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Atari Game Brain Screenshots
Atari Game Brain
Released January 1977
The Atari Game Brain was an unreleased dedicated video game console by Atari. Intended to be released in 1977, it would only have played 10 different games. All of the planned games would have been ports of games from all of Atari's previously released dedicated consoles, such as Pong, Stunt Cycle, & Video Pinball. Its controllers were built onto the system, and included 4 directional buttons, a paddle, and a fire button. Games would be inserted in the top of the system by opening a door, and the door had a small instructions booklet on top of it.

The system was never supposed to be a huge seller for Atari. Instead, the system was just their way of clearing out their CPUs from their unsold dedicated consoles. Unfortunately by the time the Game Brain was finished, dedicated consoles were becoming obsolete against consoles with programmable ROMs, such as the already released Fairchild Channel F, the RCA Studio 2, and Atari's own 2600. Noting this, Atari cancelled the Game Brain. Today, only 3 Game Brain consoles are known to exist, as well as 5 prototype cartridges.


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Coleco Telstar Ranger Screenshots
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Coleco Telstar Ranger
Released January 1977
The 2nd Telstar model to be released in 1977 was the Telstar Ranger (model 6046). It came with 6 games, two paddle controllers and a gun.

The games included were the standard PONG games which the AY-3-8500 was programmed for i.e. Tennis, Squash, Soccer, Practice and two gun games. This was the first Telstar released to have a completely different design from the original. It was also the first to include detachable controllers.


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RCA Studio II Screenshots
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RCA Studio II
Released January 1977
RCA could not accept the fact that they let the Odyssey slip through there fingers (Ralph Baer the designer of Odyssey approached RCA with the deal first), and into the hands of there TV rival Magnavox. The RCA Studio II was their answer to the Magnavox Odyssey. Released in 1976 a few months after the release of the Fairchild Channel F, it would have been the first programmable console (Fairchild beat them to the release gate).

The console was doomed from the start. The lack of a color display and control paddles made the unit old and dated. With only 8 games released, the Studio II suffered the same fate as Channel F. Overshadowed and rendered obsolete by the Atari VCS / 2600

The RCA Studio II should have been a color console, a few games were designed for color, but the video output of the console was black & white. A Studio II clone released in the UK called The Sheen M1200 was released in 1978, and produced PAL color with RCA Studio II games and was a more successful unit.


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Atari Video Pinball Screenshots
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Atari Video Pinball
Released February 1977
In 1977, Video Pinball appeared as another Atari coin-op to stand-alone home console translation by bringing the game Breakout to home players. Offered first in the late 1970's Atari "first edition release" standard wood grain (also to be used on the Atari 2600) and then a second edition white molded plastic model. Bumper controllers on the sides or a dial on the front were used to control the games depending on the game selected. There were three game types - Pinball, Basketball, and Breakout.

Interestingly enough, Atari did follow up with an actual Video Pinball coin-op, two years after the release of their home console. It was a unique hybrid between video game and pinball technology that still has not been duplicated to this day. While some before and after tried using the video game part as a game within the game or simply to display unique animations (such as Baby Pacman, or the more recent Star Wars pinball hologram effect model), this was the first to actually use both technologies as an integral part of the game play.


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APF TV Fun Model 405 Screenshots
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APF TV Fun Model 405
Released February 1977
The APF TV Fun is a series of early Pong clone consoles manufactured by APF Electronics Inc. and built in Japan starting in 1976. The systems were among the first built on the General Instruments 'Pong on a chip', the AY-3-8500, that allowed many manufacturers to compete against the Atari home pong.

The TV Fun package is the first excursion of APF into the video game market, APF was formerly a calculator and other small electronics developer. It was sold at Sears under the name Hockey Jockari. TV Fun was followed up by the 8 bit MP 1000 and then APF Imagination Machine beginning in 1979. These were made to compete in the 2nd generation of early ROM cartridge consoles, namely the Atari VCS.

The TV Fun Model 405 offerd 4 games, Tennis, Football, Squash and Squash Practice.


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Atari Stunt Cycle Screenshots
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Atari Stunt Cycle
Released March 1977
All the thrills and chills of real stunt motorcycle riding right in your home living room, so much fun Evil Knievel must have had one! (Well... maybe). Stunt Cycle originally was an Atari arcade coin-op, then made into a stand-alone console shown here.

The original coin-op had been released in 1975 to take advantage of the then popular motorcycle stunt man Evel Knievel. Originally a motorcycle salesman who began doing stunts to draw attention to his store, by the early 70's he was a household name. Atari's coin-op attempted to capture the feel and fun of the stunt jumping Evel Knievel was famous for, and was a mild success.

Stunt Cycle gave the player a first person feel of riding a motorcycle, even though the image on the screen wasn't first person. You could jump cars and buses, if you played with the controls just right you could jump right off the screen, lots of fun!


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Coleco Telstar Combat Screenshots
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Coleco Telstar Combat
Released March 1977
The Coleco Telstar Combat! game was released in 1977 as a post-Pong dedicated video game console. Unlike Coleco's earlier home Pong games based on the General Instrument AY-3-8500 chip, it used a AY-3-8700 chip. The console was a modest success but due to having too many similar dedicated console products, Coleco nearly went bankrupt in 1980.

Telstar Combat was one of Coleco's attempts to break away from the Pong game video game rut. It's certainly unique, no other company manufactured a dedicated console with such elaborate controls. The console plays four variations of a tank battle game, very similar to the Atari 2600 Combat game cartridge.


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Atari Video Pinball Model 2 Screenshots
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Atari Video Pinball Model 2
Released April 1977
This is the later (beige) version of the Atari Video Pinball game console. It basically played the same games as the earlier (wood grain) version. The Pinball and Basketball games in this version were slightly updated.

Atari eventually released their Video Pinball as a cartridge game for their 2600 VCS system.


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Coleco Telstar Alpha Screenshots
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Coleco Telstar Alpha
Released April 1977
Coleco cashed in on the Pong craze in a big way. They managed to grab a huge share of the early home video game market partly through good marketing (their original Telstar console was half the price of Atari's Pong) and partly through good luck (Coleco was the only company that got their full shipment of the popular microchip that everyone used to manufacture their home Pong systems in late 1976).

The Telstar Alpha (model 6030) was released in 1977. It is a classic from Coleco, and uses the AY-3-8500 game chip. The system plays 4 games in three difficulty levels. It is the successor of the three older models (Telstar, Telstar Classic and Telstar Ranger), and only differs by its case and fourth game (JAI-ALAI, also known as SQUASH).

Like the first Telstar, this system was sold in large quantities as it was cheap. It was also released in Europe as the "Telstar Alpha Europa".


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Magnavox Odyssey 2000 Screenshots
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Magnavox Odyssey 2000
Released May 1977
While not the first electronic game, the earliest form of an electronic ping-pong game dates back as a game played on an oscilloscope, by William A. Higinbotham at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in 1958. His game was titled Tennis for Two.

In 1977, the Magnavox Odyssey line of PONG games represents the cutting edge of dedicated console technology. The Odyssey 2000, 3000 and 4000 were arguably the most advanced dedicated PONG console systems of the 1970's.


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Magnavox Odyssey 3000 Screenshots
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Magnavox Odyssey 3000
Released June 1977
The Magnavox Odyssey 3000 is another example of the Odyssey line for 1977. It is similar to the 2000 offering the same games in a newly styled, more modern case. The Odyssey 3000 also featured detachable controllers which allowed more freedom when playing. This was not a feature on the Odyssey 2000 model.

Magnavox lead the PONG craze with its Odyssey line of consoles. In three years, the technology had completely changed the PONG universe.


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Magnavox Odyssey 4000 Screenshots
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Magnavox Odyssey 4000
Released August 1977
The Odyssey 4000 was the last PONG system released by Magnavox. The Odyssey 4000 featured 8 exciting games in full color. The console also featured real joysticks like those offered on other console models.

After the Odyssey 4000, Magnavox goes on to release a completely different system known as the Odyssey 2, also known as Videopac in Europe. This system was designed to compete with Atari and Colecovision cartridge based game consoles.


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Atari 2600 (VCS) Screenshots
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Atari 2600 (VCS)
Released October 01, 1977 for $199.00
The Atari 2600, released in 1977, is the first successful video game console to use plug-in cartridges instead of having one or more games built in. It was originally known as the Atari VCS, for Video Computer System, and the name "Atari 2600" (taken from the unit's Atari part number, CX2600) was first used in 1982, after the release of the more advanced Atari 5200.

The initial price was $199 with a library of 9 titles. In a play to compete directly with the Channel F, Atari named the machine the Video Computer System (or VCS for short), as the Channel F was at that point known as the VES, for Video Entertainment System. When Fairchild learned of Atari's naming they quickly changed the name of their system to become the Channel F.

Atari expanded the 2600 family with two other compatible consoles. The Atari 2700, a wireless version of the console was never released due to design flaws. The Sleek Atari 2800 released to the Japanese market in 1983 suffered from competition from the newly-released Nintendo Famicom.


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1970s Video Game Consoles | 1980s Video Game Consoles | 1990s Video Game Consoles | 2000 and Beyond
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Top 10 Game Consoles of All Time | 10 Game Consoles That Didn't Catch On | Game Console Clones
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Top Brands:Magnavox | Atari | Coleco | Mattel | Nintendo | Sega | Sony | Microsoft
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