The Atari CX-2000

Codenamed: VAL



   The Atari CX-2000 (nicknamed "Val")  is a very interesting prototype. The CX-2000 is actually a low cost version of the Atari 2600 designed in 1982 at the WCI Atari New York lab by Steve Mayer and Gregg Squires. The nickname "VAL" was for Greggs wife. Five years after the initial Atari 2600 was sold, the only other improvement to the 2600 line before this was the introduction of a 4 switch cost reduced version and then an all black version. Apparently Atari under Warner Communications was concerned about all the competition from other system manufacturers and commissioned a new ultra low cost 2600 to be designed in 1982 as a replacement to the aging 2600 console. The console was conceived after extensive Human Factors analysis by a company called Henry Dreyfuss Associates who conducted various studies on controller design, distance for separation of joysticks, control, feel and design.     As a result of the analysis, the dimensions of the VAL and the design of the joysticks were finalized.  Although the joystick ended up being a hybrid of two of the most chosen designs.



 The original designation of the unit was the Atari CX-2500.   Originally designed in the Atari dark brown coloring and using an Industrial design firm located in New York instead of Atari's Sunnyvale ID department, the unit didn't conform the Atari's "Look & Feel" standards.   The unit came equipped with built in joysticks, the unit could accept external periperhals such as standard Atari joysticks, paddle and kepad controllers.    Cartridges were to be inserted into the rear of the unit along with power and RF output.



        The motherboard itself only occupies two thirds of the case, the remaining area is taken up by the built in joysticks which rest atop mylar touch-sensitive plastic.    Below is an inside view of the Sunnyvale Val:




The earlier Brown WCI/NY Val shown here is actually the very first prototype hand sample.  So early the case was hand cast and the internal motherboard doesn't even have a cartridge connector on it and the mylar joystick circuit boards aren't even done in it yet.




 "VAL" project was eventually halted, however the original idea of a newer low cost 2600 did continue and was brought to final product as the Atari 2600jr.

        Actually when the 2600jr project was being developed by Atari, Inc under Warner Communications, the project  nicknamed "Bonnie" and at one point "Janis" was designated the Atari 2100.     For those who have been curious enough to open a 2600jr, you will note that the system board is (c) 1983.   The 2600jr was designed by Atari, Inc under Warner Communications, the 2600jr. was actually competition to the CX-2000, engineers in Sunnyvale Atari labs didn't like the CX-2000 and the 2600jr. was their response to it.   The 2600jr. has the name "ACTION" on it, that may have been its nickname under the Tramiel owned Atari.

        Another side note:   Certain Atari Engineering Logbooks show that the Atari 7800, once completed, would then be introduced as a newer "Low Cost 7800" and they were considering the use of the Atari 2100 case (later known as the 2600jr case).   This version of Atari 7800 was never designed.

UPDATE: Oct 7, 2017 - While reviewing documents in the Atari Museum archives, a second storage tube of Atari 2000 drawings were found.   These drawings appear to show that Sunnyvale Atari was also working on a version of the CX-2000 without joysticks: