How to Hook Up an Atari 2600 Game System

Written by nick grimes
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How to Hook Up an Atari 2600 Game System
Modern televisions can still run antique hardware like the Atari 2600. (tv control and tv 3 image by chrisharvey from

The Atari 2600 is a classic video game console from the first wave of home consoles. The system plays host to old-school games like Pac-Man and Dig-Dug, and the hardware itself has become an iconic part of gaming history. If you have located an Atari 2600 at a garage sale or thrift store, you may be wondering how to hook it up to a modern television. While the technologies may be separated by decades of advancements, they are still compatible.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Atari 2600 console
  • Matched pair to F-connector cable adaptor
  • Television with VHF input

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  1. 1

    Attach the adaptor to the antenna cable of your Atari 2600. The antenna cable comes off the side of the 2600's switchbox and terminates in two exposed wires. These need to be screwed onto the ports of an F-connector VHF adaptor.

  2. 2

    Connect the adaptor to the VHF port (sometimes marked "Aerial") of your television.

  3. 3

    Connect the power adaptor and switchbox to your Atari 2600. Turn on the console.

  4. 4

    Turn on your television and cycle through the channels until you find the output from your Atari 2600. The channel your Atari 2600 uses can be changed using the switch on the bottom-right hand corner of the console; the defaults are channels three or four.

Tips and warnings

  • If you do not have the switchbox for your Atari 2600, you can also purchase a direct connection adaptor (see Resources). This adaptor connects the RCA jack of your Atari 2600 to the VHF connector on your modern television.

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