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Atari 2600 Controllers

Atari manufactured a number of different controllers for use with the 2600, some of them being game specific.  This gallery showcases 2600 compatible controllers manufactured by Atari in the 1970's and 1980's, as well as 3rd party controllers that were made specifically for the 2600. These are the controllers most Atari 2600 collectors want to have in their collection above others.

Product Image Description
Amiga Joyboard Sold with the skiing game Mogul Maniac, the joyboard is a platform that you control by standing on it and leaning in different directions.  It is also used by the prototype games Off Your Rocker and Surf's Up. It's an Interesting controller, but not terribly effective. You'll probably have better luck with a joystick.
Atari Joystick The classic. This joystick was packed in with most officially released Atari consoles, from the very first 'heavy sixers" to the last 2600 Junior. The directional controls of the very first models (1977-1979) were spring activated, the revised version that you normally find uses pressure contacts. The only way to really tell the difference is to open it up. Unfortunately there is no 'quick fix' for these like there is for the paddle controllers - the only way to really repair them is to replace the parts. If you're going to do that, it's probably just as cheap (and much easier) to just buy a working controller elsewhere.
Atari Paddle Controllers

These are the standard paddle controllers for use with games such as Breakout and Warlords.  There is one pair of controller per connector (this allows for 4-player Warlords). While they may look similar to the Driving Controller, they do not allow 360' movement, so it is not possible to play Indy 500 with the Paddle controllers. A common problem with these units is 'jittery' movement on-screen, caused by dirt and other foreign objects in the controller pots. You can clean them by gently lifting off the top dial, and spraying some electrical cleaner into the pots you see. Replace the cover, and give it a few good spins to loosen it up.

Atari Driving Controller The Atari Driving Controller looks similar to the Paddle Controllers, but it allows 360' movement.  It was packaged with Indy 500, the only game that uses 360' turning. Also, there is only one controller per cable, as opposed to the Paddle Controllers two per cable. A common problem with these units is 'jittery' movement on-screen, caused by dirt and other foreign objects in the controller pots. You can clean them by gently lifting off the top dial, and spraying some electrical cleaner into the pots you see. Replace the cover, and give it a few good spins to loosen it up.
Atari Space Age Joystick Marketed as an advanced controller, the Space Age joystick features a pistol grip and trigger button. The control stick is on the top of the unit, and an additional button sits atop that. Aside from the unusual shape and choice of buttons, this joystick doesn't add any new functionality, and is compatible with all other joystick games. 
Atari Remote Control Joysticks These wireless controllers look like standard joysticks, but have a deeper base for batteries and extra wiring.  The receiver plugs into the two joystick ports on the 2600 console.  It was packaged in the silver style of the black 2600 consoles.
Atari Trak-Ball The original Atari home Trak-Ball. This model comes in brown and beige, with standard circular fire buttons and a central Trak-Ball. These units commonly have flaky fire buttons.
Atari Trak-Ball The revised Atari Trak-Ball. This model came out in the mid-80's, and featured the silver packaging that Atari used at the time. This model is slightly smaller than the original, almost all black, and has unusual triangular fire buttons.
Atari Kid's Controller Marketed for the Children's Television Workshop series of games.  Functionally it's the same as a Touch Pad or Keyboard Controller, but it's larger so that children may more easily use it.  Separate Overlays for the controller were sold with the four CTW games.
Atari Keyboard Controllers Sold in pairs, functionally identical to the Kid's Controller and the Video Touch Pad.  The Keybaord Controllers came packaged with Basic Programming, and Included overlays with commands.
Atari Video Touch Pad Also known as the Star Raiders controller, functionally identical to the Kid's Controller and Keyboard Controller.  Game included an overlay with commands, for use with Star Raiders.
Atari Track & Field Controller This controller features a design similar to the arcade version.  Sold with Track & Field, but also available separately for use on other systems.  Will work with any game, but it only offers left/right/fire functions. It works surprisingly well, and certainly adds a new dimension to Track and Field.
Atari XE Light Gun Actually sold under the XE line, but compatible with the two Atari 2600 games that utilize a light gun, Sentinel and Atari's Shooting Gallery (prototype). It's also compatible with the Atari 7800 and other Atari home systems. Atari never made a gun specifically for the 2600.
CBS Booster Grip The Booster Grip is a controller add-in that plugs directly into the joystick port and provides a pass-through for the joystick.  In doing so, it provides the two independant buttons necessary for Omega Race.  If you want to play Omega Race and you don't have a Booster Grip, you can substitute a Colecovision controller.
Exus Foot Craz Activity Pad The Foot Craz was sold with Video Jogger and Video Reflex, and is sort of a precursor to Nintendo's Power Pad.  Intended to get lazy video game players off their rear's and engaged in physical activity, I'll bet most owner's reverted to the good old joystick after trying this device.
Milton Bradley Cosmic Commander An elaborate joystick sold with the game Survival Run, meant to appear like a futuristic space age controller.  It functions like a regular controller, and was not sold separately from the game. It really doesn't work that well, and you can probably play Survival Run much better with a standard joystick.
Milton Bradley Flight Commander Packaged with Spitfire Attack, an elaborate joystick meant to look like a fighter plane gun mount.  It has a similar button/handle configuration to the Cosmic Commander, and still functions like a regular controller.  It was not sold separately from the game. It really doesn't work that well, and you can probably play Spitfire Attack much better with a standard joystick.
MNetwork Tron Joystick Molded in translucent blue plastic, this controller mimicks its arcade counterpart.  It also features a retractable cord like the Champ joysticks.  It was sold in a large box that included MNetwork's Tron: Deadly Discs and Adventures of Tron. It's actually a pretty nice controller, and sought after by collectors simply because it looks so cool.
 

 

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