Atari's XE Game System is part of gaming's forgotten history
Editor's Note: Republished with permission from Patrick Scott Patterson, be sure to head over to his Examiner page to view a gallery of Atari XE games! Scott also provides a collection of commercials in the video below.
A lot of notable anniversaries in video game history will take place during the course of the year. Others may not be as notable, as we'll learn about today.
The Atari XE Game System (XEGS) turns 25 years old this year, a date that most industry experts might not notice. Thanks to the efforts of Nintendo and a series of new hits in the arcades the video game industry had come roaring back in 1987. Former industry king Atari wanted a piece of it, and tried in several different ways.
After re-releasing the original Atari 2600 as a value priced system and shipping the previously cancelled Atari 7800 product from warehouses, Atari introduced the XEGS in 1987. Little more than a redressed Atari 8-bit personal computer, the XEGS aimed directly at Nintendo in television commercials, touting it's own lightgun and items such as keyboard, disc drive and joystick.
The XEGS also boasted of a huge library of games available for play due to backward compatibility with previous Atari products. While technically true, the game library was deeply aged by the time the XEGS hit store shelves. Most of the XE branded games in stores were simply repackaged Atari computer game titles while others were translations of other home computer licenses as Nintendo had exclusive deals signed for almost every other arcade hit.
The Nintendo Entertainment System had gained more than 90 percent of the market by 1988, leaving the XEGS in the dust along with Atari's other product. It wasn't the last time Atari took aim at Nintendo, however. Years later Atari would introduce it's own handheld system, the Lynx, to compete with Nintendo's GameBoy. In 1993 they also introduced the 64-bit Jaguar, the last new console released by the legendary Atari.
Despite a short run, the XEGS and games can be found on eBay and other online sites fairly easily today.
Saw this system on RyanRightNow I think.
How have I never heard of this? O_o You'd think it'd be more well-known...
What they really needed was TWO guys in suits trying to sell video games door-to-door.
4 guys in suits trying to sell video games? Marketing fail.
Im sorry, i'd rather have a d-pad and two buttons than a "Hi tech" keyboard... Did they take into consideration that simplicity might be a good thing?
My friend had the Atari XE. It was the first console I was exposed to & I found it awesome being able to play games that were found in arcades at home. The games I remember him having are Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Ms. Pac-Man, Missile Command, Bug Hunt, Moon Patrol, Food Fight, Joust, and I'm 99% sure he had Asteroids and Space Invaders too. I was playing those games before I ever played an NES game. The friend who had it got an NES not long after we got ours, but he still kept his XE & games in the box. I wonder if he or his parents still have them today.
I definitely want to get an XE someday since it was such an important part of my gaming past. The light gun looked pretty damn cool too.
Huh... never heard of this system before. Maybe my cousin, who is an avid collector, can pick one of these up on eBay...
Wow, really interesting! I'm not even kidding, I've never ever heard of this system before :O
I have the Atari 130XE which is more of a computer, very reminisent of the early Commodore computing devices. A fun machine, runs basic, has some good games.