Before Nintendo and Sega rolls from the ashes from the dreaded video game crash, Atari was the company that stood above all. Dominating the video game industry, Atari consoles were truly revolutionary and deserve their place in video game history. But experimenting with the video game market came an unreleased console that was intriguing to say the least.
The Cosmos was Atari's experiment in holographic video game technology. Atari purchased all the rights possible for anything to do with holography and began to work on a new table top based game which would allow eight different games to work with eight different holographic backdrops. The games weren't actually 3D holographic games however. But moving LED's via a transparent holographic image to add more of an environment to the game is something else than just simply have a bunch of flashing LED lights on a screen such as handhelds from Mattel Electronics and Coleco Electronics did.
Work on the Cosmos began in 1978 and was to have nine released games. All of the games logic was included within the Cosmos itself making Cosmos a dedicated console, cartridges would provide the holographic images and just indicate which game it was, though Atari Inc. didn't make this fact public.
The console wouldn't use batteries but an AC adapter and would support two players game play. Advertisement made for the console before Cosmos actually cancelled and boxes were also manufactured with Atari claiming that the holographic images were lifelike and 3D. In 1981 Cosmos was exhibited in 1981 Toy Fare. Reviewers were extremely critical of the system, but Atari stood by it and managed to obtain 8,000 preorders at the show alone. There is also an engineering log that indicated that a 250 unit run was to be made. However, in the end of 1981 Atari pulled the plug.
Interesting facts about Atati Cosmos:
The Atari Cosmos used the same CPU chip that was later used in the Entex's Adventure Vision. The chip was called COPS411.
The price of each game was expected to cost as low as $10-$12 each.
Only five Cosmos units are know to exist. The three of them are empty mock up shells shown at the World of Atari show in 1998 in Las Vegas and the other two units are fully functional. One empty shell and one fully functional unit are owned by the Atari History Museum, while the other functional unit is owned by a former Atari employee.
Atari Cosmos is considered one of the rarest unreleased Atari products and is a part of Atari History Museum exhibits. The titles of the unreleased games are: Asteroids, Basketball, Dodge 'Em, Football, Outlaw, Road Runner, Sea Battle, Space Invaders and Superman
Below you can watch a retro video about Atari Cosmos: