I think the Atari 2600 was a quintessential component in the lives of many 80s kids. The one in the photo is the one I grew up with. It still works!
My memory tells me we got this Atari at the same time my parents were getting a new television at the Curtis Mathes store. While that is a bit fuzzy, I definitely remember the way my brother's eyes lit up when my parents got this for us. I remember tearing into it as soon as we got home, and my parents set it up for us in the family room on the old television set. We all gathered around while my dad and brother tested out Combat and Gunslinger. Then we got to take turns trying out the games. We spent hours playing. Video games became a pretty instrumental foundation in my personality.
The best memories the Atari holds for me are the ones of playing with my siblings. My older brother was the best at all the games. He would play them, beat them, then teach my sister and me how to play them. Game time was great bonding for the three of us.
My sister and I still talk about some of the games we played on this thing. We laugh about the time we saved up all those Kool-Aid points to buy the Kool-Aid Man game and one of those awesome fanny packs from the points catalog. Yep, the game is still there in the stack of cartridges. Nope, it's not for sale. ;)
Games, for me, aren't just fun, they build some fantastic experiences and deeply happy memories. As time passed we moved on to more sophisticated game systems like Nintendo. I don't think my brother lived long enough to play Nintendo. I suppose that's all the more reason my memories with the Atari 2600 as rich and fond as they are.