• 1989 September 01

Hardware Description

The Atari Lynx is a 16-bit handheld game console that was released by Atari Corporation in September 1989. The Lynx holds the distinction of being the world's first handheld electronic game with a color LCD. The Atari Lynx's innovative features include being the first color handheld, with a backlit display, a switchable right-handed/left-handed (upside down) configuration, and the ability to network with up to 15 other units via its Comlynx system (though most games would network eight or fewer players). Comlynx was originally developed to run over infrared links (and was codenamed RedEye). This was changed to a cable-based networking system before the final release. According to Peter Engelbrite, when players walked through the beam, the link would be interrupted. The maximum stable connection allowed was eight players. Engelbrite also developed the first recordable eight-player co-op game, and the only eight-player game for the Atari Lynx, Todd's Adventures in Slime World, using the Comlynx system. Each Lynx needed a copy of the game, and one cable could connect two machines. The cables could be connected into a chain. The Lynx was cited as the "first gaming console with hardware support for zooming and distortion of sprites". Featuring a 4096 color palette and integrated math and graphics co-processors (including a blitter unit), its pseudo-3D color graphics display was said to be the key defining feature in the system's competition against Nintendo's monochromatic Game Boy. The fast pseudo-3D graphics features were made possible on a minimal hardware system by co-designer Dave Needle having "invented the technique for planar expansion/shrinking capability" and using stretched, textured, triangles instead of full polygons.
Date discontinued: