The Atari 2600, originally released in 1977, is credited as being the first home computer games console to allow plug-in games. In reality that credit should go to the Fairchild Channel F, released a year earlier. It was the Atari 2600, however, that popularised the format. There were hundreds of cardridge games released for the Atari 2600, whereas the Fairchild only had around 30.
Typically the Atari 2600 was sold in a bundle with two joysticks and, in later releases, two paddles. You also got 1 game, Combat.
Cartridges were sold for £30 each, and with classic games like Pac-Man and Pitfall! they were worth every penny.
The Atari 2600 went through quite a few evolutions over the years. The first model was encased in wood. A year or two later Atari released a black plastic version which collectors nicknamed the Darth Vader. There was also an Atari 2600 Jr, a half-sized black plastic model, which was released in 1984.
If you haven’t had a play on an original Atari 2600, you really do need to.