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Video Games :: Other Products & Prototypes :: Video Music

During the 70's, some products were under development at Atari that probably defined the early Atari in a nutshell...  Many of the strange and wonderful toys being built by the Atari folks at the time were cutting edge, such as Atari's obsession with holography and its possible application in video entertainment (end product, the "Cosmos", more info on this soon).

Some products however, were at the "trippy" edge, possibly designed while on a "tea" break or something?  The Video Music was released to the surprised consumer in 1978.  It was actually designed by Rob Brown, an Engineering Supervisor.  Resembling an expensive hi-fi separate of the time, it had sleek wood-grained sides and a modern brushed chrome fascia.

The idea behind the video music is simple - produce graphical representations of musical input on a standard TV screen.  The next time Atari would emulate this concept was in the CD-ROM hardware of the Jaguar video games console, it has a built-in light synthesizer called VLM, or Video Light Machine.  Of course, compared to today's on-screen graphics, the Video Music's output is very basic and in many ways emulates the graphical ability of the original Atari 2600 VCS.

Today, the video music is a rare and wonderful piece of Atari History.  You may have even passed upon one at a Yard sale or second-hand electrical store but not have realised.  Only released in the USA, units in Europe are only imported by collectors.

Want to see how it works?  Here are some cleaned scans of the original manual sent to us.  The images are large at 1118 x 563 pixels and show the pages together as they would be viewed in the manual.  We have optimised these to ensure they are readable, but also as small in size as possible.







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