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December 14, 2005

Atari vs Intellivision

I think it was 1980, and I was 8 years old.

We were living at our new home in Richboro, with 4 bedrooms, a backyard and every year was better than the last. Christmas was approaching, and this was the first year that I learned there wasn't a Santa.

I was the youngest of four children, and my siblings were tired of the smoke and mirror games. Actually, I think just my brother was the one really tired of it. He was 11 and decided to break the news to me, because he sometimes was a bastard like that. 90% of our childhood was the normal fun stuff and there was a solid 10% of bastard-ass things he did to me that wasn't very big brotherly - just cruel.

So no longer under the guise of thinking that Santa was coming, I knew that my parents were going to get me a gift. Cool. My brother and I really had one gift we really wanted - Intellivision.

Everyone knew about the Atari, but the Intellivision's graphics were so much cooler. We were chomping at the bit to get this system, and made it very clear to our parents we were dying to get this - but, we, of course, had no concept of money.

This one Christmas I woke up early. I remember it was dawn, and maybe 6am. I looked out my window and saw the light and was so excited - IT WAS CHRISTMAS! I couldn't wait to play my Intellivision, and quietly crept downstairs to see the presents.

Each step I took I was sure I would hear my fathers booming voice come from his room, "FUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRREEEEEEEYYYYYYY!"

But nothing came.

I got down the stairs and looked around the living room, and saw presents and gifts all arranged. I tried to discern which one would be the intellivision game, but couldn't. I was so excited I loved the sneakiness of it all at the same time.

I thought: Hee hee hee - i'm up an no one knows it. Hee hee hee. Ooh, look at this present for me. I wonder what it is. Probably a powder blue sweater.

After a bit of snooping, I went back upstairs and into my bed and patiently waited until I heard my parents alarm go off at 7:30am. The kids milled around the upstairs and started our Christmas Routine.

Every Christmas Routine was the same. My father and mother would go downstairs and get the film camera ready. The kids would wait at the top of the stairs and everyone would come running down, so my father could capture the picture of the kids going bonkers over their presents. I haven't watched those films in a long time, I can only imagine the chaos.

After getting downstairs, and tearing open the presents as fast as a human child could - my brother and I never found the Intellivision. We were crushed. Sure, there were games, toys and tinkets strewn for us to play with but we wanted that ONE present so badly.

Until my father said, "I think there is another present in our bedroom."

With delight my brother and I rushed up the stairs, nearly tripping over each other to get into my parents bedroom. There, under their TV was a very large present!

Oh, with glee we ripped open the wrapping paper like wolves on a deer. Then we see:

Atari 2600.

Atari? ATARI? We don't want ATARI. There must be a mistake here, we were specific we wanted INTELLIVISION, not Atari!!!

I don't remember my exact words, but somehow I formed my displeasure as best I could as an 8 year old, whining on Christmas morning to his father, who provided as best he could on his middle-class salary. His response was a classic, at least if you were in my family:

"Fine! You don't want it? I'll take it back and you get NOTHING!"

My mother chided him by saying "Frank!" in her upset voice.

My 8 year old brain, quickly assessed the situation. It was amazing how fast I switched from being an Intellivsion fan into an Atari fan. I embraced that box like I was holding the virgin child himself and expressed my happiness and joy over the Atari.

My father seemed to think that was good and left me alone with my bastard child gaming system, the Atari. I grudingly set the system up, and so began many years of competitive games of my brother and me trying to prove who had the faster reflexes.

I'm not proud of my reaction to this day and I write this because its a recurring memory every Christmas season. I still can remember how unhappy my father was at my reaction to the Atari. I'm sure I came off as an ungrateful son. It was just one of many learning experiences over my life about the fine art of learning to keep my big mouth shut. I'm still working on it, even today.

Posted by Furey at December 14, 2005 12:36 AM


YOu at least got real Atari - we had Collecovision with the atari attachment.

Posted by: marisa at December 16, 2005 4:56 PM

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