Atari 2600 Paddle Controller
The Atari 2600 Paddle Controller is a video game controller designed by Atari for use on the Atari 2600. The controller was released on 1977-09-11 along with the console. The Paddle Controller featured two units which connected into a single joystick port on the console. Each unit features an analog rotating dial on the top and a single digital trigger button on the side. The dial has about 330 degrees of movement and is tied to a potentiometer which reads the rotation amount and sends it to the Atari. The Paddle Controller was originally designed with the game Pong in mind, but was put to use in over 30 games throughout the run of the system (as well as several homebrew games). The Atari 2600 Driving Controller is based on the same shell design, but has different internal components.
The Paddle Controller was 100% compatible with the Atari 8-bit line of home computers and the games made for the system which used the Paddle Controller. When Commodore first designed their own paddle controllers, they made them nearly identical to the Atari Paddle Controller in shape, but their potentiometer used half the resistance. This means, even though you can connect the Atari 2600 Paddle Controller to the Commodore VIC-20, Commodore 64, and Commodore 128, it will not yield the same speed of motion as proper Commodore paddles.
The Atari 2600 Paddle Controller is included in the Controller Font.
My family's first Atari system had Paddle Controllers, but I don't think we had any games which used them. When I bought a second Atari 2600 collection in my late-teens, I had Kaboom! and Circus Atari, and my cousin had Super Breakout. However, I never really cared much for these games as they're all super twitchy, and I also find that the paddles move your on-screen avatar too fast to promote good strategy. Either that, or I just have really slow reflexes.
I might have some official Atari 2600 Paddle Controllers in my parent's attic, but I know I have a Gemini brand set.
The Paddle Controller was released multiple times throughout the life of the Atari 2600.
|1977-09-11||CX 30-04||Has an Atari logo next to an icon of a pair of tennis racquets.|
|1977-09-11||CX 30-04||Replaces the Atari logo with the Sears logo.|
|1978-??-??||CX 30||The revision replaces the Atari logo with the word "paddle" and uses a new smaller icon of tennis racquets.|
This is a list of every game commercially published for the Atari 2600 which could use the Paddle Controllers:
- Bachelor Party (2-players)
- Backgammon (2-players)
- Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em
- Birthday Mania
- Blackjack (3-players simultaneous)
- Breakout (4-players)
- Bumper Bash
- Canyon Bomber (4-players)
- Casino (4-players simultaneous)
- Circus Atari
- Demons to Diamonds
- Eggomania (4-players)
- Fireball (4-players)
- G.I. Joe: Cobra Strike (3-players simultaneous, uses 1-joystick)
- Guardian (2-players)
- Kaboom! (2-players)
- The Music Machine (2-players)
- Night Driver
- Party Mix (4-players simultaneous)
- Picnic (2-players)
- Piece O' Cake
- Solar Storm
- Star Wars: Jedi Arena (2-players)
- Steeplechase (4-players simultaneous)
- Street Racer (4-players simultaneous)
- Super Breakout (2-players)
- Video Olympics (4-players simultaneous)
- Warlords (4-players simultaneous)
- Warplock (2-players)