Atari 5200Although Atari's VCS/2600 console would end up selling just shy of 30 million units by the time it was ultimately removed from the market, Atari felt that they needed to keep up with the new, better-bit systems being introduced by Mattel and Coleco. Their response? The Atari 5200; a technological achievement more advanced than Mattel's Intellivision and Coleco's Colecovision. Released in 1982 with an 8-bit chip similar to Atari's 400 line of personal computers, this electronic wonder was sure to be a big hit, slapped with the Atari name, and sent to another 30 million homes. Right? Wrong.
The 5200 (so-named because it was the item number in Atari's catalog - plus twice as powerful as the 2600) was a major blunder from the get-go. In fact, Atari would never again regain the attention and praise it received from its first system. It was all downhill from here. First off, the 5200 (or Supersystem), was not backwards-compatible with the 2600 (meaning it could not play 2600 game carts). This meant that developers would have to start from scratch and develop raw games for the 5200 - a system very few people owned anyway. So, instead, they would continue to develop games for Atari's 2600, but even worse for Atari, they would develop games for the slightly technologically inferior Colecovision and Intellivision units, leaving the 5200 to ultimately be left behind in the dust. Even more, because of a lawsuit filed by Coleco and Mattel, their two units were allowed to make Atari 2600 emulators to run Atari's entire line of VCS games.
Eventually, though, the 5200 did pick up sales; but it wasn't entirely Atari's responsibility - third party developers were finally creating adequate games, and better joysticks than those damn impossible-to-center 2600 derivatives. Atari ultimately created an adapter to allow for 2600 games to be played on the 5200. With these new gizmos in places, Atari did find itself doing better in sales than Colecovision in 1983 - but only because Coleco's system had been released three years earlier. And if it wasn't for that infamous 1984 video game crash, Atari would have once again reigned king; though on not as high a pedistal that the 2600 lifted it.