When arcade games began making their way to home consoles in the early 1980's I was stoked! Granted the game-play of the Atari 2600 wasn't quite the same as that big cabinet at the arcade, but there was something pretty cool about playing Asteroids, Missile Command and Berzerk in my living room - any time I wanted.
As much as I have always loved the Atari 2600 joystick controller, it didn't deliver the same robust experience as an arcade joystick. It was time to change that and turn my beloved Atari consoles into rugged arcade-strength game machines!
The guts of functional joysticks became the foundation for building high quality arcade controllers that are durable enough to stand up to the punishment of a really good game!. My buddy Rob was an avid gamer and had the electronics knowhow to get these projects going. With his invaluable help we built arcade-quality joysticks for an array of Atari consoles... including the Jaguar.
These brutally solid joysticks have survived and are still regularly played later!
Joystick 101 - for Atari 2600-style consoles
The Atari 2600, 7800, 400/800 Computers and Colecovision all shared the same joystick port and thus used the same controllers. The 7800 veered a little bit from that standard with the addition of a 2nd fire button.
It became clear that the guts of an Atari 7800 joystick would be the foundation for the rugged arcade stick I sought. By using the cable from a 7800 joystick, we maintained that 2nd button for the 7800 games that use it and compatibility with all the other consoles sharing that style joystick.
The controller for the Atari 5200 was quite progressive, but was nowhere near durable enough for most gamers. It became the Achilles Heel of the 5200 and needed an upgrade. The 5200 had a unique controller port, so this project would be specific to the 5200 exclusively
Despite the large array of buttons contained on each controller, it seemed worthy to transplant them onto a rugged joystick chassis and bid farewell to those awful Atari 5200 controllers.
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