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evan-amos

Trouble determining Atari 2600 launch price

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Hi, I've been researching this system for a while and have been having trouble determining what the actual launch price of the console was.  I commonly see the price as being "$199", but I don't believe this is correct.  Ads for the Sears Video Arcade version list the system as around $179 at the time of release, but the earliest ads I can find all start in November.

 

Here is the earliest ad I found with a price for the non-Sears version (that came bundled with COMBAT) for $169 in December 1977.  I would say to note that the price says it regularly costs $189, but you can't count on those to be correct, because it was very common for retailers at the time to list the price as higher than normal to make it seem like it was on sale.  I find in general that it's very difficult to actually pinpoint prices during this era because retail wasn't nearly as standardized as it is today.

 

But I was hoping that anyone could find real, concrete evidence of what the VCS sold for in September 1977.

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This is a very interesting research project! 

 

Where are these ads from (i.e. which city)? 

 

You may wish to look at newspapers from different places, as it is entirely possible that prices will vary in difference places -- e.g. I would expect things to be much cheaper in Los Angeles than Bangor, Maine. 

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Any chance the Sears version would have been a little cheaper? Growing up, I could have sworn the price of the Atari VCS was around $199 in Chicagoland where EVERYTHING is more expensive, but guess they never really went for that much or perhaps some markets were different? There was another thread on this a while ago, but of course, cannot find it now. 

 

Least we know what the MSRP on the Jr. was... under fitty bux!     :lol:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCfcZ89wrFM

 

Ha! Never noticed this before, but the version of Joust they show is actually the 7800 version! Gotta be the 7800, can tell by the shitty colors.    :rolling:

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Any chance the Sears version would have been a little cheaper? Growing up, I could have sworn the price of the Atari VCS was around $199 in Chicagoland where EVERYTHING is more expensive, but guess they never really went for that much or perhaps some markets were different? There was another thread on this a while ago, but of course, cannot find it now. 

 

Least we know what the MSRP on the Jr. was... under fitty bux!     :lol:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCfcZ89wrFM

 

Ha! Never noticed this before, but the version of Joust they show is actually the 7800 version! Gotta be the 7800, can tell by the shitty colors.    :rolling:

My wife and I noticed that "Joust" gaffe last time we saw that commercial.

 

But we were too busy laughing at the kid trying to jam that "Space Invaders" cart in backwards.  Maybe that's why people think the 2600Jr is so breakable?

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Ridiculous, misleading and unprofessional sneaking the 7800 version in like that. Besides, the 2600 version looks just fine, so WTF Atari? lol

I saw the Space Invaders blunder too, but figure it was done on purpose for marketing reasons (want the label to show). :)

Sorry for the sidetrack OP!

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Macy's ran a major spread in newspapers on Sept. 11, 1977 where they introduced the VCS for $180.00 (along with Video Pinball for $80.00).  No mention of list prices.

 

A much more obscure newspaper ad was run by Longs Drug Stores on August 1, 1977, listing the VCS for $169.88.  "Longs Low Sale Price".  No mention of list price there either.

 

These are the earliest VCS newspaper ads I've found.

 

Based on other ads including the Dec 77 one you found, it's my belief that $190 (or $189.95) was most likely the original list price.

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Another early VCS newspaper ad, this one from PayLess Super Drug Stores appeared on Sept. 3, 1977. 

 

The VCS is offered for $169.88 (along with Super Pong C140 for $29.88). 

 

Once again, no mention of list/retail prices in this ad.

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Another early VCS newspaper ad, this one from PayLess Super Drug Stores appeared on Sept. 3, 1977. 

 

The VCS is offered for $169.88 (along with Super Pong C140 for $29.88). 

 

Once again, no mention of list/retail prices in this ad.

 

Thanks for taking the time to upload these.

 

I really want to say that the average price is around $179, based on the Sears model suggesting more of a standard than the local retailers.  

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We purchased our Sears Video Arcade (2600) in October 1977 for $179.99 and Tank Plus cart for $20 at the same time.

 

$200.00 was a lot of $$$ back then, so I never had the opportunity to have an Atari during my youth.  Picked up my first console (4 switch woody) in '08 with joysticks, paddles and 40 games, for $40.00 on eBay. 

 

I didn't know, what I was getting myself into... :-D

 

Thanks for the ads everyone...kinda cool to see them again and share them with my boys today.

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By January 1978 the VCS list price was reported to be $199.95.

 

This may or may not have been the launch price for 1977.

 

BTW, whats the name of the book/guide in this picture?

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200.00USD in 1977 is equal to 785.30USD in 2015 just some numbers to think about.. Wow what a super expensive console that mostly the rich would buy.

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$154.95 in the 1979 Sears Wishbook. I know this thread is about the launch price but wanted to see how it changed.

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/wishbook/69926207/in/album-1360453/

 

Sorry to take us off topic, but I just found an AFX set with Flex Track.  I had one of those sets.  Wow, you just took me back in time!

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200.00USD in 1977 is equal to 785.30USD in 2015 just some numbers to think about.. Wow what a super expensive console that mostly the rich would buy.

 

My friend had 2600 and he was not rich.  And neither were we but we got a 5200 back in the day.  And it was way more.

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