|Developer:||General Computer Corporation|
The Atari 7800 is a third-generation home video game console designed by General Computer Corporation and sold by Atari, Inc. It was originally meant to be released in 1984, but its launch was interrupted when Atari was sold. The 2-year delay of its release meant that it was out of date by the time it reached the market and it had to compete with the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Master System, both technically superior consoles. Had the 7800 been released on its intended 1984 schedule, it may have made a much bigger impact as it was quite impressive for the time and its backward-compatibly with the 2600 gave it a huge early game collection.
Due to the Atari 7800's delayed release and poor uptake in the market, fewer than 70 games were released on the platform, however the system's backward compatibility with the 2600 did give it a base of several hundred older games.
Music and Sound
The designers of the 7800 had intended to include a new multimedia chip called GUMBY, but in order to stay within budget, they scrapped the chip and fell back on the woefully inadequate Television Interface Adaptor since it had to be included anyway for 2600 backward compatibility. This was a serious blow as it meant audio quality inferior even to Atari's previous console, the Atari 5200. Had the 7800 been released as planned in 1984, this may have been tolerable, but by its 1986 release, the NES had already been out for months dazzling ears with its impressive RP2A03. 7800 games could still manage more elaborate compositions than their 2600 counterparts - mostly thanks to the system having more memory, along with developers not needing to worry about timing the audio with the TIA's video output - but only having two audio channels was still a major limitation.
The designers expected this shortcoming and added an additional pin to the 7800's cartridges so that audio chips could be added inside them, but this added to the production cost of the cartridge and decreased profit, and only two 7800 games (Ballblazer (A78) and Commando (A78)) used the functionality, each with a POKEY built into the cartridge.
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