Image: Early prototype of the Atari CX2600 Video Computer System
Retro Thing has been celebrating the 30-year anniversary of the Atari 2600 this week with a series of articles looking back at its often not-so-illustrious history.
Rob Fulop was a 1981 Atari staffer who managed to shoehorn the game mechanic of Missile Command into the meager computing resources of the 2600. The game became a killer app, selling 2.5 million copies – shattering all previous sales records. Fulop hoped that his bosses would show their appreciation via a fat Christmas bonus envelope, or perhaps the keys to a new car. After all, his programming chops made Atari millions.
Fulop’s Christmas bonus was the same as every other Atari employee received in that year of historic profits; a gift certificate for a free Armor Star turkey. After framing his turkey ticket (it hangs on his office wall to this day), he helped form Imagic; the second independent publisher of Atari games. Two of his games have become Atari classics; Cosmic Ark & Demon Attack. After a period of phenomenal growth, his company went down in the video game crash of the mid 80’s and Activision picked up the rights to their 24 classic games.
I’ve got a 2600 sitting in a gym bag that I bought several years ago and never really play. (Emulators > *). I was going to toss it out, but now that I’m reminded it’s almost exactly the same age as I am, perhaps I’ll keep it around and see if they’ll bury me with it when I go to that great big game of Combat in the sky.
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