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Atari 5200 Activision prototype carts


Billy Mountain
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I found these games a few months back in a lot. There seems to be very little info on 5200 Activision prototype carts, so I thought I would share my find.

- All four games were found together in a large 5200 lot I bought on Ebay. When contacted, the seller just said that someone told them they were replacement labels, but they were not the original owners.

- The games *seem* to play exactly like the retail versions, but I haven't actually dumped the ROMs.

- Kaboom, Pitfall and River Raid have a blank reddish label similar to Activision protos for other systems, with a white typed label stuck on top. Dreadnaught has no label except for the white typed one.

- The cartridges don't have a clip at the top like other Activision games. The texturing that you see on retail Activision cartridges isn't on the proto carts, which feel much smoother. The pictures show comparisons between the proto and retail carts. The exception is Pitfall, which has a textured top half and a smooth bottom half. The cartridges also had sticker residue on the back when I got them, so I'm thinking maybe the back had a label or they reused cart shells.

- The only one I could safely open was Dreadnaught, which had an EPROM inside. That's the one shown in the pictures. I didn't know about the EPROM UV light thing at the time, but yes, I have since been educated as to why I should have covered the window =) The game was tested after being put back together, and it still plays.

Does anybody else have any carts like this, or any more info? I haven't quite decided whether I want to try to get a full set or just keep one or two, because I can't find any other copies anywhere. All I see is one thread from years back here on AA where somebody found three or four.

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Those are basically review copies. They're the final versions, but are still pre-production (EPROMs and lab labels). 99.9% of all Activision protos seem to be final review copies. Either they made a ton of them or they kept all the WIP versions under lock and key.

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Matt is right about the rom data usually being the same as final. I have a few Activision 5200 proto / review carts, but never noticed this texturing / smoothness your describing? You've peaked my curiosity so I will check them out and post my findings (and pics) here late tonight.

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  • 2 weeks later...

- The cartridges don't have a clip at the top like other Activision games. The texturing that you see on retail Activision cartridges isn't on the proto carts, which feel much smoother. The pictures show comparisons between the proto and retail carts. The exception is Pitfall, which has a textured top half and a smooth bottom half. The cartridges also had sticker residue on the back when I got them, so I'm thinking maybe the back had a label or they reused cart shells.

 

I recently picked up review copies of two Imagic games where I've run into the same thing -- smooth cart casings. In both cases -- your 5200 carts, my 2600 carts -- they're some of the first games that the respective companies produced, so my guess is that these shells were manufacturing proofs made prior to the molds being finalized (i.e. as I understand it the molds were chemically treated to create the texture only after proofs were made and confirmed to meet specifications). I know that at least one copy of 2600 Dragster also was found with a smooth shell -- it's mentioned on Philflound's site.

 

You can see my two carts (Star Voyager and Trick Shot) within the first five minutes of a video I shot:

 

 

(Lots more fun stuff in the video, including some Data Age review copies, an early draft of the instruction manual for 5200 Soccer showing that its original product number was CX-5218, some Activision prototypes, some rare joysticks, and more...)

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Well, I finally got around to checking mine and noted similar nuances. 2 of them are in the non activision square shaped cases, and one was in a regular activision case which does not have the tab in the back. However, I noted the smooth cart case texture on the back of that cart, but not in the front. I'll post pics here in just a minute.

 

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Edited by Supergun
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Well, I finally got around to checking mine and noted similar nuances. 2 of them are in the non activision square shaped cases, and one was in a regular activision case which does not have the tab in the back. However, I noted the smooth cart case texture on the back of that cart, but not in the front. I'll post pics here in just a minute.

Nice, so it seems your Pitfall is just like mine then. They must have run out of one of the cart shell halves that day =P

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