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Consoles sales of Atari 2600 (and Sears too etc) for 77,78,79 etc?


oky2000
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I was wondering if anyone had a source of data for the worldwide or US yearly sales figures of the VCS before Space Invaders was released on the system (but still had Combat pack in game with the console).

 

I can find total sales but I am interested in yearly sales, which seem to be available in various magazines of the time for my homeland of the UK for popular home computers at the time, some even had monthly sales of the 4 most popular micros for a while.

 

VCS magazines only went as far as charts and some news snippets for new consoles/accessories/expansions as far as hardware goes.

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That's why I mentioned magazines in the UK. Surely a huge company like Atari had their own sales records for annual units shipped and these are not lost. I tried a couple of links given in the past here but none worked so I don't know if people had yearly sales figures in graphs comparing various consoles/micros of the period.

 

I could ring up Nolan Bushnell, he's still around and that's all that matters when it comes to all things Atari :)

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Surely a huge company like Atari had their own sales records for annual units shipped and these are not lost.

 

Given the multiple changes in corporate ownership and structure, I would be surprised if any corporate records still exist from the 1970s -- barring something donated to a public repository a few random bits held by private collectors. You might try reviewing old published annual reports; those would be more accessible than original sales records.

 

That said, I highly doubt that you will be able to find solid numbers (rather than best-guess estimates). Some years ago, I reviewed the business press in the mid-1980s for a series of articles on the video game industry, and the best data that I found were gross annual sales figures, and some comments about the relative market share of the major players. Given the competitive nature of the market, companies were unwilling to publicly release much information.

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Given the multiple changes in corporate ownership and structure, I would be surprised if any corporate records still exist from the 1970s -- barring something donated to a public repository a few random bits held by private collectors. You might try reviewing old published annual reports; those would be more accessible than original sales records.

 

That said, I highly doubt that you will be able to find solid numbers (rather than best-guess estimates). Some years ago, I reviewed the business press in the mid-1980s for a series of articles on the video game industry, and the best data that I found were gross annual sales figures, and some comments about the relative market share of the major players. Given the competitive nature of the market, companies were unwilling to publicly release much information.

I was really just looking for a trend, approximate figures would be fine even for just the few years before VCS Space Invaders came out and a few years after (for PAL regions that was fall of 1980 right?).

 

I got my VCS a month before Space Invaders came out and it was the first game I saved up for after saving my pocket money for 6 months to get a VCS (much to the annoyance of my Mum when she heard the games were 30 quid lol).

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Michael Current has been researching the history of Atari, in particular using old industry periodicals and newspapers. It's not complete, but he has numbers for several years. http://mcurrent.name/atarihistory/wci_games.html

 

In 1977, Atari sold around 340,000 VCS units (and had total console sales of around 850,000, if you include their dedicated consoles with the VCS numbers).

In 1978, Atari sold 800,000 VCS units (but still had 200,000 unsold).

In 1982, Atari sold approximately 12 million VCS units.

It's not on his timeline but I've read elsewhere that Atari Corp sold over 1 million VCS units in 1985.

By 1988, Atari Corp. announced over 25 million VCS units had been sold.

 

As far as specifically overseas numbers: In 1981 Atari announced that it had sold around 800,000 VCS units overseas, which would include Europe.

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Michael Current has been researching the history of Atari, in particular using old industry periodicals and newspapers. It's not complete, but he has numbers for several years. http://mcurrent.name/atarihistory/wci_games.html

 

In 1977, Atari sold around 340,000 VCS units (and had total console sales of around 850,000, if you include their dedicated consoles with the VCS numbers).

In 1978, Atari sold 800,000 VCS units (but still had 200,000 unsold).

In 1982, Atari sold approximately 12 million VCS units.

It's not on his timeline but I've read elsewhere that Atari Corp sold over 1 million VCS units in 1985.

By 1988, Atari Corp. announced over 25 million VCS units had been sold.

 

As far as specifically overseas numbers: In 1981 Atari announced that it had sold around 800,000 VCS units overseas, which would include Europe.

Thanks a lot for sharing.

 

Figures for 78 mean they shipped 800,000 to stores and distributors and 200,000 in stores were still unsold? That's how all console sales are handled by Sony and MS these days, units shipped is what people on the payroll always quote to the press.

 

I seem to have jumped on the VIC-20 and C64 home computer bandwagon in 1982 just when the Atari VCS was going crazy, mostly because I wanted to code my own games. No doubt due to Atari's excellent eye for arcade titles to licence. Even to this day I prefer VCS invaders to playing it on MAME....except with a Zipstik or Competition Pro 5000 :)

 

If the magazines are archived it's incredible what you can find looking through things. I remember reading Commodore UK telling a magazine that in the USA in 1983 or 1984 it had something like 45% of the sub $1000 computer market and by 1983 the VIC-20 and C64 had exceeded total sales of the prolific Sinclair ZX81 and Spectrum computers (Timex in the USA) despite people in the UK remembering 'facts' that the C64 didn't overtake the Spectrum in sales or market share until the late eighties had arrived.

 

edit: Wikipedia 2600 page has some comments about 2600 console sales for 1979(1 million), 1980(2 million), 1981(4 billion). They do not cite sources for these figures however. Still an interesting read and it would appear within a couple of years of Space Invaders 2600 we went from hundreds of thousands to tens of millions at the peak before the video game crash in NA.

 

Wikipedia Space Invaders page also mentions that VCS Space Invaders sold approx 2 million units in its first year on sale. "It sold over two million units in its first year on sale as a home console game,[43] making it the first title to sell a million cartridges."

(I know from memory VCS Pac-man sold approx 7 million in total but not how many in the year of release).

Edited by oky2000
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