By Andrew Liszewski
eBay seller Atarimuseum has recently put up a collection of rare Atari items for auction, including this prototype handheld Super Breakout game. It’s one of only two known existing units, and it was originally purchased directly from Linda Whitten who had actually designed it for Atari’s Consumer Electronics Division.
The Atari Museum website has a page dedicated to the handheld, which was supposed to be released sometime in 1980 along with a Space Invaders version. The old black and white marketing photo I’ve included above gives you an idea of how large the game was, since the eBay photo doesn’t give much size reference. While the LCD screen is small by today’s standards, the unit is actually not that big considering the technology it uses is almost 30 years old.
Unfortunately these were created well before Nintendo released the GameBoy which revolutionized the handheld gaming industry. As a result the Atari management didn’t feel that the sluggish handheld market at the time was worth pursuing, so the plug was pulled on these before they ever went into production. Now I’m a huge fan of handheld gaming, and if this prototype actually worked I’d be really tempted to toss in a bid or two. But since it’s just a mockup, I’ll let someone else shell out $385 (current bid) for the privilege of owning it.