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TheGreatPW

Atari 7800 adaptor for Atari 5200 at PAX-East

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At the first ever PAX-East last March, a couple of great once in a lifetime videogame history related events happened to me. The first thing I want to share is a rare public appearance of the Atari 7800 adapter for the Atari 5200 that showed up at the Rolenta Press booth located in the American Classic Arcade Museum (ACAM) room.

 

To recap, ACAM had a treat for videogame lovers: the only public showing of the Ms. Pac-Man prototype, Crazy Otto. This prototype was in full display for everyone to play & experience and to top it off, various employees of the former General Computer Corporation (GCC) were on hand for a special panel to discuss the life and times at GCC.

 

During the show, Steve Golson came over to our booth and wanted to say hi and introduce himself to Leonard Herman. Lenny was away at a radio interview or meeting at the time so Steve and I were talking about the great accomplishments of GCC and I asked Steve if he happened to have the Atari 7800 adapter for the Atari 5200. Turns out he did and he said he would bring it to me the next day to look at.

 

True to his word, the next day Saturday, Steve brought the Atari 7800 adapter with him and in my hands this Atari lover had the most desired prototype ever. It was so cool to be able to check it out and talk with Steve about his baby: the Atari 7800. In case you were wondering, Steve confirmed that the Atari 7800 adapter was in working condition (last time he tried it anyway which was a long time ago).

 

Some back story, back in the mid 80s, most families thought the idea of owning 2 or more game systems was unheard of and my parents were no different. After convincing them to buy the Atari 5200, my parents swore off buying anymore systems so all my hopes of ever owning the coming soon at the time Atari 7800 was this adapter which my parents would have thought was just a game cartridge and would never have known any better (in the end, my parents ended up buying me a number of other game systems so this fear never came true but at that time and moment, this adaptor was my only way to own an Atari 7800. Love you Mom & Dad for that threat!).

 

What an incredible show and Lenny and I want to thank Mike Stulir of the American Classic Arcade Museum for having us and Rolenta Press. What an impressive event Mike had and it was the most exciting place to be for lovers of classic gaming. Also big thank yous to all the good people at ACAM like Sarah and Gary. It was incredible watching Sarah run around the room fixing and keeping all the arcade machines working (she even tried to help us get the Brown Box up and running when a couple of kids accidently broke it during the show). Just a really incredible bunch of people and organization.

 

PAX-East was a great success and I took some photos of the Atari 7800 adapter (notice that the prototype says "VCS Cartridge Adaptor" on it) and I wanted to share them here. Long live Atari!

 

Enjoy!

 

Patrick Wong

 

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Edited by TheGreatPW
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I want to be the first to thank you for these pictures, as well as to drool all over the keyboard while I do it!

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Nice to hear you liked the photos! I felt like Indiana Jones holding the Holy Grail of unreleased prototypes.

 

I want to be the first to thank you for these pictures, as well as to drool all over the keyboard while I do it!

Edited by TheGreatPW

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Very cool. Hopefully we will see GCC's 7800 keyboard adapter soon. I wonder what other stuff GCC had dreamed up for the 7800 but never made it to the prototype stage? It would be nice to see the GCC guys come out to an east coast gaming event again.

 

Allan

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Wow, that is remarkable. I would have never thought that Atari had planned such a device!

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Hopefully the GCC guys will show up at some more classic gaming shows! I'm sure there is a lot of interest in another panel discussion with this group.

 

Very cool. Hopefully we will see GCC's 7800 keyboard adapter soon. I wonder what other stuff GCC had dreamed up for the 7800 but never made it to the prototype stage? It would be nice to see the GCC guys come out to an east coast gaming event again.

 

Allan

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Thank you Jet-X! Any chance you were also waiting for this adaptor to be released way back when?

 

Great write up and fantastic photos.

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What? The greatest company in all of history not plan such a device? LOL

 

Actually I wish more companies would allow a path for owners to upgrade their game consoles. I know Sony had plans for the Playstation 1 to be upgradeable and of course we all know that the Sega Genesis was upgradeable. If only Sega stuck with the 32X instead of Saturn, they may have had more success in the 32-bit war. They had a fast 1 million head start.

 

Wow, that is remarkable. I would have never thought that Atari had planned such a device!

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Thank you Jet-X! Any chance you were also waiting for this adaptor to be released way back when?

 

Great write up and fantastic photos.

 

Back then I was skeptical about it and was more focused on the 7800 itself. Then the Tramiels showed up and I had go wait a few years for the 7800 itself. But I am and will always be fascinated by these items.

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Wow, that is remarkable. I would have never thought that Atari had planned such a device!

 

 

Actually covered that in my 7800 retrospective in Retro Gamer magazine.

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weird that it only has one controller port... but with the addition of a second port, that would make the 5200 an all-in-one pre-crash atari console :) did it use the 5200 controller buttons for the 2600/7800 console switches? and was it juts a 7800 adapter or did it play 2600 too, I wonder.. Awesome info and pics :) Thanks!

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Did it only work with the 2-port 5200 console, ala the VCS adapter, or also with the 4-port model?

 

It was being developed during Spring of '84, so most likely the 2-port was the model since that would have been the most "current". But to be technically accurate, the VCS adaptor does work on late run 4-port models, so this adaptor would have as well.

Edited by wgungfu

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weird that it only has one controller port... but with the addition of a second port, that would make the 5200 an all-in-one pre-crash atari console :) did it use the 5200 controller buttons for the 2600/7800 console switches? and was it juts a 7800 adapter or did it play 2600 too, I wonder.. Awesome info and pics :) Thanks!

 

 

There are two joystick ports, one on each side of the adapter - just like on the 2600 adapter.

 

And yes, that adapter would have made the 5200+adapter the most versatile of the Atari consoles. I was very disappointed that it never came to market.

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Thanks for sharing your experience and photos! Too bad it never saw the light of day. I'd have bought one and I'm sure several others would have. Might have helped Atari bigtime. Having lived through that time period I can't help but feel happy but sad at the same time. One more thing, will this add on ever come to be???????

Edited by thegamezmaster

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i sure hope so. good to know about the second joystick port (didn't see it in the pictures.) Does anyone know how it handled the 2600/7800 console switches (Since each console had different switches (sort of,))

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i sure hope so. good to know about the second joystick port (didn't see it in the pictures.) Does anyone know how it handled the 2600/7800 console switches (Since each console had different switches (sort of,))

 

 

7800 adaptor Plans

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i sure hope so. good to know about the second joystick port (didn't see it in the pictures.) Does anyone know how it handled the 2600/7800 console switches (Since each console had different switches (sort of,))

 

 

7800 adaptor Plans

 

The chip part number in the schematic is blurred but it looks like a normal RIOT that handles difficulty, PAUSE, SELECT, RESET and both stick directions.

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The chip part number in the schematic is blurred but it looks like a normal RIOT that handles difficulty, PAUSE, SELECT, RESET and both stick directions.

 

Looks like the same chips as in the regular 7800 - 6502, 6532 (RIOT), MARIA, TIA.

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1985 would have been an amazing year.

 

If not confusing, because you would have had two different "high end" consoles from Atari - the 7800 and the 68000 Amiga based one.

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1985 would have been an amazing year.

 

If not confusing, because you would have had two different "high end" consoles from Atari - the 7800 and the 68000 Amiga based one.

 

I would have welcomed both :]

 

WHat would have been more confusing to me is trying to use the HSC with the 7800 adapter on a 5200.

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1985 would have been an amazing year.

 

If not confusing, because you would have had two different "high end" consoles from Atari - the 7800 and the 68000 Amiga based one.

 

I was under the impression that they were considering putting the Amiga/Lorraine chipset into a computer called the 1600XL (or was it the 1800XL - something like that). If that's true, they would have had the 7800 servicing the low-price, video game market, and a modern computer for the growing, home-computer market. At that point in time, the Mac 128 had been released, and Warner Atari would have needed a compelling computer system to compete with it.

 

 

EDIT: Computer product numbers.

Edited by mellis

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I was under the impression that they were considering putting the Amiga/Lorraine chipset into a computer called the 1600XL (or was it the 1800XL - something like that).

 

No, Curt and I got a hold of the original agreement as well as lawsuit documents and testimony last year and started a thread here about it. It was for a console only targeted to be released later in '84, that would only allowed to be a expanded in to a computer in '85 via the attachments to give time for Amiga to finish and release their computer in '84. Then Atari would be allowed to release their own full computer in '86, which was the planned 1850XL.

 

What you're confusing that with are some of the advanced 68000 based computer projects Atari already had in the works as well via their Advanced Computer Technologies Design Center. None of which relied on the Amiga technology - they were being pursued already in '83 and '84.

 

If that's true, they would have had the 7800 servicing the low-price, video game market, and a modern computer for the growing, home-computer market. At that point in time, the Mac 128 had been released, and Warner Atari would have needed a compelling computer system to compete with it.

 

Actually it seems they would have had three levels of consoles. Don't forget they were going to be releasing the 2600jr. as well. So they would have had the Jr. as low end, 7800 as mid, and whatever the Amiga one was going to be called at high end.

 

Unfortunately it never got that far. Atari had the test pcb done and waiting to lay in the three custom chips, Amiga stalled and just before negotiations between Jack and Warner started, Dave Morse abruply walks in returning Atari's investment and interest claiming they couldn't get the chips to work. As in he completely lied. Apparently he was spooked that Atari might try and screw with his goal to eventually sell the company (which he was already in the process of doing), even when they assured him that wasn't the case.

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