Flash back to 1982. Atari's 2600 machine is feeling the heat from
rival videogame systems, and Atari desperately needs to cut costs
in order for the venerable machine to remain the price leader. What
Well, there wasn't much Atari could do with the motherboard or
chips (the 2600 had a pretty tight design as it was). The only
solution was to eliminate much of the fat on the outside, including
our beloved woodgrain finish. Enter "VAL", code-name for the
VCS-compatible CX-2000 machine.
The Atari 2000 system differed in marketing strategy from the
2600jr model that was released later in the 2600's lifetime. First
of all, the 2000 was meant as a complimentary machine to the 2600,
not as a replacement. The 2000 was intended as an all-in one machine
for kids, of all things. Whoever came up with the idea of integrated
joysticks on the machine must have been smoking something very strong,
because kids tend to be rough on electronic devices and the 2000's
flimsy controllers (similar to the 5200) were not exactly suited to
withstand heavy abuse. And what happens when the joysticks break?
You have to take the entire machine in for servicing, of course. Smart
Towards the end of VAL's development cycle, Atari decided to
change the system to a light-blue color which was better suited
to kids' tastes. In fact, it was exactly the same color used for
the kids controllers (which did see the light of day).
To Atari's credit, they were wise enough to can the 2000 before
letting the 2000 onto the market. The CX-2000 units shown
above are two of the precious few still in existence today.