The Atari 2600 was released on October 14, 1977 in North America. The console was originally priced at US$199, and shipped with two joysticks and a Combat cartridge (eight additional games were available at launch and sold separately).
The console was originally sold as the Atari VCS (for Video Computer System). Following the release of the Atari 5200 in 1982, the VCS was renamed Atari 2600, after the unit's Atari part number CX2600.
The Atari VCS was developed under the project codename 'Stella'.
It is rumored that the number 2600 was chosen because 2600 cycles was a prominent long distance access tone, and that one of the developers had created devices that would trick pay phones into granting long distance access as a hobby.