The Coleco Gemini is a game system made for playing all Atari 2600 cartridges. It has a rather basic streamlined shape and uses a combination joystick and paddle controller as its standard controller, though it is fully compatible with all Atari 2600 controllers. The controllers of the Gemini are known as the best controllers to play Atari 2600 games with, and the Coleco Gemini also inspired the sleek design for later consoles.
In 1982, Coleco released Expansion Module #1 for its ColecoVision video game system using off-the-shelf components, that enabled the ColecoVision to be compatible with the Atari 2600. Atari sued Coleco for patent infringement; however, a court ruled that since Coleco used off-the-shelf components and not the same components found inside an Atari 2600, the Expansion Module #1 did not infringe on Atari's patents for the 2600. With this ruling, Coleco decided to make a stand-alone Atari 2600 clone and named it the Gemini.
Gemini vs. 2600
The main difference between the Coleco Gemini and the Atari 2600 is the controller design. The Coleco Gemini controllers featured an 8-way joystick and a 270-degree paddle on the same controller (the joystick was at the top of the controller, and the paddle was at the bottom of the controller). To play paddle games, a Y-connector was used to connect two controllers to the controller jack at the same time.
The Gemini was much more compact than the large faux-woodgrain consoles sold by Atari at the time. The small design of the Gemini may have inspired the sleek design of the re-released 2600 in the late 1980s.
The Gemini also had a more alluring game offering included with the system. Atari was still including the venerable Combat game released in 1977. The Gemini most commonly included the ever-popular Donkey Kong, but at some point also included Carnival and Mouse Trap. Sears also offered a version of the Gemini with both Donkey Kong and Mouse Trap included as separate cartridges.
Coleco struck a deal with Columbia House to start a video game club similar to its record club. Columbia sold the Coleco Gemini as the Columbia Home Arcade through the Columbia House Video Game Club. In Canada, CBS Electronics sold the Gemini under the Columbia Home Arcade name.
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