I played my first Atari in the fall of '78. I was 8 years old, living in a very remote part of Northern ME (5 minutes from the Canadian border.) We would travel down to NJ once a year for our family reunion. My uncle had just purchased the Sears Heavy Sixer and set it up for us and our cousins to play. We played it on this huge console color TV and you couldn't pry us away from that thing.
My parents bought us (me and my 3 siblings) an Atari Heavy Sixer that Christmas, in '78. I remember it like it was yesterday. It came with Combat, but they also bought each of us a game to go with it. We got Video Olympics, Breakout and Air/Sea Battle (my little brother was too young at the time, so he didn't get one.) We also had a big console color TV, but my parents wouldn't let us play in color because they were afraid that the Atari would "burn the color out." Every now and then they'd let us play in color, but not before they washed the color out so much, you could barely see it. But that was ok. We still played the heck out of it. Of course, when they weren't around, we'd play in full color.
I keep it alive because it's a nice reminder of my childhood. Growing up in such a remote area, there was very little to do. We had 3 other houses on our road. 2 of them were elderly couples and the other one had 2 kids close to our age, but they were jerks, so we didn't play with them very often. We didn't have cable TV, growing up (4 channels, 1 of which was Canadian French.) We played a lot outside, but when we couldn't, we had the Atari. I had our original system until 2000, when I decided to sell my collection off. Then, my Uncle gave me his old system in 2002. I still have that system and I'll never get rid of it. He just recently passed, so I cleaned polished and stored that unit away for preservation.
Today, I play on my modified 7800 and Emulation/Stelladaptor. Atari will always be close to my heart. When I die, don't put rosary beads in my hands. Put a CX-40!