Kids Playing Atari in Department Store, 1981

Kids Playing Atari 1980

The year is a guess, and the exact location is unknown. I’m going with 1980 because that’s when Intellivision (carts in the glass cabinet on the left) was released nationwide. The Atari 400 and 800 came out in November of ’79, and the Odyssey² came out in ’78. The original Magnavox Odyssey hit shelves in 1972. The ping-pong game that came with it inspired Pong.

I can’t tell what’s playing on the 400, but somebody’s playing Space Invaders on the screen to the far left. It doesn’t look like any of the Atari versions, so maybe my year is off after all. It could be Intellivision’s Space Armada (1981), but there’s more space between the aliens in that game.

UPDATE: The year is at least 1981. Lefty Limbo spotted the Asteroids 2600 cart (1981) on the top row of the front glass cabinet. Title updated accordingly.

(Photo via Historic Images/eBay)

15 Responses to “Kids Playing Atari in Department Store, 1981”


  1. 1 leftylimbo October 8, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Date has to be at least 1981, if IGN is correct about the Asteroids release (see the game box in the glass case, just right of the guy on left).

    The shape of the barricades leads me to believe that it’s Space Invaders indeed on that far left screen…perhaps it’s a computer version that was released after ’81? Sometimes a year can make all the difference.

    Something about the architecture and fashion give me the impression that this is either somewhere in the Midwest or East Coast. I don’t recall seeing columns like that in any of the major retailers out here, especially not in the onset of the ’80s, when everything started looking futuristic. Then again, who knows?

  2. 2 2W2N October 8, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    Didn’t even see that Asteroids box. Good call. All the different console versions are here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Space_Invaders_video_games

    They don’t look like any of them, but I guess it could be the TV.

    Definitely not west coast. My first thought was Philly or NYC.

  3. 3 leftylimbo October 8, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    My thoughts exactly—I actually thought Philly right off the bat, and I’m not even sure why.

  4. 4 2W2N October 8, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    You can read the sign on the left, under Space Invaders: Mattel’s Intellivision System… $299.99.

  5. 5 leftylimbo October 8, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    Wow, $299. We mostly shopped at the local Fedco out here, and the most I ever saw the Atari VCS go for in ’80–’81 was $249. My dad wouldn’t budge until it dropped to $119. lol

    • 6 Jason October 9, 2013 at 2:29 am

      I remember getting ours at the local Service Merchandise for, I believe, $129.99. That would have been roughly 1982, and after months and months of begging on my part.

  6. 7 Jason October 9, 2013 at 12:35 am

    From my youth in the mid/late 70s, I can remember plenty of old-school department stores still sporting the neo-classical look left over from the 50s and 60s around the upstate NY area. This store would have been typical amongst numerous cities, so I can’t place it. Notice how it resembles a converted perfume or jewelry counter…

  7. 9 Fractalbat October 9, 2013 at 3:18 am

    I spent so much time at counters like this.

  8. 11 Steve October 9, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Shadowed and highlighted areas revealed more, so you can see more details. Looks like Missile Command on that center screen:

    http://twitpic.com/dgosbp/full

  9. 14 Steve October 9, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    You’re welcome. If anyone has Photoshop, it’s just Image > Adjustments > Shadow/Hightlight – it exaggerates the smallest variations in areas that seem like they’re pretty much one color/tone, so you can see the small variations in there.


  1. 1 Sears Tele-Games Demonstration Center, 1977 | 2 Warps to Neptune Trackback on December 1, 2015 at 3:41 pm

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