Company: Atari
Model #:
Mark Ackerman, Glen Parker, & Tom Calderwood (GCC)
Year: 1983
Mark Ackerman was granted a patent for his technique of displaying 8 players across the playfield when the hardware normally only allowed 4


While it may not be as well known as its sequel Galaga, Galaxian still holds an important place in videogame history as one of the forerunners of the "Space Shooter" genre.  The game concept is simple; stop an army of rampaging aliens from destroying the planet by shooting everything that moves.  While this may not sound like anything we all haven't heard a thousand times before, back in 1979 it was a new concept.


The Galaxians march back and forth at the top of the screen closely packed together in formation sporadically firing missiles as they go.  Every now and then a group of Galaxians will attempt to dive-bomb your ship with some aerial acrobatics and a barrage of missile fire.  Producing these effects on an arcade machine may not have been a big challenge, but on the 2600 it was almost unthinkable.  Getting the 2600 to display seven moving aliens on one line without massive flicker required major programming tricks, getting them to dive-bomb was another task altogether.



According to programmer Mark Ackerman, the reason Galaxian is able to display up to eight objects on is that "You freak out the graphics chip by strobing the registers in exactly the right order at the right times".  This technique made games like Galaxian possible on the limited 2600 hardware.  Mark's technique was so impressive, that he was granted a patent for it.


While Galaxian may have been a unique concept back in 1979, by the time the 2600 version was released in 1983 it had been vastly improved upon by its sequel Galaga.  Atari had planned to release Galaga for the 2600, but it was ultimately cancelled due to the 2600's limitations.  When plans for the Atari 7800 were finalized, it was then decided that Galaga would be a 7800 launch title.  While it may not be as flashy as it's cousin, Galaxian still offers solid gameplay and decent graphics.  Galaxian was yet another arcade license that helped the 2600 become the most popular system of its day.


Version Cart Text Description
12/3/82 Galaxian 005-01 Ship is invincible
1/5/83 Galaxian 005-01 Late WIP
Very late beta
3/16/83 Galaxian 074 Final Version


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