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.

About The Author

Super Mario 64 Was Ultra Game Player Magazine’s 1996 Game of the Year
How Gamers Took Screenshots in the 90s
Mega Man 2’s Box Art Explained by Artist Marc Ericksen
Video Game Box Art Documentary Lands on Kickstarter