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A look at the 1978 Atari Catalog

posted Oct 16, 2009, 6:49 AM by Troy Cheek   [ updated Oct 16, 2009, 7:00 AM ]
Ahhhh, 1978! Atari was emerging as a video game giant with their 2600 VCS system that thrilled millions oblivious hi-def, internet connected, motion controller future that awaited 30 years later. These were times that a giant block with 4 smaller blocks on it really did look like a race car, triangles shooting dots at each other was a super-realistic looking space war, and prison breakouts were simulated with a line bouncing a dot against rainbow striped bricks! And though times were simpler, a new Atari system still cost close to $200 and games ranged $30-$40. Adjusting for inflation, that’s like buying a $700 game system with $90 games! But everything was so magic, people just had to have them.

Game fan magazines were still in their infancy, so Atari promoted their lineup with catalogs that came in each game. This is one of their earliest that uses the fun cartoon style that was prevalent in graphics of the time (look at old Dynamite magazines, or games like Payday from the ’70s and you’ll see what I mean). The theme of this April 1978 catalog is pretty high concept. An average Joe can live out his fantasies by playing a bunch of different games. Let’s explore, shall we?