Atari 5200 SuperSystem
Type Console Developer Atari
Release Date 1982-Nov Region(s) North America
Initial Price $299 USD Games Released 69
     by Dark Watcher
The Atari 5200 was established in 1982 to compete with Intellivision and to become the successor of the Atari 2600.  The Atari 5200 was a modified version of the Atari 400/800 which was the most powerful 8-bit home computer system of its era.  The graphics were a step above the older competition and went toe to toe with their newest competitor the ColecoVision.
The 5200 enjoyed moderate success, but never reached the overall success of its predecessor the Atari 2600.  Resources which should have been allocated for 5200 game development went instead to the 2600 (a system which was on its last legs and already saturated with software from Atari and its third party publishers).  In addition, the fact that the 5200 was not compatible with the 2600 put off many 2600 owners who had accumulated a substantial library of games for the system.  A VCS adapter which allowed 2600 games to be played on the 5200 was later released, but the Videogame Crash of 1983 prevented any hopes of it being making further sales.  The Atari 5200 would soon become history with the rest of the home videogame consoles of that time.

FACT:  The Atari 5200 cartridges were nearly twice the size of those for the 2600 and were basically designed in this fashion to make the consumer think they were getting a "bigger and better" game.  The Atari 5200 was also the first videogame console to utilize a "Pause" button on the controller.

     Officially licensed releases
The Atari 5200 was released in two base models.  The Four Port version, in addition to supporting two extra controllers, featured a proprietary Power/AV switchbox.  This was kind of nice since the unit sensed when the game unit was turned on and switched the TV automatically to the game console (and vice versa when turned off).  The bad thing is that this switch is not easily replaced and the Four Port will not function without it (unless it is modded).

Atari 5200 SuperSystem - 4 Port Tech Pictures
Atari 5200 - Top
Atari 5200 - Bottom
Atari 5200 - Front Atari 5200 - Controller Storage Atari 5200 - Back
Courtesy of Charles Lee

Atari 5100 Prototype
Courtesy of the Atari History Museum
     Non-licensed hardware releases
Spectradyne, one of the first providers of PPV content in hotels, installed this system in select establishments.  The Spectravision 5200 Hotel Video System featured a four cartridge slot inside the machine.  A dial on the front of  the casing was used to switch between games and other PPV events (movies, hotel info, etc.).  For more information and pictures, please check out the excellent article on this unique item at The Atari History Museum.

     by Marriott_Guy
Consoles are rated based upon the available technology at the time of its release.  A 10 point scale is utilized, with 10 being excellent.

Console Design 04 The Atari 5200 is a beast, primarily due to the storage compartment located in the aft of the console.  I happen to like the aerodynamic look of the system, but that wide footprint makes placement troublesome in gaming racks.
Console Durability 05 I have the original 4 port version, which requires the proprietary Power \ AV switchbox.  I have not any issues with it, but many people have reported having issues with this switch control.
Controllers 02 This might be the worst game controller ever invented.  The 5200 joystick is very fragile and lacks the self-centering mechanics found in similar devices.  The numeric keypad (rarely used) mirrors this same cheap construction.
Graphics 07 Games feature large, colorful graphics that are nearly identical to their arcade counterpart.  The 5200 also performs well when screen activity heightens with minimal slowdown detected.
Audio 08 Excellent sound effects for most games, featuring digitized voice synthesis for many titles.
Media 07 Atari 5200 cartridges are quite a bit wider that those utilized in its predecessor.  The thick, hard plastic casing is extremely durable.
Gamer Value 04 The game library primarily consists of upgraded versions of previously released titles or arcade ports.  Though most of the games are excellent conversions, there is very little that you have not experienced on other systems.
Collector Value 05 The Atari 5200 is a solid system and widely available for a reasonable price.  While the funky  switchbox is a pain with the original 4-Port version, this model is more desirable due to its lower production run.

     Interesting facts on software for this system
Software for the Atari 5200 was distributed on ROM cartridges, which were quite a big larger compared to the shell casing utilized for its predecessor, the Atari 2600.

Atari packaged their games in large, cardboard boxes that are rather fragile and prone to accidental crushing.  First party offerings utilized the same silver background that appeared on games late in the 2600 lifespan, with blue lettering utilized for the system graphics.

Third party software did not follow Atari's standards when it came to game packaging.  Though the base cardboard box is quite similar, the graphics and presentation varied greatly.  Developers often created a unique cover art that highlighted their own brand in addition to the actual game.

The launch titles for the Atari 5200 included Galaxian, Pac-Man, Space Invaders and Super Breakout.  Though these games are all classics, this was considered to be a rather weak lineup since all were ports of existing Atari 2600 games.
applemctom's Games that Defined Compiliation

Atari 5200 Game Boxes (First Party)

     Captured in-game images
Astro Chase
Bounty Bob Strikes Back
Congo Bongo
Final Legacy
Frogger II: Threedeep
Jungle Hunt
Last Starfighter
Missile Command
Montezuma's Revenge
Moon Patrol
Pitfall II: Lost Caverns
Pole Position
Realsports Baseball
Realsports Basketball
Realsports Football
Realsports Soccer
Realsports Tennis
Rescue on Fractalus
River Raid
Space Shuttle
Star Wars: The Arcade Game
Super Cobra
Track and Field
Wizard of Wor

     First and third party system emulators

MESS (Multi-Emulator Super System) is a DOS based emulator capable of running many
 systems including this one.  It has a Windows based GUI and is extremely user friendly.
     For the hardware enthusiasts out there - all the detail you\we love.
Processor Type  Processor Speed  Other Processor Information RAM \ Video RAM
8-bit Custom Motorola 6502C 1.79 MHz 'Pokey' (audio), 'Antic' (GPU) and 'GTIA' (video signal generator) 16 KB
Screen Resolution Color Palette Polygons \ Sprites Audio
320 x 192 256 (16 on screen) N\A 4 Channel
Media Format Media Capacity Games Released Other Supported Formats
Cartridge 32 KB 69 Atari 2600 (with optional
VCS converter)
Internal Storage External \ Removable Storage Game Controllers Other Game \ Peripheral Devices
32 KB ROM (2 KB for system BIOS) None Joystick w\ Built-in Keypad Trackball, VCS adaptor, various
third party controllers
Controller Ports Network Ports Other Ports Audio \ Video
Four (4) - Two (2) on the 2nd version None None RF (via proprietary switchbox on the 4-port version)
Power Supply - External Other Outputs  Other Details \ Notes
Input: AC 120V, 50\60
Output: DC 11.5V, 1.95A
None The 2-port version comes with a standard RF switch as well as power supply.
Atari 5200 (2 Port) Owners Manual (PDF) - 1.91 MB
Atari 5200 (4 Port) Owners Manual (PDF) - 3.85 MB

     Peripherals, Promotions, Commercials, Brochures, Etc.
Atari 5200 Television Commercials

     Visitor insights and feedback
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