I Am Wondering If An Old Atari 2600 Console Can Be 'Plugged Into' In Some Manner Into A Personal Computer Like A Desktop Or A Laptop With Windows 7 64-bit?

Posted on 2011-10-01
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
Hello. I have a question to ask you.

Is there a way or means to play an Atari 2600, Atari 5200, and Atari 7800, and the ColecoVision era gaming generation (late 1970s thru mid/late 1980s) compatible arcade-like games from the past on the latest PC's like my Windows 7 Professional 64-bit? Let me 'how' I want to play these arcade-like games.  

I am ultimately looking for *2* DIFFERENT answers and solutions for 2 DIFFERENT methods, but for THIS question/thread I am only asking for ONE method (or 'part'). Reason: I have divided this question into 2 questions/threads due to the different method arrangements this question's/thread's EE zones it needs to be placed in.  

Let me elaborate:

PART 1. Hardware based: I am wondering  if an old Atari 2600 console (or any second generation gaming console as I listed with some names above) can be 'plugged into' in some manner into a personal computer like a desktop or a laptop with Windows  7 64-bit and enjoy the yesteryear arcade-like games cartridges as they are being played DIRECTLY ON the Atari 2600 console? How can this be accomplished? Additional hardware necessary? What would I need?

Please provide your own detailed facts, suggestions, hints, and tips; and/or the best possible well written, detailed and documented website links.

DO NOT USE or similar-like web links in your reply. I consider its use very unprofessional for EE experts. If you do, you will not get acknowledged and receive no credit.

Please reply.

Thank you!
Question by:RegulaOne
LVL 62

Accepted Solution

☠ MASQ ☠ earned 425 total points
ID: 36897811
You'll need video capture, look at the Hauppauge range of USB based capture cards.  You plug the TV lead from the console into the analog RF input on the capture card then the supplied software allows you to display it on the PC screen.  It effectively turns your computer into the TV monitor for the console.  The PC processes the video input and displays it (and will normally allow recording) but that's about it.  Also beware of high resolution screen settings when viewing these mainly 8-bit games.  They looked blocky in the 80's and will look worse if you magnify them!

Let me attempt to pre-empt a part two here.  Although emulation for these consoles is legal, until Atari release their copyright on the ROMs, use of the game code is not.
LVL 48

Assisted Solution

dbrunton earned 50 total points
ID: 36898044
There are emulators for the Atari 2600.  See

You can find emulators for the Atari 5200 as well (use Google) but I'm not sure on their legality as you may require a BIOS ROM image as well.  See

See for Coleco emulation.
LVL 62

Assisted Solution

by:☠ MASQ ☠
☠ MASQ ☠ earned 425 total points
ID: 36898061
dbrunton is correct about needing the ROMs which frustratingly Atari still won't release to public domain and CBS who own the Coleco rights have much the same approach.
LVL 80

Assisted Solution

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
David Johnson, CD, MVP earned 25 total points
ID: 36899948
the same goes with mattel and intelivision.. the answer is yes it can be done, is it legal no!  As with all software you don't ever own it.. you only own a license to use it.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 36934795
@ MASQUERAID, dbrunton, ve3ofa:

Hello again. Nice to see each one of you again. Thank you all for your comment.

Yes, MASQUERAID, you are correct to assume the logical "pre-empt a part two" is 'software' based from your intuition. However, MASQUERAID is the only one to actually answer my question with a viable solution that is 'hardware' based. All the other expert comments are 'software' based solutions, which I did ask following this post of the question/thread. I have not attempted your working hardware answer and solution yet, but your explanation is sensible and logical to follow. I am sure it will work with your instructions.

Therefore, I am awarding MASQUERAID the majority of the points and the "Accepted Solution" for a 'hardware' based approach that I am looking for with this particular question/thread. To show no sign of disrespect to the other EE expert comments since I just mentioned that my 'part 2' post question/thread does ask for a 'software' based answer and solution. Your expert comments regarding software do indeed present answers; but with factual legal copyright infringement issues for a solution making a solution not viable. It seems MASQUERAID's answer and solution pertaining to a 'hardware' answer and solution appears to be the ONLY viable and legal solution BETWEEN BOTH questions/threads..    

Therefore, with your honesty with 'software' answers applicable I have asked in my other question/thread I need, I am awarding all other expert comments as "Assisted Solutions".

Point Awards breakdown:

MASQUERAID - first comment- Accepted Solution - 400 points; Reason: Only hardware answer & solution; Instructions provided.  

dbrunton - Assisted Solution - 50 points; Reason: Software based; Instructions provided.  

MASQUERAID  - second comment - Assisted Solution - 25 points; Reason: Software based; Facts, suggestions, hints, and tips.

ve3ofa - Assisted Solution - 25 points;  Reason: Software based; Facts, suggestions, hints, and tips.

Again, than you all for your answers and one hardware solution!!!

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