The 7800 was initially released in southern California in June 1984, following an announcement on May 21, 1984 at the Summer Consumer Electronics Show. 13 games were announced for the system's launch, including Ms. Pac-Man, Pole Position II, Centipede, Joust, Dig Dug, Desert Falcon, Robotron: 2084, Galaga, Xevious, Food Fight, Ballblazer, Rescue on Fractalus!, and Track and Field. Atari was a sponsor of the 1984 Summer Olympics and planned to push the 7800 aggressively in time for Christmas that year.
One month later, Warner Communications sold Atari's Consumer Division to Jack Tramiel. All projects were halted during an initial evaluation period.
The Atari 7800 languished on warehouse shelves until it was re-introduced in January 1986 after strong 2600 sales the previous Christmas.
Atari's launch of the 7800 under Tramiel was far more subdued than Warner had planned for the system in 1984 with a marketing budget of just $300,000. Additionally, the keyboard and high score cartridge were canceled, the expansion port was removed from later production runs of the system and, in lieu of new titles, the system was launched with titles intended for the 7800's debut in 1984.