Articles ~ Atari: Past to Present
Nolan Bushnell was born February 5th, 1943, in Utah, USA. Bushnell graduated from the University of Utah in 1968 with a degree in electrical engineering. He later went on to establish Atari.
The year 1970 was the start of something big for Nolan Bushnell. Bushnell soon saw the potential in video games, especially coin operated video games (arcade), after seeing the legendary game ‘Spacewar’ inaction. In 1971 Bushnell and Ted Dabney crated the game ‘Computer Space’ together and marketed it in a contained cabinet, through ‘Nutting Associates’, not surprisingly the game was a failure and did not sell well. Soon after this Bushnell and Dabney were inspired to create the all time classic game ‘Pong’, after developing the game, which Nutting Associates and Bushnell could not agree on a deal to release it, Bushnell and Dabney eventually created their own gaming company.
The company was initially to be called ‘Syzygy’, but that name was soon abandoned and the name ‘Atari’ was taken aboard. The year of 1972 saw Atari formed and their game ‘Pong’ released (as a coin operated arcade game), which was extremely popular, especially in bars. 1974 saw Bushnell buy out Dabney and go on to create a ‘home’ version of Pong which was extremely popular, even more so than its predecessor. As well as booming Sales, Atari also had a new president, Joe Keegan. 1975 saw development begin on the then to be named Atari 2600, undisputedly one of the highest selling consoles in history. The year 1977 was a great year for Atari, and saw them releases the Atari 2600, with nine interchangeable games released for the shopping season (Christmas). In 1978 ‘Warner Communications’ (now known as Time Warner) bought Atari for an estimated 28 million (USD) and Bushnell left the company in 1979. Atari started working on a big brother machine for the Atari 2600, soon after they initially released the 2600 in 1977.
1980 was a good year for the now competitive company with it releasing the Atari 800, and the Atari 400 (a toned down version of the Atari 800), a home computer gaming system, with a keyboard. In 1980, Atari had unbelievably became the fastest growing company in the USA, a peak at which Atari could never go back. Released in 1981was the classic game ‘Asteroids’, a game which would live on in the memories of many fans for many, many years to come. 1982 could be stated as the start of a downhill fall for Atari with their games ‘E.T.’ and ‘Pac Man’, two games which failed to sell well, and have been labeled by some as the start of a long downwards twist for Atari. The year 1982 also saw Atari launch a new console, the ‘Atari 5200’, although this failed to sell as well as the 2600. The video game crash of 1983 hit Atari severely, with a loss estimated at 500 million (USD), and saw Warners stock price crash from $60 to $20 a share. In 1984 Warner sold the home gaming side of Atari to Jack Tramiel, and in 1985 Warner sold the arcade gaming side of Atari to Namco as well as releasing the Atari XE and Atari ST products. 1986 saw Atari releases the 2600j and the 2700 consoles. The XEGS system was released in 1987, and surprised few.
In 1990 Atari released the renamed handhold console, the ‘Atari Lynx’, which was against Nintendo’s Game Boy. For the next two years Atari did not release any major products and as a result, had little growth. In 1993 Atari released the ‘Atari Jaguar 64’ console, a console which will always have a special place in my heart, with it being the first console I purchased. In 1996 Atari merged with JTS Inc, for an undisclosed sum. 1998 saw JTS Inc sell it’s stake in Atari for 5 million (USD) to Hasbro Interactive, Sadly the Lynx handheld and Jaguar 64 were not good investments for Atari, and did not sell well.1999 saw a range of ‘old’ Atari games re-released by Hasbro Interactive.
2000 saw Inforgrames take over Hasbro Interactive and their Atari shares. In 2002 Jakks Pacific (not affiliated with Atari) released a 10 in 1 plug and play system, which consisted of one joystick connected to a televisions AV ports. In 2004 Jakks pacific released the Atari Paddles plug and play console. 2004 saw the ‘Atari Flashback’ console released by Atari, a cheap console based loosely on the Atari 7200, which featured two joystick controllers and came prebuilt with twenty games, ‘Atari Flashback 2’ was released in 2005, after popular demand and high sales.
Atari has had some great highlights in it’s history (1977), and some not so great highlights (1983), but Atari and it’s consoles, still have a huge fan following, 34 years after Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney first established Atari in 1972, especially, with mature gamers, who remember the good days of having some fun on an Atari 7200 or Atari St.
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