Atari Puffer: The Wii Fit of 1982S

Tucked into Boing Boing's look at the timeline of fitness gaming controls is something called the "Atari Puffer." It went unreleased because of the video game crash, but it sounds like, well, a blocky game representation of off-camera work in the porn industry. It actually was some kind of exercise bike you plugged into the 2600.

As an internal memo describes it:

"Concept: There is a whole generation of kids (and adults) out there who aren't into sports and/or don't get enough exercise. At the same time there is a huge fitness market. We have seen how kids can become addicted to our video games. We are going to hook up an exercise bike to a video game, where the bike is the controller. Hook up a bike to "Pole Position" and you have to pedal to make your car "go". Hook it up to "Dig-Dug" and shovel faster - or else! We can make fitness freaks out of the kids and game players out of the keep-fitters. We capitalize on the combination of the two powerful markets - video games and aerobic fitness."

Better than that, you could hook the bikes up to a generator, too, and have an army of child fitness freaks powering your city's electrical grid. That captializes on the combination of THREE powerful markets - video games, aerobic fitness and child labor public utilities!

The Puffer is actually one of the better ideas in this look at 18 products - because it wasn't released. Most of the others, up until Dance Dance Revolution, were disappointments and DDR wasn't even specifically released as an exercise game. Now we have Wii Fit, selling like nuts and offending parents of fat children everywhere. But it's early, and as Boing Boing notes, anything that promises to make exercise more fun usually doesn't. Because if it was fun to begin with, we wouldn't be sitting on our asses playing video games.

From Atari Joyboard to Wii Fit: 25 Years of Exergaming [boingboing]