I'll apologize right from the start because this is fairly... not-good. But it's a story I've always wanted to share with someone who might appreciate it!
Some of my earliest memories involve playing a math-related video game in the mid-1980's. I'm not sure if I ever learned anything from it, but I did decide that I liked blue more than yellow and since that was an age where having a favorite color was vital, it seemed like major progress.
The game system stuck around for a few years and my family ended up with Pac-Man, something that was probably a variant on Asteroids, and a game with little mice being chased around a maze by cats.
And then, some time in the early-1990's, the thing stopped working entirely. I never gave it much thought, especially not after receiving a brand new Super Nintendo for Christmas one year.
Years later, when I realized that all my other toys were being remade for the current generation, I started wondering what that game system actually was, if only to answer my own question.
I tried explaining the set up to a few of my friends at work and the moment I said 'joysticks and cartridges', they always said: "Oh, you had an Atari!"
I was fairly sure that I would have remembered the name 'Atari'. In fact, I was mostly sure it was more of a computer than a game system.
"Oh, you had an Atari," someone else would say. "You're getting confused with something else."
I really didn't think it had been an Atari, but I accepted it and continued building my current video game collection.
I hadn't yet decided to join any internet communities dedicated just to gaming and wasn't sure how to search for 'I really don't think it was an Atari' when I found a book on Amazon detailing just about every game system from the 1970's to the present.
Within days I'd discovered that I'd wasted countless joyful hours of my childhood with a TI99/4a, which my father confirmed upon seeing the picture with "Hey, that's that thing we used to have!"
I never have had an Atari.