atari debuted with 128 colors (and soon had 256 colors), resolution up to 320x192 in multiple graphics modes and player/missile graphics (sprites).
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