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A History of Atari — the Golden Years

timothy posted about 6 years ago | from the slap-in-the-nostalgia-cartridge dept.

Classic Games (Games) 170

simoniker writes "Over at Gamasutra, Steve Fulton has published a massive 23,000-word history of Atari from 1978 to 1981, encompassing '... some of the most exciting developments the company ever saw in its history: the rise of the 2600, the development of some of the company's most enduringly popular games (Centipede, Asteroids) and the development and release of its first home computing platforms.' Best quote in there for Slashdot readers, perhaps: 'Atari had contracted with a young programmer named Bill Gates to modify a BASIC compiler that he had for another system to be used on the 800. After that project stalled for over a year Al was called upon to replace him with another developer. So ... Al is the only person I know ever to have fired Bill Gates.'"

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The history of my Atari (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24696661)

We had a 2600 with a whole bunch of games. It was played with often.

One day we left it out and attached to the TV. My father said if he saw that we left it out once more, it would disappear forever.

Sure enough, 2 days later it disappeard forever. We never even asked him about it. We knew it was history.

Looking back, we never really missed it. It wasn't all that important to us then. (1980 - 6th grade)

Help me find an old 2600 game (1)

RecycledElectrons (695206) | about 6 years ago | (#24696683)

There was a space flight simulator for the 2600 that resembled Battlestar Galactica, except that you could turn on your shields that tinted the screen blue.

Does anyone know the name of this game?


Re:Help me find an old 2600 game (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 6 years ago | (#24696725)

Would that be the one that had the additional control pad? I recall a space flight game that I had with an additional controller with at least a dozen buttons on it. If we're thinking of the same game, I'll check through my collection when I get home and see if I can find it again.

Re:Help me find an old 2600 game (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24696775)

Star Raiders.

Re:Help me find an old 2600 game (4, Informative)

lymond01 (314120) | about 6 years ago | (#24696799)

Star Raiders []

Re:Help me find an old 2600 game (1)

RecycledElectrons (695206) | about 6 years ago | (#24696957)

THANK YOU!!! I've been looking for that name for 20 years!!!


Re:Help me find an old 2600 game (1)

lymond01 (314120) | about 6 years ago | (#24698365)

I googled for "atari 2600 shields blue". And I think I did play that game in my youth...

Re:Help me find an old 2600 game (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 6 years ago | (#24698005)

That was an AWESOME game.

Star Raiders wasn't a 2600 game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24699697)

It was written for the 400/800

Re:Star Raiders wasn't a 2600 game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24699759)

It was written for the 400/800, and that's the version you want to play -- but I remember Atari coming out with a version of it for the 2600.

Re:Help me find an old 2600 game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24696841)

Star Raiders?

Re:Help me find an old 2600 game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24697189)

As others have pointed out, the game is Star Raiders.

What they neglected to point out is that the game originally came from the Atari 400/800 computers, which had much better graphics than the 2600 (not just for that game, for just about everything).

If you can find an Atari 8-bit computer and a Star Raiders cartridge, you are in for a treat ...

Re:Help me find an old 2600 game (2, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | about 6 years ago | (#24697699)

I was just about to say exactly that. I remembered Atari 800 Star Raiders from my childhood, and got the 2600 port as an adult hoping it would be as good. Not even close. So I just play it in emulation instead.

Someday I'll find that deal on an atari 800 Ive been looking for. My dad gave ours away many years ago.

Help me find an old 2600 controller (1)

Valacosa (863657) | about 6 years ago | (#24697353)

I have the opposite problem. I have a Star Raiders cartridge and a working 2600, but I don't have the special controller needed to play the game. (So as a child, I'd plug in the game periodically, see only the 4x4 grid, die, think "this game sucks", and play Adventure or Jungle Quest instead.)

Is there any way to get the special controller? Or better yet, homebrew one?

Re:Help me find an old 2600 controller (1)

Valacosa (863657) | about 6 years ago | (#24697371)

Correction: By "Jungle Quest", I mean "Jungle Hunt". A short and simple game, but lots o' fun.

Re:Help me find an old 2600 controller (1)

SwordsmanLuke (1083699) | about 6 years ago | (#24697443)

You want the Atari Video Keypad [] . You should be able to find it on ebay pretty easily. I have a local game shop that trades in every system they can get hold of, so I was able to buy mine there for around $4.

Re:Help me find an old 2600 game (2, Informative)

steveha (103154) | about 6 years ago | (#24698469)

As others have noted, the classic space combat game is Star Raiders [] . But Star Raiders was excellent on the Atari 800 and 400 computers; the official Atari version for 2600 was, IMHO, very poor.

Happily, the Activision folks made an excellent knockoff of Star Raiders called Starmaster [] . The most important parts of the Star Raider experience are there: you can raise and lower shields, you have a galactic map, you have multiple star bases, the enemy will surround and destroy the star bases, you can get damaged, and you can dock with a star base to repair damage and refuel.

If you love 2600 gaming, get a copy of Starmaster and play it in your old 2600 or 7800. Once you have a legal copy, get a ROM image from somewhere and you can also play it in Stella [] . Starmaster and Millipede are my two favorite games to play in Stella.

If you fondly remember having an extra, weird keyboard thing for the game, you are remembering the official Atari 2600 Star Raiders. If you don't remember that, perhaps you are remembering Starmaster. (In Starmaster, the screen does turn blue when you have the shields up.)

For completeness, I'll add that Imagic sold a game called Star Voyager. It is a very simplified Star Raiders sort of game: you fight enemies, then fly through a warp gate to go to a new level and fight more enemies. There are no star bases; you cannot be damaged, but you can run out of energy. When you are out of energy, any enemy hit kills you. Warp gates refuel your energy. While it has no strategy at all, it is fun as a light shoot-em-up game.

P.S. Not every Activision game is gold. They had a game called Robot Tank, that was essentially Starmaster all over again, except that this time there was no way to repair damage. As a kid, I hated Robot Tank as much as I loved Starmaster.


who would of thought (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24696689)

that today they sue their fans [] and anybody who gives a negative review of their games []

oh how the mighty has fallen

Re:who would of thought (4, Informative)

eln (21727) | about 6 years ago | (#24696795)

To be fair, the company now known as Atari has virtually no relation to the company known as Atari in the late '70s and early '80s.

Re:who would of thought (4, Funny)

AceofSpades19 (1107875) | about 6 years ago | (#24697235)

so its like SCO?

Re:who would of thought (3, Funny)

mccabem (44513) | about 6 years ago | (#24698963)

I'm still a fan of some of their recent work, but to my knowledge there is exactly as much relation between Atari today and the Atari that is the subject of this book, as there is between Me and Zombie Me. Clothes might look familiar, just don't get too close.


Re:who would of thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24697687)

To be truly fair, that's because 'golden age' Atari failed and split in 1984, allowing the brand and properties to end up in other hands, who could make them viable.

Re:who would of thought (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24700497)

Right. The current Atari was Infogrames

Re:who would of thought (1)

Nursie (632944) | about 6 years ago | (#24697319)

Yup, they're now in bed with a very dodgy outfit that get their intelligence from a company who've been widely discredited across the EU. But not the UK yet.

Sending out thousands of "pay us or go to court" fishing mails, suing people and crowing about a 16K judgment made in absentia (that's right, she'd moved and the judgement was a default - ie not worth the paper it's written on as a precedent and open to a range of appeal options).

yay atari!

Re:who would of thought (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | about 6 years ago | (#24700345)

Yup, they're now in bed with a very dodgy outfit that get their intelligence from a company who've been widely discredited across the EU. But not the UK yet.

Sending out thousands of "pay us or go to court" fishing mails, suing people and crowing about a 16K judgment made in absentia (that's right, she'd moved and the judgement was a default - ie not worth the paper it's written on as a precedent and open to a range of appeal options).

yay atari!

The new Atari still has the enemies list of the old Atari and to be fair to them a lot of the people they are suing into bankruptcy for legally dubious reasons knew people that owned Commodore machines in the 80's.

Yeah, payback's a bitch, ain't it?

Re:who would of thought (3, Informative)

Chyeld (713439) | about 6 years ago | (#24697625)

The original Atari has been dead and buried for a long time now.

Atari is a corporate and brand name owned by several entities since its inception in 1972. It is currently owned by Atari Interactive, a wholly owned subsidiary of the French publisher Infogrames Entertainment SA (IESA).[1]Atari Interactive has in turn licensed the brand name and assets to Atari, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATAR), a 51% majority owned subsidiary of Infogrames Entertainment SA (IESA), encompassing its North American operations.

The original Atari Inc. was founded in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney. It was a pioneer in arcade games, home video game consoles, and home computers. The company's products, such as Pong and the Atari 2600, helped define the computer entertainment industry from the 1970s to the mid 1980s.

In 1984, the original Atari Inc. was split, and the arcade division was turned into Atari Games Inc..Atari Games received the rights to use the logo and brand name with appended text "Games" on arcade games, as well as rights to the original 1972 - 1984 arcade hardware properties. The Atari Consumer Electronics Division properties were in turn sold to Jack Tramiel's Tramel Technology Ltd., which then renamed itself to Atari Corporation. In 1996, Atari Corporation reverse merged with disk drive manufacturer JT Storage (JTS), becoming a division within the company.

Atari Interactive started as a subsidiary of Hasbro Interactive, after Hasbro Interactive acquired all Atari Corporation related properties from JTS in 1998.IESA in turn acquired Hasbro Interactive in 2001, and proceeded to rename it to Infogrames Interactive. In 2003, IESA then changed the company name entirely to Atari Interactive.

The company that currently bears the name Atari Inc. was founded in 1993 under the name GT Interactive. IESA acquired a 62% controlling interest in GT Interactive in 1999, and proceeded to rename it Infogrames, Inc. After IESA's acquirement of Hasbro Interactive and its related Atari properties in 2001, Infogrames, Inc. intermittently published Atari branded titles for Infogrames Interactive. In 2003, Infogrames Inc. licensed the Atari name and logo from Atari Interactive and changed its name to Atari Inc. Currently, Atari Inc. develops, publishes and distributes games for all major video game consoles, as well as for the personal computer, and is currently one of the largest third-party publishers of video games in the United States.

The current "Atari" is actually a company that used to be known as Infogrames and mostly changed their name to get out from under their rep of being purveyors of crap.

Re:who would of thought (1)

billcopc (196330) | about 6 years ago | (#24698137)

Today's Atari is an insult to the historical company. Now it is nothing but a brand name, maybe some long-lost trademarks/IP and a bunch of dirty corporate slugs who are milking the name to death.

First they got bought out by that idiot Tramiel, the guy who pumped and dumped Commodore. They still managed to produce the 520ST and 1040ST, which were kind of proto-Macs. Then came the underpowered Jaguar and Lynx, both huge flops!

"Classic Atari" was pretty much dead by then, no good console to sell, and no developers either. Hasbro bought them out for pennies on the dollar, and started releasing a series of shitty 3D remakes like Frogger 3D, Space Invaders 3D but sadly no Custer's Revenge 3D :P

Then Infogrames bought the Atari name, and openly proclaimed they were going to "re-invent" the brand, which is another word for "rape everything it once stood for". They didn't actually use anything related to Atari besides the name and logo. After a few years, they posted huge losses and are now in the process of absorbing / dissolving the Atari brand.

I honestly don't think there's anything left of the original Atari, and most of the people working for Infogrames have probably never owned nor played a 2600. At least the Commodore brand's cadaver didn't get dragged into the 21st century...

Re:who would of thought (2, Informative)

mattack2 (1165421) | about 6 years ago | (#24699123)

Umm, the Lynx was a color handheld, released over 9 years before the GameBoy got color. (According to wikipedia, Atari Lynx was introduced September 1989, and the GameBoy Color was introduced October 21, 1998 in Japan.)

(No, I'm not a huge Atari Lynx fanboy -- I bought one used, a long time after they stopped selling them, on the net for like $50.. I only ever got one or two games for it.)

Re:who would of thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24699399)

I would of not thought that.

Re:who would of thought (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | about 6 years ago | (#24699597)

After reading TFA (I know, I know), that seems pretty damn in line for Atari. Any time someone started making games that competed with theirs, they sued.

Re:who would of thought (1)

Artuir (1226648) | about 6 years ago | (#24699835)

Oh quit the FUD bullshit. If you actually read the articles it's not as simple as that. They sued the people pirating the game and a reviewer who used a pirated copy to review.

Really? (1)

ThanatosMinor (1046978) | about 6 years ago | (#24696917)

I hope it's not true that the most interesting sentence for Slashdotters is about firing Bill Gates. Is the anti-MS kneejerk reaction so common that it would overshadow any amount of interesting or even merely amusing or nostalgic story? Somebody thinks so.

Re:Really? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | about 6 years ago | (#24696993)

Yeah I mean what could be possibly amusing about firing someone who's been the richest man in the world for a decade straight.

Re:Really? (1)

SpicyLemon (803639) | about 6 years ago | (#24697229)

Yeah I mean what could be possibly amusing about firing someone who's been the richest man in the world for a decade straight.

Only the squirrel knows []

On a more serious note, at a family reunion last month I heard one of my Cousin's 6 year old kids ask another Cousin's 8 year old kid, "My dad and I like playing Atari. Do you have an Atari? Do you know what Atari is?"

It made me happy that there's at least one 6 year old that knows and enjoys Atari. I know that the kid also has an XBOX 360 and a Wii and a Nintendo DS. The kid likes the Atari best.

Re:Really? (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 6 years ago | (#24697305)

Okay, raise your hand if the first thought that came to your mind was, "I'd like to fire Bill Gates... out of a cannon."

No? Maybe it's just me....

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24698827)

Is the anti-MS kneejerk reaction so common that it would overshadow any amount of interesting or even merely amusing or nostalgic story?

Yes. You must be new here.

Re:Really? (0, Troll)

WK2 (1072560) | about 6 years ago | (#24700219)

Shut up Microsoft fanboy. Go back to your blue screens and buggy, proprietary software. I'll take something that is light, fast and free over a bloated sloth any day.

Does that answer your question?

How Atari Failed (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24696947)

My father was a die-hard Atari user back in those days. I remember asking him why Atari was not as popular as it used to be as the years went by, and I'll never forget his answer:

"Because Apple went to lunch with the schools, IBM went to lunch with the companies, and Atari didn't go to lunch with anybody."

I never learned how much truth there was in that answer, but I really liked his response! That, and his "Join the Revolution! Buy an Atari!" stamper.

Re:How Atari Failed (1)

Broken Toys (1198853) | about 6 years ago | (#24697631)

I think the big problem was the name, "Atari". They might have just as well written "PONG Version VI" on their computers.

I was also a die hard Atari user but trying to get anyone to take their computers seriously was extremely difficult. Atari probably should have created a separate business division with its own separate identity as Commodore did.

The Atari 400/800 line would still make a good introductory computer today, as would the Commodore 64 and Apple II. The hardware and OS's have always been well documented and they're very hackable machines.

Re:How Atari Failed (2, Insightful)

Chyeld (713439) | about 6 years ago | (#24697745)

Atari probably should have created a separate business division with its own separate identity as Commodore did.

They did, in 1984. Atari Games and Atari Corporation.

The real problem with Atari as a computer maker is that Atari Corporation was run by Jack Trameil (also known for being the guy who brought us the PET, C64) who wanted to use it to bludgeon his old company for getting rid of him.

Re:How Atari Failed (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 6 years ago | (#24698653)

Kind of like how Steve jobs did at NeXT?

Re:How Atari Failed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24699885)

They did, in 1984. Atari Games and Atari Corporation.

Hmm. -1 Redundant. ;)

Really though, you don't address the OP's main point that the Atari name was generally detrimental in the promotion of their home computer sales to a public that only knew that name from a game/toy context.

Re:How Atari Failed (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | about 6 years ago | (#24699431)

Atari found out with the 5200 that nobody wanted to buy a new system unless it ran the old legacy games, so the 7800 was made that ran the old 2600 games, but by that time the Intellivision, Colecovision had 2600 adapters and dozens of 2600 clones were being sold and anyone and their dog could make a 2600 game because Atari did not handle the game licensing properly.

By the time Atari got their act together, Nintendo ate their lunch with the NES or Famicom systems and Atari had millions of ET 2600 games they mass produced and other technology turds they couldn't get rid of so they crushed them and put them in landfills in New Mexico near Devil's Tower and tried to remake the Atari 800 series as 800XL but by that time Commodore ate their lunch in the home computer market.

Then Atari had an opportunity to make things right with the Lorrane project but they low balled Jay Miner and company and they moved to Commodore and made the Amiga project, by that time Ex-Commodore owner Jack Tramiel had been kicked out of Commodore like Steve Jobs was kicked out of Apple by shareholders, and Jack Tramiel bought out Atari and turned it into Commodore Part II and licensed GEM to make the Atari ST to compete with the Commodore Amiga.

Then Atari did good, until it released the Jaguar, but ST, TT, and Falcon sales made up for it, until IBM invented the IBM PS2 series and VGA and Microsoft bundled Windows with DOS, and then everyone and their dog made IBM PC clones with VGA and DOS and Windows and ate Commodore's and Atari's lunches.

Commodore went out of business but spun off the Amiga company, Atari also got bought out and sold and resold and while the ST/TT/Falcon died and TOS/GEM became open sourced. Amiga kept being developed as AmigaOS now and then AmigaAnywhere for cell phones to keep the Amiga games going on in a new format. But Atari became just a name that video game companies kept buying out and reselling.

Atari did try to do video game pizza joints, as Pizza Time and other names, until they got a brand name as Chuck E Cheese and sold out to Showbiz Pizza. Noland Bushnell tried to invest in video game arcades slash pizza joints and also tried to reinvent Atari as the Sente company.

Re:How Atari Failed (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | about 6 years ago | (#24699917)

crushed them and put them in landfills in New Mexico near Devil's Tower

Devil's Tower is in Wyoming. :-) The landfill where all the E.T. cartridges went to their eternal sleep is in Alamogordo, NM.

And what's best (4, Informative)

4D6963 (933028) | about 6 years ago | (#24696951)

30 years later they still have people making brand new original games for the Atari 2600 like this one [] or that one [] !

Re:And what's best (2, Interesting)

jannone (1145713) | about 6 years ago | (#24697269)

Not only that, but nowadays anyone can use free tools to write a semi-decent Atari game.

Batari Basic is a good example, although "free as in beer": []

Re:And what's best (1)

jannone (1145713) | about 6 years ago | (#24697307)

Correction: there is source code for Batari Basic, but not under a standard open source license AFAICT.

I was addicted to Atari 2600 (2, Informative)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | about 6 years ago | (#24696953)

I played Atari from when I was 3 until I was 8(1984-C64+ 1985-NES). I can't see anyone having played more hours of it than I did. I don't know. For some reason, I wanted to be the best video game player in the world. A video game allows children an outlet to their problem solving and reflex desires. I saw Atari 2600 as something new to my generation, so I played it as hard as possible. I figured that I may not be able to compete at games that have been around longer than I have because people had the age advantage on me. But video games were fresh so I put all my effort in them to get better. I was #1 in Starcraft for a while, and #1 in Warcraft 3 for a while too.

But as cool as it sounds to be the best in video games in the world... It really is hard to rate a video game player. You have all different genre of games.

No one probably cares, but I have memories. One of the memories was 1983 when I thought Atari 2600 should just keep making games. I never thought to myself that the video games could get better though with more powerful computing. Just breathing in today's world is living the dream for a video game player. And once you played out all the video games, you have the potential to make games too.

Re:I was addicted to Atari 2600 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24697257)

I was #1 in Starcraft for a while, and #1 in Warcraft 3 for a while too.

#1 according to whom? Yourself? And then you have a homepage about God speaking to you? Yep, you truly are crazy. Seriously delusional at the very least.

Re:I was addicted to Atari 2600 (2, Funny)

mr_mischief (456295) | about 6 years ago | (#24697519)

Why in the world would you point out to a man who calls himself "CrazyJim1" that he might not be right in the head? Is it really necessary?

Re:I was addicted to Atari 2600 (1)

Broken Toys (1198853) | about 6 years ago | (#24697755)

24 Hour Self-Absorbed Gamer Counselling Hot Line

Ask for Frodo.

Re:I was addicted to Atari 2600 (2, Interesting)

Chyeld (713439) | about 6 years ago | (#24697863)

I too was addicted to the Atari. Both the 2600 and later the ST when we had one. But for me it was always the deeply held belief that if I could just last a bit longer, I might reach the end. Or at least 'something special' would happen.

I wanted to beat Pitfall. I wanted to see if there was an end to River Raid.

Cosmic Ark, Riddle of the Sphinx, the Swordquest games. These all surely had to have some sort of ending... and I wanted to know what it was. The 'stories' that came with the games certainly implied they did.

Of course, when the ST came along many of those games actually had endings. But I still wanted to see how deep the game went. I played Dungeon Master for months, well after my party had gotten to the end and trapped Lord Chaos. I ran them daily and repeatidly up and down the dungeon from the level that had reliably spawning 'food' creatures and water to the levels where monsters that could actually be leveled against were. And I did it simply because I wanted to see if anything happened if you leveled your party up to "ArchMaster" in every class. After all, according to the novella that came with the game, that's what the Grey Lord was. So what would happen if my party got to that level?

That's a bit of what's missing in today's games. Yes, they all have some sort of depth. But there is very little 'side story' depth to them.

Atari AGAIN? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24697003)

Listen, could you pseudo-gamer-journalists stop writing about Atari's history? We've all heard and read about it a million times. We ALL know about Atari. We all know about Ralph Baer, Higgenbotten, and that Centipede was designed by a woman. Now, how about some REAL history even us old gamers don't know about?

What was it like working for Cinematronics? What was their culture like? Why did they go out of business? What was it like being on the Dragon's Lair team (and I don't mean just talking to Don Bluth and Rick Dyer; that's been done to death. What about everyone else like the tech developers? Did they think it would take off? What about the teams involved in vector games? What was that like?)

How about Universal? What happened to them? What was it like working there? The art department must have been a trippy place considering the fascinating psychedelic art their arcade game cabinets had. Who designed Mr Do? Lady Bug? When could they sense the writing was on the wall? Why couldn't they compete?

How about Stern's video department in 1978-82? At least you know where to reach Gary Stern today...

How about Williams video department? They made such cool games (Robotron, Defender, Sinistar...) What was their workplace and culture like?

Write about something new for fuck's sake.

Here's something new: +1, PatRIOTic (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24697209)

To keep you updated on the U.S. provocation of Georgia:

Banned in Russia (allegedly).

K. Trout

Re:Atari AGAIN? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24697697)

We've all heard and read about it a million times

Even funnier is that Gamasutra is (more or less) entirely subsidized by advertising, along with being targeted to game developers, so there is no financial or other real benefit to "broad audience" stuff.

Re:Atari AGAIN? (1)

gnarlyhotep (872433) | about 6 years ago | (#24697943)

Thank you for saying this.

I don't know if it's just the same nostalgia that caught people up in the 70s with happy days, etc, or if it's just a complete lack of imagination in the gaming "journalism" crowd (or a combination of the two) but I'm sick of hearing about Atari, it's rise, and the reasons behind it's fall.

We shouldn't forget about the past, but that doesn't mean we need to read or see the same object lesson several times a year, for multiple years running.

Re:Atari AGAIN? (1)

Jotaigna (749859) | about 6 years ago | (#24698037)

i agree with you except i think you mean "write something new about something old"

Re:Atari AGAIN? (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | about 6 years ago | (#24699969)

Well, I have a tiny little bit of trivia to offer - a few years back I had to spend some time on-site at Cherry Electrical's plant in Pleasant Prairie, WI, and the lead engineer there had previously worked for Williams, and was on the team for the High Speed pinball game. He's a big muscle car fan, and one of his cars was the source of some of the audio in the game. I really miss High Speed, and several others of the Williams titles.

Re:Atari AGAIN? (1)

kungfugleek (1314949) | about 6 years ago | (#24700469)

Along those lines, a history of pinball (that includes both of the Attack From Mars and it's sequel) and what happened to the industry would be interesting. Although I'm sure that's been done to death as well.

I just know that on a recent family vacation, I spent close to $20 playing pinball games (Shrek and Spider-Man), and less than $5 playing video games at an arcade.

Re:Atari AGAIN? (1)

JB Lars (630670) | about 6 years ago | (#24700597)

We all know about... Higgenbotten...

Seeing that his name is Higinbotham, maybe you need the refresher course after all.

one page version (5, Informative)

maj1k (33968) | about 6 years ago | (#24697063)

in case you don't feel like clicking through 20 pages of ads, you can view the article as one page here: []

Re:one page version (1)

glwtta (532858) | about 6 years ago | (#24697567)

In case you are stuck on the first page, here's a link to page 2: []

Also, in case you don't know what Atari is, here's the Google search [] , and an explanation of what Google [] is.

Seriously, why do people do this? You know that we all have web browsers and mice, and can just click the same links ourselves, right?

Re:one page version (1)

maj1k (33968) | about 6 years ago | (#24697637)

i always browse comments looking for the printer-friendly versions of stories so when i don't see one i post it up myself. relax guy.

Re:one page version (1)

karnal (22275) | about 6 years ago | (#24698835)

I'm not your guy, friend.

Re:one page version (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24699951)

He's not your friend, guy.

Oh, *that* is what the ROM was for... (1)

Bomarc (306716) | about 6 years ago | (#24697111)

When I left MS back in 'bout 81, I had an extra ROM pack for the Atari 400/800. Wow, I wonder if I should give it back?

Wish I kept my old catalogs and such (1)

StefanJ (88986) | about 6 years ago | (#24697147)

I bought a used Atari 800 to play games on after my IBM PC (original) proved pathetic for this purpose.

1986 was a GREAT time to own one of these old 8 bit systems. Software was still being made for it, and the slightly older hardware (8xx series printers, disk drives, serial interfaces, etc.) was available for firesale prices from mail order joints. The general audience computer magazines covered the platform, and there was at least one slick magazine with you-type-it program listings.

I played lots of the original EA classics; Seven Cities of Gold, Archon, and M.U.L.E. Amazingly crude by today's standard, but they were amazingly entertaining and so perfectly adapted for the platform.

Once in a while I'd get an old catalog or brochure. They were an interesting mix of slick and naive, with occasional vaporware products. I wish I kept those.

I dragged a cubic yard of Atari stuff with me to California after grad school. I hadn't plugged any of it in for maybe five years when I decided to sell it all for $20.

Massive? (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 6 years ago | (#24697223)

"Massive" is Gibbon's Decline and Fall in seven volumes. 23,000 words is about 2-3 times as long as a typical article in the kind of magazine that doesn't have recipes or pictures of Paris Hilton. That a lot of words, but it isn't enough to fill even a short book (about 75,000 words). Hardly "massive".

Al ? (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 6 years ago | (#24697309)

This Al [] ?

I'll wait for the movie... (1)

AlgorithMan (937244) | about 6 years ago | (#24697439)

Leonardo Dicaprio is making a movie about the history of atari...

yes - I know - dicaprio... titanic... *yuck*
but after "catch me if you can", "aviator" and now this project i start respecting him... (yes, i just said jehovah! stone me!)

Re:I'll wait for the movie... (1)

d3ik (798966) | about 6 years ago | (#24697757)

The Departed? Blood Diamond? That new one with Russell Crowe, Body of Lies?

Re:I'll wait for the movie... (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | about 6 years ago | (#24700377)

Leonardo Dicaprio is making a movie about the history of atari...

Is he going to play Landon Dyer? []

Lefites: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates & Jerry Seinfe (1)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | about 6 years ago | (#24697577)

The first computer I ever owned was a Radio Shack Model 100, in 1980. It was wonderful, came loaded with BASIC, made sound and had a fairly decent screen. I still have it somewhere. The software and OS, however, were not that impressive today. The Model 100 is famous for having been the last software written by Bill Gates himself. I suspect he also wrote the computer's manual, which was a mess. It had references to non-existent sections, did not ever make sense and was just in general a joke. I was glad to have it but now I see the fingerprints of Bill Gates all over it. Apple is what it is because of the personality of Steve Jobs. Likewise for Microsoft. Quite curious that we have all these lefties atop of this struggle. What what that is all about...

Golden Years... (1, Funny)

nawcom (941663) | about 6 years ago | (#24697587)

or Golden Showers?

All bow down before Custer's Revenge [] .

Re:Golden Years... (1)

Haoie (1277294) | about 6 years ago | (#24698087)

The most politically incorrect game of all time, perhaps?

Another old guy reminiscing... (3, Interesting)

digitalhermit (113459) | about 6 years ago | (#24697667)

I remember getting my first Atari 800... Then after that the 800XL, 130XE, 520ST, 1040ST, etc.. The 800XL was my first real chance to learn to program. Previously it had been on a Commodore Vic-20 at a cousin's house. I actually owe my career to those days spent writing little BASIC programs to do simple things.

At the time there was a magazine called Compute!. It had program listings for multiple machines including the Atari, Commodore, Apple IIe, and later on, the PC, ST and Amiga lines. Many of the programs were written in BASIC, but as the magazine progressed more and more were written in 6502 assembler. It was tedious to key in those listings (essentially typing in HEX dumps with a checksum) but we managed.

In middle school I was in one of the first programming classes in the school and district. The computers were all Apple IIe and Franklin Ace 1000s, but the instructor had a soft spot for the Ataris. For the end of term project I wrote a little quiz program that flashed a question on the screen in one of the Atari graphic modes, then read the 8-bit joystick port to see which answer was selected. I also tried to write an Infocom-like game, but it proved much harder than I had anticipated. I did get the user to be able to navigate a map though :D

For a long time I missed those days... Luckily Linux came along and all is well again...

Re:Another old guy reminiscing... (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | about 6 years ago | (#24700065)

Interesting that you mention Compute! magazine - that was back during the time when Byte was still available, and PC Magazine was actually informative and interesting instead of the glorified advertising insert it's become. Nibble was another of my faves, being an Apple II geek, but I almost mourn the loss of the Byte of the early/mid 80's - it was bar-none the best computer magazine of the time.

Still have mine (1)

BigDaddyOttawa (948206) | about 6 years ago | (#24697843)

I still have my Atari 2600, with about 30 games, controllers, and paddles (for playing Kaboom, my favorite). I grew up on that thing. The only person in the house that was any competition for me was my mom. She kicked ass at Kaboom, and I remember being in awe as I watched my aunt score 1,000,000 points on Missile Command.

I plugged in in a few days ago to play it, actually. It still works great. And totally sucks. But I love it.

You never forget your first.

The REAL Atari... (1)

AtariKee (455870) | about 6 years ago | (#24697899)

... was coin-op. Atari Games is dead. Long live Atari Games!

I won my 2600 in a competition (1)

Chris Brewer (66818) | about 6 years ago | (#24697917)

It was my first console, courtesy of Kentucky Fried Chicken. The eight games that came with it kept me satisfied until I got my C64.

Let me see if I can remember them: Ms Pac-Man, Galaxian, Bezerk, Missile Command (my Dad managed to roll-over the score), Haunted House, Yar's Revenge. I think my cousin had Adventure because I don't recall it much, but that freakin' duck gives me flashbacks. So that leaves one or two, but the list [] doesn't give me any ideas. Must have been the lame ones that I didn't play.

Best quote from story (3, Insightful)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 6 years ago | (#24698035)

"I felt that the computer system should not be a closed system, we needed to have third party software developers. I could see Steve Jobs out evangelizing, and Atari was saying that if you write software for the Atari computers, we will sue you. I just thought that was foolhardy. They were from the record world, where you sue people."

- Nolan Bushnell

You know, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Re:Best quote from story (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24699373)

Apparently that wasn't always the case...

My first computer was an Atari 800 that I bought in eighth grade. At the time, most of my friends had Apple IIs. Much of my high school years were spent writing little programs and games for it in BASIC. I did a lot of clever things to get around the speed and memory limitations, but didn't have a resource to show me how *real* games were made (this was long before the internet, and I was a 10th grade kid in Alaska), so I wrote a letter to Atari headquarters explaining that I liked making games but didn't know how to take it to the next level. Not long after, I received a package from them containing a nice letter and some articles on how to use "Player Missile Graphics". Well, I never really did master it, but the gesture was impressive nonetheless.

For a while I had a subscription to the Atari mag "Antic", which came each month with the type-in programs on a floppy, so I didn't have to type them out. :) I saw an archive of old Antic issues on the .NET some time back...

I loved my Atari ST... (2, Interesting)

fitten (521191) | about 6 years ago | (#24698119)

my... girl Atari ST ;)

Actually, I had the Atari ST when I was in college... I really liked it and I could do my assembly projects on it (our assembly and hardware classes were all based on the M68K).

Sob...sniffle (1)

atari2600 (545988) | about 6 years ago | (#24698125)

All this coverage truly brings a tear to me eye :'(. I am surprised no one here has mentioned The Flashbacks [] . The Flashback2 atleast can be hacked to take the original 2600 cartridges :D

Atari 8-bit vs. C64 anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24698163)

Come on you know you want to!

What was with those ugly C-64's , the XL line was so beautiful to look at.

Fire Bill Gate (1)

MouseR (3264) | about 6 years ago | (#24698511)

Al is the only person I know ever to have fired Bill Gates.

Every time you install an OSS system or buy a Mac, you fire Bill Gate.

Very informative article (1)

motang (1266566) | about 6 years ago | (#24698627)

This was a very good article, I don't much about Atari as it was before my time and this article gave some really good insights.

Atari means... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24698755)

If it's not too late for anyone to read anonymous posts, atari is a baduk related term:

atari mail (2, Interesting)

Victor Antolini (725710) | about 6 years ago | (#24698939)

Here's 10 Years of Atari/Atari Games VaxMail, this is history!!!! []

Description from the site:
Jed Margolis got his hands on something precious: a decade of internal mail from the now-defunct Atari Games corporation, makers of some of the more beloved arcade games in history and one of the more amazing stories in computer history. Buried among these large collections of e-mails from the Atari Corp. VAX are discussions of programming, trivia, jokes, and some real insights into the day-to-day concerns of this company.

Best ATARI Games Ever! (1)

Descalzo (898339) | about 6 years ago | (#24699177)

Has everone seen these? []

I'm still playing my Atari 800 (1)

shliddle (1337091) | about 6 years ago | (#24699449)

I imaged over 200 diskettes and keep them on my laptop as a server. Then I connect the laptop to the 800 and play the original games on it. It took seven different pieces of technology to do it: 1) 1985 technology (Atari 800 using 6502 processor at ~1mhz) 2) Hand-made SIO2PC cable from Poland (eBay) 3) USB-Converter cable (Iomega) 4) Semi-recent IBM Thinkpad (T42) running Windows XP 5) Shareware server software (don't recall the name just now) 6) Video adapter which converts RCA-type composite (with audio!) to coax into... 7) 60" DLP High-definition television Ahhh.. the good life of M.U.L.E, Archon, Bruce Lee, BallBlazer, Ali Baba and Ultima III... [basking in it!]

The B&W switch... (1)

kungfugleek (1314949) | about 6 years ago | (#24700503)

A friend of mine and I would turn the B&W/Color switch to B&W whenever we played Combat with the tanks or airplanes. Gave it that "old World War II movie" feel.
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