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Atari Lynx

The Atari Lynx was Atari's only handheld games console, and the first such machine with a color display. It was released in 1989, the same year as Nintendo's (black and white) Game Boy.

The Atari Lynx had several innovative features including it being the first color handheld, with a backlit display, a switchable horizontal and vertical control config, and the ability to attach it to the Atari Jaguar. The latter idea was used by Nintendo in the Game Boy Advance, which may be attached to the Nintendo GameCube.

The machine was developed by Epyx[?] as the "Handy" and completed in 1987, at which point Atari bought the rights to it. Atari changed the internal speaker and removed the thumb-stick on the control pad before releasing it as the Lynx two years later, initially retailing in the US at US$189.95. Two creators of the system, Dave Needle and R.J. Mical, were also members of the Amiga design team and much to the frustration of Atari, the Amiga was used as the software development platform.

In 1991, Atari relaunched the Lynx with new packaging, new game card designs, and a new sleek black look. The new system (referred within Atari as the "Lynx II") featured rubber hand grips and a clearer backlit color screen with a power save option.

Though technologically superior to the Game Boy, Nintendo's marketing and game releases (particularly Tetris) meant the Lynx was pushed to the side. By the mid 1990s, the Atari Lynx was no longer widely available.

Specifications:

  • CPU(s): "Mikey" - 16 bit CMOS chip @ 16Mhz, 65C02 @ up to 4Mhz
  • "Suzy" - 16 bit CMOS chip @ 16Mhz
  • Graphics: 4096 color palette, 16 simultaneous, 160x102 standard resolution, 480x102 artificial resolution
  • Audio Processor: 4 channel, 8-bit DAC, handled by "Mikey"
  • RAM: 64K
  • Storage: Cartridge - 128 or 256K

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