Atari Oddities

The wacky Atari you don't know: Its digital photo booth, video phone, "Puppy Pong," and more.

Posted by  | Sunday, February 12, 2012

Alternate Joystick Reality
If you’ve ever played the famous Atari 2600 game console, you are probably familiar with its now-iconic joystick. What most people don’t know is that the joystick could have debuted in the 1977 home console version of Atari’s Tank II arcade game.

The Tank II prototype had a neat feature: with joysticks placed in the base unit, a single player could control the left and right treads of the tank with the corresponding joystick. In two player mode, one could pop out the joysticks for each player to use.

With the more versatile 2600 readied for release that same year, the Tank II console never made it to the market. Home players ultimately got a taste of Tank when Atari included it as part of Combat, the original pack-in game for the 2600.

Slides: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

9 Comments For This Post

  1. JM_Brazil Says:

    Thanks for the nostalgia Benj, this brings back many fond memories.

  2. Martin Goldberg Says:

    A little off on the Tank console and joystick history there. It wasn't the Tank console first and then the VCS/2600 and the sticks weren't chosen for one over the other. They were in development simultaneous. In fact the Tank console (called Tank II in the Atari version), the last of the dedicated consoles, was there simply in case something went wrong with the VCS. It didn't and the Tank console was cancelled accordingly. Additionally, the sticks used in this and the VCS were not CX-40's, they are the spring loaded CX-10's.

  3. Benj Edwards Says:

    I had a feeling I'd hear from you on this one, Marty. Thanks for clarifying that murky bit of Atari history for us.

  4. Martin Goldberg Says:

    Benj, not a problem. Great article otherwise!

  5. Mem Says:

    Wasn't that F-1 game in Dawn of the Dead?

  6. Guest Says:

    I actually owned a Hercules pinball game. It was easily the heaviest piece of electronics I have ever purchased for home use. It cost $500 from a Denver arcade refurbishing shop and came with free shipping back in 1993. Never broke down once in the 2 years I owned it but don't recommend putting this in the basement. Gave it away rather than trying to move it to my new house. Still, it was a lot of fun.

  7. Puffers Rabbinald Says:

    Just as a comment, the guy who eventually created programming to supercede scrolling as approximated in F-1 was Steve Hanawa, who worked as head of R & D for Sega of America during the Master System's initial launch. The game he did this in, which revolutionized racing games forever, was Turbo.

  8. Daniel B. Says:

    "Puppy Pong" did in fact get some kind of national exposure — it was a one-bid prize on a nighttime (Dennis James) episode of "The Price Is Right" during the 1974-75 season. Janice Pennington and Anita Ford were shown playing it.

  9. Daniel B. Says:

    AnitRa Ford, sorry. Also, here's the segment where Puppy Pong was offered (audio only, sorry):