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CVC’s GameLine Atari Cart Was A Lot Like Xbox Live – Except Back In 1983

CVC GameLine Atari Cart (Image courtesy Kotaku)
By Andrew Liszewski

Kotaku has a great post this morning about the CVC, or Control Video Corporation’s GameLine Atari 2600 cart which let you download games over a phone connection, way back in 1983. The $60 cartridge was both a storage unit and modem in one, and rolled into the cost was a year’s subscription to the GameLine service which was the only way you could download titles. At launch there were about 75 games available, and the idea seemed very promising, even given what we would consider pretty dated technology at this point.

Unfortunately you’ve probably never heard of the GameLine cart because it wasn’t exactly a runaway success. The company was never able to sign any of the big game publishers of the time, and there was an additional $1 fee to download a game. A game that would actually ‘expire’ after a week’s time, requiring you to buy it again if you wanted to keep playing. (So in fact it was more like a rental service.) The crash of the video game market in the mid ’80s took the GameLine with it, but apparently many of the people behind CVC went on to form a new company called Quantum Computer Services, which also dabbled in online gaming. Never heard of them either? That’s because in 1991 they changed their name to America Online, and eventually, AOL…

[ Kotaku - You Could Actually Download Atari 2600 Games (on an Atari 2600!) ]







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  • Anonymous

    In the 90’s I had Sega Channel. I don’t remember how much it cost per month but was the same idea. Games came through over Comcast cable tv lines but it still seemed to take forever to download them (if i remember correctly)