remember, this was the crazy eighties after all.
the time of glitz and glamour - post-punk, pre-grunge
and pure consumerism - Atari, prior to the great video
game crash of 1983, were well known as leaders in
the electronic entertainment industry and were, at
the time, maintaining their status as a technological
juggernaut, while constantly trying to bring new and
innovative products to market.
the brilliant minds of the Atari's Advanced Projects
Group engineers Allan Alcorn, Harry Jenkins and Roger
Hector, came the Cosmos. Once toted as "The Newest
Dimension in Electronic Entertainment" the Cosmos,
was little more than a gimmick, according to many
observers at the New York Toy Fair in 1981.
system used a partially transparent HOLOPTIC plate
in front of an array of LED's giving the illusion
of dimension. Basically you would see a 3-D image
superimposed over game characters composed of red
Cosmos era press release extols the "advanced"
Dual Image Three-Dimensional HOLOPTICS TM Display
. Programmable LED Skill Games with a Variety of Game
. Innovative Game Sounds
. AC Power Adapter Included (NO Batteries Required)
. One or Two Players
. Tabletop Game for Convenient Access
was high enough, gimmick or not, for over 8,000 pre-orders
from that one showing. With solid word of mouth and
decent press, momentum continued to build behind the
Cosmos, which prompted the creation of game boxes.
Sales flyers were also shipped to Atari's distributors,
further whetting appetites. For all intents and purposes,
everything appeared to look as if the Atari Cosmos
was well on its' way.
without warning, the unit was scrapped and never mentioned
to Allan Alcorn, who was the head honcho for the Cosmos
project, Ray "The Czar" Kassar, one time
CEO of Atari, wasn't willing to risk entering the
handheld/tabletop market as well as the fact that
the Atari 2600 VCS was the only thing, he (Kassar)
had faith in. Some say that it was the cancellation
of many unique and innovative projects by Kassar that
led the mass exodus of creative talent from Atari.
the dust settled, and the Advanced Projects Group
was dismantled, this project, among others fell into
obscurity. Thanks to the archeological efforts of
many former Atari engineers and gaming enthusiasts,
the details behind the fiasco were finally revealed.
a historical footnote, Atari did eventually use the
holographic technology, if only for the stylized hologram
stickers on cartridges and hardware. Unfortunately,
there were very few of these units that were assembled
and working, however it was noted that many empty
cases were created.
to reports, there are currently only two fully functional
Atari Cosmos units known to exist.
Special Thanks to: and Curt Vendel