Atari Lynx

The Atari Lynx was the first handheld console with color screen and was manufactured by Atari in the 1990s.


The Lynx was originally developed by the game company Epyx under the code name " mobile ", which had become known primarily by their sports games for the Commodore C64. Atari bought the console and developed it to an end.

The Lynx was introduced to the American public in the summer of 1989. Atari delivered but by the end of the year only a few copies to dealers, so that the Christmas season has been with Nintendo's competing model, the Game Boy, made, which was also introduced in the summer of the same year. Sales remained sluggish in 1990. In 1991, Atari Lynx, a revision of the model on the market, as referred Lynx II. The Lynx II differs from its predecessor by a more compact housing, the ability to turn off the backlight of the display and stereo sound at the headphone output. Also, the onset of the memory modules is easily solved with the Lynx II and not as stiff.

The graphical possibilities offered by the Lynx, were revolutionary in its day for a handheld. The liquid crystal panel of the Lynx had a resolution of 160 × 102 pixels and has 16 colors from a palette of 4096 colors represent. The screen had a backlight, so that could be played in complete darkness. The display quality of the LCD display but with today's color displays - such as they are, for example, built into mobile phones or portable consoles from Nintendo and Sony - not comparable. The contrast was weak by today's standards and the viewing angle is very narrow.

The Lynx dominated hardware scrolling and sprites and has a graphics chip ( often misdiagnosed as 3D chip called ), can rotate and scale of the raster graphics. With a push of a button allows the console to left-handed operation switch. The picture and the assignment of the control cross are then rotated by 180 degrees. Up to eight Lynx consoles can be connected together via the so-called PowerLynx port for multiplayer games. With fresh batteries, the Lynx can operate for about four to five hours. The high battery consumption stems primarily from the backlight of the screen here. From Atari there was an adapter for the standard in cars and other vehicles 12 -volt power outlet ( cigarette lighter).

Most games for the Lynx are implementations of classic Atari / Midway machines, in addition also provides the console but very good conversions of computer games such as Lemmings. To date, home developers develop games for the console. The games are stored on memory cards ( Game Cards ).

The Lynx was released on 11 October 1989, five months after the Nintendo Game Boy, but reached due to the high price, high battery consumption, the relatively bulky dimensions and not least the poor marketing on the part of Atari not begin to whose sales figures. In addition, lacked successful games like Super Mario for the Lynx. The unit can now be seen only rarely. However, there is still a fan base that developed for the Lynx.



  • Lynx Classic: 27.3 cm × 10.8 cm × 3.8 cm
  • Lynx II: 23.5 cm x 10.8 cm x 5.1 cm
  • Display Diagonal Size: about 8.9 cm


The hardware consists of two specially manufactured for the CMOS chip Lynx:

  • MIKEY (8 -bit CMOS chip ) MOS 65SC02 processor clocked at 4 MHz, 8 -bit CPU, a 16-bit address space
  • Sound engine for 4 -channel stereo sound with 8 bit resolution per channel
  • Video Driver for Liquid Crystal Display Resolution: 160 × 102 pixels ( 480 × 102 with special color choice of the sub-pixels )
  • 4096 colors
  • Palette of 16 colors (by changing the palette more colors can be displayed )
  • Graphics Engine Hardware graphics accelerator
  • Hardware sprites with collision detection
  • Hardware scrolling ( via logical screen size up to 512 × 512 pixels)
  • Hardware graphics effects ( stretching, compressing and move ( tilt) of sprites)

The Game Cards provide up to 2 MB of disk space. However, are usual only 128 KB, 256 KB and 512 KB cards, larger maps require a bank - switch logic.

Some (not official ) cards contain EEPROMs for Scores.


Among the best known titles for the Lynx include, for example:

  • Gauntlet - The Third Encounter
  • Lemmings
  • Qix

See also Category: Lynx game.