The Atari 2600 is a video game console released in October 1977 by Atari, Inc.
It is credited with popularizing the use of microprocessor-based hardware and
cartridges containing game code, instead of having non-microprocessor dedicated
hardware with all games built in. The first game console to use this format was
the Fairchild Channel F; however, the Atari 2600 receives credit for making the
plug-in concept popular among the game-playing public.
The console was originally sold as the Atari VCS, for Video Computer System.
Following the release of the Atari 5200, in 1982, the VCS was renamed "Atari
2600", after the unit's Atari part number, CX2600. The 2600 was typically
bundled with two joystick controllers, a conjoined pair of paddle controllers,
and a cartridge game—initially Combat and later Pac-Man.
The Atari 2600 was wildly successful, and during much of the 1980s, "Atari" was
a synonym for this model in mainstream media and, by extension, for video games
The Atari 2600 was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong in
Rochester, NY in 2007. In 2009, the Atari 2600 was named the second greatest
video game console of all time by IGN.
Stella is an emulator for the Atari 2600 game console, and takes its name from
the console's codename. It is open source, and runs on most major modern
platforms including Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Windows CE/Mobile, Dreamcast,
GP2X, Nintendo DS, and Wii. Stella was originally written in 1996 by Bradford W.
Mott (originally known as Stella ), and is now maintained by Stephen Anthony.
Stella is written in the C++ programming language and thus is highly portable.
 The emulator supports all Atari 2600 cartridge bank switching schemes and
has support for nearly all Atari 2600 titles. Support is included for NTSC, PAL
and SECAM in 60Hz/50Hz varieties, including autodetection of those formats
(based on the number of scanlines generated in each frame).
Stella emulates most Atari 2600 peripheral devices, including standard
joysticks, paddle controllers, the Atari Video Touch Pad, the Atari Keyboard
Controller, Atari Indy 500 Driving Controllers, the CBS Booster-Grip controller,
the CX-22/CX-80/AmigaMouse trackball controllers, the Sega Genesis controller,
and the AtariVox and SaveKey controllers. Stelladaptor and 2600-daptor support
allows real joysticks, paddles, and driving controllers to be used, and support
is also included to access a real AtariVox device plugged into a serial port
(and actually generate sound from the AtariVox device). Stella does not yet
support the Spectravideo Compumate or cassette-based titles designed to work
with the Coleco KidVid cassette player but does have support for titles designed
to work with the Starpath Supercharger.
Stella includes many facilities for homebrew developers, including an extensive
built-in interactive debugger and disassembler supporting breakpoints,
read/write traps, etc. Other major features include a cheatcode system, support
for user-defined palette files, state loading/saving, OpenGL rendering and
effects, event remapping, and an extensive built-in, cross-platform user
interface (including a ROM launcher frontend).