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Atari Demonstration Cabinet

Ahhh, remember the days of heading down to the local department store with your parents, and making a beeline straight for the video game aisle?  If you were lucky, your store had an Atari Demonstration Cabinet with a wide selection of playable games.  I spent many hours at my local Sears, dreaming of actually owning one of those glorious machines.  At least one lucky collector has one of these units, although I'm sure there are more out there.  Although this one isn't exactly like the cabinet I used to play at Sears, I'm still green with envy!

This is essentially reprinted from Wim Rumping's web site, with permission.  All text and pictures are his, and if you have any questions or comments, you can email Wim Rumping. This unit was found in a shed in East Dubuque, IA (April 1998)

Atari Display Unit

One of the few reactions I got to an advertisement I put in the local paper while I was visiting Dubuque, IA was from someone who had an Atari cabinet that he wouldn't mind getting rid of. The owner claimed there were over 100 games built into the unit. Curious, I went to take a look in his shed.

There I found someone I had never seen before as the only store display for classic game systems I'm familiar with is the Videopac display (I wish I would find one of those). It was VERY dirty, and there was some damage but there was hope for the unit. I just had to buy it. If I wouldn't, I'd kick my ass forever for letting it slip.

After arranging a place where I could store the unit (the basement of Woolfy's parents house), I took it apart, moved it and started cleaning it a little (just to get the fly shit, dust and goo off of it). Later I will have to clean it thorougly, but I didn't have time for that this visit. Since there were a bunch of different K-Mart price tags found while cleaning, I'm sure this unit once demoed the Atari 2600 at K-Mart.


I took the console panel and the box containing the PCB to the nearest TV, hooked it up and tested it. Instead of the over 100 games that the previous owner claimed he was told it had, there are 42 games. Game 01 is Adventure, game 42 is Demons to Diamonds (I didn't have time to write down a list of all games in there, sorry).

The panel has 2 joysticks, two fire buttons for the joysticks, two paddles, two fire buttons for the paddles and 3 other buttons. The other buttons are for game select (pressing the left button increases the game number by 10, pressing the right button increases the game number by 1) and for `start game'. Pressing this button will start the selected game. I guess it also `presses' the `reset' button internally somehow as the games start immidiately after pressing it.

Pressing a game select button while playing will bring up the intro screens again in order to select a new game. Since there are no regular reset, difficulty or select switches on the panel, those options cannot be accessed it seems.

The PCB can easily be pulled out of its metal casing and looks like this:

Cabinet PCB

Looking carefully at the PCB, you can see there are tons of jumpers. These most likely set which games can be selected. There are empty sockets for 5 more games, there's a socket into which a regular cartridge can fit (when the unit is in the metal casing, this will not fit) and there's an expansion port of sorts (which can not be accessed when the PCB is in its casing). The connector on the right side is where the panel hooks up to the PCB. The two wires are power and antenna. I have not experimented with dip-switch settings (there are two blocks of dip-switches) or jumper settings yet. I will do that in the future when I am in the US again.

If anyone has any documentation of the jumper settings, expansion port usage or the functionality of the dip-switches, please let me know in email.

The Atari 2600 console on top is just for show. It's an empty box with only the PCB with switches in it. There's no main PCB in there and no antenna cable.

There are two chains on the front side of the panel. One of them has something attached to it in which an Atari 2600 cartridge would fit. I have no idea what these chains are for. If you know, please let me know in email.

If you look carefully, you can see the metal box that contains the PCB underneath the panel. There's a slot in the back of the unit where this metal box will fit into (which would hold the back in place), but I don't know where the front of the metal box is attached or how. There's a metal brace that hooks up to the metal box, but I don't see how it would hook to anything else. Again, if you have any ideas on how it should be put into the unit, let me know so I can bring the display unit in mostly original state.

There are metal racks to hold game boxes, so it is a neat way to store my Atari 2600 collection as well. Now all I need is a visa so I can move to the USA to enjoy my Atari cabinet.

I can't help the picture quality at the moment. Hopefully in the future I will have a clearer pictures. I was in a hurry when I took these pictures as I had to leave for the Netherlands later that day

Side view of cabinet

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