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Ballblaɀer

5200 Pole Position label date code - NR?

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Since we're currently playing Pole Position in the 5200 High Score Club, I'm hoping more than a few of you have your game cartridges handy. Can you take a look to see what date code is stamped on the label? I have two: one says 39 3 R, and one says 39 3NR. So, both were probably manufactured in the 39th week of 1983...

 

26672564466_d7c207b845.jpg26699212485_e72f3ea1d6.jpg

 

The "R" probably stands for "revision" -- it appears frequently on 2600 game labels. I don't think I've ever seen an "N" stamped like this in the date code before, though. Anybody want to take a guess as to what that might mean?

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The "R" probably stands for "revision" -- it appears frequently on 2600 game labels.

*slaps forehead*

 

I've always wondered what 'R' might stand for in these date codes. Why did I never land on 'Revision'?

Edited by Christophero Sly

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*slaps forehead*

 

I've always wondered what 'R' might stand for in these date codes. Why did I never land on 'Revision'?

 

Hey, glad to see you turn up here! I've read through a number of old threads where you'd done a good bit of research with the 2600 date codes. Very informative, and much appreciated.

 

I should say that I'm not 100% sure on the R = revision thing. It certainly makes the most sense to me, though it does leave the mystery of this "N" stamp, as well as the "D" stamp on some 2600 cartridges that I've seen. I've just started on a database of 5200 date codes, in case there are any patterns that would help figure it out.

 

Anyway, alternative theories and/or definitive proof one way or the other would be most welcome!

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I just went back and revisited those old date stamp threads. I appears that 'revision' had been mentioned at that time. I don't know why it never sunk in with me.

 

Anyway, if you look at the way the date codes themselves (at least on 2600 carts) are formatted, the non-R codes are composed of three evenly-spaced digits--"3 2 1". In codes that include the R, the formatting is "33 1 R"--there isn't a space between the first two digits (the week code). Thus, it may be the case that 'revision' is simply referring to the revised formatting of the date code stamp itself.

 

I've only ever seen or heard of "D" on one cartridge--my own copy of Sears picture label Demons to Diamonds. Other that it being a simple mistake, I can't even begin to speculate on what it might indicate.

 

No idea on "NR" either. I've never seen it on a 2600 cartridge. I seem to recall seeing it on one of my 5200 cartridges, but I can no longer be sure as I have since parted with my 5200 collection.

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I just went back and revisited those old date stamp threads. I appears that 'revision' had been mentioned at that time. I don't know why it never sunk in with me.

 

Anyway, if you look at the way the date codes themselves (at least on 2600 carts) are formatted, the non-R codes are composed of three evenly-spaced digits--"3 2 1". In codes that include the R, the formatting is "33 1 R"--there isn't a space between the first two digits (the week code). Thus, it may be the case that 'revision' is simply referring to the revised formatting of the date code stamp itself.

 

I've only ever seen or heard of "D" on one cartridge--my own copy of Sears picture label Demons to Diamonds. Other that it being a simple mistake, I can't even begin to speculate on what it might indicate.

 

No idea on "NR" either. I've never seen it on a 2600 cartridge. I seem to recall seeing it on one of my 5200 cartridges, but I can no longer be sure as I have since parted with my 5200 collection.

 

The same pattern holds true for 5200 cartridges; the non-R codes have the three digits evenly spaced, while the ones with R have the week code digits together. I didn't indicate that as such in the list of 5200 codes I started compiling, but that was just to keep things looking uniform. As to whether the R just refers to the new stamp format -- I hadn't considered that, but it's certainly possible.

 

The R-codes appear on later dates for every title where I've seen both types of codes. The only discrepancy I found so far was for Dig Dug, and it's possible that I either overlooked the R on the late-date one, or it was stamped too lightly for me to see (I used a number of eBay auction photos in making my list, but only use those where I was 95%+ sure of what I was reading).

 

I do wonder if anyone has dumped ROMs from both code types, for 2600 and/or 5200, to see if there's any difference. If there isn't, I'd certainly back off of the "R = revision" idea.

 

To add to the mystery, I've got a copy of Star Raiders coming my way with a "PR" code! Never seen that anywhere else, either.

 

26737643736_f5092bc93e_o.jpg

Edited by Ballblaɀer
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I doubt "R" refers to revisions in the actual game code, though several 2600 game ROMs are known to have been revised. Revisions to the label, instructions, packaging, etc. is, I think, more likely. Almost all the instruction manuals for Atari-published games on the 2600 were revised. There's a revision number on the back cover of almost every one of them. Maybe the date-stamp codes on the labels and the manual revision numbers refer to the same thing.

 

I can't even begin to speculate what "PR" might indicate, but it's existence would suggest that "NR" isn't any kind of mistake. Nice find.

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I doubt "R" refers to revisions in the actual game code, though several 2600 game ROMs are known to have been revised. Revisions to the label, instructions, packaging, etc. is, I think, more likely. Almost all the instruction manuals for Atari-published games on the 2600 were revised. There's a revision number on the back cover of almost every one of them. Maybe the date-stamp codes on the labels and the manual revision numbers refer to the same thing.

 

I can't even begin to speculate what "PR" might indicate, but it's existence would suggest that "NR" isn't any kind of mistake. Nice find.

 

Good point. I don't typically collect boxes so I'm not in a position to match up the carts with the rest of the packaging, but I agree that something like that is more likely than a ROM revision. Could also be a PCB revision, I suppose?

 

In my collecting, I've seen one other Pole Position cart with NR on it (printed in the same fashion, with the N looking like it was crammed between the year number and the R). The Star Raiders "PR" is new to me.

 

I'm seeking more data on the later-style 5200 cartridges, i.e. those not using the white-title-on-blue-bar design (Berzerk, Dig Dug, Jungle Hunt, Mario Bros., Moon Patrol, Ms. Pac-Man, Pengo, Robotron: 2084, Space Dungeon). The placement of the stamp with the different design often makes the date codes more difficult to read, at least when you don't have the cartridge in your hands to examine in person.

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I'm seeking more data on the later-style 5200 cartridges, i.e. those not using the white-title-on-blue-bar design (Berzerk, Dig Dug, Jungle Hunt, Mario Bros., Moon Patrol, Ms. Pac-Man, Pengo, Robotron: 2084, Space Dungeon). The placement of the stamp with the different design often makes the date codes more difficult to read, at least when you don't have the cartridge in your hands to examine in person.

Keep us posted.

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I have a slightly different kind of Pole Position date code, with a space between the N and the 3. The date code is 39 3 NR still though.

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I got curious and opened up my two Star Raiders carts to compare. If someone wants to open up a non-"R" version of Star Raiders to compare, please share!

 

On the left, the PCB from the cart with its label stamped "25 3 R". On the right, the PCB from the cart with its label stamped "29 3 PR":

post-43608-0-83685400-1463346627_thumb.jpg

The PCBs themselves appear to be the same. The top lines of numbers in the ink stamps ("05 25 3" and "05 29 3") match with the dates stamped on the cartridge label. The bottom lines of numbers ("12 08" and "29 29") match up with numbers stamped on the ROMs:

post-43608-0-10761400-1463346629_thumb.jpg

(image rotated, so 29 3 PR PCB is on the left in this photo)

 

The "29 3 PR" cart uses ROMs from NCR Microelectronics. The one stamped 2332-30 is a 32K (?) ROM chip, according to an NCR catalog from 1985. The one stamped 2364-30 is a 64K (?!) ROM chip according to the same catalog. The "25 3 R" cart uses what I think are two regular 8K ROM chips, but I'm not positive. Star Raiders is a 16K game... so... was it common for Atari to use ROMs with more memory than was needed, or is this out of the ordinary?

 

There are VERY slight, almost entirely unnoticeable differences in the cartridge shell revisions and the metal shielding used (images go back to "R" on the left, "PR" on the right):

post-43608-0-22762400-1463346630_thumb.jpg post-43608-0-49408300-1463346631_thumb.jpg

post-43608-0-75520000-1463346632_thumb.jpg post-43608-0-02524800-1463346634_thumb.jpg

post-43608-0-06600100-1463346635_thumb.jpg post-43608-0-16933400-1463346636_thumb.jpg

Here's the reverse of the PCBs; again, the boards themselves appear to be identical:

post-43608-0-47661300-1463346637_thumb.jpg

Apart from the unusually-sized ROMs in the PR-stamped cart, there's really not a whole lot to go on. The cartridge shells are just barely different enough to be of interest, but the ROMs used in the "PR" cart at least raise an eyebrow. When I have a chance to take my Pole Position "R" and "NR" carts apart and take some photos, I'll post again.

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