The Atari 2600 game system was released in 1977. It was sold with two joysticks and the Combat game cartridge. Eight additional game cartridges were released at the same time and sold separately. The original wood paneled console, referred to as, “Woody” was simplified and a lighter version was released later in 1977 or 1978. My grandparents were the first people I knew to get an Atari and it was an instant hit with the family.
In 1982 a newer all black console was released. It was nicknamed “Vader” mainly due to its all black exterior. This was the first and only model I ever owned. These things were seriously durable. I got one for Christmas (1983 or 1984?). I don’t remember what game, if any came with it, but it most definitely was not Combat. I can’t count the hours I spent playing games on this console. All the games were pretty similar, in that not many of them had legitimate endings. Most games you played until you died, which could take a long time if you were any good.
The majority of the games used the single button joystick. It was easy to control, but new ones were quite stiff and needed to be “worked in” to loosen it up to make it better to play. Some games used paddles or keypads. The paddles were good for some driving games and some sports games, but got little regular use in my house. I had a keypad, but don’t think I ever used it. There was another keypad type controller used with Star Raiders which I had, but it sucked and was used once, maybe twice.
The 2600 was used quite frequently until the first Nintendo game system came out. After Nintendo, the old 2600 went into storage for a decade or two. I came across it several years ago and got it out to play, and believe it or not, it still worked (on the first try!). I ended up selling it, which I sometimes regret, but it went to someone who was going to use it a lot more than I would have.