HISTORY OF ATARI
To people who were born or lived during the era of the console, and who learned everything they know about gaming through PlayStation, Sega or Nintendo, Atari appears to be some kind of undefined fixture in the gaming world.
It was a great name before its importance has been soured by a number of affiliations, investments. It went from being a giant in the area industry to a barely relevant name as the millennium turned.
People born after this era have basically no idea how much Atari paved the way for what is known now as the video gaming industry.
The only thing they probably know is the name and maybe the early home console that was Atari 2600. But let’s face it. Without Atari and its two founders (Ted Dabney and Nolan Bushnell) , we are not sure that the modern day video game industry would be existent.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Atari was a force to be reckoned with both in the arcade and home computer world (this part died when the computer making section was shut down in 1993). Atari gave us basically everything.
You have Tempest, Pong, Centipede and even the widely known terrible E.T. The Video Game. But these games are just a part of this sequence of events. The founders of Atari created the video game arcade cabinet and this is what gave rise to video games as we know them now.
It is certain that Atari changed the course of events as without it, the video game industry would not have been what it is today. All its ups and different downs have made history abd have managed to go right from the 1970s to January 2013, year of one of its most recent failures.
Dream of a Coin based Future
The number of changes that Atari has made and gone through are so many that it gets hard to separate them any more after a while. But its story started like many other innovations do;
someone who had a very good idea. In 1969, the two founders of Atari, Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney (both working for Ampex found in Redwood City, California at that period) met. Before this, when he was studying electrical engineering in Utah, video games developed an appeal for Bushnell.
This started when one of the first video games known as Spacewar, developed by Professor Steve Russell and a couple of his students was shown on a super giant computer. This was in 1962. With any of his willing fraternity brothers, Bushnell would stealthily get into the computer lab to play this game.
The University of Utah, where Bushnell was studying was a big deal. In the 1960s, Ivan Sutherland invented computer graphics are this University. At this time, the university had top notch equipment. Bushnell was therefore one of the only people who could play Spacewar at the time, since they were available on the campus computers.
Still in college, Bushnell had a job at Lagoon Amusement Park, an amusement arcade. This is where he got thw idea of a coin operated arcade machine. By this time, arcades could be found just in the halls of pinball cabinets.
Bushnell wanted something essentially like the 80s arcade that accepted coins and kept trance bound teenagers spellbound. He wanted people to fall in love with gaming in these places. Without Bushnell, you wouldn’t have these places right now and Atari would never have been where it is now.
Problems with Pinball
Pinball was a taboo after the war in America, basically condemned in the same way that video games have been condemned throughout the years. If you wanted to be seen as a cool rebel in the 40s and 50s in a lot of parts in America, all you had to do was hang out around these “demonic” machines called pinballs.
Parents were worried; adults were frightened abd they came together to stand up against these machines which they believed were corrupting their children and making them gamblers.
In some parts of the country, pingalls were illegal. In New York, the mayor, Fiorello LaGuardia ordered for hundreds of these machines to be seized.
This was in 1942. And technically, the ban on pinball machines in New York continued till 1976. So electronic video games was even worse. Imagine the outrage against this enormous changes in the arcade world.
Computers were too big and needed to be placed in small rooms in the early 60s though. The first arcade maxhine that accepted coins was created by Bushnell alongside Ted Dabney.
They creates this for Nutting Associates. The release year was 1971 but it flopped as the manufactures didn’t like it and thought it a failure.
(Nolan later explained that outside of colleges, no one else would understand them). Though it flopped, Bushnell and Dabney were able to sell 1500 units which permitted them to start off on their own. That is how they went on making e-games that accepted coins.
They founded their company in 1971. It was first of all called Syzgzy Co. But it was unfortunately taken in California so they had to change it to Atari. Inc. This was in 1972.
The word is a Japanese word that means to hit a target. It has luck associated to it. Their inspiration was a board game called Go.
It was Chinese and Bushnell loved it. So he picked the name from the jargon of this game. If you want to take int in this context, Atari would mean “I’m almost winning”. According to sources, two other names were Hane and Sente.
The technology that permitted dots to change position on the screen without using an insanely costly computer was invented by Dabney.
So in a nutshell, he basically invented video games. This technology was dubbed Spot Motion Circuit as it allowed the dots to move in whatever direction they wanted to; left, right, up, down. It was way different from Spacewar and the supercomputers on which it was running.
You could manufacture cabinets at reasonable prices. And these cabinets had built-in boards. This was basically the creation of the video game arcade cabinet.
The fiest video game that was ever produced and sold commercially was Computer Space, very mediocre in its performance.
But this is what made Atari’s popularity sky rocket. Bushnell was present during the presentation of the first video game console for homes.
This was in 1972. It was called the Magnavox Odyssey and its release date was August 1972. You had a couple of games with no sound. Table Tennis was part of these games. In North America and Europe(released here in 1973), there were probably more than 300,000 copies of the Magnavox sold.
This tennis game by Magnavox was not the first of its kind. In Utah, Bushnell had played some of them including one that was xalled Tennis for Two.
This one was released in 1958. But none of these games had the effect that Pong, developed by Atari had. It was released in 1972 and created by Al Alcorn.
Surprisingly enough, it wasn’t Bushnell who created this game. But a new employee who was a junior engineer at this time. Before he had a glimpse at Computer Space, he had never seen a video game. So his first creation was Pong. Quite a great start.
Honestly, nobody had much faith in Pong. It was a project and Al Alcorn used it to test his skills. Nobody ever intended it to be commercialized. But Alcorn worked hard and made this product better and it was great fun.
Even though now we might not see the difference between Table Tennis and Pong, they were greatly evident then. The longer you played, the faster the balls went in the Pong game.
Also, depending on where you hit the balls, the paddle angle changed. There were spaces that you could find up top.
These weren’t intentional but they made it so that you could never play a Pong game forever aa the ball had a space to escape. Another noticeable difference was that Pong had sound. It doesn’t seem like a big deal now. But then, it made a boring game seem like the most fascinating thing.
25 Cents to a Million
The first completed Pong machine was created with a cabinet painted orange, an old fashioned no colour TV and lots of solder. It was placed in Andy Tapps Tavern, a bar whose owner (Bill Gattis) they were friendly with. It was a hit.
The audience loved it. People came in just to play this game, forgetting the alcohol. Alcorn recounts one the most sweet anecdotes. A few days later, he was called in to fix the machine because Gattis had said it had a problem. And what was the problem?
The coin receptacle was overflowing with quarters. Pong was taken to two companies that manufactured products, Bally and Midway (Bally and Atari had had a contract before that). But Atari decided to manufacture the products on its own in the end.
All they needed now was someone to invest in them. And this was going to be a difficult feat because Pong had too many things in common with the horrible and taboo pinball.
At that moment, America was still rife with talk of pinball. So getting the financial support was not an easy feat. In the long run, they got some credibility. Manufacturing took quite some time but it got together. Late in 1972, it started full force and by 1973, they were shipping out of the country.
It reached a point where Atari had to send out people would collect the quarters from the Pong machines.
Pong was a great hit. By then, one machine could get even $40 each day according to Bushnell’s estimations (today that is worth $220).
More and more orders were coming in, more orders than Atari could even make. By the end of 1973, 2,500 machines were ordered. And by 1974, you had over 7,500 machines. You would find them in bars, restaurants, arcade parks and a number of other venues all over the world. Now, these machines are antiques and quite a number of people want them.
According to Alcorn, only about 12,000 of these machines underwent manufacture.
With Pong, video games were no longer confined to just computer science. They were no longer just restricted to computer labs but were things that the average person could talk about.
Video games were now something that the average guy could talk about, sitting in a British pub or in an American bar, eating at a pizza place, at amusement arcades, in cafes or just generally in places of leisure.
It is in the same way that mobile games have brought a lot of exposure to the video games industry. But it is five years later that arcade machines really become the hot thing. This was with the release of Space Invaders, a game that really made the arcade industry explode.
Pong was the one that made it possible as it showed that coin supported e-games could be well known and bring in a lot of profit. In 1975, coincidentally during the holiday period, the home version was released in the United States. Sears was the distribution center.
This game sold over 195,000 units just in 1975.
One incredible fact is that during the early periods of Pong’s release, representatives literally collected the quarters in sacks themselves (Atari and the venues got 50% equally).
One of the company’s first employees, Steve Bristow, was used to lugging around 30 pounds of coins (about $600) in bags to his car. He was accomoanied by his wife and for protection, they carried a roofing hatchet.
The number of Pong machines that were produced still comes as a surprise to a lot of people. The amount, considering this machine’s popularity, was extremely small.
A lot of gamers are from the era where millions of consoles were sold.
Today that number has skyrocketed to tens of millions. But the estimation of the number of machines sold by Pong is just about 500,000. This can be explained by one word; patent. Turns out that Atari had no patent for Pong.
Then, getting a patent took years and Atari made a huge mistake by not filing for one. They out did so when the game came out in 1972. There were a hundreds of imitation Pong machines.
Most people probably knew this game through these clones instead of the official games. Atari had no patent. But another company did. Magnavox. They manufactured the first home console and other games, including Table Tennis.
Facing off in the courtroom
Something spectacular happened in 1974. The inventor of Odyssey and some other video games, Ralph Baer, convinced his employer to sue Atari on the claims that Pong was an imitation of Table Tennis.
His defense? Bushnell had been at a presentation of Table Tennis in 1972 and there was a signed guestbook to prove thus face.
This was a huge decision to make for Bushnell and however he decided for this issue to play out would affect Atari in a big way, affecting the company and its fortune.
Bushnell didn’t bother to fight in the courtroom. He decided to settle this issue outside of court. The settlement amount ranges from $400,000 to $1,000,000 (no one is certain about the precise amount). So Atari therefore became Magnavox’s licensee.
This way, Atari could keep on selling their games that went against Magnavox’s very wide patent. And the good thing was they didn’t need to sue any Pong ripoffs.
These ripoffs were infringing Magnavox’s patent and so it was Magnavox who spent a lot of money and time looking for these infringers so as to prosecute them. Atari on its side could continue manufacturing even new stuff.
Though Atari could very well have gone home with this case, the settlement was the best solution in the end. Magnavox wad the one who tracked down Pong ripoffs and prosecuted them. Atari didn’t even have to lift a finger.
Bushnell was no inventor. But thanks to him, a she industry exists today, the arcade gaming industry. Of course Atari’s successes were just an imitation of some things that had already happened. For example, Computer Space was essentially Spacewar developed with more affordable technology that could easily be commercialized.
Pong, though it was vaguely superior to its predecessor is not really what you would call original. Are Bushnell and co. the real investors of arcade gaming or did they simply think up ways to make these games marketable?
It is quite understandable that Ralph Baer mentions Atari’s achievements with some kind of dismissal. In an interview with BuzzFeed in 2012, he said, “Mr. B didn’t invent anything, but he started a whole industry, the arcade video game industry. Give the man credit for that achievement. He just simply didn’t invent anything.”
More and more Pong clones were coming up. Bushnell pushed forward, making Atari release even better content. They released Pong variants like the four player type. In the 70s (mid to late), you got the release of some of the biggest Atari games.
You got Space Race, Gotcha, Tank and Breakout. The last one was a commission by Alcorn and was developed by two students known as Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs. These two would later leave Atari to create Apple Computer.
Atari kept on climbing but the truth was this period wasn’t entirely good for Atari. They would make huge blunders in 1974. Bushnell with an extremely costly and very complicated racing game known as Gran Trak 10 almost out Atari in ruin.
To Steve Fulton, a gaming historian, the company was saved by a game called Tank. Also, Atari’s affiliation with a sister company known as Kee Games was a huge save.
In 1973, the two companies had been split so as to escape some rules that were in the industry by that time.
Atari in the Corporate World
Bushnell had bought out Ted Dabney in 1973, so by 1976, Atari was sokd to Warner Communications. Atari was sold for $28 million and Bushnell got $15 million out of that. In the long run, this would reveal to be the start of Atari’s downfall.
Not long after this, Bushnell was practically no longer involved with a company he created. But before this could happen, Atari came up with a big invention. This was the VCS. They were home consoles that would later be dubbed as Atari 2600.
This was when Atari started to die.
Imagine being born in the 80s, let’s say in 1988. This time was the time where Cartoon Network, tape movies and game consoles became increasingly popular and more and more commercialized.
In the United Kingdom, in the 1970s, you had just three television channels.
This was not the ideal. In 1979, in summer to be precise, ITV went on a strike and this made things even worse. You would see kids having to leave their houses to play, or they would read comic strips or play with their toys.
Yes, video games were already existent by that time but it was more primitive than you would imagine. Games out of the arcades were just crawled imitations of Pong or horrible handheld games.
To be quite sincere, childhood in this era sounds really uninteresting. The only great thing I guess was the music. It is therefore bit really surprising that home computers were such a great success and made such an impact.
Atari went ahead and changed things up when it released the 2600.
The Atari 2600 (first known as Atari VCS) begins its story in 1975. This was when Atari was trying to get all its arcade hits to people’s homes (this project was dubbed Stella).
This finally happened when the first processor sold at a reasonable price was released. It was called the MOS Technology 6052.
This is one if the main things that made it possible for home computers to exist. It would be used in the Commodore 64, the Atari VCS, the BBC Micro, the Atari 400 home computer (and the 800 as well), the NES and the Apple II.
This microprocessor alongside the ROM cartridge, which was a very affordable method of game storage, made it possible to get home video games without bankrupting people.
The bad thing was that Atari didn’t have enough funds for the production of this even though Bushnell saw that this could be a great hit.
At this time, many other companies started producing home games that were cartridge based. This made the sales of Pong go even lower.
This is what made Bushnell make the decision of selling to Warner. This company had promised to provide the funds for VCS to be manufactured after they had acquired Atari.
The Atari VCS had in release in late 1977 in the United States and in 1978 in Europe. These games had joysticks that became the design of most video games. Also, it had compatibility with paddle controllers and a keypad. It was $199 (about $750 now).
It will affirm itself as the biggest hit in the console world but it took quite some time to get there. It was quite expensive and the fact that people didn’t realize that a game other than Pong could be played on it put a damper in sales.
In 1977 and 1978, its performance was underwhelming as it sold just about half of the products that were manufactured.
Warner had spent about $5,000,000 I’m marketing but only about 750,000 copies of the VCS had been sold by 1978.
Nolan Bushnell left this company in 1978. The Atari he had headed was a laid-back and fun loving but hardworking place. Bushnell was a fun boss, making time for hot tub parties and organizing retreats for the whole company where drugs and drinks were prevalent.
Atari under Warner was something completely different. They hated this laid-back attitude Bushnell and his engineers had, hated their parties and their less than professional dress code.
They had quite a number of disagreements and after a final argument with an executive at a board meeting, Bushnell was fired.
He would get himself involved in many other companies as his spirit of entrepreneurship didn’t die. But when you listen to him in interviews, you would realize that he would have liked to make Atari better.
1979 was the year that things changed. There was a new CEO, Ray Kassar. By this time, Taitos Space Invaders made the rounds in the arcade world.
Warner spent even more in marketing on VCS. This is when it had its big break and sold about one million of these products in just 1979.
But the fact that Space Invaders was converted into a home game is what really propelled this company. Two million of the Atari 2600 were sold in 1980.
The sales kept on inxreasing with it teaching 10 million in sales in the year 1982. The Atari 2600 had had a complete turn around. It had started out as some sort of a failure and it was now a great hit.
This console was adapted for the home computers known as Atari 400 and 800. These ones were sold in 1979 and had slots for cartridges. They were also equipped with keyboards.
At this time, playing arcade games from the comfort of your home was quite an idea. The great thing about the VCS is that it offered many more games than what peolle already knew.
You had hundreds of these kind of games. Some of them were produced by Atari (Yars Revenge and Adventure) but others were developed by outside software providers. It turned out to be a really fertile ground.
1982 was a great year for Atari as it made up about 70% of the Warner’s revenue. This made it even more than the film and music parts of Warner.
As Atari 2600 became known throughout the world, Ray Kassar kept on making even more changes.
He cut off the R&D department in 1979 and deemed it better to replace them by staff that was specialized in marketing. This was him trying to take away everything about the Atari that had been controlled by Bushnell. All these extreme changes made a lot of people to leave Atari as from 1979.
This was because they didn’t like the management and they didn’t get recognized for all the creations they were making.
Four engineers from Atari decided to branch out in 1979 and created their own company. They called it Activision. They wanted to develop games for the VCS and make them way better and more successful than the games that Atari was producing itself.
This was mkre than Warner could bear. It wanted everything to belong to it. From the hardware to the software. Everything.
They didn’t want the VCS to be an open platform they wanted to control everything. So in 1981, they filed a lawsuit against Activision for developing games that would run on the VCS.
Activision knew a great success with its VCS games abd though Atari sued then continually, it didn’t affect them. Okay, imagine this. Microsoft filing a lawsuit against EA because they are selling too many FIFA copies on the Xbox.
More and more bad quality software was coming up on the market. The surprising thing was that Atari itself was propelling this, coming up with a less than charming version of Pac-Man in 1982. In 1983, Atari would witness severe loss.
They got the products that weren’t sold and threw it in the desert then they covered it up with concrete. This was reported by the New York Times in August 1983. According to them still, Atari lumped in thousands of E.T. The Videogame, one that was well known for how horrible it was. So just in the second part of 1983, Atari made a loss of $310.5 million
Atari was quite literally stuck on the 2600, not wanting to release a successor to this game. They wanted to keep on marketing and selling the already existent game. Atari was now up in different sections. You had the console division, the arcade division, the home computer section.
All these had nothing to do with each other. All the variations of the 2600 were not really anything original. Atari’s competitors on the other hand were constantly being innovative making sure to release awesome products like Commodore 64.
This was when cart based games died and led the way to home computers. This is actually where most children from the eighties would discover video games on.
The Atari 400 and 800 managed to include themselves but the 2600 looked extremely outdated when faced with other newer products.
Gome computers kept wearing away at the sales of the Atari 2600. But one thing that finally murders this product was the NES.
It’s releasal year was 1985 in the US. At first, it was agreed that Nintendo and Atari would work for the distribution in the US but therew ere quite a number of disagreements.
So Nintendo did everything on its own. Atari also rejected proposals from Apple and Nintendo. We are pretty sure they regret it now.
With all the ups and downs that Atari had with home gaming, they were still making hits in the arcade gaming world. You got classic arcade games like Tempest, Asteroids, Centipede, Lunar Lander, Warlords, Missile Command, the addictive Star Wars and Battlezone.
It’s competitors now are big bames like Konami, Nintendo, Sega and Taito but the games managed to impose themselves. There was no way that Atari would be booted out of this arcade golden age. But it started fading.
Atari had seen this though and had tried to explain in home consoles more and more. Arcade gaming was becoming a thing of the past and would hold no importance for the generations to come. These ones would discover games on the television home and not in dark rooms lit only by the flashing lights of the arcade machines.
The main problem of Atari under Warner was employee management. According to how Bushnell perceives it, Warner didn’t know how to control this type of company.
They didn’t get the fact that to keep staying at the top, they needed to release even better products. Not just trying to sell an obsolete one to buyers. In 2012, Bushnell saud this to Tech Radar, “Under Warner it committed suicide.
It wasn’t homicide, it was self-inflicted stupidity. What you had was a bunch of record guys thinking they knew what the game business was about –
I could catalogue the screw ups they made. I would have liked to have taken Atari to another level. If I could go back in time I would not sell to Warner.”
Again, Warner shows that it is nkt a risk taker by the Cosmos. This was hand held console that was supposed to be holographic. The whole idea was that the game would be based on cartridges. It would be an to produce images close to 3D and it would be way cheaper than the VCS.
Al Alcorn, thw creator of Pong, Roger Hector and Harry Jenkins started to work on this in 1978. In spite of all the work that went into this game, the pre-adverts, the more than 7,500 pre-orders, Warner decided not to release without a straightforward business plan. So the Cosmos was completed but never saw release.
This company was large and the management was not doing a thorough enough job. It was so much different from when Atari had conquered the arcade world with its risk bearing coin operated machines.
In 2008, Al Alcorn said “When we were young at Atari, every year we risked the whole company on new products.
If VCS had failed, or Home Pong had burned up, we’d have killed the company.
And now Atari is making billions of dollars a year in revenue and if [something] had failed it wouldn’t have been a pimple on the butt of the thing, yet the fear of failure and the ego of these guys… they weren’t Silicon Valley, they weren’t start-up guys, they were not risk takers, so nothing came out”
The part of Atari that dealt with home computers was sold by Warner in 1984 to Jack Tramiel. He was the founder of Commodore and he dubbed this the Atari Corporation. It stayed a little longer before letting go of the arcade portion. But in 1985, it was sold to Namco.
A year after this, Atari Games (the arcade portion) would be bought by a group of independent employees. They would release classics like San Francisco Rush and Paperboy.
This was the great fall of Atari. This is when Atari’s story becomes kind of heartbreaking. Atari was no longer in its green and golden days.
All the people who had contributed to its initial success had disappeared and from then till now, we are just witnessing how it is being diluted. It came so far. From being a giant in video gaming for more than ten years to this.
Atari Corporation moves forward
More nad more home computers came up in the eighties and you had so many variants of different games. You saw games like Terramex that was played on the MSX, Spectrum 28, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64 and 128 and the Spectrum 128.
You also had the Amiga. Then talk less of the PC that was another thing all together. This should be really surprising for a kid who grew up with consoles. In the early parts of the 1980s, there was quite an impact on home gaming made by the Atari 800 and 400.
1985 saw the rise of games from other companies that had once been owned by Atari. Jack Tramiel had to try and catch up since Warner had not done much when it comes to the creation of original products.
The interesting thing is that these competitors had people who had once been in Atari itself or had close relations with it. Jay Milner, the founder of Amiga was the designer for the Atari 8 bit computers and the VCS. Then you have Steve Jobs of Apple Computer. He helped to create Breakout.
The next machine that Atari Corps would release is the Atari 520ST. It was a 16 bit computer and supported both cartridge and floppy disk.
A lot of kids that were born in the 80s saw the Atari ST computers are their first computers. The Amiga was actually the better option and was way less expensive.
The ST was quite unique. It was more popular with musicians and made a name foe itself in Europe. Another Atari computer that hit the market quite hard was the Atari PC. The lifespan of the ST line was quite surprising. The last product of this line called the Mega STE had as release year 1990.
By 1990, the keyword in the gaming industry was innovation. More and more, people started having a preference for consoles.
In the United States, NES made its great impact in 1985 and Sega did same in 1986. The consoles they developed dominated the market in 1987.
It wasn’t quite the same thing in the United Kingdom and Europe. When it came to the home computer world, Microsoft was becoming really dominant. But in the end, it was Atari’s Jaguar that led it completely into ruin.
Atari Corp had tried one last time with the release of a 32 bit computer known as Falcon in 1992. In 1993 though, they decided to give up the computer manufacture side and decided to make just their consoles. This is what ultimately killed it.
They tried to section again into divisions making a portable console division. The Lynx was originally not even created for and by Atari. It was created by Epyx and later sold to Atari.
This was in January 1989 and Atari released it in the same year. Gameboy was also released that year and it was clearly superior in everyway to the Lynx.
The Lynx was more expensive though and its battery life was way less. So there is no surprise as to why it flopped considering all the odds against it.
Also, Sega went ahead ans produced theie Game Gear in 1991. All this contributed to the quick failure of the Lynx.
The Jaguar’s fail was too hard for Atari Corp.
At the end of the day, the Jaguar is the one that killed the company. This was the very first console that ran with 64 bits. Its release year was 1993.
The theme was quite peculiar and it was actually pretty powerful. The downsides to this console was that the controller was horrible and it didn’t have any support for software.
It therefore could not compete with big names like Nintendo’s Super and Sega’s Genesis. Atari Corp only released 67 Jaguar games.
The Jaguar also made quite an impact. You have Alien vs Predator and Tempest 2000 but these ones just didn’t cut it. The Jaguar had a short life span leaving Atari empty handed. Tamriel gave up in 1996 and this company vanished.
Its name was sold to JTS alongside the assets it had left.
The Giant comes back, but just in name
This was the second death of Atari. The first time being when it was sold by Warner. It came back to life when JTS was bought for just $5 million by Hasbro Interactive.
The main aim behind this buy was to obtain the Atari name. In 2000, Hasbro sold tAtari to Infogames, a French software company. This is time when a lot of gamers from the newer generations started noticing the Atari name.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Infogames was known for its agressive acquisitions. It kept on buying big names while trying to rival EA. When it laid its hands on Atari, it got rebranded and changed to Atari in 2003.
This is the Atari that you would see on games like Alone in the Dark, Ghostbusters: The Video Game and Driver 3. At this time, it was quite complicated.
You never dis know where it stood as it dabbled both in distribution and publishing. Atari was just another company that was stumbling under the Infogames banner.
When it comes to the classic Atari games (Tempest, Centipede and Pong), they stayed round. They were even compiled and had rerelease on mobile in the 2000s. But at that time, Atari was no longer a giant in hardware nor software development. Atari died for thw last time when it filed a bankruptcy suit in January 2013.
The Atari that went down in 2013 was not the same one that brought so much innovation to the gaming industry. Neither was the one that went to ruins in 1996.
When you consider everything, you could say that Atari signed for its death when it was acquires by Warner.
Yes a lot of its financial success was gained during that area, but what had defined it before (creative risk taking) had died. It is hard not to think of how this company would have been if it hadn’t sold. Maybe it would have been able competition for Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft now.
This is what Nolan Bushnell seems to believe. He said, “Absolutely Atari could be competing with Xbox and PlayStation today,he told TechRadar last year.
I would have liked to have taken Atari to another level. If I could go back in time I would not sell to Warner. Take the company public, raise money that way – I think I should have just taken a vacation.”
Atari was not behind the invention of video gaming but it made the whole business of video gaming popular. It made games into what they are now.
Not hard to learn, difficult to retain and most especially, available for everyone to access.