So today I did something that I've never done before. I took a broken, non-working system, specifically an Atari 2600, and fixed it. I bought the system and box together (matching serial numbers), with no inserts, paperwork, or controllers, at a highly reduced price. The last time I snagged a matching SN console and box it was a Vader with the box only and working for 90$, this time I got lucky and got this non working four switch Woody for 50$, and considering this guy sells working 2600's at 40$ a pop I'd say I got a bargain. He told me that he'd tested it and it was not working, so I'd initially resigned to just buying one of his working consoles and switching the boards but this time I though that I might try to see what was wrong.
Due to this being a four switch Woody to chips are socketed, which means I'd be able to just swap the bad chips out if that was indeed the problem, I have two complete sets of chips for occasions like this. At first glance everything seemed to point to the chips being the issue, there was no corrosion on the board, no bad caps, it's probably the cleanest system I've ever seen. The RF shielding was still on, and there was a repair/QA slip dating to 1982 which I'm guessing means this thing hasn't been opened since then and since the RF shielding shows no sign of being opened I assume that is the case. So I open this thing up and...
It all looks pretty good, the chips are clean and there's no sign of wear, upon powering up the system none of the chips got hot which means there isn't a short anywhere, what a mystery. Perhaps this system just decided to die, but I'm not going to let it, it's time to re-seat some chips, I try the TIA chip, nothing, I try the 6502, nothing, then I try the RAM, and wouldn't you know it, one of the pins has folded in and in not actually fitting in the socket, bingo. I put in one of my spare RAM chips and there we go we're playing some Basic Math, I decided to just use the spare instead of trying to unfold the errant pin, I've tried that before and the pin usually winds up falling off, at least in my experience.
Oh man, the guy at the game store is going to be so pissed! Especially when i tell him what was wrong with the thing. That brings up the question though, how long has this console been like this, it came in with a stack of games with the latest one being from 1983. Hmmm, clearly someone put the chip in badly and never bothered to check the system again and so it languished in a basement for the past 30 or so years. Perhaps this was Atari's fault, or perhaps somebody got in there and screwed around and messed the thing up, then perfectly put the console back together, but lost a single screw in the process. What a weird thing, well anyway I think that deducts one from my 2600 body count, now it's down to three.