The Joy of Sticks – A Brief History of Game Controllers

How did game controllers become what they are today?

How was the Atari connector created and why was it used almost exclusively in home computers throughout the 1980s? Exactly how wild were the design visions for controllers back in the day?

The Joy of Sticks is based on a private collection of game controllers which collector Mikko Heinonen has acquired from flea markets and online auctions. He has always been fascinated with game controllers from the 1980s that were built by various factories around the world and sold under various names – even though they most often had an identical basic structure.

The key means of differentiation were design and the placement of the fire buttons, for example. At times, we had controllers that can best be described as incomprehensible in terms of ergonomics, but some models achieved nearly mythical status among hobbyists.