Atari 2600 Wireless Joysticks

Back in 1982, these wireless joysticks for the Atari 2600 were all the rage. Kind of.

Photo from Flickr

Photo from Flickr

These early generation wireless joysticks were a far cry from the wireless pads we’ve come to enjoy (and expect) today. For starters, each joystick contained a 9-volt battery, an on/off switch, and a non-retractable 6″ antenna poking out the front of each one. I guess after the batteries died, you could still sword fight with them.

Also, in case you didn’t notice, the base of these joysticks are 2-3 times thicker than a standard Atari 2600 joystick. I was nine-years-old in 1982 and I distinctly remember that my hands couldn’t wrap all the way around the base of the stick.

Then there’s that giant receiver, which required power. This was accomplished by plugging the Atari 2600 power supply into the back of the receiver, and then running an additional cable from the receiver to the Atari 2600. I could complain more about this but at least it didn’t also run on 9-volt batteries.

In 1982 we purchased our first big screen TV, a 60″ rear-projection Mitsubishi television. One weekend our family went to go see the movie Firefox, which consisted of jet airplanes zipping around the skies, and came home to find a copy of River Raid and a pair of these wireless joysticks waiting for us. I remember scooting our recliner right in front of that big TV and playing River Raid with those wireless joysticks. At least in my imagination, it was just like being in Firefox.

Rob O'Hara

I'm into old video games, old arcade games, old computer games, writing, photography, computer/network security, and of course, the 1980s!

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5 thoughts on “Atari 2600 Wireless Joysticks

  1. Doug says:

    Yeah, cuz you don’t want to be right up in the screen when playing E.T. You want to be kicking back on the couch with a cold drink in your hand. Oh, wait, you can’t hold a cold drink because both hands are holding up that behemoth of a controller. Awesome to see Atari try, though, and it was still way before its time.

  2. vinvectrex says:

    60″ TV in 1982? You, sir, were far ahead of the pack. I can only imagine how big those 2600 pixels were on that beauty.

  3. Now that I said that I think it may have been a 52″ model — I’ll have to ask my parents and see if they remember for sure. But yes, it was big and the first rear projection I remember seeing (a few of our friends had front projection ones).

    And yes, the pixels were huge. :)

  4. Styx says:

    Lol I’ve got my 2600 hooked up to my 42″flat screen. Sharpest 8 bit graphics I’ve ever seen……Pac-Man HD anyone?

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