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Elvera Bartels

They’re cheaper and accessible to the millions of Americans who nonetheless lack broadband access. Its blocky eight-bit graphics looked nothing like the lavish, rousing illustrations on its sport jackets, but the black-and-fake-wood Atari 2600 game console was the first gaming box to stir the imaginations of tens of millions. It brought the arcade expertise house for $199 (about $800 adjusted for inflation), including a pair of iconic digital joysticks and games with laptop-managed opponents–a home console first. It bought poorly in the months after its launch in September 1977, but when video games like Space Invaders and Pac-Man arrived a few years later, sales shot into the tens of millions, positioning Atari on the vanguard of the incipient video gaming revolution.

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