The First Wireless Controller Was for the Atari 2600

I tend to think of wireless controllers as a fairly modern invention. I spent most of my gaming existence tethered to a console, and I never gave much thought to life without a cord. Wireless controllers are something I associate with fancy HD epics, not classic pixelated titles.

But apparently, wireless controllers have been around longer than I have.

GameMate 2Way back in 1982, the Cynex Manufacturing Corp claimed to have created the very first cord-free controller. It was called the Game Mate 2, and it may or may not have been powered by lightning. It offered the charm of a standard Atari joystick without the hassle of those pesky wires.

Unfortunately, that long-distance fun came at a price. The Game Mate 2’s magic lighting was powered by antenna, which means it was almost certainly a pain in the ass. While I’ve never had the pleasure of playing wireless Asteroids, I have enough antenna experience to last a lifetime.

Envision a gaming session in which your antenna refuses to acknowledge your controller’s existence. Imagine the Dig Dug theme punctuated by the sound of antenna-induced static. There’s a good reason that this controller (and its mysterious predecessor) has been all but forgotten.

The Game Mate 2 may have been ahead of its time, but it was probably a complete nightmare. The 80s just weren’t ready for cordless gaming, and the 90s couldn’t handle it either. Wireless controllers existed long before the DualShock 3 and Nintendo WaveBird, but none of them were worth remembering.

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