Below are the various Activision variations that you may encounter. We are showing both cartridge and label variations to help you better understand what you are looking for.
Spring - below is a picture of arrows pointing to the posts that go into the Atari 2600 unit. With the Activision cartridges, there are usually both spring and non-spring versions for almost all the games. It's extremely easy to determine which version you have, just try and push it in with you finger. If it moves down, it has a spring, if it doesn't budge, it doesn't have a spring.
Foam - below are the two types of foam that came in early carts. The top has black foam, and the bottom is white (not quite white, but called it). These particular variations have a mold variation inside where the foam is. They have what are called “teeth”, which are extra plastic molded lines on the top and bottom. There are some variations that actually have these “teeth” that never had the foam inserts. Refer to the list of variations for versions with foam and/or “teeth”. “Teeth” are shown below the foam photo.
Color screen shots - below is an example of the regular non-color screen shot, and one that has color. There are several games which have color variations.
-04 text labels - below shows what are known to be the -04 text label variations. The product numbers end with a -04, thus the title given. We are showing you the blue, white, and black label text versions. Note that each has a product number in the bottom right corner of the main label. Salu versions of Activision titles, with the white label, do not have the product number, and are not considered Activision variations.
Canadian label - below is a Canadian label, which is English/French. There are a few games which have this variation.
International label - below we show 3 different versions of International labels. The first has “International Edition” on the main label, but is entirely in English. These always have product numbers that begin PAG/PAX. The middle one also has "International Edition" on the main label, but the label has 5 different languages. These always have product numbers that begin EAG/EAX. Oink on the right is also a 5 language label, but does not say "International Edition" on the main label. This version also always begins with EAG/EAX.
MANUALSFrom research, we have discovered a timeline with the manuals. Following the timeline of Activision manuals is rather easy. Activision originally started with a trademark symbol ™ after the company name. Some time later, they became registered and you see the ® symbol after the Activision name. Most of the manuals are self explanatory with release as Activision was a little more structured with the Revision (Rev) numbers. There will be some games where the revision number remained the same, but there was some change in the manual anyway. Also, the company headquarters seemed to have moved twice so there are a total of three different locations.
1st release games and boxes have the Sunnyvale address. Most of the manuals with this address have no revision with possibly a Rev. 1. From what I've documented, the back of the manuals have a 3 line Atari/Sears copyright on the back
2nd release changed the address to Santa Clara. Some will still have the 3 line Atari/Sears copyright. They still have the ™ next to the company logo.
3rd release still has the Santa Clara address, but the Atari/Sears copyright line has been removed. They should still have the ™ next to the company logo.
4th release still has the Santa Clara address, and now the Atari/Sears copyright has been changed to 2 lines. Here should have the transition from ™ to ® next to the company logo.
5th release moves the company to Mountain View address. 2 line copyright notice is still there. ® next to the company logo.
Also, any subsequent releases on card stock in black and white seem to have the Mountain View address and the , “Look for more Activision…” has been removed from the back.
There are exceptions to the rules above and not all games will have all of the different releases. If a game came out after the company moved, there may not be a Sunnyvale version, or in some cases, not even a Santa Clara version. I have seen in the case of Boxing, a Mountain View address with a Rev. 2 and then a Santa Clara with a Rev. 3. My guess is that maybe different printers were being used and weren't informed about the new company address. If anyone has info to dispute anything I've written, please send me it.
Foreign releases are up in the air. I have very few scans of international manuals and little to go on. I will most likely list all foreign and multi-language manuals as later entries, even though it's possible they came out in between revisions.