Look ma, no hands! With Atari's new Mindlink controller, your hands
are free to eat, knit, file your nails or whatever, while you play
computer games. The infrared sensors wrap around your forehead with
Velcro straps and plug into the MindLink transmitter, which plugs
into the Atari Computer, VCS or 7800 game system. It doesn't really
read your mind, but it does detect muscle impulses when you move your
eyebrows. The $100 device was to play games like Breakout, and
Atari claimed that software would be available on ESP, thought games,
memory and biofeedback. Groucho Marx would have been great at this.
At the Summer CES Show in 1983, Atari unveiled the Mindlink to an
unreceptive audience. The Mindlink confused just about everyone who
tried it with Bionic Breakthough, the showcase title for the peripheral.
Bionic Breakthrough was the same game as Breakout but was reprogrammed
to work with the Mindlink. Using the muscles in ones head, a person
was to control the paddle at the bottom of the screen. Needless to say,
people began to suffer from headaches as soon as the pace of the game
started to quicken.
One of the more hilarious moments of the Mindlink's introduction came
when one of Atari's executives strapped on the controller onto his forehead
in front of an amused audience. Why were they laughing, other than
the fact that the Mindlink was a joke? The device fell from his forehead
and broke! Needless to say, Atari's decision not to release the Mindlink
has to be considered one of the few good moves they made in the period
immediately before the videogame market crash.
The picture above is a prototype of the Mindlink controller. It is
fully operational with Bionic Breakthrough and Mind Maze, although
you're probably better off not spending too much time with these