The Atari 5200 SuperSystem, released in late 1982 for $270 (USA), was the direct follow-up to the highly successful Atari 2600 (VCS), and predecessor of the Atari 7800 ProSystem. Atari chose to design the 5200 around technology used in their popular Atari 400/800 8-bit computer line, but was not directly compatible, unlike Atari’s much later pastel-colored XEGS (XE Game System) console. The similarities in hardware did allow for relatively easy game conversions between the two systems, however, particularly when porting from the computer line to the 5200.
The Atari 5200, as designed, was more powerful than Mattel’s Intellivision and roughly equivalent to Coleco’s ColecoVision, both of which were the 2600’s main competition at the time and the systems Atari had to target in order to remain technologically competitive in the console marketplace. Besides the unusually large size of the 5200 console, the controversial automatic RF switch box (incompatible with many televisions of the day without the included extra adapter) that also supplied power to the system and the innovation of four controller ports (the Atari 800 computer also featured four controller ports), the most notable feature of the system was the inclusion of analog joysticks, which to the frustration of most gamers were fragile and did not self center, but had a keypad that accepted overlays and featured one of the first pause buttons. Part of the 5200’s girth accommodated storage for these controllers to the rear of the console, as well as a wire wrap underneath.
Text and info by Bill Loguidice
END OF PRODUCTION
Model Atari CX52 Joystick: Analog (360 Degrees of Motion); Four Fire Buttons (two on each side); 12 Button Keypad that Accepts Overlays; and Start, Pause and Reset Buttons
3 custom VLSI's
16 KB RAM (VLSI)
64 KB Maximum
320 x 192
256 Color Palette, 16 on-screen
Four or Two Controller Ports Depending on System Model, Cartidge slot, Audio/Video output
BUILT IN MEDIA
Cartridge, 32K Maximum
Over 75, including prototypes
Four port models : 11.5VDC @ 1.95A Two port models : 9.3VDC @ 1.95A