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The system was roughly on par with the NES in terms of graphics and overall processing power (sound processing on the other hand was greatly inferior to its competitors, at least unless an optional POKEY sound processor was included in the game cartridge), but somewhat unfairly gained a reputation as being much less powerful than the NES, largely due to the number of lazily done ports from its two predecessors.
Released for one month in 1984, then left to sit in warehouses when Warner sold Atari to ex-Commodore president Jack Tramiel. Jack was uninterested in consoles, and after The Great Video Game Crash of 1983, consoles looked dead anyway.
Re-released in 1986 after the Nintendo Entertainment System revived the console market. Though it never made a dent in the NES' dominance, it did turn a profit, thanks to low development costs and the huge 2600 library. The 7800 sold just under 5 million units in its lifetime, which might not sound impressive now, but was still enough to make it the fourth-best selling console of all time (behind only the NES, the Master System and Atari's own 2600) as of the end of The Eighties. The fact that it managed this feat despite a middling game library and a lack of much support from Atari proved that there was still an appetite for Atari's consoles; unfortunately, the company's following efforts wasted the chance to get back on their feet.
Homebrew development was stalled due to lack of a special programming key. After the program that made that key was found, that opened the 7800 homebrew efforts.
- CPU: Atari custom 6502C, 1.79 MHz (7800 mode) or 1.19 MHz (2600 mode)
- GPU: Atari MARIA (7800 mode) or TIA (2600 mode)
- Sound: TIA (optional POKEY on cartridges)
- 7800 mode: 4K. 2600 mode: 128 bytes.
- Cartridges up to 48K, or more with bank switching.
- 7800 mode: up to 320*240 (NTSC) or 320*288 (PAL), up to 25 out of 256 colors.
- 2600 mode: 160*192, 128 colors.
- Two tone generators.
- Starpath Supercharger
- Croco Cart
- Cuttle Cart
- Cuttle Cart 2
- The Harmony Cart
- Atari 7800 High Score Cartridge
- 7800 Expansion Module - adds additional RAM and a POKEY chip plus room for even more expanions (currently being worked)
- 7800 computer (never finished)
- Dig Dug
- Donkey Kong
- Double Dragon
- Ikari Warriors
- Impossible Mission
- Kung Fu Master
- Mario Bros
- Ms. Pac-Man
- Pole Position II
- Robotron: 2084
- Tower Toppler