The first interactive video games began to appear in the 1960s. But it wasn’t until the early ’70s that they came to life in commercial form, so anyone could“ buy the entertainment ”that video games provide. The earliest commercial form of video games was in the form of the Magnavox Odyssey console, but history does not remember the same as a successful product. However, it was this console that inspired two visionaries - Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, who founded Atari Inc. in California today 50 years ago.
The name Atari came from the Japanese term for luck in the oldest board game, Go. And luck was served by the aforementioned Bushnell-Dabney duo, who took over the idea of a game of tennis from the Magnavox Odyssey console, which they turned into a game called Pong in the fall of 1972. Aside from being one of the earliest arcade games ever, Pong was the first commercially successful game. As the idea for Pong was taken from another device, Atari had to go to court. But, luck also served them there, so in the end, they settled and started new victories.
The name Atari came from the Japanese term for luck in the oldest board game, Go.
And the new victory came in the form of the Atari VCS (Video Computer System) console, which they set out to develop in 1975 and launched in 1977 for $ 199 at the time. This device was created because Atari they were not happy with the short lifespan of games on arcade machines. They were looking for something that would keep users longer, so they developed a device with interchangeable games. The games were distributed on cassettes with a capacity of two kilobytes and that was the basis for the great popularity of Atari's VCS console. Such a model was later adopted by other companies and is still used in the video game industry today.
The Atari VCS came with a simple controller that had a directional stick and
one button. Although such a control system was limited, the console itself had
several top-notch games at the time, such as
Pac-Man, Pitfall, and others. In total, the console reached more than 30 million
The Atari VCS has been renamed the Atari 2600 since 1982 when it got its successor - the Atari 5200. To Atari's chagrin, the console that inherited the VCS / 2600 had bad controllers, few games, and a generally bad start. And then in 1983, there was a major collapse in the video game market, after which Atari found itself in trouble. They did not benefit from the fact that "across the pond" Nintendo found success with its NES console.
Since 1984, Atari has operated under the name Atari Corp. and through several turbulent years has managed to stay in the market with several computers and consoles. Among them was the Atari 7800 console which washed away the sins of its predecessor by enabling gaming for the Atari VCS / 2600 and was one of the first consoles with backward compatibility for games.
In 1989, Atari attempted to enter the Atari Lynx portable console
market. Although that console had a color screen, it didn’t stand a chance
next to Nintendo’s Game Boy with a better battery, more interesting games, and
a lower price tag. Atari sued Nintendo a bit sarcastically, claiming they had
a monopoly on the market, only to eventually lose the dispute.
In 1993, Atari tried to come back with the first 64-bit console called the Atari Jaguar. However, the race in technical terms did not end well for Atari. Making games for Jaguar developers was complicated and simply unprofitable. In the end, Atari Jaguar had only 50 games launched in its entire lifetime.
Atari’s latest new console, called the Jaguar, has received just 50 official games in its entire lifetime.
Atari then retreated more through the courts, the production of new consoles was abandoned, and the brand eventually went to Infogrames. Later, Atari returned to making retro consoles (Flashback), and they transferred their most successful games to all possible platforms, including mobile ones. New turmoil ensued and Atari SA declared bankruptcy in 2013.
However, somehow there was a resurrection and a big turnaround: instead of in
video games, the new Atari saw the future in casinos, betting, the LGBT
community, and YouTube. In 2017, they returned to making consoles through the
crowdfunding project Atari VCS. The Linux-based console, without new games and
with a fairly high price, was delayed on the market for a good 20+ months and
ultimately recorded almost no interest from the general gaming public. Atari
then embarked on new ventures - they launched the cryptocurrency Atari Token
and announced the
construction of branded Atari hotels.
Although it can no longer be said that Atari is "in the gaming industry", the fact is that they have existed in one form or another for half a century, which in the context of gaming ranks them among the oldest living companies with Nintendo, Sony, Konami, and Sega.