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Color Bar Generator (Atari 2600) artwork

Color Bar Generator (Atari 2600) review


"Long ago, when dinosaurs ruled the earth and I was in elementary school, consumer electronics were not as reasonably priced as they are now. For example, my father bought a 19'' console color TV (''console'' means the whole unit was designed to sit on the floor) for the princely sum of $699 in 1984. (In 2004 dollars, that's $1237.88). "



Long ago, when dinosaurs ruled the earth and I was in elementary school, consumer electronics were not as reasonably priced as they are now. For example, my father bought a 19'' console color TV (''console'' means the whole unit was designed to sit on the floor) for the princely sum of $699 in 1984. (In 2004 dollars, that's $1237.88).

So, you say, what the heck does this have to do with ''Color Bar Generator''! Well, if your TV was broken, you didn't just run out and buy a new one. You took it back to where it was purchased and had it repaired. And that is where ''Color Bar Generator'' enters the picture.

''Color Bar Generator'' (or CBG as us hip industry guys say) was not a game but a diagnostic tool for these television repairmen of days gone by. Your television repairman would install a new picture tube, and then he'd have to adjust the tube to the right color settings and alignment. Using an Atari 2600 and the CBG cartridge, he could do this without calling CBS and asking what color Holly's dress was on The Price is Right.

So, as a diagnostic tool it was pretty versatile. There were 15 different patterns it could generate as well as an option to toggle oscillation between 1kHz and 3kHz. The included patterns allowed you to test all aspects of the video signal. Smearing, crossfading, uniform changes in luminance amplitude, vertical and horizontal linearity, malfunction of the DC coupling, and color purity were among the tests offered by the CBG. It was NTSC only, so it was useless for work on PAL sets, which gets it marked down to a 7.

I'd imagine that this cart was sold out of the back of magazines like Poptronics. It's like the predecessor of video diagnostic software that's sold out of the back of Poptronics today.

If you like to tinker around with old television sets and you have an Atari and the patience of Ghandi it would take to find this cartridge anywhere, you could get some use out of the CBG. If not, there's really nothing to recommend for you here. You could use the rom and an emulator to straighten out your monitor problems, if you have any. But, with the exception of electronics hobbyists, the CBG ends up being one of interest only to collectors of rare and strange video game artifacts.


Rating: 7/10

ddsilver's avatar
Community review by ddsilver (October 26, 2004)

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zippdementia posted July 22, 2012:

What?! I have to give props to Honest Gamers for having a review of this. This is one of the more hilarious things I've encountered on the site.

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