The images of the Atari 7800 ProSystem are categorized and show the console, joystick controllers and several 3rd party accessories. You will also find detailed close-ups of the ports and connections available on the 7800.
Atari 7800 ProSystem box: panel view. The7800 was re-released by Atari Corporation in January 1986. The original release had occurred two years earlier under Atari Inc. The 7800 had originally been designed to replace Atari's Atari 5200 in 1984, but was temporarily shelved due to the sale of the company after the video game crash.
Atari 7800 ProSystem in original box. This console was to compete with the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and the Sega Master System.
Atari 7800 ProSystem in original box. IGN said - Its delayed release, its cancelled peripherals, and a lack of financial backing from the company's new owners all combined to ensure that Atari 7800 would never see any success beyond being a sexier way of playing Atari 2600 titles.
Atari 7800 box bottom. The Atari 7800 ProSystem was the first game system from Atari Inc. designed by an outside company, General Computer Corporation (GCC). The system had been designed in 1983 & 1984 with an release in June 1984, but was canceled shortly thereafter due to the sale of the company to Tramiel Technology Ltd on July 2, 1984.
Atari 7800 box bottom: close up. The 7800 was originally called the Atari 3600, though was later renamed the Atari 7800.
Packaging inside the Atari 7800 box. Home versions of arcade games often faltered with flickering and slow down when more than a few moving objects appeared on the screen. GCC, which had a background in creating arcade games, designed the 7800 with a graphical architecture similar to arcade machines of the time.
Atari 7800 Console
Atari 7800 With Food fight Cartridge inserted. Despite being released after the 5200, this system was compatible with most Atari 2600 games without the need for any adapters.
Atari 7800: front view showing the 2 controller ports. 2600 joysticks are compatible with the 7800 since they have the same pin-out.
Atari 7800 ProSystem: left side. To address parental concerns that home computers were a better investment than game consoles, the 7800 was designed to be upgraded to a full-fledged home computer. A keyboard was developed with an expansion port (which was the SIO port from Atari's 8-bit computer line, despite the 7800 not being able to run Atari computer programs) allowed for the attachment of peripherals such as disk drives and printers. Keyboards for the Atari 7800 never arrived on retail shelves. As time marched on, computers were quickly out-pacing the specs of adding a keyboard to a game console. My console has this odd cut-out on the left side. It doesn't seem to provide access to a port or connection. I'm not sure if this is an oddity of this particular console or if it's standard to 7800s.
Atari 7800 ProSystem: right side.
Atari 7800 ProSystem: rear. Atari's launch of the 7800 under Tramiel was far more subdued than Warner had planned for the system in 1984 with a marketing budget of just $300,000. The keyboard and high score cartridge were canceled. The expansion port was removed from later production runs of the system and the system was launched with titles intended for the 7800's initial debut in 1984.
Atari 7800 ProSystem: bottom. During the Atari 7800's life cycle, Atari found themselves struggling to get developers to create 7800 versions of popular arcade titles because of a controversial policy employed by Nintendo. When Nintendo revived the industry, they signed up software development companies to create NES games under a strict license agreement where they were not allowed to make game ports for any competing system for a period of 2 years.
The 7800 is compatible with the entire 2600 VCS game library. Shown here with 7800 & 2600 Dig Dug game cartridges. Dig Dug game cartridge for the Atari 7800 ProSystem. Dig Dug game cartridge for the Atari 2600 VCS.
The Power and Pause buttons located on the right-front corner of the Atari 7800 ProSystem. A red power indicator light is between the 2 buttons. The pause feature was a welcome addition since most consoles had no way to pause a game. This was an important feature since there was also no way to save most game-states.
The Select and Reset buttons located on the left-front corner of the Atari 7800 ProSystem. The Select button will display game variations or options. The Reset button restarts the current game.
Atari 7800 Ports and Connections
Atari 7800 ProSystem game cartridge slot.
The 2 joystick ports and Difficulty Switch on the front of the Atari 7800 ProSystem. Player 1 joystick port and Difficulty Switch on the left-front of the Atari 7800. Player 2 joystick port and Difficulty Switch on the right-front of the Atari 7800.
Atari 7800 ProSystem: rear left showing the A/C power port. In January 1992, Atari Corp. formally announced that production of the Atari 7800, 2600, 8-bit computers, and the Atari XE Game System would halt. At the time Nintendo's NES dominated the North American market, controlling 80%.
Atari 7800 ProSystem: rear right showing the video-out port and channel 3/4 selector switch. Despite trailing the NES in terms of number of units sold, the 7800 was a profitable enterprise for Atari Corp., benefiting largely from Atari's name and the system's 2600 backward compatibility.
Atari 7800 Joysticks
Atari 7800 ProSystem joystick is the same pin-out and configuration as the Atari 2600. Atari had concerns over adult titles appearing on the 7800, displaying adult graphics on the significantly improved graphics of the MARIA chip. They included a digital signature protection method which prevented unauthorized 7800 games from being played on the system. When a cartridge was inserted into the system, the 7800 BIOS included code which would generate a digital signature of the cartridge ROM and compare it to the signature stored on the cartridge. If a correct signature was located on the cartridge, the 7800 would operate in 7800 mode, granting the game access to the MARIA graphics chip and other features. If a signature was not located, the 7800 remained in 2600 mode and MARIA was unavailable. All 7800 games released in North America had to be digitally signed by Atari. This digital signature code is not present in PAL 7800s, which use various heuristics to detect 2600 cartridges, due to export restrictions.
Atari 7800 ProSystem joystick. The 7800's compatibility with the Atari 2600 is made possible by including many of the same chips used in the Atari 2600. When operating in "2600" mode to play Atari 2600 titles, the 7800 uses a Television Interface Adapter (TIA) chip to generate graphics and sound. The processor is slowed to 1.19 MHz, enabling the 7800 to mirror the performance of the 2600s stripped-down 6507 processor. RAM is limited to 128 bytes found in the RIOT and game data is accessed in 4K blocks. When in "7800" mode (signified by the appearance of the full screen Atari logo), the graphics are generated entirely by the MARIA graphics processing unit, all system RAM is available and game data is accessed in larger 48K blocks.
Bottom of the Atari 7800 joystick.
Atari 7800 ProSystem set up with joysticks. In response to the criticisms of the Atari 5200, the 7800 could play almost all Atari 2600 games, without an adapter. It also featured a return to a digital controller. In response to criticism over ergonomic issues in the 7800's Pro-Line controllers, Atari later released joypad controllers with European 7800s, which were similar in style to controllers found on Nintendo and Sega Systems. The Joypad was not available in the United States.
Atari 7800 ProSystem set up with joysticks.
The Atari 7800 ProSystem was sold in Europe, Australia, and other locations outside North America with an NES-like controller called a Joypad. It was primarily sold with systems as opposed to being a stand-alone replacement item.
The Atari 7800 Joypad featured a detachable mini joystick that could be screwed into the center of the D-pad. This stubby joystick could be used by one's thumb as it was too short to act like the North American joystick with a more traditional stick.
The Atari 7800 Joypad shown with the "thumb stick" removed. You can see that it fit into a hole in the center of the D-pad, giving it a better mounting system than many of the 3rd party add-ons that came to market.
I'm sure you remember the stick-on joysticks sold by 3rd parties that tried to give a joystick feel to controllers with D-pads. They didn't work out too well since they primarily used a sticky-back scenario - as if that was going to stay in place.
The Atari 7800 Joypad shown attached to the ProSystem.