Atari 7800 ProSystem

Image for the Atari 7800 ProSystem platform

The Atari 7800 ProSystem was originally scheduled for release in late 1984, as the follow-up to Atari’s misguided 5200 SuperSystem, but didn’t see release until 1986, when it retailed for approximately $140 (USA). Instead of competing with comparatively weaker systems like the 5200 and Coleco’s ColecoVision, the later release date for the 7800 brought direct competition from the more robust Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), released in late 1985, and the Sega Master System (SMS), which, like the ProSystem, was released in 1986.

In late 1984, despite having had successful showings at trade events, an extensive and enthusiastic preview in one of the top video and computer game magazines of the day (Electronic Games), retail orders already taken, and warehouses full of stock, Atari management decided to shelve the system and its launch games in favor of their computer line when it became apparent to them - and seemingly everyone else in the industry - that the videogame depression had become an irreversible crash. Also put on the shelf was a redesigned Atari 2600 (VCS), dubbed the Atari 2600jr, due to its diminutive size. These moves have often been criticized in hindsight, but for those around at the time, it was clear that videogames were being supplanted by low cost and powerful personal computers as the more flexible game machines of choice, and a game system in the traditional sense simply wouldn’t be financially sustainable.

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