Atari 2600/5200/7800 FAQ

v. 11.5, Feb 28, 1998

Last minor update: Mar 19, 1998

A. Karl Heller ( and Zube (

This FAQ is an evolving document. Please help make it better. If you have any additions, suggestions or corrections, please mail us.


What's new?
What information is missing from the FAQ?
Where can I find the latest version of this FAQ?


What Usenet groups discuss or are relevant to the 2600/5200/7800?
What is the charter?
Are there any mailing lists that discuss the 2600/5200/7800?
Where can I find cart lists?
What magazines cover the 2600/5200/7800?
What magazines covered the 2600/5200/7800 in the 80s?
What books cover the 2600/5200/7800?
Any there any videos that cover the 2600/5200/7800?
Are there any other sources of general information about the 2600?
What is irc, #rgvc and how do I get on them?
Where is the 5200 FAQ?
What happened to Atari?
What scores were needed to earn an Activision patch?


Where can I find games for my 2600/5200/7800?
Which games does Radio Shack sell?
Where can I download game instructions?
What are the best games for the 2600?
What are the most common and most rare games for the 2600/5200/7800?
Is there any information about 5200 prototypes?
What was Gameline and what games were available for it?
Which games use a lightgun?
Which 2600 games use the kid's controllers/keypads?
Which 2600 games use paddles?
Which 2600 games use the driving controllers?
Which 2600 games have voice?
Which 2600 carts do not work on the 7800?
What is the Starpath CD and can I still get one?
Have any new games been released lately?
What is a multicart and where can I get one?
What are some cheats and Easter Eggs?
What programming resources are available?
What is the 7800 encryption algorithm?
Is 7800 Impossible Mission really impossible?

Hardware (general)

What are the different 2600/5200/7800 models?
What types of clones exist?
What companies made 2600 adapters for their own systems?
Are there any emulators for the 2600/5200/7800?
What 2600/5200/7800 hardware was announced but never released?
How do I fix my paddles?
How do I fix my 5200 joysticks?
Do Bally Astrocade joysticks work on the 2600/7800?
Which light guns work with the 2600/7800?
What hardware peripherals exist for the 2600/5200/7800?
What are NTSC/PAL/SECAM and why should I care?
What is a TVboy and where can I get one?

Hardware (tech)

What are the specs for the 2600/5200/7800?
How large do 2600 games get?
Are there any published 2600/5200/7800 technical articles available?
Pinout information?
Power supply information?


How do I build a switchbox for the 4 port 5200?
How do I build a composite/audio/chroma/luma output interface for the Atari 2600Jr/2600A?
How do I build a video driver for the 2600/7800?
How do I convert Sega controllers to Atari pinout?
How do I convert a Sega Master System lightgun to Atari pinout?
How do I convert an NES controller to Atari pinout?
Is there a general site that contains all this conversion stuff?
What is an Atari Game Recorder and how do I build one?


Acknowledgments of thanks.

Q: What's new?


If you are the author of something in this FAQ and we have not given you a proper attribution and a thank-you, please email us.

Q: What information is missing from the FAQ?

A: Bunches of stuff, some of which includes:

Q: Where can I find the latest version of this FAQ?

A: The FAQ is maintained in html form and is amended as updates come in. Every so often (when there is enough new material), the html version is converted to text, edited a bit, and posted to,, rec.answers and news.answers. The text version is on the Web as well, but it is updated only before posting to Usenet.

Q: What Usenet groups discuss or are relevant to the 2600/5200/7800?

A: There are several groups: (rgvc) is probably the best place to start, as it is carried in most newsfeeds and generally has the most traffic. is for the buying and selling of video games and systems and is not limited to atari or even classic systems. It is dominated by post-classic ads, which is why you will often see buy/sell/auction posts in rgvc. usually contains Jaguar discussion, but will occasionally digress into 2600/5200/7800 discussion when it pertains to the Jaguar (e.g. Tempest 2000). The four atari alt groups are not carried by many newsfeeds; consequently, the traffic in these groups is minimal.

Do not post to alt.2600 or any of its subgroups about the Atari 2600/5200/7800. That group is for discussion of hacking and phreaking and you will probably get flamed if you do.

If you don't have a newsfeed at your site, but do have a newsreader (most web browsers have one built in), you can still get access to some, if not all of these groups. See the List of Open NNTP servers page for a list of places where you might point your browser to see the rgvc groups.

Many of these servers have only a limited number of groups, so if the one you choose doesn't carry rgvc, try another. Another possible solution is, which does carry all of the 2600 related news groups.

Q: What is the charter?

A: We have uncovered the following: is an unmoderated newsgroup which passed its
vote for creation by 257:85 as reported in news.announce.newgroups on
13 Apr 1993.  

And from the second Call for Votes,these bits:

5) Should a newsgroup be created?

This newsgroup would carry discussions regarding older, "classic" home
video entertainment systems like the Atari 2600, Coleco, Intellivision, 
etc.  This newsgroup would supersede

Finally, for those of you wondering if buy/sell/auction posts are discouraged on groups other than, consider the following:

3) Should a newsgroup be created?

This newsgroup would carry offers to sell and requests to buy home video
entertainment products and accessories like systems, cartridges, etc.

The netiquette of the* hierarchy would request that 
people NOT cross-post buy/sell discussions to other* 

Q: Are there any mailing lists that discuss the 2600/5200/7800?

A: There are at least three. Jeremy Wilson ( runs the classic videogames mailing list, which covers both home and arcade classic games. To subscribe, mail with the following message body:

subscribe classic-videogames your@email.address Your Name

There is also a UK Classic Videogame mailing list; for subscribe requests, for the list itself. For more information, see this link. The above page also contains a database of classic UK collectors. Please note that postings to the UK list are gatewayed to Jeremy Wilson's classic list, but the reverse is not the case. Also note that there is a separate UK list ( exclusively for sale and trade posts; for subscription requests to that list as well.

The Stella mailing list (also know as the Starpath CD mailing list and the Atari 2600 Programming list) is for those using the Starpath CD development tools to write 2600 games. To subscribe, mail with the following in the message body:

subscribe stella your@email.address

The informational snippet for this list is as follows.

"This list was designed as as support group for Starpath CD owners who are writing 2600 games through the developer software. It is hoped that TOGETHER we can write some new games for the 2600. Exchanging uuencoded binaries is okay as long as it's in BIN form, not WAV."

Q: Where can I find cart lists?

A: VGR ( maintains the giant 2600/7800 list which contains entries for all known 2600/7800 games. In addition to manufacturer's model number, the list also includes rarity ratings. Here is the plain text version and the html table version.

Bert Whetstone ( has converted VGR's list into several popular database formats. The files below are in zip format.

Dean Dierschow ( maintains game lists for several systems including the 2600/5200/7800. The relevant files are at2600.lst, at5200.lst, and at7800.lst. These lists are a good starting point for the new or general game collector; alas, these files have not been updated since Oct 94.

The Giant List of 2600 Label Variations is for all of the sick collectors who want to know label differences in excruciating detail. John Earney ( maintains the list, which looks like this:

    Cosmic Ark                 IA3204
        silver label with no picture, "for use with..." in 5 languages
        silver label with picture 720104-1 Rev A.  1982 entirely to the
                right of the picture.
        silver label with picture 720104-1 Rev A.  right edge of picture
                is in the middle of 1982.
        ??? silver label with no picture
        Boxed: silver box (c)1982

Digital Press ( markets its Classic Video Games Collector's Guide which covers the Atari 2600/5200/7800 and many other classic and neo-classic systems. Now in its fourth edition (limited quantities left), it contains a wealth of information for the reasonable price of $15. See the CVGCG home page or send $15 (checks should be payable to Joe Santulli) to:

Joe Santulli
digital press
44 hunter place 
pompton lakes, nj 07442 

In the past, there have been reports of slow delivery. A recent order for the fourth edition took 3+ weeks, so be patient.

The Digital Press Collector's Guide CDROM Companion is a nice complement to DP's paper guide. It contains box, cart and handheld scans, screenshots, manuals, TV commercials, emulators and much more in a two-cd, not-for-profit set for only $12. See Sean Kelly's DP CDROM page for the full story and ordering information.

JerryG ( also markets a cart guide called JerryG's Guide to the Classic Video Games. It was available as a beta edition for $15, but alas, is now sold out. He is currently working on a proper first edition. See the JGCVC home page for information on the forthcoming first edition, tentatively scheduled for release on April 12, 1998.

Finally, Leonard Herman is the author of ABC's to the VCS , a low-cost ($8.00) book containing descriptions of nearly all VCS games. Mail him directly for further information.

Q: What magazines cover the 2600/5200/7800?

A: The 2600 Connection is the premier bi-monthly Atari 2600 resource. This fanzine, published by Tim Duarte (, is an excellent source of information about Atari video game collecting in general, including news, game reviews, interviews, and entertaining anecdotes. Rare and collectible games are frequently discussed. Classified ads in the Connection are relevant to all Atari game machines. Subscription price is $9 for a year's worth of bi-monthly issues (6) or $1.50 for single copies.

To subscribe send a check payable to Timothy Duarte to:

The 2600 Connection
P.O. Box 885
Mattapoisett MA 02739-0885

or visit the 2600 Connection Home Page.

Digital Press also covers the 2600/5200/7800, but it is mixed with information about both neo-classic and modern systems. Hard copy subscriptions are $10, but the paper version is currently on hold until the summer. Back issues are available for $1.75 each (31 to date). Contact Joe Santulli ( for more information.

Russ Perry Jr. ( publishes Slap-Dash , an eclectic collection of video game information, personal opinion, references to beer and pictures of women bassists. Although a bit offbeat, it does contain information about classic gaming not found anywhere else. For example, Issue 6 contains bits of information culled from conversations of many Ex-atari employees. Send $1.50 for the latest issue (#6) to:

Russ Perry Jr.
2175 S. Tonne Rd. #105
Arlington Hts, IL  60005

The January 1996 issue of Ultimate Gamer has an article called The Atari Quest which has both pictures and information about hardware and cartridge prototypes. Some topics include Mindlink, 2600 Tempest, Airworld, Looney Tunes Hotel, Microgammon SB, Meebzork, and Sport Goofy. For those of you who weren't quick enough on the draw, Dennis Brown's Library contains jpg's of the article.

Q: What magazines covered the 2600/5200/7800 in the 80s?


Q: What books cover the 2600/5200/7800?

A: Leonard Herman ( publishes Phoenix: the Fall & Rise of Home Videogames. It covers the home video game industry in detail from the pre-classic days, through the early 80s and up to 1993. At $12.99, it's a steal for the amount of information contained in it. The second edition is available for $10 to first edition owners, $19.95 otherwise (plus $3 for priority shipping or $1.50 for 4th class shipping).

Another book is Zap! : the Rise and Fall of Atari by Scott Cohen. Here is some information on this out-of-print book:

 AUTHOR       Cohen, Scott.
 TITLE        Zap] : the rise and fall of Atari / Scott Cohen.
 PUBLISHER    New York : McGraw-Hill, c1984.
 DESCRIPTION  xii, 177 p. ; 22 cm.
 SUBJECT      Atari, Inc. -- History.
              Electronic games industry -- United States -- History.
 NOTE         Includes index.
 BIBLIOGRAPHY Bibliography: p. 164-168.
 ISBN         0070115435.

"The Macra Terror" makes the following observation:

It's a good history of Atari itself, but somewhat lacking in perspective (competing game systems receive few mentions) and sometimes snide in tone. It also covers the career of Nolan Bushnell, through the creation of PizzaTime (later Chuck E. Cheese) restaurants. It ends ironically in the middle of 1983, with Atari execs talking about the great things ahead.

The November 1996 issue of Next Generation magazine has excerpts from a forthcoming book by Steven L. Kent called Electronic Nation. It covers the roots of the video game industry, including bits from people like Bushnell and Alcorn. The excerpts do not cover the 2600/5200/7800, so the book itself may not be directly relevant to the FAQ.

Halcyon Days: Interviews with Classic Computer and Video Game Programmers is an electronic book (html format) available from Dadgum Games. A review of the book and several snippets from it can be found in Issue #42 of the 2600 Connection. According to the review, only six of the twenty-eight programmers interviewed worked on the 2600, so much information contained in the book is not directly relevant to the 2600 world. A short Halcyon Days FAQ is available from the publisher.

For comprehensive list of related material, see the Classic Video Game Literature List, maintained by Lee K. Seitz.


Q: Are there any videos that cover the 2600/5200/7800?

A: Once Upon Atari: The Agony and the Ecstasy is the fourth in a four part series about the early days of Atari. Produced by Howard Scott Warshaw (, the tape (supposedly) contains "technical info that can only be appreciated by serious enthusiasts," including bits about the difficulty of programming the 2600 and "favorite games of the game makers." At $33.95 ($29.95 + $4 shipping), it's a bit steep for its 28 minute running time. Send your check or money order (made out to Scott West) to:

Scott West Productions
P.O. Box 610787
San Jose, CA  95161

and be sure to specify NTSC or PAL format. Note that the other three parts of the series have yet to be released.

Scott Crawford ( has this to say about the video:

Once Upon Atari: The Agony And The Ecstasy is a great start to Howard Scott Warshaw's Once Upon Atari video series. It's an entertaining, educational, and most importantly, REAL glimpse of what happened at good ol' Atari. The video focuses on interviews with 2600 VCS programmers like Rob (Night Driver, Demon Attack, Missile Command) Fulop, Todd (Pac-Man) Frye, Carla (Star Raiders, Warlords, Indy 500) Meninsky, and Larry (Air-Sea Battle, Kaboom!) Kaplan. These interviews are at times hilarious (Frye's description of how he programmed 2600 Xevious, Fulop's profanity-laden rant in praise of VCS programmer Rick Maurer), as well as insightful (Ex-Atari Director Of Software George Kiss' regret that he didn't write a line of code while at Atari, Fulop's description of the job as "the definition of his life"). While the video is a bit light on running time (at 28 minutes), it is well worth picking up, as I've watched it about a dozen times in the 2 months since I got it.

Q: Are there any other sources of general information about the 2600?

A: Christopher James Pepin ( maintains the Atari 2600 Fun Facts and Information Guide, which contains bits of information culled from Usenet postings, mailing lists and the 2600 connection.

Q: What is irc, #rgvc and how do I get on them?

A: irc is Internet Relay Chat, a global realtime chat network. #rgvc is the channel. At most times of the day or night you can find someone on the channel eager to talk shop. Thursday nights at 8 EST used to be the weekly gathering time, although it isn't clear if it still is. Note that the old rgvc irc channel #classic is no longer used for this purpose; stick to #rgvc if you wish to discuss the 2600/5200/7800.

If you are on a unix box and your sys admin doesn't mind irc, you might be able to get on with a simple

irc -c '#rgvc'

Alas, irc does not come preinstalled on most machines, so if the above command doesn't work or if you aren't using unix, you'll have to be more resourceful. Here is an irc primer, complete with listings of where to obtain irc clients.

The Atari Gaming Headquarters site is the home of the #rgvc home page, which contains tips on irc etiquette, the #rgvc FAQ and a list of web pages and mail addresses of the regulars.

Q: Where is the 5200 FAQ?

A: As you may or may not notice, most information on the 5200 in this document is either incomplete or outdated. Keita Iida ( maintains the official 5200 FAQ, which is both extensive and up to date. At some point, most, if not all, of the 5200 sections of the 2600/5200/7800 will be purged.

Q: What happened to Atari?

A: The Atari that everyone knew, loved and hated is gone. On July 30, 1996, Atari merged with disk drive maker JTS with more of whimper than a bang. Don Thomas ( has written a short, insightful bit about the merger and the history leading up to it that asks more questions than it answers.

The story doesn't end there, however. On Feb 23, 1998, JTS sold substantially all of the assets of the Company's Atari Division, consisting primarily of Atari home computer games and the intellectual property rights and license agreements associated with such games (the "Atari Assets"), to HIACXI, Corp. ("HIAC"), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hasbro Interactive, Inc., for $5,000,000 in cash. Read the entire 8-K form that was sumitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding this transaction.

Q: What scores were needed to earn an Activision patch?

A: Rodney Siddall ( maintains the Activision Patch FAQ. The above page contains the FAQ itself, as well as pictures of some of the patches.

Q: Where can I find games for my 2600/5200/7800?

A: There are still several sources for new game cartridges. Mail order firms such as Telegames USA are probably the best source for new games. They still stock many different games cartridges for all the Atari game machines. Some titles they carry are uncommon or rare.

Best Electronics (2021 The Alameda, Suite 290, San Jose CA 95126-1127; (408) 243-6950) recently published Revision 10 of their Worldwide Catalog which contains 228 pages of currently available Atari items. While it is an excellent resource for the Atari computer line and does present interesting pictures of console prototypes, pinout information and "collector items" like T-shirts, mugs and paperweights, it is a bit sparse in the 2600/5200/7800 area. Much of the < 30 pages dedicated to this area concerns itself with console, joystick and miscellaneous parts (such as pots, switches and replacement motherboards), but not cart lists. It will also set you back $10.50 including shipping. You can get each cart list (2600, 5200, 7800) by sending a "self-stamped full-sized business envelope with 1st class US postage" and a polite request. [Mod note: probably one envelope per request or one envelope with lots of extra postage.]

B & C Computervisions also carries both new and used Atari games and consoles.

Once in a great while, some retail stores will still have Atari cartridges in stock, although sometimes they are hidden in the back room. Another good source is discount liquidator stores, such as Toy Liquidators, Big Lots/Odd Lots, and Sears Outlets. These stores typically have huge quantities of a limited number of titles at closeout prices.

Radio Shack sells 2600/5200/7800 and other classic games through their catalog. See the next question for a list of the games that they carry.

O'Shea Ltd. has 1.3 million bulk atari games for $.80 each plus S&H. In the past, games had to be ordered in bulk (quantities of 72, later 6), but Dauer ( reports that one can now order single carts. Contact Bill Houlehan ( for more information. Here's what they have:


Space Invaders / Baseball / Pac-Man / Football / Phoenix / Ms Pac-Man / 
Dig Dug / Battlezone / Galaxian / Gravitar / Jungle Hunt / Kangaroo / Joust / 
Pole Position / Jr Pac-Man/ Solaris / Venture / Dark Chambers / 
Super Football / Crossbow


Centipede / Asteroids / Dig Dug / Galaga / Joust / Ms Pac-Man / 
Pole Position II / Xevious / Ballblazer / Scrapyard Dog / One on One / 
Hat Trick / Winter Games / Baseball / Dark Chambers / Donkey Kong / 
Donkey Kong Jr / Tower Toppler / Jinks / Barnyard Blaster / Mania Challenge / 
Ninja Golf / Meltdown

Sean McGrail ( points out that O'Shea has Super Huey, Midnight Mutants, Ace of Aces, Touchdown Football and Robotron, even though they are not listed on the web page.

If you care more about playing than collecting, Hozer Video Games ( will put almost any 2K or 4K image on a cart for $11. This may be the only way to play games such as Wizard, Chase the Chuckwagon or Cubicolor on your 2600. 8K games are not yet available, but may be sometime in the future for $25.

In a related note, Marlin P. Jones & Assoc. has Atari track balls for $1.95 ($15 min order). Here's the bit from their web page:

Track-Ball for Atari Video Computer system & Atari Home Computer. Black 
plastic case with 2-1/4" Dia. black ball, & Left & Right corner mounted 
"Fire" switches. Well made unit that uses steel shafts, ball bearings 
and opto-interrupters. 4ft. cable with molded DB-9 female connector on end. 
Rubber feet on bottom. L: 9-1/2" W: 5-1/2" T: 2-5/8" WT: 1.8.  Stock #6465-MI. 

Other sources for both new and used games include:

Q: Which games does Radio Shack sell?

A: The following list was current as of Oct 97.


2600 system -- $49.99

Super Deluxe Joystick -- $19.99

paddles, trackball -- $14.99 each

$14.99 games

Boxing                Bump N Jump             California Games
Centipede             Commando                Crystal Castles
Demons to Diamonds    Donkey Kong Jr.         Double Dunk
Enduro                Freeway                 Glacier Patrol
Grand Prix            Home Run                Human Cannonball
International Soccer  Kung Fu Superkicks      Lock N Chase
Midnight Magic        Millipede               Moon Patrol
Pitfall               Pitfall 2               RS Baseball
RS Boxing             RS Football             RS Soccer
RS Tennis             RS Volleyball           River Raid
Secret Quest          Skateboardin'           Skiing
Space War             Sprint Master           Stargate
Street Racer          Summer Games            Super Baseball
Title Match PW        Winter Games

$9.99 games

Baseball              Battlezone              Crossbow
Dark Chambers         Defender II             Desert Falcon
Dig Dug               Football                Galaxian
Gravitar              Joust                   Jr. Pac-Man
Jungle Hunt           Kangaroo                Ms. Pac-Man
Pac-Man               Phoenix                 Pole Position
Solaris               Space Invaders          Super Football
Venture               Yar's Revenge

5200 carts ($19.99): Kaboom  Megamania  Pitfall  River Raid

7800 carts ($9.99): 

Ace of Aces           Asteroids               Ballblazer
Barnyard Blaster      Baseball                Basketball
Centipede             Crack'd                 Crossbow
Dark Chambers         Dig Dig                 Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong Jr.       Fatal Run               Galaga
Hat Trick             Ikari Warriors          Jinks
Joust                 Karateka                Mat Mania Challenge
Meltdown              Ms. Pac-Man             Pole Position II
Scrapyard Dog         Summer Games            Tower Toppler
Winter Games          Xevious

Q: Where can I download game instructions?

A: Greg Chance ( maintains a doc archive among other things on his web page.

Q: What are the best games for the 2600?

A: This can be a subjective matter, of course, but Mike Littau conducted an informal 2600 games poll on (before the split) a few years ago, trying to find answers to this very question. Here are the results, with some slight changes in format:

From: littaum@jacobs.CS.ORST.EDU (Mike Littau)
Subject: Atari 2600 poll results
Date: 12 Jun 92 16:49:35 GMT

Here are the results of the atari 2600 poll I conducted:

Best overall                    Best original idea 
1. Adventure                    1. Pitfall!
2.(tie) Solaris,Yar's Revenge   2. Adventure
4. Asteroids                    3. Yar's revenge
5. River Raid                   4.(tie) Stampede, Kaboom, Kool Aid Man

Best music or sound effects:                Best adventure game:
1. Pitfall II                               1. Adventure
2. Frogger                                  2. Raiders of the Lost Ark
4.(tie) Haunted House, CA Games             3. Haunted House
5. Asteroids                                4. Superman
                                            5. Secret Quest

Best action game:                       Best sports game:
1. Asteroids                            1. Activision Tennis
2. Demon Attack                         2. Skiing
3. Missile Command                      3. RealSports Tennis
4. Warlords                             4.(tie)  Super Football, RS Football
5.(tie) Chopper Command, Moon Patrol      Activision Boxing

Best racing game:                       Best graphics for a game:
1. Indy 500                             1. Solaris
2. Enduro                               2. Pitfall!
3.(tie) Sprintmaster, Grand Prix        3. Moonsweeper
5.(tie) Barnstorming, Slot Racers       4.(tie) Barnstorming, Demon Attack,
                                          River Raid

In addition, The 2600 Connection (issue #10) ran an article on the 2600 cartridge "Hall of Fame," listing the best 2600 games. There was an excellent capsule description of each game. Here is the list:

Combat                  Asteroids                    Honorable Mention:
Super Breakout          Centipede (and Millipede)    Dragonfire
Defender                Donkey Kong (and Jr.)        Demon Attack
Adventure               Mario Bros.                  Megamania
Space Invaders          Pitfall! (and II)            HERO
Missile Command         River Raid (and II)          Rampage
Pac-Man                 Kaboom                       Miner 2049er
Ms. Pac-Man             Frogger                      Skatboardin'
Solaris                 Q*Bert

Q: What are the most common and most rare games for the 2600/5200/7800?

A: Commonality and rarity of a game depends upon many things, including geographical location, cart and label condition, label variation and personal experience. VGR's cart list, the Digital Press Collectors Guide and JerryG's Beta One all give ideas to a cart's rarity and subsequent worth. (VGR and the Digital Press paper edition use a scale, while JerryG and the DP cdrom use prices). For you unix folks, a quick way to determine carts of a certain rarity is to download the plaintext version of VGR's list, and then grep out the rarity that you want:

grep " xx " filename > xx.list

where 'filename' is the name of VGR's list and 'xx' one of VGR's rarity codes (C, U, R, ER, EP, UR, UP, NR; case is important). xx.list will then contain the list of carts you are interested in.

For those of you who yearn to know the prices carts have fetched in the past, check out the Atari 2600/5200/7800 Auction Price Database, which contains final auction price information for hundreds of carts culled from many net auctions.

Q: Is there any information about 5200 prototypes?


Q: What was Gameline and what games were available for it?

A: Gameline was a service offered by Control Video Corporation that admitted the downloading of games to the the 2600 over regular phone lines (the Gameline was a 1200bps (300 bps?, variable 800-1500 bps?) modem). The Gameline Master Module originally sold for $49.95 and there was a one-time membership fee of $15. Charges were about $.10 a game or $1 for up to an hour of play. Contest games were $1 and there was a $.50 charge to enter a score. On your birthday, not only were you given free play for a day, but you also received a Happy Birthday screen, complete with cake, candles and music.

Perhaps the funniest bit of advertising from CVC was in the form of a Q&A session. The Q was, "What will happen if I don't join Gameline?" The A was "Eventually, you'll be the only one on your block without Gameline. Your friends will have mastered new games before you even hear about them. Are you willing to take that chance?"

While the service did not last very long, the charred ashes of the service begat what is now AOL.

The games that were available were:

Airlock                 Alien                   Atlantis
Bank Heist              Bermuda Triangle        Boing
Bugs                    Cakewalk                China Syndrome
Coconuts                Commando Raid           Cosmic Ark
Cosmic Creeps           Cosmic Swarm            Cross Force
Crypts of Chaos         Deadly Duck             Demolition Herby
Demon Attack            Dragonfire              The Earth Dies Screaming
Eggomania               Encounter at L-5        Entombed
Fantastic Voyage        Fast Food               Fire Fighter
Flash Gordon            Frankenstein's Monster  Gangster Alley
Gopher                  Guardian                Infiltrate
Jawbreaker              King Kong               Lost Luggage
M.A.D.                  Marauder                M*A*S*H
Megaforce               Mines of Minos          Moonsweeper
Name this Game          The Challenge of Nexar  Nightmare
No Escape               Picnic                  Piece O' Cake
Planet Patrol           Polaris                 Porky's
Raft Rider              Ram It                  R. of the Beefsteak Tomatoes
Riddle of the Sphinx    Room of Doom            Save the Whales
Shark Attack            Shootin' Gallery        Sneak & Peek
Solar Storm             Space Cavern            Space Jockey
Space Master            Squeeze Box             Sssnake
Stargunner              Star Voyager            Tape Worm
Threshold               Towering Inferno        Trick Shot
Turmoil                 Warplock                Word Zapper
Worm War I

Q: Which games use a lightgun?


Q: Which 2600 games use the kid's controllers/keypads


Q: Which 2600 games use paddles?


Q: Which 2600 games use the driving controllers?

A: There are two: Indy 500 and Stell-A-Sketch. Interestingly, the driving controllers have found a use in another system: the Jaguar FAQ details their use in a home-built rotary controller for Tempest 2000.

Q: Which 2600 games have voice?

A: There are two: Quadrun and Open Sesame. Due to the limitations of the 2600, the screen is blank when the voice is played.

Q: What 2600 carts do not work on the 7800?

A: There are known incompatibilities with some NTSC versions of the 7800 (PAL 7800s seem to be unaffected). Games that may not work include Robot Tank, Decathlon, Space Shuttle, Time Pilot, Kool-Aid Man and the Supercharger. In a recent Usenet posting, Jay Tilton ( describes a series of tests with various versions of the 7800. In short, 7800s manufactured in 1984 seem to be fully compatible, whereas those manufactured later have inconsistent incompatibilities. Here is an edited version of the posting:

I recently acquired another 7800 console, and discovered that it works with the notoriously cranky Activision carts and the Supercharger. I decided to sit down with all my 7800 decks and an armload of carts and see how much of the 7800 compatibility mystery I could sort out.

Test decks:
            Serial #                           Board part#
Deck#        72R4BR-  Country  Expansion port     CO25233-  Board Date
-----  -------------  -------  --------------  -----------  ----------
  1    AT  8 5037836   Taiwan    Full port       001 REV A       84-25
  2    A1 76 5904610   Taiwan    Full port       002 REV A       87-17
  3    A1 77 5951337   Taiwan    Hole/no pins    002 REV A       87-17
  4    A3 87 5139813   Taiwan    No port         002 REV B       88-28
  5    A3 07 5298641   China     No port         002 REV B       88-30

Board part number/revision is taken from the underside of the board, just above the cart slot. The full number always begins with "CO25233." The boards' top side has a different part number, "CO25234," but no revision level is given. Board dates are also taken from the underside of the board, near the Atari logo. I changed the notation a bit to make sorting by date easier. They're really written like "2584" instead of "84-25," which would indicate the twenty-fifth week of 1984.

The carts tested were:

Results:  "Yes"  = cart works fine.
          "No"   = cart doesn't do a thing.
          "Roll" = cart works, but picture rolls.
          "Lock" = cart plays for a while, then locks up the system.

                Deck #
     Cart          1        2        3        4        5
                ------   ------   ------   ------   ------
    Decathlon 1    Yes       No       No      Yes      Yes
              2    Yes       No       No      Yes      Yes
   Robot Tank 1    Yes     Roll     Roll     Roll     Roll
              2    Yes      Yes     Roll     Roll      Yes
              3    Yes      Yes     Roll     Roll      Yes
Space Shuttle 1    Yes      Yes      Yes      Yes      Yes
              2    Yes      Yes      Yes      Yes      Yes
              3    Yes     Roll     Roll     Roll      Yes
              4    Yes     Roll     Roll     Roll      Yes
              5    Yes      Yes      Yes      Yes      Yes
 Supercharger 1    Yes       No       No       No       No
              2    Yes       No       No       No       No
     Food Fight    Yes      Yes     Lock     Lock      Yes

IMHO, the manufacturing standards of deck #1 are better than the others. All the major chips inside are all socketed instead of being soldered directly to the board. Some of the other decks also have had some minor factory patchwork performed. They occasionally have resistors bridging points where they were clearly not originally intended to be, i.e. soldered directly to a chip pin or placed on the underside of the board.

Wondering if that 7800 deck sitting in the thrift store could be one of the fully-compatible ones? There are some very minor externally visible differences between my deck #1 and the others. I can't conclusively say these are 100% reliable indicators, but they are conspicuously different.

Q: What is the Starpath CD and can I still get one?

A: The Starpath Supercharger Game Collection on CD, or Stella Gets a New Brain was a non-profit, long-awaited labor of love from the CyberPuNKs (Russ Perry Jr., Glenn Saunders, Jim Nitchals and Dan Skelton). This CD not only contains NTSC and PAL versions of most of the Supercharger games (PAL Survival Island is missing), but also development tools, a collection of Supercharger and Vectrex material, and several surprises (including SoundX from Hozer Video Games and the UR Polo from Carol Shaw).

While it was an amazing value for $18 ($15 + $3 shipping), it is now sold out. You can contact Glenn Saunders ( to see if there are one or two leftovers, but you'll probably have to look for rgvc sales or auctions if you wish to obtain one. Glenn has recently mentioned on Usenet that a "professional run of commercial Supercharger CDs is in the works" but that it will be quite a while before they are available.

For general information about the supercharger, see the supercharger FAQ / Cyberpunks FAQ which contains some interesting information about the Starpath company, the supercharger, and the Cyberpunks.

Q: Have any new games been released lately?

A: Over the past couple of years, several new games have been developed for the Atari 2600. Ed Federmeyer wrote both SoundX, a sound generator, and Edtris, a Tetris clone. They are both available for $16 from Hozer Video Games (mail for information).

Rescue Bira Bira by Chris Cracknell ( is also available from Hozer (here is the binary image). RBB is a modification of Jungle Fever with the adult bits removed.

Greg Troutman ( recently posted a beta version of This Planet Sucks on his web page.

Piero Cavina ( is the creator of Oystron, a shooter that is quite possibly the first game ever to feature space oysters. Get the full story and the game from the Oystron Home Page.

Nick Bensema ( maintains a page of links to newly developed 2600 games. Many of the games listed in this section are there, as well as several others including Cubis, The Dark Mage and Mondo Pong.

Bob Colbert ( seems to be the most prolific 2600 developer of late. Okie Dokie (a puzzle game), Cheetah (a Game Genie-type program for the Supercharger or emulator), and now Stell-A-Sketch (Etch-a-Sketch clone) are all available from Bob's home page.

On a related note, VGR ( is the author of Indenture, a dos version of 2600 Adventure, complete with larger levels and enhancements. See the Indenture FAQ for more information.

Q: What is a multicart and where can I get one?

A: A multicart is simply a multiple game cart. Sean Kelly ( makes them for both the 2600 and 5200. Prices for the 2600 are $65 for a 64 game cart, $100 for a 128 game cart and $150 for a 256 game cart. The 5200 cart contains nearly all games ever made (including prototypes) for $125. Email him or see Sean's Web Page for more information.

Randy Crihfield ( at Hozer Video Games also builds multicarts. A 128-in-1 cart is $100, as is a 32-in-1 Activision cart.

Other examples of multicarts exist, including Atari's 32-in-1 for the 2600 (PAL) and their 32-in-1 for the 7800 (which is a relabeled 2600 32-in-1; all games on the cart are 2600 games). For information and a picture of the 7800 32-in-1 cart, see Dennis Remmer's 'Random Classic Game Stuff Page.

Q: Where can I find a list of cheats and Easter Eggs?

A: Galen Tatsuo Komatsu ( maintains the B-TECH list; mail him directly with "Send B-TECH" as your subject line. Note: this is not a mailserver so please give him time to respond.

Q: What programming resources are available?

A: For 2600 users there is the 2600 Programming guide. The Stella Guide, along with other 2600 info can be found at

Schematic, bankswitching and other 2600 technical information is available at Kevin Horton's 2600 page.

Another tech page which includes annotated source code for both combat and adventure is Dan Boris' VCS page.

A fairly comprehensive page is Nick Bensema's 2600 Programming Page, complete with gobs of source examples and programming tools.

Bob Colbert ( provides many development tools for the Supercharger on his home page. These tools are different than those found on the Supercharger CD.

For the 7800 there was Harry Dodgson's ( Monitor Cart plus documentation. The 250+ pages included a stella guide, a 2600 programming manual which was a bit more readable, the Maria specs, and the 7800 docs plus numerous corrections to the Atari documentation. The package price was around $65. Alas, Harry has said that no offers will get him to make another monitor cartridge (he stopped making them a while ago when he didn't sell any in a 6 month period). About 3 dozen total were made.

Q: What is the 7800 encryption algorithm?

A: The 7800 uses an encryption key to determine whether or not the 7800 cartridge is valid and to allow the system to be put in 7800 mode as opposed to 2600 mode. The encryption algorithm is said to be proprietary. Rumors exist, however, that Atari released the algorithm for use on the the Atari ST series of computers. If anybody has this program we would all be very happy to have a look at it. It is also rumored that the code was released with the Lynx Dev-Kit for the Amiga, yet it does not appear in version 1.3. Rumors...rumors...

Not a rumor, however, is that as designed, the 7800 required a valid 960-bit digital signature generated by Atari before a native 7800 game (as opposed to a 2600 game) would run on the 7800; no digital signature, no Maria chip. Also, crypto export restrictions (960 bits are a lot even for military-quality crypto) are probably the reason that European 7800 consoles and games have no digital signature.

Q: Is 7800 Impossible Mission really impossible?

A: Yes.

The cart was released with a bug where some of the pieces you need were hidden under computer terminals, but the terminals cannot be searched. This bug was fixed, but Atari probably never released the updated version. The PAL version is not impossible, as the programmer of the PAL version fixed the bug.

Q: What are the different 2600/5200/7800 models?


2600 models

Atari VCS CX2600 - Original model. Woodgrain and black plastic enclosure. Light and heavy weighted plastic. Six silver switches across the upper front panel. Bundled accessories included two CX40 joysticks, one CX30 paddle controller, AC adapter, TV switch and a CX2601 Combat game cart. Sample wording on label on bottom of unit:

Mfd. by Atari, Inc., Sunnyvale, CA.  Serial # 048181.
Mfd. by Atari-Wong Ltd. in Hong Kong.  Serial # 568213514.
Manufactured for Atari Inc. by TRU Electronic Components Company in Taiwan.  
Model NO: CX-2600 Serial # 81281713"

Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade I - Same as above except external cosmetic differences (the "difficulty" switches are labeled "skill level", the switch panel is silver instead of black, and the woodgrain pattern is different.) Sample wording:

Mfd. for Atari Inc. by Dimerco Electronics in Taiwan for sale to
Sears, Roebuck, and Co.  Serial # 82077230.

Atari VCS 2600A - Revised model. Externally it is nearly identical to the original, except there are four silver switches across the upper front panel instead of six. The difficulty switches were moved to the rear of the unit. Internally, the motherboard is a simplified one-piece design. Sample wording:

Mfd. for Atari, Inc. by TRW Electronic Components Co. in Taiwan.
Serial # 811510200.
Mfd. for Atari, Inc. by Atari Taiwan Mfing. Corp. in Taiwan.
Serial # 827030354.

Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade I(A) - Same as above except for external cosmetic differences. Sample wording:

Mfd. for Atari Inc. by Dimerco Electronics in Taiwan for sale to
Sears, Roebuck, and Co.  Serial # 82299647.

Atari VCS 2600A (black) - Second revised model. Externally it is nearly identical to the 2600A, except the enclosure has a more modern looking "black out" treatment. The areas of woodgrain on the original models are now simply black plastic. Internally, the motherboard is a slight revision of the 2600A. Sample wording:

Mfd. for Atari, Inc. by Atari Taiwan Mfing. Corp. in Taiwan.  
Serial # AT831150153.

Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade II - Entirely new model of the 2600 designed exclusively for Sears. Black wedge-shaped enclosure, with push button switches and LEDs on top panel. Essentially an Atari 7800 shell. Four joystick connectors on lower front panel with rocker switch. Internally very different from other 2600 models, but still uses the same basic chipset. Bundled accessories include two combination joystick/paddle controllers, AC adapter, TV switch and a Space Invaders game cart. Sample wording:

Sears, Inc. (Atari, Inc.) Serial # SV 392 005539.

Atari 2800 -- same as Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade II but with Atari label. Released only in Japan. Very rare.

Atari 2600 "Jr." - Third revised model. It is slightly larger than a VHS video tape case. Some versions have "Jr" stamped onto the bottom sticker. Large black buttons. Power and b/w switches slide, while Reset and Game Select are push buttons. Jet black with large metallic silver strip running lengthwise across the front with "Atari 2600" on it. Marketed as the "Under 50 bux, the fun is back!" machine. Bundled accessories include one joystick, AC adapter, TV switch box, and RCA connecting cable. Box is designed as a carrying case with handle and a white section which reads: "This Atari 2600 belongs to:". No bundled cart. The unit came in either a maroon or silver box. Sample wording:

         Atari Logo                           Atari 2600
         FCC ID: EBA72R2600
         [FCC wording deleted]
                         S.N. A1 81 1494278
         [Atari logo embossed in plastic] [made in taiwan in plastic]


         MODEL NO. CX-2600 JR.
         4, 122, 422 OTHER PATENTS, AND

               S.N.|A1 873 412187 |


Atari 2600 "Jr." - same as above except silver plate has a larger rainbow strip without an embossed border.

A few miscellaneous notes:
All 6 switch Ataris had a large shield casing. There were at least two 6-switch versions:

(6-1) The original. The entire bottom half of the console was made of quarter inch thick plastic (~6mm)! Combined with the thick aluminum RF casing, this is the heaviest 2600 ever made. Also, this 2600 has no 2/3 channel select switch. There is a channel select hole in the case and it's marked Channel A/B, but there's no switch inside on the PCB. These consoles came with "01 combat". (1977 models only)

(6-2) The lighter 2600. No armor plating. Bottom half of console is made of thin plastic, like the 4 switch models. Channel switch now present. Thick RF shield still present. Plain ol' "combat" included.

The were also minor variations on 4 front switch, woodgrain panel models. On some, the difficulty switches are marked "Expert/Novice" (or was it "Advanced/Beginner"?) and others are marked only as "A/B".

Finally, a hodge-podge of facts that don't fit anywhere else:

5200 models

Atari CX5200 - Original model. Four controller connectors on lower front panel. Bundled accessories include two CX-52 controllers, AC adapter, CX-522 TV switch, and a Super Breakout game cart. Sample wording:

Atari, Inc.,  Atari Model No. 5200,  Serial # 0151320 SV-442.

Atari CX5200 - Revised model. Two controller connectors on lower front panel. Bundled accessories include two CX-52 controllers, AC adapter, TV switch, and a Super Breakout game cart (Pac-Man may have also been the pack-in cart sometime later) . Sample wording:

Atari,  Inc.,  Atari Model No. 5200,  Serial # 036412 EP-233.

There are slight cosmetic changes to the shells of the 5200, in particular the base section has seen several versions. There are at least two different bases with hooks for winding up the video cable, and at least one version without any hooks at all.

7800 models

Atari CX7800 - Vastly modified and enhanced 2600 model. Two joystick ports on lower front panel. New chipset (except sound chip; pokey chips could be added to carts). Side expansion port for upgrades and computer add ons. Bundled accessories included two CX24 ProLine joysticks AC Adapter, switchbox, RCA connecting cable, and Pole Position II cartridge. Plays all 2600 games except 3 or so (which ones?).

Atari CX7800 - Second Revision. Expansion port connector removed from mother board but is still etched. Shell has indentation of where expansion port was to be.

Atari CX7800 - Third Revision. As above but only a small "blemish" mark on shell.

Q: What types of clones exist?

A: Probably the most famous is the Gemini, an inexpensive clone 2600 made by Coleco. All black, box-shaped enclosure. Six small slide switches (say that fast) on top of front panel. RF modulator port and power adapter port on back panel. Two joystick ports and difficult switches on front panel. Bundled accessories included two dual-joystick/paddle controllers, a 9volt/500ma DC adapter, RF cable, TV switch and Donkey Kong game cart (?). Sample wording:

Coleco Gemini VGS - Coleco Ind., Inc., Serial # AG0145189.

Q: What companies made 2600 adapters for their own systems?

A: ColecoVision Expansion Module #1 - Black, 5" x 10", 1 3/4" high in front, sloping to 2 3/4" in back.

               _____      a = expansion connector to ColecoVision
        ______|__a__|__   b = 2600 cart slot
        |      _____   |  c = color/b+w slide switch
        |     |__b__|  |  l = left difficulty slide switch
        |.........     |  r = right difficulty slide switch
        | clr gr :     |  g = game select push button
        |________:_____|  r = reset button
                   ^ ^  <---- joystick ports

Chips inside are: "COLECO 73192 E4002" (TIA clone?), SY6507, SY6532. Curiously, there is an empty space for a 14 pin chip and assorted resistors and capacitors on the right side of the circuit board. The space for a "Y1" indicates that this was probably intended to be a clock generator. (Could this board also be intended for standalone use, such as in the VGS?) There is also an adjustment hole on the bottom that turns a potentiometer [probably color control]. The reset button on the main ColecoVision console acts as a hard reset for the expansion module. The connection to the ColecoVision unit isn't very physically stable, at least not on carpet, resulting in flaky performance. Sample wording:

        "ColecoVision [tm]
         Model No. 2405
         Coleco Industries, Inc., Amsterdam, NY 12010
         Serial # A0065820         For service help call:
         F.C.C. ID# BNV8432405     1+800+842-1225
         Coleco Industries, Inc.   (Nationwide)
         Made in U.S.A.            Printed in U.S.A. 74859A"

Intellivision System Changer - Made by Mattel, copyright 1983. White, roughly about 5-6" square and 2" high, with a piece sticking out of the left side that fits into the Intellivision cartridge slot.

            ___________ <-Top face.
            |  _____  |
          __| [__a__] |  a == Atari cartridge slot  b == insert into Inty II
         | b          |  c == Game Reset (square button)
         |__   cdefg  |  d, f == left and right difficulty (toggle switches)
            |_________|  e == Color/B+W toggle switch

Front face had two standard joystick ports. Known to work with virtually all 2600 carts except those that don't work with other adapters (i.e. those like Space Shuttle and Starmaster that use standard 2600 hardware functions). Does not work with the "original" (2609) Intellivision Master Component without factory modification. Sample wording:

(one white label and one orange label) "Model No. 4610  FCC ID: BSU9RD4610  
Serial No. 003255

Commodore VIC-20/2600 game adapter - Rumored to exist. Was advertised by Protecto in mail order ads in during the 1983 time frame. Plugged into VIC expansion connector and provided 2600 software emulation. Original price, emulation quality, and reliability all unknown.

The September 1983 issue of Electronic Games (page 41) shows an advertisement for Cardapter, a 2600 cart adapter for the Vic-20. The distributor was Cardco, Inc. in the US, LSI Distributors Ltd in W est Canada, Hobby Craft Canada in East Canada, and Audiogenic in Europe. Additional information on this bit would be interesting.

JerryG ( maintains a list of both 2600 clones and changers.

Q: Are there any emulators for the 2600/5200/7800?

A: Dennis Brown ( maintains the 2600 emulator FAQ. It focuses mostly on the Activision Action packs and is also a bit out of date. The current version is also completely unreadable. Question 5.2 of the comp.emulators.misc FAQ discusses emulators for the 2600 as well.

The January 1996 Ultimate Gamer mentions that Atari had some plans for a 2600 emulator for the Jaguar CD. Dave Staugas, who programmed both Millipede and Krull, was working on it. According to Slapdash #6, it was approximately 90% complete. With the demise of Atari, the probability of the emulator seeing the light of day is almost 0.

Matt Pritchard ( mentions in a recent Usenet posting that the forthcoming commercial Intellivision emulator may include a 2600 emulator and images of all m-network/intv games (including unreleased ones).

For the 5200, there are three emulators:

There are currently no known emulators for the 7800.

Q: What 2600/5200/7800 hardware was announced, but never released?

A: The short answer is quite a bit . Here are some examples:

Q: How do I fix my paddles?

A: Dirty paddles are a cause of great frustration. To clean them, buy a can of Cleaner/Degreaser (available at Radio Shack, catalog #64-4422), open up the paddles and spray directly into the pot area. Close them up, give them a few twists and they should be good as new. Silicon spray, WD40 and TV tuner can also be used, although there are warnings about possible gumming with WD40, and possible plastic rot with TV tuner.

Q: How do I fix my 5200 joysticks?

A: The Atari 5200 FAQ covers this in depth, so that information will not be duplicated here. Still, George Torch ( may have devised a simpler and potentially cheaper alternative. His solution was to coat the carbon disks on the fire buttons with copper resin, such as is found in Rear Window Defogger Repair Kits (e.g. Loctite #79340-15067). This technique fixed his non-working fire buttons, and also added sensitivity to the other buttons. Note that while copper resin improves conductivity, it doesn't work in all cases (especially if the underlying flex circuit is bad). Also note that these kits are not terribly easy to find and they are not cheap ($9.85 for 1.4ml of resin and a small brush), although they may be cheaper than ordering replacement parts.

Q: Do Bally Astrocade joysticks work on the 2600/7800?

A: No. Even though they use the standard 9-pin connector, the pinouts are different. However, the Bally/Astrocade FAQ documents the proper rewiring scheme to allow them to work on the 2600/7800.

Q: Which light guns work with the 2600/7800?

A: There is no light gun made specifically for either system. However, Atari's light gun (model number XG-1) that came with the XE-Game-System works well. Additionally, Best Electronics sells the Best Lightgun which supposedly works better than Atari's own. (comments?) Also, see the entry for rewiring a Sega lightgun elsewhere in the FAQ.

Q: What hardware peripherals exist for the 2600/5200/7800?

A: Note: This list is by no means complete.

2600 peripherals

5200 peripherals

Note: schematics or extra interfaces would be appreciated so that duplicates could be made (akh?)

Q: What are NTSC/PAL/SECAM and why should I care?

A: NTSC (National Television Standards Committee), PAL (Phase Alternating Lines) and SECAM (SEquentiel Couleur Avec Memoire) are different worldwide, generally incompatible television standards. Some short, not completely accurate information follows.

what               where                      freq/frames/scan lines
----               -----                      ----------------------
NTSC               US/Japan                         60hz/30/525
PAL                Europe                           50hz/25/625
SECAM              France & many others             50hz/25/625

For detailed and accurate (but muddled) information, see the Worldwide TV standards page. Why is this information important? Different carts will exhibit different characteristics based on what kind of TV and console are used. For example, a PAL cart on an NTSC console and TV will roll the screen and exhibit a strange color scheme. An adjustable vertical hold is a must in these situations. The console compatibility FAQ details much of this information for the Atari 2600/5200/7800 and other consoles as well.

Q: What is a TV Boy and where can I get one?

A: The TV Boy is a handheld-sized Atari 2600 (made by SystemA) with 127 built-in games that connects to your tv (it does not have its own screen). While it features a built-in Gameboy-like joypad and external 9-pin ports so one can connect one's favorite controller, it does not, alas, have a cartridge slot. Inside the TV Boy is a jumper marked "NTSC/PAL," so it appears that it will work on either type of TV. JerryG maintains the TV Boy page.

There is also a TV Boy II which does not have external 9-pin ports. Thus, there is no way to play two-player (simulataneous) games (only the built-in directional pad is left) with two players; In two-player games the pad controls both players at the same time. For example, in Traffic (nee Freeway), the pad controls both chickens.

For PAL preferers there is the MegaBoy which is nearly identical to the TV Boy, although it has only 126 predominately PAL games.

If things weren't confusing enough, Ian Pleasance ( adds the following:

"...there are also PAL versions of the TV Boy I and TV Boy II. The TVB1
is exactly the same physically as the US version, whereas the TVB2 had
a design change and is shorter, it also adds a 127th game (pirated
MegaMania), and had the second joystick port removed (on games with a
two-player option the second joystick is rerouted to the Joypad). Both
the TVB1 and TVB2 were sold in the UK by SystemA.

"SystemA also recently launched the "Super TV Boy", renamed the TVB2
to "TV Boy" and dropped the TVB1.
The Super TV Boy is the same internally as the TVB2, however the
casing has changed drastically, and the internal joypad is now
"removable" in that it clips on to the main unit case and is attached
by a wire, so you can unclip it and play it at a distance. The Super
TV Boy looks in some ways like a mini-NES except that half of the casing 
is bright pink (!).

The MegaBoy is unavailable from anywhere we know of. TV Boys are available in the US from JerryG ( for $149.95 + shipping and handling. Argos, a UK mailorder company, has TV Boys for 24.95 pounds, but they do not take orders from outside Great Britain or Northern Ireland. (Argos Customer Service: 01908 600 161; Direct Home Delivery: 0345 427 467; the TV Boy catalog number is 364/4834). Gultronics in Tottenham Court Road, London, England as well as Index, a UK-wide catalogue shop both sell the TV Boy and Super TV Boy. Finally, one can also purchase TV Boys direct from SystemA (SystemA (UK) LTD, 12 Albury Close, Loverock Road, Reading, Berkshire, RG30 1BB) for approximately $50.00 + shipping and handling.

JerryG, in an email message, mentions a completely different MegaBoy (from South America) that does not include built-in games, but rather has a cartridge slot (!).

Finally, The Maverick ( mentions that a 7800 controller plugged into the left joystick port (but not the right port) of the TV Boy will keep it from operating. Corroboration anyone?

Q: What are the specs for the 2600/5200/7800?

A: The information here is incomplete in some places, misleading in others, and possibly just plain wrong in still other places.

                2600                            7800

CPU:            6507                            6502C (custom, NOT 65C02)
RAM:            128 Bytes, in VLSI              4K, high speed (mostly VRAM)
ROM:            4K max                          52K max
Cpu Clock:      1.19 MHz                        1.79 MHz
Graphics Clock: 1.19 MHz                        7.16 MHz
Slot Config:    Rom access only                 Most CPU lines + video/audio
CPU Avail:      less than 50%                   over 90%


CPU:             6502C + 3 Custom VLSI's
RAM:             16K
ROM:             ?
Cpu Clock:       1.79 MHZ
Graphics Clock:  1.79 MHZ?

Notes: ROM specs are based on non-bank select scheme, the graphics clock is the master clock used to drive the video chips and the 5200 specs are similar to the Atari 8bit computer line.

Q: How large do 2600 games get?

A: There are several 2600 games with 16K bytes (e.g. Road Runner). There are also games with 128 bytes of RAM on the cartridge (called the Atari Super Chip), such as Jr. Pac-Man. Supercharger games that do multiple loads may be even larger (which ones?; the Supercharger people should know.) Fatal Run is 32K. The 32-in-1 cart is 64K, 2K per game. The MegaBoy cart from Dynacom is also 64K, 16 banks of 4K.

Kevin Horton ( maintains a detailed list of cart sizes and bankswitching methods, from which most of the above information is culled.

Q: Are there any published 2600/5200/7800 technical articles available?

A: Andy Clayton (aclayton@leland.Stanford.EDU) was kind enough to type up Design Case History: the Atari Video Computer System from the March 1983 IEEE Spectrum. It is quite an interesting read although it contains no code.

IBM's patent server also contains a wealth of information including many Atari patents.

Grant LeTourneau's ( web page contains on-line versions of Atari Field Service Manuals for the 2600 and 5200.

Q: Pinout information?


Joystick Pinouts

2600/7800 pinouts:

\ o5 o4 o3 o2 o1/
 \ o9 o8 o7 o6 /

pin #  2600 control     7800 control
  1    WHT- Up          WHT- Up
  2    BLU- Down        BLU- Down
  3    GRN- Left        GRN- Left
  4    BRN- Right       BRN- Right
  5    unused           RED- Button (R)ight (-)
  6    ORG- Button      ORG- Both buttons (+)
  7    unused           unused
  8    BLK- Ground(-)   BLK- Ground(-)
  9    unused           YLW- Button (L)eft  (-)

2600 control (button)

pin 6 ORG(+) --------------()------------BLK(-) pin 8

7800 control (buttons)

                                       /----------YLW(-) pin 9
                            Button L  /
                      /---------()---| YLW splits
                     /                \----/\/\/-----\
pin 6 ORG(+) -------| ORG splits           520 ohm    |---BLK(-) pin 8
                     \                /----/\/\/-----/
                      \---------()---|     520 ohm
                           Button R   \ RED splits
                                       \----------RED(-) pin 5

5200 pinouts:

1    Keypad -- right column
2    Keypad -- middle column
3    Keypad -- left column
4    Start, Pause, and Reset common
5    Keypad -- third row and Reset
6    Keypad -- second row and Pause
7    Keypad -- top row and Start
8    Keypad -- bottom row
9    Pot common
10   Horizontal pot (POT0, 2, 4, 6)
11   Vertical pot (POT1, 3, 5, 7)
12   5 volts DC
13   Bottom side buttons (TRIG0, 1, 2, 3)
14   Top side buttons
15   0 volts -- ground

2600 cartridge pinouts

A standard 2600 cartridge contains the equivalent of a 2716 or 2732/2532 with one notable exception: the chip select line is active high, not low. The high order address line of the 6507 (A12) is used as the chip enable. There was at least one company that used EPROMs with a 74LS04 inverter to compensate for this. Note that numbers indicate left to right numbering.

        Top Row                 Bottom Row
Slot    2716    CPU             2716    CPU

1       13      D3              1       A7
2       14      D4              2       A6
3       15      D5              3       A5
4       16      D6              4       A4
5       17      D7              5       A3
6       *       A12             6       A2
7       19      A10             7       A1
8       NC      A11             8       A0
9       22      A9              9       D0
10      23      A8              10      D1
11      24      +5V             11      D2
12      12      Shield Ground   NC      Ground
    * to inverter and back to 18 for chip select

(Looking at the bottom of the cartridge -- i.e. edge connectors first)
 D3   D4   D5   D6   D7   A12  A10  A11  A9   A8  +5V   SGND
--1- --2- --3- --4- --5- --6- --7- --8- --9- -10- -11- -12-
 GND  D2   D1   D0   A0   A1   A2   A3   A4   A5   A6   A7

Dx = Data line x
Ax = Address line x
+5V = +5 volts
SGND = Shield Ground
GND = Ground


lines           Memory
used            Available       EPROM   Memory
A11             2048            2716    2K
A12             4096            2732    4K
A13             8192            2764    8K  (needs support chips for banking)
A13             8192        2 x 2732    8K  (most common of 8K config)

    |   2716   |
A7  | 1     24 | VCC [+5 V]
A6  | 2     23 | A8
A5  | 3     22 | A9
A4  | 4     21 | VPP [Doesn't matter probably.  +5V]
A3  | 5     20 | !Output Enable (always on) [GND]
A2  | 6     19 | A10
A1  | 7     18 | !Chip Enable (make high bit) [inverted A12]
A0  | 8     17 | D7
D0  | 9     16 | D6
D1  | 10    15 | D5
D2  | 11    14 | D4
GND | 12    13 | D3
    |   2732   |
A7  | 1     24 | VCC [+5 V]
A6  | 2     23 | A8
A5  | 3     22 | A9
A4  | 4     21 | A11
A3  | 5     20 | !Output Enable (always on) [GND] / VPP
A2  | 6     19 | A10
A1  | 7     18 | !Chip Enable (make high bit) [inverted A12]
A0  | 8     17 | D7
D0  | 9     16 | D6
D1  | 10    15 | D5
D2  | 11    14 | D4
GND | 12    13 | D3
    |   2764   |
VPP | 1     28 | VCC [+5 V]
A12 | 2     27 | !Program Strobe (no connection?) [+5V]
A7  | 3     26 | No Connection
A6  | 4     25 | A8
A5  | 5     24 | A9
A4  | 6     23 | A11
A3  | 7     22 | !Output Enable (always on) [GND]
A2  | 8     21 | A10
A1  | 9     20 | !Chip Enable (always on) [GND]
A0  | 10    19 | D7
D0  | 11    18 | D6
D1  | 12    17 | D5
D2  | 13    16 | D4
GND | 14    15 | D3

VPP was also set at +5V for the 2764.

5200 Cartridge and Expansion Pinout

5200 Cartridge:

             Top                  Bottom

D0                       1   36      Interlock
D1                       2   35      A11
D2                       3   34      A12
D3                       4   33      A10
D4                       5   32      A13
D5                       6   31      A9
D6                       7   30      Audio In (2 port)
D7                       8   29      A8
Enable 80-8F             9   28      Not Connected
Enable 40-7F             10  27      A7
Not Connected            11  26      +5V DC
Ground                   12  25      Ground
Ground                   13  24      Ground (Video In on 2 port)
Ground (System Clock
02 on 2 port)            14  23      Ground
A6                       15  22      A4
A5                       16  21      A3
A2                       17  20      A1
Interlock                18  19      A0

5200 expansion connector

             Top                  Bottom
+5V DC                  1   36      +5V DC
Audio Out (2 port)      2   35      Not connected
Ground                  3   34      Ground
R/W Early               4   33      Not connected
Enable E0-EF            5   32      D7
D6                      6   31      D5
D4                      7   30      D3
D2                      8   29      D1
D0                      9   28      Ground
IRQ                     10  27      A0
Ground                  11  26      A1
Serial Data In          12  25      A2
Serial In Clock         13  24      A3
Serial Out Clock        14  23      A4
Serial Data Out         15  22      A5
Audio In                16  21      A6
A14                     17  20      A7
System Clock 01         18  19      A11

7800 Cartridge and Expansion Pinout

7800 Cartridge port

1       R/W         17       A15
2       Halt        18       EAudio
3       D3          19       A7
4       D4          20       A6
5       D5          21       A5
6       D6          22       A4
7       D7          23       A3
8       A12         24       A2
9       A10         25       A1
10      A11         26       A0
11      A9          27       D0
12      A8          28       D1
13      +5V         29       D2
14      Gnd         30       Gnd
15      A13         31       IRQ
16      A14         32       CLK2

Expansion port

 Gnd   +5v  CVideo MLum0 Mlum3 Blank OscDis ExtMen Gnd
--1-- --2--  --3-- --4-- --5-- --6-- --7-- ---8-- --9--

-18-- -17--  -16-- -15-- -14-- -13-- -12-- --11-- -10--
 Gnd  Audio   Rdy   MCol MLum2 MLum1 Msync  Clk2  ExtOsc


Q: Power Supply Information?



Input: 120VAC 60Hz
Output: 9VDC 500mA
Polarity: Center +, Outer -

European 2600

  PART NO.:CO 18084-319
  INPUT: AC 240 V#50Hz 9W
   OUTPUT: DC 9V 500 mA
  BS415 [Polarity C+, O- diagram]
     XEP 80 OR SX212
      WB JUN-AUG 87


[The 11.5VDC pack can be used on both units....but are these the official packs per system, i.e. did all 2 ports come with the 9.3VDC version?]

4 Port:                       2 Port:
Input:  120VAC 60Hz           Input: 120VAC 60Hz
Output: 11.5VDC 1.95Amp       Output: 9.3VDC 1.4A
Polarity: Center +, Outer -   Polarity:  Center +, Outer -
Part#: C018187                Part#  CO20465-404


Input: 120VAC 60Hz 15W
Output: 9VDC 1Amp
                         - | o       o | +

[looking into the power supply]

If you are handy with a soldering iron, you can get a more standard jack and just solder it in parallel with the original connector, then buy a power supply at Radio Shack for a few bucks.

One good place to solder alternate power connections is to the two joints on the underside of the board, located near the original power plug (the polarity is easy to follow because the traces from the power and to the barrel capacitor are polarity-marked). Either an external jack (1/8" mono) can be run through the old jack's hole (or a vent hole) -or- an internal jack can be installed where convenient such as the thick "strut" near the original hole or on the right side (when facing the unit for play). You can use a 2600 power supply; the only difference is half an amp, which the techies say doesn't matter much.

Q: How do I build a switchbox for the 4 port 5200?

A: The early Atari 5200s came with an unusual switchbox which supplied power to the 5200 down the same wire the 5200 uses to send the video signal to your TV. The power supply plugged into the switchbox. Unfortunately, these switchboxes seem to have gotten lost over the years and are difficult to come by. Newer 5200s (the one with only two controller ports) had the power supply jack on the console itself. Fortunately, it is not difficult to construct your own RF/power supply box for the 5200. There is one difference, though. The original 5200 switchbox would automatically switch from your TV antenna/cable to the 5200 when you turned the console on. With the RF/power box described below, you will need to use a standard game/TV switchbox.

The following parts are needed to construct the box. Where applicable, Radio Shack part numbers, and prices, have been provided (these may be outdated). You may use another RCA jack in place of the F jack if you wish. I chose to use the F jack to avoid ever accidentally plugging the 5200 and TV cables in backwards, which would result in 11.5 volts DC going into your TV set, possibly damaging it.

RS#       Part                                     Price
--------  ----------------------------             -----
270-235   2"x2.75"x1.625" Aluminum Box             $1.99
274-1563  Coaxial DC power jack                    $1.79
278-212   Cable TV type F jack (2 pack)            $0.99 (optional, see above)
274-346   RCA type phono jack (4 pack)             $2.49
272-131   0.01 uF Ceramic Disc capacitor (2 pack)  $0.59
          Small metal bolt (1" long, 3/8" diam, approx)
          22 guage solid wire (14" or so)
                                             Total $7.85 + local tax

Drill holes in the aluminum box for each jack to match the diagram below. The box itself forms the common ground connection to all three jacks. To reduce signal loss and ensure the common ground, it is recommended that chrome or gold plated type jacks be used.

         F jack (to TV)
+-------------|  |-------------+
|             |__|             |<--- Aluminum box
|               |              |
|               \    0.01uF    |      Solder the leads of the capacitor to
|                \  _   Capacitor     the center pins of the F jack and the
|                 \/@|         |      RCA jack. Make the choke by winding at
|                  \/          |      least 10 turns of 22 guage solid,
|                   \          |      insulated wire around a 3/8" (approx)
|          Choke     \         |      diameter bolt. Wrap tape around the
|        ---|/////|---\        |      completed choke to prevent it from
|       _L            _L       |      unwinding. Strip the insulation off of
+------|  |----------|  |------+      each end of the choke leads. Solder the
       |__|          |__|             leads of the choke to the center pins of
  DC power jack     RCA jack          the DC power jack and the RCA jack.
  (to pwr supply)   (to 5200)         Screw the box shut. You're done.

The switchbox works as follows. The capacitor transparently passes the video signal from the 5200 to the TV output jack, while at the same time preventing the DC power from the power supply jack from going into your TV. The choke (inductor) transparently passes the the 11.5 volt DC power to the 5200 via the RCA jack while at the same time preventing the video signal from escaping back down the power supply wire. The bolt around which the choke is wound helps to increase the choke's inductance to block more of the video signal from going back into the power supply than it otherwise would. The aluminum box itself helps keep the video signal confined to where it belongs to prevent possible interference and to ensure that as much of the signal as possible gets to your TV. For this reason, plastic boxes are not recommended.

Finally, another note about the 5200 power supply. The 5200 power supply is 11.5 volts DC @ 1.95 amps and has a standard type coaxial plug (center positive 5mm OD, 2.1mm ID). Or you could construct one from a transformer, 4 diodes, two capacitors, a resistor, a 3A adj. voltage regulator, heat sink, case, and cabling, or find a 12V 2A power supply and add a diode inline to drop the voltage by 0.5V.

Q: How do I build a composite/audio/chroma/luma output interface for the Atari 2600Jr/2600A?

A: Moderators' note: This entry has been left exactly as it was in the last version because of the copyright notice at the end. The author has been contacted, but he has not given his blessing to our edits as yet.

[The following mod is for SOME Jr's.  Please see section end for
2600A update.]

File revision 1.1

After finding my entertainment budget disappear (poor university
student) I was forced to economize--I dusted off the Ole'2600.
I figured I would hook it up to my computer monitor, but to my
dismay there was no composite output on the beast (Atari).
Determined to overcome, I quickly disassembled it. After some
poking and prodding around I managed to locate the required

Benefits:  No longer require a TV. You no longer require those
           god-awful switch boxes. No more interference patterns
           on the screen (from the RF cable being used as a bloody
           antenna). No longer requires the 100' hookup RF cable.
           Crisp clear audio etc;

Drawbacks: No longer get to see sister trip in 100' RF cable. No
           longer get to fall asleep with psychedelic interference
           patterns on screen.

Materials Required:
  Phillips screwdriver, a soldering iron, solder, a small piece of
  wire, 2 or 3 patch cables and a small pair of needle-nose pliers.

* The following schematic is for the NEWER model which is sometimes
  referred to as the "Atari Junior".  The older model is much the

1-Simply unplug everything from your console, turn it over and
  remove the 5 screws.
2-Remove the top and bottom plastic case pieces. When removing the
  TOP piece carefully pull out the ribbon cable that connects it to
  the main board.
3-You should now have the board (covered by a metal shield) in your
  hands. Turn it over, you will see little clasps on the edge of the
  shield that hold it in place. Straighten these with your pliers
  and you can then remove 2 LARGE shields (One on Bottom of unit,
  one on Top). The small shield remaining (On Top) covers the RF
4-Orient the exposed board into the position that it would normally
  be in. ie: The way it is when you play (On/Off switch near Top
5-Look in the LOWER RIGHTHAND AREA of the TOPSIDE (front) of the
  board. You will see a setup that resembles the schematic below.

TOPSIDE OF THE BOARD,        |                  |
LOWER RIGHTHAND CORNER       |O      RF         |
                             |    MODULATOR     |
                             |                  |

                                        ------ TP5 (Luma)
                             _____      V      ___
                            |     | ||| o ||| | O |
                            |_____| RRR   RCR |___|
                                    |||   |||
                                      ^    ^
                                      |    |
                       R41 (Chroma) ---    --- C19 (Audio)
                       Gold/Red/Grey/Blue      Usually turquoise
                       Color-banded            colored

NOTE: You can connect the Audio to EITHER side of the Capacitor,
      the best results are obtained by placing it on the BOTTOM
      of the Capacitor (as shown).

      The Chroma *MUST* be hooked up to the BOTTOM of the resistor
      (as shown).  It will NOT work if you hook it to the top of
      the resistor.

To gain Chroma/Luma/Audio output you will need 3 RCA patch cables
[the kind commonly used with stereos]. Simply solder the cables at
the required points (Chroma/Luma/Audio) as shown. Remember to GROUND
ALL cables! ie: solder the GROUND wire [the wire that wraps around
the inner wire] to any point that the board shield connects to.

To gain Composite/Audio output you need 2 RCA patch cables [the kind
commonly used with stereos]. Here it gets a little different than
above. Simply solder a "jumper" [a piece of wire] from R41 (Chroma)
to TP5 (Luma), then connect a patch cord to TP5 [Presto! you now have
composite]. Solder the remaining cable to C19 (Audio). Again, remember
to GROUND all cables. Do *NOT* GROUND the jumper!

Simply re-assemble the unit and you are done. You will find that it
is easier to have the newly installed cables exit through the joystick
port. Alternatively, you could cut a notch in the case for a separate
exit. Having the cables exit through the RF output is not recommended.
There will not be enough room (without pinching the cables) to hook up
the RF cable. Adjust your brightness/contrast. Enjoy!

If you ever wish to adjust your color (chroma) there is a "POT" that
you can tweak. It can be found near the OFF/ON switch. It is the only
pot on the left side of the board.


I can not, and will not, be held responsible for any damages that you
or your system incur.  This document is provided for informational
purposes only.

Send all Questions/Comments/Cartridges you are no longer using to:

Thomas Clancy
1 Hunt's Lane
St. John's NF, Canada
A1B 2L2

(C)1993 Thomas Clancy
This article is freely distributable so long as it is not modified.
It must be distributed in it's entirety.

chroma/luma output for 4 switch 2600

     TIA pin 2 -----Sync
     TIA pin 5 -----Lum 1                o 5V (TIA pin 20)
     TIA pin 7 -----Lum 2                |
     TIA pin 8 -----Lum 0                |  +
     R206(1K)/C208 Bottom ---Audio       |---|(----,
     C210/R210(6.8K) Top ----Color       |  100uF  |
                                         |         \/ GND (TIA pin 1)
        ,--------------------------------|                    10uf
        |    __________                  `------,---/\/\/---,--|(--,
        `---|1         |   CR1  750       1.6K  |    10     | +    |
            |         2|--|<]--/\/\/-,  ,-/\/\/-`           |      \/ GND
  TIA2<-----|3 CD4050  |   9.1K      |  |        ___/-------`        ..........
  TIA5<-----|5        4|---/\/\/-----|  |    Q1 /|/c\                .    RCA
  TIA7<-----|7         |   4.7K      |--|------(b|   )               .   Cables
  TIA8<-----|9        6|---/\/\/-----|  |       \|\e/          75    .       __
         ,--|14        |   18K       |  |           \-----,---/\/\/----Luma-O__
         |--|11      10|---/\/\/-----`  |  2K             |          .      |
         |--|8         |                `-/\/\/-,--/\/\/--`          .  GND \/
         |  |__________|           5v o         |    75              .
         |                            |     GND \/                   .
         \/ GND                Q2 ___/                               .
                         6.8K    /|/c\          75                   .       __
  Top of C210/R210<-----/\/\/---(b|   )   ,----/\/\/---------------->Chroma-O__
                                 \|\e/    |                          .      |
    CR1 - low power silicon          \----|     75                   .  GND \/
          (glass) diode (RS 276-1122)     `----/\/\/---,             .
    Q1,Q2 - 3904 or equiv. (RS 276-2016)               |             .
                                                       \/ GND        .
                             1uF                                     .       __
  Bottom of R206/C208<-------|(-------------------------------------->Audio-O__
                            +                                        .      |
                                                                     .  GND \/

The CD4050 is a video buffer. It provides a sharper signal than just picking the signals off of the TIA, which is an unbuffered and open collector. The unused buffer inputs are tied to ground to reduce noise (pins 14&11). On the outputs of the buffer, the 3 Luma pins and Sync are combined into what will become Luma. Each Luma signal is supposed to be twice as bright as the previous one, so the resistance on each Luma pin is roughly 1/2 the previous one. If you cannot find the exact values, at least try to be within 10% or stack values to get close. The Sync signal is added in via a diode to protect the output of the buffer and is dropped slightly through a 750 ohm resistor.

Next, the combined Luma signal is connect to 5v & ground through resistors to reference the voltage for the base of Q1, our Luma amplifier. Its output is set to 75 ohm impedance (75 ohms is best but 70-100 ohms will work in the place of the 75 ohm resistors. The closest Radio Shack has is a 1/2 watt 82 ohm resistor 271-011 which works fine).

The Chroma signal is picked off the board at the junction of C210 and R210. Looking at the board, R210 is the 4th component from the right in the bottom row of resistors/capacitors under the shield. It connects to C210 (5th component from the right) at the top of both components, and this is where to solder the wire for the Chroma circuit.

The Chroma circuit is just a simpler version of the Luma amplifier. Again, the output is 75 ohm impedance.

The Audio circuit is simply a capacitor to filter out the DC offset on the audio signal. Pick the audio signal off the board at the junction of R206 and C208. R206 is the 4th component from the right in the 2nd row of components at the bottom. Solder the Audio wire at the bottom of R206 and/or C208 (3rd component from the right).

Be sure to solder the outer shield from the RCA cables to ground and connect the signal to the inner conductor. Also, do not disconnect any pins of TIA from the circuit (if the pins are lifted out of the socket or PCB, the open collector outputs will no longer function).

I used a small piece of perfboard from Radio Shack and hot-glued it into the 2600 case and made a small hole in the RF shield to run the wires to the new board. I ran the RCA cables (Chroma, Luma, Audio) out the hole for the RF cable.

I'd like to acknowledge Ben Poehland and Charles Cole whose Super Video upgrades are the basis for this project. When you complete this circuit, your 2600's picture quality will be comparable to a Super Video upgraded Atari 8-bit.

Q: How do I build a video driver for the 2600/7800?

A: Parts list:

wire list:

                                  +5 Volts
                                  L1 (
                        R2      |/---+---+
   Video In -------+---^^^------| T1     |     + C2      L2
                   |            |\       |
                   |              >>-+---|-------| |----nnn----  Video Out
                   >                 |   |
                R1 >                 >   _ +
                   >              R3 >   - C1
                   |                 >   |
                   |                 |   |
                   +-----------------+---+--- Ground

This is a simple common emitter amplifier. It is a non-inverting current amplifier and serves here to allow the video signal from the game to drive a standard composite monitor with 75 ohm impedance.

In order to prevent the audio from interfering with the video signal, the mixing oscillator must be disabled on the main circuit board. On a 7800, remove the base lead of Q1. It is located near the RF modulator.

The audio doesn't need any extra buffering.

Places to get signals:

1. from RF modulator
   pin 3 is video
   pin 1 is ground
2. from Expansion Interface on 7800
   pin 1 is ground
   pin 2 is +5V
   pin 3 is video
   pin 17 is audio
3. from main circuit board
on a 7800, video and ground are across C7; +5V and audio are across C4

This circuit may not work or be required with all versions of the 2600. It is required for the 7800 and the Sears Video Arcade II version of the 2600. It is probably not necessary for a 5200.

Q: How do I convert Sega controllers to Atari pinout?

A: [Note: Based on a non-random sample of size 2, it was found that unmodified Sega controllers work fine on the 2600/7800, with B acting as the single fire button. Use the instructions below if you wish to have a truly 7800 compatible stick with 2 separate fire buttons.]

[editor's note: who is this talking?]
First the Disclaimer. I am not responsible for:
1. Any damage done to your Atari 7800 or Atari 2600.
2. Any damage done to the Sega Genesis Controller.
3. Any errors in these instructions.

This design is free for you to make your own controllers or adaptors. If you make controllers or adaptors to sell to other people, I would like (no surprise here) a cut of the profits. The only other thing I ask is that if make your own, drop me an email so I get an idea of how many people are using my design.

I'm not going to give step by step instructions. I'm going to assume that the reader has some basic knowledge of electronics and can figure out what to do with the schematics and info presented here. I will, however, answer questions if asked.

This design works with the Atari 2600 as well as the Atari 7800. Also, any system that can use Atari 2600 joysticks, should be able to use this design. This design can be put inside a Sega Genesis controller or with the addition of two 9 pin connectors, it can be made into an adaptor. It works with any Sega Genesis controller including those with autofire.

Parts List

For Adaptor only


Sega B button --> Atari Left Button:

                         ____ Atari 6
              1K      | /
Sega 6   __/\/\/\/\___|V PNP
                      |\ 3906
                        |_______ Atari 5
						< 620 Ohms
                      Atari 8

Sega C button --> Atari Right Button:

                         ____ Atari 6
              1K      | /
Sega 9   __/\/\/\/\___|V PNP
                      |\ 3906
                        |_______ Atari 9
                        < 620 Ohms
                      Atari 8

Sega 1 -------- Atari 1      (Up)
Sega 2 -------- Atari 2      (Down)
Sega 3 -------- Atari 3      (Left)
Sega 4 -------- Atari 4      (Right)
Sega 8 -------- Atari 8      (Ground)

Sega 5 ___.
          |---- Atari 7      (+5V)
Sega 7 ___|

Pins listed as Sega refer to the 9 pin male connector that the Sega Controller plugs into. Pins listed as Atari refer to the 9 pin female connector that plugs in the Atari 7800.

Q: How do I convert a Sega Master System lightgun to Atari pinout?

A: The Aug 1988 (Vol 7, Num 4) Antic Magazine contained an article called First look: Inside the XE Game System: Hardware surprises revealed. It described the conversion:

To modify the Sega gun for the Atari, you'll have to cut off the incompatible connector. The wires must be stripped back and soldered into an Atari joystick connector as follows:

        SEGA GUN                    ATARI JOYSTICK PORT
        Blue wire                   Pin 1 stick FWD
        Gray wire                   Pin 6 trigger
        Green wire                  Pin 7  +5 volts
        Black wire                  Pin 8 Ground

Because of the close fitting connections for the XEGS ports, don't wire in a DB9 female connector that has "ears". Most joysticks don't have wires for unused signals, so cutting up an old joystick cable may not work. Specifically, an Atari joystick does not need the +5 volts, so there isn't likely to be a wire connected to Pin 7. However, you can find joystick extension cables at Radio Shack, which have all nine pins wired from male to female. Antic disclaims responsibility for any damages that might occur during improper implementation of this, or any, hardware modification project we publish.

Once it's all hooked up, you'll notice that gun fires when you release the trigger, which is annoying. The Sega trigger wiring is the opposite of what the Atari light gun uses. To rewire the trigger switch, remove the five screws (one is under the Sega logo on the side). Find the trigger micro-switch with three connections. Wire to the normally closed contacts.

Q: How do I convert an NES controller to Atari pinout?

A: See the following link for step-by-step instructions. You will need a 2600 controller connector cable to make this work.

Q: Is there a general site that contains all this conversion stuff?

A: Yes. Jay Tilton ( maintains a page of various video, joystick and lightgun pinouts and conversions for the 2600, 5200 and 7800.

Q: What is an Atari Game Recorder and how do I build one?

A: An Atari Game Recorder is a device that copies carts to cassette tape and also admits the playing of games from tape. Instructions and schematics are in the following issues of Radio Electronics (it's a three-part article):

Dec 84 vol 55 no 12 p. 69-72.
Jan 85 vol 56 no 1 p. 51-58.
Feb 85 vol 56 no 2 p. 69-72.

Rich Arroyo ( will soon have copies of these articles in electronic form. Stay tuned for details. BTW, if anyone decides to construct an AGR, please mail the maintainers and provide details of how well it works and any problems encountered in its construction.

Acknowledgments of thanks.

Much thanks to the following people: