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Atari: A Brief History

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Atari: Classics Only Get Better with Age


   Atari was born out of a passion for old-school arcade style computer gaming.  Nolan Bushnell was attending the University of Utah in the 1960s, where a young MIT computer programmer had developed a game called “Space War”.  The early game consisted of a two-player model where each player had a space ship they used to attack each other, and both were constantly pulled by a star in the middle of the screen.

   This is where Bushnell’s passion for video gaming began, and in 1972, he partnered with Ted Dabney to create Atari.  Danny was actually the first to invent technology that could make dots move on the screen without the use of a large computer, which sparked a revolution in gaming that they could base their product on.  One of the first games they developed was Pong, which wasn’t the first tennis game of its time, but improved upon the original model.  In total, Atari would produce about 565 games for the Atari 2600 and just 69 for the 5200.

   Despite their relative success and popularity, Bushell left the company in 1978 to create the Pizza Time Theatre which would eventually become Chuck E. Cheese Pizza.  The rumor is that Bushell left the company because he preferred a more fun-loving, relaxed work environment and Warner wanted a serious business.

   Atari went through a number of shifts and changes in management after the “Video Game Crash” of 1983 when they lost $310 million.  The company was broken up and sold, with Atari Games going to a number of employees who created late-era arcade games.  The founder of Commodore International, Jacek Trzmiel, obtained Atari, creating the 7800, an innovative console which touted famous names like “Ms. Pac-Man” and “Robotron: 2084”.  By 1996, the Atari name was nowhere to be found until the 2000s when nostalgic products were released with the old, and even some new, games.



(If you see anything incorrect or that you want added, feel free to comment below and the posting will be edited to reflect the corrections.)


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