How to Attach an Atari 2600 to a Modern TV

By Trevor Talley

Things Needed

  • Coaxial to RCA Adapter
  • TV/Game switchbox (optional)
  • 300 to 75 Ohm matching transformer (optional)
  • VCR (optional)
  • coaxial cable (optional)
  • Composite connection cable (optional)
Modern televisions require different cables to run games than old televisions.

Retro gaming is coming back, and more people are dusting off their old gaming systems and wanting to re-experience some 8-bit game playing. However, systems like the Atari 2600 were introduced at a time when televisions were not as technologically advanced as those common today. Because of this, it requires a little bit of work to get your Atari 2600 working on your modern TV. Your Atari 2600 will either connect to your TV through your TV's coaxial connection or through a VCR.

Coaxial Connection

Your RCA cable is what connects the Atari 2600 to the television.

Find your black RCA cable coming out of your Atari 2600. This is the cable that you need to hook up to your television.

This is a coaxial cable.

Identify the coaxial connection on the back of your television. This is the threaded male part on the back of your television that is used to connect your cable television to your TV. It is usually silver and comes out of the back of the TV about half an inch.

Get your coaxial-to-RCA adapter ready. These are small, can be purchased at most electronics stores and are the easiest way to connect your Atari 2600 to a television with a coaxial connection.

Fit the RCA cable from the Atari 2600 into the coaxial-to-RCA adapter, and fit the other end into your coaxial connection on your television. Make sure the cables are snugly fit and secure.

Turn your Atari 2600 and your television on, and change your television to the channel the Atari is set to; this is usually between the channels 2 and 4.

Composite Connection

The red, white and yellow connections are composite connections.

Find your television's composite connections.

Find your black RCA cable coming out of your Atari 2600. This is the cable that you need to hook up to your television.

Get your coaxial-to-RCA adapter ready. These are small, can be purchased at most electronics stores and are the easiest way to connect your Atari 2600 to a television with a coaxial connection.

Connect the RCA cable from the Atari 2600 and a coaxial cable to the coaxial-to-RCA adapter.

Find your VCR's coaxial input connection and composite output connections.

Connect the coaxial output that you have attached to your coaxial-to-RCA adapter to the coaxial input on your VCR.

Some common composite cables.

Connect your composite cables to the composite output on your VCR.

Connect the other end of the composite cables to your TV's composite input connections.

Turn your television to the channel your VCR is coming in on (usually shown on the LCD display on the VCR) to see your Atari 2600.

Tip

You can also use a TV/Game switcher to connect to your TV's coaxial connection. These can be purchased at most electronic stores and convert a varying number of different type connections to coaxial. When using these, use one that has a coaxial output, otherwise you need to purchase a 300 to 75 Ohm Matching Transformer and connect it to your TV/Game switcher. Switchers plug into the RCA cable from your Atari 2600, into your TV/Game switcher and to the coaxial output into your television.

About the Author

Trevor Talley has been writing professionally since 2006. He works as a writing and editing tutor for his fellow students and is the editor-in-chief, head curator and head writer for multiple online publications including Doesitexplode? and SKoaB. Talley is finishing up a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas.