Atari 2600/7800 FAQ

                            v. 12.1, Jul 20, 1999

                       Last minor update: Jul 20, 1999

                        Zube (

This FAQ is an evolving document. Please help make it better. If you have
any additions, suggestions or corrections, please mail me


Previous maintainers
What's new?
What information is missing from the FAQ?
Where can I find the latest version of this FAQ?


What Usenet groups discuss or are relevant to the 2600/7800?
What is the charter?
Are there any mailing lists that discuss the 2600/7800?
Where can I find cart lists?
What magazines cover the 2600/7800?
What magazines covered the 2600/7800 in the 80s?
What books cover the 2600/7800?
Any there any videos that cover the 2600/7800?
Are there any other sources of general information about the 2600?
What is irc, #rgvc and how do I get on them?
What happened to the 5200 information that used to be here?
What happened to Atari?
But I still see games with the Atari logo. What's the story?
What scores were needed to earn an Activision patch?
What does the Atari symbol represent?
What does the word "atari" mean?


Where can I find games for my 2600/7800 or the consoles themselves?
Which games does Radio Shack sell?
Where can I download game instructions?
What are the best games for the 2600?
What are the most common and most rare games for the 2600/7800?
What was Gameline and what games were available for it?
Which games use a lightgun?
Which 2600 games use the kid's controllers/keypads?
Which 2600 games use paddles?
Which 2600 games use the driving controllers?
Which 2600 games have voice?
Which 2600 carts do not work on the 7800?
What is the Starpath CD and can I still get one?
Have any new games been released lately?
What is a multicart and where can I get one?
What are some cheats and Easter Eggs?
What programming resources are available?
What is the 7800 encryption algorithm?
Is 7800 Impossible Mission really impossible?
Where can I get solutions to the Swordquest series?
I've seen pictures of 2600 Doom. Where can I buy it?

Hardware (general)

What are the different 2600/7800 models?
What types of clones exist?
What companies made 2600 adapters for their own systems?
Are there any emulators for the 2600/7800?
What 2600/7800 hardware was announced but never released?
I've hooked up my system, but the picture is fuzzy. What am I doing wrong?
How do I fix my paddles?
Where do I get my 2600/7800 fixed?
Do Bally Astrocade joysticks work on the 2600/7800?
Which light guns work with the 2600/7800?
What hardware peripherals exist for the 2600/7800?
What are NTSC/PAL/SECAM and why should I care?
What is a TVboy and where can I get one?

Hardware (tech)

What are the specs for the 2600/7800?
How large do 2600 games get?
Are there any published 2600/7800 technical articles available?
Pinout information?
Power supply information?


How do I build a composite/audio/chroma/luma output interface for the Atari
How do I build a video driver for the 2600/7800?
How do I convert Sega controllers to Atari pinout?
How do I convert a Sega Master System lightgun to Atari pinout?
How do I convert an NES controller to Atari pinout?
Is there a general site that contains all this conversion stuff?
What is an Atari Game Recorder and how do I build one?


Acknowledgments of thanks.

Q: Previous maintainers.

A: A. Karl Heller ( maintained the 2600 FAQ up to version
11, and co-maintained it up to and including version 11.5. The classic
community owes him a large debt of gratitude for his efforts.

Karl also deserves high praise for graciously stepping aside when his
interest in maintaining this FAQ waned. Karl allowed me to improve his
creation (starting with version 11) without becoming angry or possessive. I
sincerely hope that I am as gracious as he when it is my turn to pass this
FAQ on to someone else.

Q: What's new?


   * (Feb 20) JTS bankruptcy converted to Chapter 7.
   * (Feb 21) Some Digital Press info updated.
   * (Feb 21) Atari Age reference to Pac-Man as a pack-in.
   * (Feb 21) Hoax section added.
   * (Feb 22) Links to auction web sites added.
   * (Feb 23) 2600 perl hoax added.
   * (Feb 27) Classic Videogames Collector's Listing added.
   * (Feb 28) Bugs and Star Wars: Jedi Arena added to paddle game list.
   * (Mar 5) Stella at 20 documentary information added.
   * (Mar 15) Electronics Xchange carries a few used 2600 games.
   * (Mar 16) TV Boy page returns from dead links file.
   * (Mar 16) JerryG has TV Boys, PAL TV II Boys and PAL Super TV Boys in
   * (Apr 6) Bunches of new hoaxes, thanks to the Mar/Apr 1999 2600
   * (Apr 6) FF VII and MKT hoaxes added.
   * (Apr 18) Another 7800 compatibility page added.
   * (Apr 18) Jay Tilton's general tech site back from dead links file.
   * (Apr 18) Some additional Atari Game Recorder info.
   * (Apr 24) Retrogaming Times issue 22 available.
   * (Apr 26) Link to Beast Invaders picture added.
   * (May 2) Section on Atari Symbol added.
   * (May 16) gone, use instead.
   * (May 19) Dan Boris's 7800 tech page, 7800 emulator and 7800 validation
     key sections added.
   * (May 19) Some 8K games available from Hozer Video.
   * (May 19) Reports surface that the Supercharger may be permanently
     damaged when used on the 7800.
   * (May 21) Backgammon added to paddle game list.
   * (Jun 12) Video 61 has 2600 and 7800 games and decks.
   * (Jun 12) Stella Gets a New Brain version 2 update.
   * (Jun 12) Layman's description of difference between Chapter 7 and 11
     bankruptcy added (for JTS entry).
   * (Jun 13) Definition of atari added.
   * (Jun 13) Brief explanation of Atari Corp. v. Atari Games added.
   * (Jun 15) New addresses for CCNUK and CCNUKFST lists.
   * (Jul 10) Activision Action Packs are available for pre-paid download.
   * (Jul 20) Small changes in preparation for Usenet posting.

If you are the author of something in this FAQ and we have not given you a
proper attribution and a thank-you, please email us.

Q: What information is missing from the FAQ?

A: Bunches of stuff, some of which includes:

   * confirmation of baud rate for Gameline modem
   * 7800 encryption code (ha ha)
   * Any link found in the dead links file
     ( These links
     worked in previous versions of the FAQ, but have been relegated to the
     dead links file until I can find out where they went.

Q: Where can I find the latest version of this FAQ?

A: The FAQ ( is maintained
in html form and is amended as updates come in. Every so often (when there
is enough new material), the html version is converted to text, edited a
bit, and posted to,,
rec.answers and news.answers. The text version
( is on the Web as well,
but it is updated only before posting to Usenet.

Q: What Usenet groups discuss or are relevant to the 2600/7800?

A: There are several groups:

   * alt.atari.2600
   * alt.atari.2600vcs
   * alt.atari.2600.programming
   * alt.atari.2600.vcs
   * (rgvc) is probably the best place to start, as it is
carried in most newsfeeds and generally has the most traffic. is for the buying and selling of video games and
systems and is not limited to atari or even classic systems. It is dominated
by post-classic ads, which is why you will often see buy/sell/auction posts
in rgvc. usually contains Jaguar discussion, but will
occasionally digress into 2600/7800 discussion when it pertains to the
Jaguar (e.g. Tempest 2000). The five atari alt groups are not carried by
many newsfeeds; consequently, the traffic in these groups is minimal.

Do not post to alt.2600 or any of its subgroups about the Atari 2600/7800.
That group is for discussion of hacking and phreaking and you will probably
get flamed if you do.

If you don't have a newsfeed at your site, but do have a newsreader (most
web browsers have one built in), you can still get access to some, if not
all of these groups. See the List of Open NNTP servers
( page for a list of places
where you might point your browser to see the rgvc groups.

Many of these servers have only a limited number of groups, so if the one
you choose doesn't carry rgvc, try another. Another possible solution is (, which does carry all of the 2600 related
news groups. Make sure you use the "frames mode," or you'll get a new
browser window for each news article.

Maintainer's note: used to be recommended, but disappeared
without a trace.

Q: What is the charter?

A: We have uncovered the following: is an unmoderated newsgroup which passed its
vote for creation by 257:85 as reported in news.announce.newgroups on
13 Apr 1993.

And from the second Call for Votes

these bits:

5) Should a newsgroup be created?

This newsgroup would carry discussions regarding older, "classic" home
video entertainment systems like the Atari 2600, Coleco, Intellivision,
etc.  This newsgroup would supersede

Finally, for those of you wondering if buy/sell/auction posts are
discouraged on groups other than, consider the

3) Should a newsgroup be created?

This newsgroup would carry offers to sell and requests to buy home video
entertainment products and accessories like systems, cartridges, etc.

The netiquette of the* hierarchy would request that
people NOT cross-post buy/sell discussions to other*

Q: Are there any mailing lists that discuss the 2600/7800?

A: There are at least three. Jeremy Wilson ( runs the
classic videogames mailing list, which covers both home and arcade classic
games. To subscribe, mail with the following message body:

subscribe classic-videogames your@email.address Your Name

There is also a UK Classic Videogame mailing list;
for subscribe requests, for the list itself. For more
information, see this link ( The above
page also contains a database of classic UK collectors. There is also a
separate UK list ( exclusively for sale and trade
posts; for subscription requests to that list as

The Stella mailing list (also know as the Starpath CD mailing list and the
Atari 2600 Programming list) is for those using the Starpath CD development
tools to write 2600 games. To subscribe, mail with the
following in the message body:

subscribe stella your@email.address

The informational snippet for this list is as follows.

"This list was designed as as support group for Starpath CD owners who are
writing 2600 games through the developer software. It is hoped that TOGETHER
we can write some new games for the 2600. Exchanging uuencoded binaries is
okay as long as it's in BIN form, not WAV."

Q: Where can I find cart lists?

A: VGR ( maintains the giant 2600/7800 list which contains
entries for most 2600/7800 games, although it has not been updated in a
while. In addition to manufacturer's model number, the list also includes
rarity ratings. Here is the plain text version
( and the html table version

Dean Dierschow ( maintains game lists
( for several systems including the
2600/7800. The relevant files are at2600.lst, at5200.lst, and at7800.lst.
These lists are a good starting point for the new or general game collector;
alas, these files have not been updated since Oct 94.

The Giant List of 2600 Label Variations is for all of the sick collectors
who want to know label differences in excruciating detail. John Earney
( maintains the list
(, which looks like this:

    Cosmic Ark                 IA3204
        silver label with no picture, "for use with..." in 5 languages
        silver label with picture 720104-1 Rev A.  1982 entirely to the