I spotted it on page 597 of the 1983 Sears Christmas catalog. “Two big names play the same games,” the headline boasted. Next to the venerable Atari 2600, Sears presented the Coleco Gemini video game system, an Atari 2600 clone.
In 1982, Coleco built an add-on to make its Coleco Vision game system Atari 2600-compatible. Atari sued. Coleco poked the bear by making the Gemini, an outright clone. Sears had sold Atari 2600 clones before, but they were actually real Atari 2600s with a different label on them, supplied by Atari itself. The Gemini was more of a true Atari 2600 clone.
The venerable Atari 2600 turned 35 this past weekend. People of a certain age remember it as the device that ushered in home video games. I know I spent a lot of afternoons after school playing blocky, chirpy video games on them in the early 1980s.
The 2600 wasn’t the first cartridge-based console, but it was the first widely successful one. It even spawned clones, the private-label Sears Video Arcade and the Coleco Gemini.