The Cosmos was an unrealeased all in one video game system made by Atari back in 1981. The idea was to create a true "3-D" video game system using holograms. They began by purchasing the rights to as much holographic technology as possible, and they put this technology into a small table-top gaming system. The games were not actually 3-D, they were merely played out on a 6x7 LED grid, with a hologram background projected over it.
The Cosmos used the COPS411 processor, which was later used in the Entex Adventurevision console. The games came as cartridges, but that was rather misleading. As all eight supported games were already preprogammed into the unit. The cartridges merely contained the holographic plate for the game, a set of plastic keys would press a few buttons inside the unit, telling it which game to play. The games were set to be priced at $10=$12 (USD), despite the fact that they were an empty shell with a 3 cent hologram inside. All eight games were produced, but the only titles I was able to verify are Asteroids, Space Invaders, and Superman.
The Cosmos was designed by Allan Alcorn, Harry Jenkins and Roger Hector. They showed off the first prototype at the New York Toy Fair of 1981. Many people showed interest, and 8000 pre-orders were taken at the show. However, some people were very critical of the fact that the holograms were merely a background, and the games themselves had little substance.
Atari pulled the plug on the program in 1981, even though the system was almost ready to ship at this point. This prompted Al Alcorn to leave the company, and Atari never mentioned the Cosmos, or Alcorn ever again. It appears that 250 working units were produced, and that the parts for nearly 1000 of them were made. Atari pretty much abandoned their HOLOPTICS technology, using it merely to make little hologram stickers on their cartridges to cut down on piracy.
There are currently five existing copies of this system. Three of them are only non-functioning display units. While the other two are fully working units (one is held by the Atari Historical Society, while the other is still in the hands of an old Atari employee. The games are a little easier to come by, the Atari Historical Society has all eight, and many individual collectors have one or two of them.
I typed the following information out from a scan of some Cosmos promotional material.
Programmable Game System
ATARI is proud to introduce a true technological breakthrough into the world of electronic games - the COSMOS Programmable Game System, featuring HOLOPTICS. HOLOPTICS is ATARI's exclusive holographic technique for creating dazzling three-dimensional light images of incredible detail and realism.
COSMOS is the first consumer product ever to use this technology. Specific features of the system include:
- Dual Image Three-Dimensional HOLOPTICS Display
- Programmable LED Skill Games with a Variety of Game Cartridges
- Innovative Games Sounds
- AC Power Adapter Included (No Batteries Required)
- One or Two Players
- Tabletop Game for Convenient Access
The consumer has never seen anything like this before: Ultra-high technology - laser - generated HOLOPTICS combined with the exciting interactive games for which ATARI is famous.
The system uses a partially transparent HOLOPTIC plate in front of an array of LED's (light emitting diodes). The player sees a 3-D image superimposed over red game figures (cars, missiles, gunfighters) illuminated by the LED's. During game play, the red figures move about the illuminated HOLOPTIC stage under computer and player control. At certain moments during a game, the 3-D image magically changes to indicate an outcome or some new aspect of game play.
The HOLOPTIC plate comes in a cartridge which fits into the base unit. Each cartridge -eight initially- provides a new 3-D image and game play.
COSMOS is a completely new, totally exclusively game system. The consumer is about to be dazzled with the most startling advance in electronic
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