It was the only gaming system which really mattered at the time. Though the games may be crude by today's standards, the sheer weight of software support meant that the 2600 was the only real option for early-80s gamers. Well, until 1983, when it all went dreadfully wrong, and the entire industry collapsed in on itself like an imploding cow.
While I was a ZX Spectrum owner for much of the 80s, I think it was some latent loyalty to the brand which led me to choose an Atari ST over the Amiga.
That loyalty wasn't to last, even as Atari turned away from home computing and attempted a triumphant return to console gaming. Albeit, seemingly, without an invite.
"I'm a mate of Dave's... no, not Dave - Phil. I mean John. Big John. Johnny-oh! I brought a bottle."
Like many, I'd chosen Nintendo over Atari when it had come to handhelds. I was impressed with a friend's Lynx, but the cost of it, the short battery life, its sheer size, had led me to favour the Game Boy. As history records, it was the right call; the Lynx was woefully supported by third-party publishers over the course of its life, and its design meant that it was scarcely portable. For a handheld system, that was death.
By the time Atari would next release a console - its last - I was working as a games journalist. As a byproduct of this, I would witness Atari's demise first-hand... and it was not to be pretty.
Indeed, Atari's stumble from grace may be the single most apocalyptic demonstration of self-sabotage the games industry has ever seen.