Since this is the first section I'm writing about an Atari console, let me
just say that I didn't grow up playing Atari games. In fact,
everyone I know used to call video game consoles "Atari's". The
genuine brand had no special significance or meaning to any of us,
probably because the company was at its height of success before I was
even born. Having said that, Atari was responsible for a line of
successful consoles and daring ideas that paved the way for many other
companies to make it big in the industry. There's more information
about its legendary consoles in other sections.
The idea for a portable Atari console first came up in 1981 in the form of the Atari 2200; a smaller-sized 2600 that would have the advantage of being self-contained and not requiring it to be wired up to a TV screen. The design of the system, however, proved disappointing and unfeasible in terms of portability and so the concept was abandoned the following year.
In 1987, a small company called Epyx managed to complete a design for a revolutionary new portable game system called the Handy. Unfortunately, they didn't have the financial capability to produce it. Atari seized the opportunity and bought the full rights to the Handy, renaming it Lynx and releasing it two years later. Why it took two years to get it to the market is anyone's guess. The Lynx was the first color-screened handheld ever!
In 1989, Atari released a second version of the Lynx with a number of improvements including an extra hour of battery life, a sharper LCD screen, a button to switch off the backlight (to save on battery power when games are paused), a Power LED (it blinked when the battery was low) and rubber grips on the back, all encased in a smaller more rectangle-looking black casing. The Lynx II was backward-compatible with all Lynx games and was later advertised as being able to communicate directly with the upcoming 64-bit Jaguar.
Sales were very good for quite some time, however, rival companies such as NEC soon started making things uncomfortable for Atari with the release of their TurboExpress. Nintendo and Sega did their part too with their Game Boy and Game Gear, respectively. A few years after the re-release in 1991, stores started favoring other handhelds over the Lynx, causing it to die a slow death.
Accessories for the Lynx included the ComLynx cable for multiplayer games, AC adaptor, cigarette lighter adaptor, sun shield/sun guard, battery pack (D type) and a carrying case.
The Lynx retailed for $189.95. Over 100 games were released for the system, which by the way was based on Amiga software, and another 50 were sadly never released.
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