Atari Lynx

Atari's 1989 color, backlit handheld console

Overview

The Atari Lynx was released in 1989 by Atari Corporation, based upon an Epyx design. The design was completed two years earlier, but Epyx did not have the capital to produce the system themselves. Atari had considered entering the portable market in 1981 with of a portable console called the Atari 2200; a smaller version of the Atari 2600, with an internal screen. This never came to fruition as it was not deemed cost-effective.

The Lynx was highly advanced for the time, and was the first handheld console with a fully backlit screen and 16-bit technology. Further, a Lynx is ambidextrous with a simple flip. In 1991, Atari released the updated Lynx II. Slightly smaller than the original and with improved aesthetics, it is still quite large and bulky compared to other contemporary consoles. Over 100 games were released for the system over its life span, and it had an estimated 500,000 user install base worldwide.

Criticisms of the console are generally regarding the relatively large size, short battery life, and lack of third-party support. The Nintendo Game Boy and the Sega Game Gear both dominated the market into the early nineties, though the Lynx continued to do well, particularly in Europe. By 1996, Atari ceased production of the system.

Today the Atari Lynx still has a dedicated cult following, with some developers and private individuals still making and producing games for the platform. In 2008 the system, and Atari were honored by the 59th annual technology and engineering Emmy awards, for pioneering the handheld gaming platform.

Hardware

CPU - Dual 16-bit CMOS, Mikey & Suzy (16MHZ)

RAM - 64KB DRAM.

On Screen Colors - 4096 (16 simultaneous per scan line).

Screen Resolution - 160x102 Pixels.

Screen - LCD 82.55mm x 47.75mm and (88.9mm/3.5" diagonal).

Sound - 8-bit 4 channel (mono for Lynx I and Stereo sound for Lynx II).

Game Cartridge - 2MB (16Mbit).

Power Supply - AC adapter or batteries.

Battery Life - 4 hours for the Lynx I and 5 hours for Lynx II (6 AA batteries Alkaline).

Launch titles in North America

  • Blue Lightning
  • California Games
  • Electrocop
  • Gates of Zendocon

Atari Lynx games