Original "VAL" Game Console from the WCI New York Atari Labs.
Blue version done in the Sunnyvale, CA. Atari engineering labs
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 Gregg Squires, head of the Atari
NY engineering lab. 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 all black
version. Apparently Atari under Warner Communications was concerned
about all the competition from other system manufacturers and commissioned
a new 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 seperation of joysticks,
control, feel and design. As a result the dimensions
of the VAL and the design of the joysticks were the result.
The original designation of the unit was the Atari CX-2500.
Originally designed in the Atari dark brown coloring and with a set of
much sturdier joysticks, the units were sent to Atari Sunnyvale for additional
market study and work to be done. After the unit was
received in Sunnyvale, the color of the case was changed to blue.
Mysteriously the joysticks on these units and the earlier brown units had
the joystick stabilizer rings removed and this made the whole unit work
in a very flimsy manner. 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. The "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.