Rummaging through a box in the garage, my sons found a mysterious brown console a few weeks ago.
"What is this?" they asked.
"It's my old video game system (from the '80s)."
They laughed and then asked me to hook it up. But the box to connect it to the television had long ago disappeared and they had been hard to find.
I went on Amazon and tried a search and found there's a connector for just under $3 that will revive that old Intellivision game system, Atari or even the Pong games with the little sticks as players and a square for a ball.
I've since seen some listings for less than $1.
I checked reviews of the adaptor, a silver attachment with coaxial cable end that attaches to modern televisions and an RCA connector on the other end to hook up to the video game console.
Some of the comments read like infomercials: "I needed to hook up an Atari 7800. This little fella did the trick. Older consoles from the '70s and '80s used standard RCA cables to connect to a TV."
I figured I'd give it a try. Just a few bucks. No big loss if it doesn't work.
When it arrived, the kids couldn't wait to see what Microsurgeon, Demon Attack, Sea Battle and Ice Trek were all about. And how did football and auto racing look back in the '80s?
I was just curious whether the little adapter would work.
We plugged everything in and turned on the game system — nothing but snow.
Tried a different RCA cord and … voila!
It did take a while for the system to warm up a bit, but after a few minutes, it was as good as it was decades ago.
It seems the nostalgia of the old video games is prompting a bit of a revival. But for those in need of games, the connector will be the least of the concerns.
Some of the old games can cost a mint. Atari Defender: $74.95; Atari Missile Command: $99.99. There are those that are running cheaper, such as Intellivision's Tron Deadly Discs for $41 and Frog Bog for $62.99 or Atari 2600's Dig Dug at $23.99.
But the greatest benefit is for those who still have not only the console but the games themselves and are looking for a way to get the game going again. And it's fun to watch the kids put down the ultra-modern Wii to try out a 30-year-old game system … and like it.
Ivan Penn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2332. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Consumers_Edge and find the Consumer's Edge on Facebook.