Celebrating Atari’s 50th Anniversary

Exactly 50 years ago, on June 27 1972, a fledgling company filed the necessary papers to become incorporated. The company’s name was Atari, and it would go on to dominate the videogame world both in the arcades and at home.

Atari Inc. Notice this was pre Fuji logo era!

The original papers can be viewed here:

Click to view the full image. Credit: Ethan Johnson @GameResearch_E
Click to view the full image. Credit: Ethan Johnson @GameResearch_E

The impact that Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney had on the industry is almost incalculable.

Ted Dabney, left, Nolan Bushnell, Fred Marincic and Allan Alcorn in 1973 with a Pong cabinet at the Atari offices in Santa Clara, California. Photo: Al Alcorn

Readers of this blog will be familiar with the Atari story I’m sure, so rather than regurgitate that here, I wanted to share a few videos with you that tell the story.

Atari’s reception area circa late 70s

The first is absolutely remarkable footage. I need to be clear that do not own this video and it is not hosted here. The video was posted by Atari historian Marty Goldberg and is posted on the Atari Museum Facebook page. In Marty’s own words:

Called “Games Computers Play”, it was shot in early 1973 by four media/communications majors at Berkeley who went around the Bay Area documenting the new high tech entertainment popping up in the area (Computer and arcade video games). You’ll see a 1973 version of Nolan, the original PONG assembly line at the new roller rink manufacturing location (1600 Martin ave) as well Spacewar! at Stanford’s SAIL lab and even shots of Computer Space running in department stores at the time.

Marty Goldberg – Atari Historian

You can enjoy the video below which should be embedded from the Facebook page, where the video is hosted. If the video isn’t playing for some reason, you can view it directly here.

‘Games Computers Play’

This is the first known footage of Atari known to exist. Huge props to Marty for sharing this with the world and for allowing me to link to it here. Do check out the Atari Museum Facebook page and join for updates – it is a rich resource of information about Atari’s early days.

Atari themselves of course have been sharing lots of media and history given the importance of the date. This includes a new interview with Nolan Bushnell himself. What’s interesting about this is the guy doing the interview is Wade Rosen, the current Atari CEO.

Cool stuff and a pretty interesting chat:

Wade Rosen and Nolan Bushnell talk 50 years of Atari

I also dug out this video, which appears to be an older interview with Bushnell – he goes into quite a bit of depth about the early days:

Interview with Nolan Bushnell

I hope you enjoy this footage. Happy birthday Atari!

See you next time.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Michael B says:

    Thanks on this great article too Tony!

    Atari has always been my favorite brand going way back to almost their beginning in 1972. Honestly, the area I live in did not immediately see much of Atari anything or any video gams until the mid to later 1970s.

    Also thanks to Marty Goldberg and you for linking that old video / film. I saw it once already at the Midwest Gaming Classic in Milwaukee, WI on May 1 this year. Marty had done a presentation on Atari’s 50th anniversary. It is awesome look back to the early days of Atari and video games, One take away, no matter what your favorite games or company is, Atari laid the foundation for pretty much ALL the gaming we have now. They were huge and great innovators way back in the early days. Whether one likes it or not we have Atari to thank for all the former and current video game greatness.

    Best, Mike.

    Posted by a collector of:
    A Warner Communications Company

    Liked by 1 person

  2. neil1637 says:

    Love that early video, Tony. Some very insightful thoughts for it’s time, that just shows how on the button they were, with how things were going to go.

    Liked by 1 person

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