Atari 2600 Controls A Robot
After my Atari 2600 sent hordes of blocky robots after me in countless games, I shouldn't be so surprised that Atari was working on a real robot that could be the henchman of the humble brains of the VCS. The image above is a Polaroid of a mini Androman (later renamed Atariman) that would interact with a 2600 game. The moves you made in the game would control the actual Androman robot's course on a 3D map. You scored points for the fastest and most efficient programs.
You may recognize this robot as part of a series of robots developed by Nolan Bushnell's (Atari's founder) Androbot company. Androbots were designed as educational add-ons to Apple II computers, but eventually Atari computers could control them as well. I don't believe that this mini version ever existed as a retail product (the photo is from Atari's prototyping lab), but it sounds like it could have been a viable product considering the amazing feats the 2600 is still performing today.
It's been a long time since I've seen a robot programming kit packaged as fun and educational. The only thing I can think of outside of Lego's Mindstorms is the cheesy robot that came with the mid 80's Nintendo system. Am I alone in still wanting a home robot to be my best friend? I just don't see myself snuggling up to my Roomba.
Thanks to the Atari Museum for uncovering the photo.
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