Atari 2800

Console Name: Atari 2800
Release Date: October 1983
Country of Origin: Japan
Manufacturer: Atari

The story of the 2800 begin in the late 1970s. At that time, while the video game industry was booming in North America, it was not the case in Japan. Japan had yet to become a force in the video game industry at that time and was merely copying concept that had some success in the West for the most part. This is mostly due to the fact that non-Japanese company had a hard time selling their product in Japan. Even if the name Atari does exist in Japanese (当たり: meaning to “hit” or “strike” or “to be right), the brand was unknown and needed to be sold under a Japanses brand to have a chance of being successful.

In 1979, Epoch, one of the leading Japanese videogame developers of the time, entered in a partnership with Atari and released 2 products to the Japanese market. First was the TV Block which was a redesign of the Atari Video Pinball C-380. The company then released in October 1979 a rebranded version of the Atari VCS (2600) under the name Epoch Cassette TV Game. At a steep price of 56,300¥, the console was not a success. As Space Invaders was really popular in Japan, Epoch asked Atari to create a version for the 2600 to try to boost the sale, but even with the release of Space Invaders on the VCS, the Cassette TV Game was not able to break into the market. Eventually, Epoch would stop selling the Epoch Cassette TV Game to instead sell their own console : the Cassette Vision.

Atari would wait 4 whole year before deciding to release the 2600 again in Japan, this time under its own brand.

Released in the midst of the Japanese Console War, the 2800 was a brand new take on the Atari 2600. Specifically designed for the Japanese market, the 2800 was an early victim of the Nintendo Famicom which had just released. Although 30 games were sold alongside the console, the 2800 had few to none incentive over the powerful Nintendo Famicom.

The faith of the 2800 was quickly decided and the console felt in obscurity, at least in Japan. Sears released the same model under the brand Sears Video Arcade II in North America. The case design was later used by Barney Huang to design the Atari 7800.

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