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Atari Turns 40 Today

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the back-in-the-day dept.

Games 162

harrymcc writes "On June 27, 1972, a startup called Atari filed its papers of incorporation. A few months later, it released its first game, Pong. The rest is video game history. I celebrated the anniversary over at TIME.com by chatting with the company's indomitable founder, Nolan Bushnell. From the article: 'Like everyone else who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, I played them all: Pong, Breakout, Asteroids, Centipede, Millipede, Battlezone, Pole Position, Crystal Castles and my eternal favorite, Tempest. The first computer I bought with my own money was an Atari 400. So when I chatted with Bushnell this week to mark Atari’s 40th anniversary, I felt like I was talking with a man who helped invent my childhood.'" I spent my fair share of time playing Warlords with friends on my 2600.

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frosty (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40473889)

Atari > Commodore

Re:frosty (5, Interesting)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 2 years ago | (#40473971)

Atari > Commodore

Until Commodore produced the Amiga.

Of course the Amiga really had Atari blood running through it, having been designed by Jay Miner -- the same man that help design previous Atari machines.

I can't believe Atari let the Amiga design get away from them.

Instead they came out with a machine that had a dumb frame buffer and simple syth chip attached to a CPU. The ST was more Radio Shack Color Computer than a next generation Atari machine.

I guess I can blame Commodore for that since they gave Atari Jack Tramiel. That guy seemed obsessed with undermining his old company. He basically helped Atari and Commodore destroy each other while IBM PC compatibles slowly took over.

Re:frosty (5, Informative)

C_amiga_fan (1960858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474293)

Jay Miner - Another guy who revolutionized computing, but Steve Jobs gets all the credit & media attention while Jay gets nothing. :-|

And don't blame Atari. Blame the idiots at Warner Communications who decided in 1983 to sell-off the company on the belief that videogaming was a "fad" whose time had passed. Warners stopped funding the Amiga company, so naturally they needed to look for new funding..... they discovered Commodore who bought them out wholesale.

Re:frosty (4, Interesting)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474797)

And don't blame Atari. Blame the idiots at Warner Communications who decided in 1983 to sell-off the company on the belief that videogaming was a "fad" whose time had passed.

Interesting, I remember when laser disc arcade games like "Dragon's lair" [wikipedia.org] came out. They were supposed to revitalize a slumping arcade industry. I just looked it up and Dragon's Lair came out in 1983. I was an arcade addict at the time and remember it well, arcade games had stagnated and computers lacked the "horse power" to get to the next level of visual effects. I believe it was Gauntlet [wikipedia.org] that was one of the first big hits, post laser disc, that really "rescued" video games. It didn't need great graphics (although we all thought it was really cool at the time), it just needed to be massively addicting and awesome to play. I couldn't count how many hours I spent shoving quarters into that game.

Re:frosty (2)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475889)

I believe it was Gauntlet that was one of the first big hits, post laser disc, that really "rescued" video games. [...] I couldn't count how many hours I spent shoving quarters into that game.

Was it even possible to play that game without shoving in another quarter every 30 seconds? IIRC it was an endless war of attrition...

Re:frosty (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40474577)

The Amiga was further ahead of the competition when it came out that probably anything has been since that time. Truly a machine ahead of its day.

Re:frosty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40474875)

LoL Jack pwned the Amiga he owned the graphic chips in the first few computers.

Re:frosty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40474885)

True, Tramiel Atari was not really Atari.

It sorta looked like Atari because there was so much left over inventory that Tramiel prostituted the 2600 & 800 computers for years afterward. But the ST and the later Jaguar console were his signature cheap junk.

Re:frosty (4, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475519)

I don't think it was a case of them "destroying each other" as much as it was the clones and ISA giving everyone a stable platform on which to build, combined with some serious disasters such as the 7800 at Atari and of course the big crash of 83.

I know that I hung onto my VIC for longer than most but in the end it was the abundance of ISA cards and software for IBM PC compatible that ended up getting me to take my first Compaq all those years ago, there really wasn't anything at either Commodore or Atari that got supported as well as ISA or X86. With both Commodore and Atari basically you got what was in the box and that was it, sure there were a few add ons but nothing like the huge explosion of ISA cards, not to mention the flood of games that came out for DOS. Anybody else remember those shareware discs? man those were fun, dozens of games on a floppy, later CDs with over 100, man you just can't pack 'em away like that anymore.

So happy BDay Atari, its really a shame your gone but between the 7800 and the Jaguar not really surprising. Like Sega who came after you you had a hell of a run and gave many of us some great times, I can still remember trying to sleep with a pillow over my head because when i was done gaming and had to get some sleep before school my mom would plop down in the living room for some Yar's Revenge until the wee hours. Even the Wii never got the whole family involved like the old 2600 did, hell of a machine.

Re:frosty (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40474155)

As much as I was a chickenhead in my youth, I gotta say that the Atari 8 bit family had better video. I think. I haven't thought much about it in ages. If I had the room, I'd get an Atari 800 to play with.

Re:frosty (4, Informative)

C_amiga_fan (1960858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474407)

The Atari 800 computer had 128 colors for better still images (great for nude girls), but only 2 sprites, so it was hard for programmers to make "speedy" arcade-style games like they did for the Commodore with its 8 sprites.

The C64 was also about half the cost, so it started outselling the Atari after just six months and remained #1 from 1983 to 86.

 

Re:frosty (-1)

C_amiga_fan (1960858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474505)

- 1 Overrated

Awwww somebody couldn't handle the facts. Yes Atari had 128 colors. Yes it only had only 2 sprites. And yes it was the # 1 selling computer of 1981 and 82, until C64 was released.

Re:frosty (4, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475265)

The Atari didn't have sprites, as such. It had a system called Player Missile Graphics. There were 4 players (8 bits wide), and 4 missiles (2 bits wide), which spanned the entire height of the screen. The 4 missiles could be combined into a fifth player. The Display List Interrupt system allowed a programmer to position the horizontal location many times during the vertical scan. On a side scroller type game, each horizontal band could have its own 5 players.

Re:frosty (3, Informative)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475599)

OTOH, C64 had a vertical scanline interrupt as well, allowing the same trick to be done, but with 8 sprites, each 24 pixels wide.
The problem (on both systems) with such interrupts and sprite swapping was that is sucked away a lot of useful CPU time that could have been spent on game logic. Also, it seriously constrains vertical movement, so those sprites aren't as flexible anymore.

Re:frosty (1)

nogginthenog (582552) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475967)

The Amiga used a similar technique, except the Copper (graphics co-processor of sorts) handled the 'wait for line 120 and change the sprite registers' bit, leaving the CPU free. Sprites on the Amiga sucked though, as they were only 16 pixels wide (AGA used in the A1200+ improved this).

Re:frosty (4, Interesting)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474511)

As much as I was a chickenhead in my youth, I gotta say that the Atari 8 bit family had better video. I think. I haven't thought much about it in ages. If I had the room, I'd get an Atari 800 to play with.

I don't know how the Atari 800 compared to the Commodore 64, but when I was a kid my parents got me a used 800XL originally owned by possibly the biggest pirate ever. I've yet to find a video on Youtube of a game on that machine that I haven't played!

It was great machine to have at the age of 10. I remember some of the games I had were written in BASIC, I had fun going in and editing them. Heh.

Recently I went on a Youtube spree to check out some of the games I used to play, and I gotta say I was impressed with what I found. Check out this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKh5b8jcwLk&feature=related [youtube.com]

This is Goonies, I suppose you'd call it either an adventure or possibly a puzzle game. I remember firing that one up over and over again and spending all this time trying to figure out how to progress to the next screen. I can't think of a modern day equivalent of that game.

Fun stuff. I really don't regret that this is the machine I had while all my friends had NES. (Although I was perturbed at the time...)

Re:frosty (1)

toejam13 (958243) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475391)

I don't know how the Atari 800 compared to the Commodore 64

The Atari 800 beat the C64 hands down when it came to color palette. The Atari had a standard palette of 128 colors while the C64 had only 16 colors. And while both systems had a total of 8 sprites, half of them on the Atari were crippled. All 8 on the C64 were fully versatile.

If you used horizontal screen resolutions of 160px, both were limited to about 4 simultaneous colors. But the Atari included a 80px horizontal screen resolution that could display 16 simultaneous colors. On the Atari, you could change those colors every scanline, while on the Commodore you could set it for each 4×8 pixel block (or 8×8 block in hi-res mode).

This image [atari8.info] is what mode 9 looked like on an Atari. You might have been able to do something similar with the Commodore 16 and Plus/4 which had a 121 color palette, but those machines never saw widespread adoption. It wasn't until the Amiga that Commodore had something that could best it.

Re:frosty (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475951)

Goonies for the Atari 800 is reminiscent of Conan on the Apple II, at a glance anyway.

There was a pretty cool Goonies game on the NES...

Another winner from the 6502 family (4, Funny)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 2 years ago | (#40473909)

Atari 400 and 800 were just plain fun. Yeah, plastic cases, and ROM cartridges, but what fun those arcade games were. The Apple II guys would say: PR#6. We'd say: PR pound sand.

Re:Another winner from the 6502 family (4, Interesting)

C_amiga_fan (1960858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474163)

I upgraded to an Atari 7800 "prosystem" which also had a Commodore Semiconductor 6502.

Ordered it online! (Yes kids Atari had an online store in the 80s.) That was a really nice system with great near-arcade perfect games..... 128 sprites (no damn flicker)..... 256 colors at 320x240..... too bad it barely sold.

Re:Another winner from the 6502 family (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40474385)

When I was 9 years old, my parents got me a NES and a used color TV from a yard sale. I was the happiest kid on the block, especially because my parents were lower middle class and that was a relatively big investment for them back then. The guy who lived across the street, a dick head bully twice my size who liked to throw his weight around, got an Atari 7800 and cried like a bitch when he did because he didn't get a NES.

One day he was talking shit and I hit him in the back with a broomstick. The bitch slumped down on his butt in the middle of the street and started howling and crying. I told my parents what happened, and they grounded me for the rest of the day even though I was free to play my sweet, sweet NES. That punk-ass bully got shamed and got shamed again and went inside to his wimpy 7800.

It must've sucked to be that bully on that day, having to play a 7800 as his consolation prize. It's a lot like a guy taking Viagra before he proposes to his girlfriend, expecting to go all night, then being dumped for a guy he beat up and rejected, forced to cry while masturbating a relentlessly stiff dick all night.

The moral of this story? People who own 7800s are assholes. *Harrumph!*

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:Another winner from the 6502 family (1)

C_amiga_fan (1960858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474539)

"The moral of this story? People who own 7800s are assholes."

That's nice.
I had both the 7800 for the classic 70s/80s arcade games, plus an Amiga, so I was playing 16 bit games like Populous in the 80s, while everyone else was still doing the shitty-looking NES or SMS.

Re:Another winner from the 6502 family (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474641)

Please. Real players played the Action Maxx.

Re:Another winner from the 6502 family (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475349)

One day he was talking shit and I hit him in the back with a broomstick.

Nice move, Malfoy!

Re:Another winner from the 6502 family (2)

SternisheFan (2529412) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474719)

The 7800 was an improved 5200, a succesful game system. The 7800 had nothing extra special to entice buyers, and marked the beginning of the end for Atari. I had the 5200, came with the dual-potentiemeter + keypad joysticks, and 4 fast response fire buttons (that broke down soon after several hours of use). A large-ish library of quality games like "Star Raiders", "Galaxian", "Robotron 2084", and the best "Joust" port ever! Many non-Atari companies also made some quality titles for the 5200, helping to extend it's popularity. With the 7800 came slightly better graphics, a return to the more reliable 8-way/2 button joystick, though no new game titles and it's high cost doomed the 7800. Atari attempted it's last comeback with the first ever handheld dedicated video game system, the $200 Lynx. It had a fantastic color screen and no decent games to support it. The Lynx was too expensive for the time, and I belive it was the last Atari game system made.

Re:Another winner from the 6502 family (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40475087)

The 5200 was actually a bigger failure than the 7800.

Re:Another winner from the 6502 family (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40475357)

Yes, the 7800 was supposed to be the "5200 done right", however by the time it came out it was already obsolete and the entire game library was 4+ years old. It looked pretty pathetic next to the bright colorful new-style games on the NES.

I suspect the only reason Tramiel released the 7800 was because it was back-compatible with the 2600 and he had warehouses full of old games.

Re:Another winner from the 6502 family (2)

kermidge (2221646) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474949)

Yow, I know I'm getting older; put enough quarters into Pong, etc. (Only program I sold was written on an 800 for a corporation in MIchigan, '82.) More stuff's been inspired from the Atari than you can shake a stick at. Happy Birthday Atari, and thanks, Nolan and Jay!

Re:Another winner from the 6502 family (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475033)

The Atari 400 was the first computer I owned, purchased with money saved from my job delivering magazines (a glorified paperboy). The TRS-80 didn't do color, the Apple ][ was too expensive, the C=64 didn't exist yet, and IBM's new Personal Computer - no sound, no graphics, no effing way - was ridiculously overpriced. But the Atari 400 could play Asteroids and Star Raiders, and opened the door to printers and modems and bears, oh my! It was oh so much more than the Atari 2600 game machine that every upper-middle-class kid in the neighborhood had. I replaced the Atari a couple years later with a C=64 (when I went off to college for CS degree) in part because that had a proper keyboard and a growing software library, but Atari is largely responsible for me being the geek I am today.

Re:Another winner from the 6502 family (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475083)

I was a systems guy, but the 400 and 800 were more like fun. Hook it to a color TV, get the joysticks, and have a blast. It kept me sane while compiling crap in 64K of memory on "larger" systems. It gave birth to ideas that made the C64, the Playstation, and even things like the Xbox. What fun!

The rest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40473911)

The rest IF history?

Happy birthday Atari! (4, Interesting)

multiben (1916126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40473921)

I still remember the sense of pride I got when I figured out the Space Invaders strategy of shooting through my own shield to create a one bullet wide gap which could be used to pick off the invaders while staying relatively protected.

Re:Happy birthday Atari! (2)

Teresita (982888) | more than 2 years ago | (#40473989)

I still remember the sense of pride I got when I figured out the Space Invaders strategy of shooting through my own shield to create a one bullet wide gap which could be used to pick off the invaders while staying relatively protected.

Sure, just like I "figured out" when you're playing Minesweeper and you enter xyzzy and hold down shift while you mouse over the minefield, one pixel in the top left corner of the screen lights up on a safe square.

Re:Happy birthday Atari! (2)

C_amiga_fan (1960858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474127)

I used to allow the invaders to wipe-out my shields (they disappear when the invaders move to row 3), because the shields just got in the way of my firing. If you want a REAL challenge, try the version with invisible invaders. Getting that last invisible guy is nigh impossible (I never got past wave 2). 128 games in one cartridge! ;-)

One flaw with Atari games is that they were often too easy. I could play Invaders and Missile Command for hours & hours and not die. I was annoyed when they started eliminating the harder game variations & just made you play the default game. :-| Or else used the space to make "bear" games for children. Example: Ms.Pacman with one ghost. Where's the challenge in that? :-(

Re:Happy birthday Atari! (2)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475213)

Yeah, We used to play space invaders with the TV turned off to see how many levels we could get through without looking. One person would play, and the other one would turn the TV on about every 2-3 minutes just long enough to see if the game was over.

Re:Happy birthday Atari! (2)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475499)

Yeah, We used to play space invaders with the TV turned off to see how many levels we could get through without looking. One person would play, and the other one would turn the TV on about every 2-3 minutes just long enough to see if the game was over.

Wouldn't it have been easier and more fun (for the people not playing) to leave the TV on and have the player turn around?

I always like to point out that (5, Interesting)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 2 years ago | (#40473925)

if you took all the ram used in every 2600 that was ever made you'd have less than 4GB of space. (128 bytes per system and about 30 million systems were made. Pretty much 4gb is standard on a laptop these days.)

Re:I always like to point out that (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40474005)

There are ten, million, million, million, million particles, in the universe, that we can observe. Yo momma took all the ugly ones and put them into one nerd.

Re:I always like to point out that (4, Interesting)

C_amiga_fan (1960858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474223)

Never thought of it that way. You think we'll see a Linux distribution that fits on 128 bytes? ;-)

Of course the Atari didn't actually run on just 128 bytes. It was hard-programmed with 4K of internal ROM commands, plus the 2 or 4K in the cartridge that the programmer had full control over. The biggest cartridge ever made was 32K (Jr.PacMan; a great game). ----- The 128 byte RAM limitation meant the background was only 40 pixels wide! That same resolution was later used in their 1979 computers: 40x240, 80x240, and so on.

Re:I always like to point out that (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40475929)

>It was hard-programmed with 4K of internal ROM commands
Wrong. The 2600 has no OS. You only have the cartridge ROM and the 128 bytes of RAM (unless bankswitching of course)

>The 128 byte RAM limitation meant the background was only 40 pixels wide!
Wrong. The graphis limitation of the 2600 stem from the design of the TIA chip, not the amount of RAM.

Re:I always like to point out that (3, Interesting)

toejam13 (958243) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474275)

Agreed. The Atari 2600 was an incredibly memory restricted device. It was perhaps its greatest fault. I've done some programming for the 2600 and it is a very difficult system to develop software for because of it.

I can only imagine what the platform would have been like if they had included 512 bytes of memory (zero page plus stack) instead of the stock 128 bytes included in the MOS Technologies RIOT chip. Having all 13 address lines of the CPU going to the cartridge slot would have also made a huge difference. Bank switching around the ROM when it is larger than 4KB really sucks.

Heck, I wonder what things would have been like if MOS Technologies would have released a 28-pin package 650x variant that multiplexed the address and data bus to expose all 16 address lines. With the latch pin, you'd only need to dump one signal line (or the phase2 clock line) from the 6502. Heck, it could have replaced ever other 28-pin variant in the 650x series.

Re:I always like to point out that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40474657)

Not very many cartridges came with RAM. 8 times out of 10 the cartridge is dealing with the 128 bytes in the RIOT. Only certain games had RAM expansion.

Technically, the Atari graphics chip, the TIA, never directly accesses RAM. The CPU must program it for each line, right before (and sometimes during) the TV is scanning it on the screen. So the CPU is loading data from ROM, or RAM, and storing it to the TIA, in realtime, 60 frames a second. Non-display functions must run in the TV's HBlank and overscan time, unless you intentionally blank out parts of the screen to gain a few cycles.

The horizontal resolution of the Atari 2600 is 160 pixels. However, only the ball and player objects operate at this resolution. The "playfield" is 40 pixels, and the register only has 20 bits for half of those pixels. The other half can be replicated or mirrored on the right half of the screen - unless you reprogram the PF bits in mid frame at the right spot (counting cycles, closely looking up cycle counts in your 6502 programmers manual).

Re:I always like to point out that (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40474735)

Stop saying heck. You sound like a moron.

Re:I always like to point out that (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474697)

I suggest reading this. http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=11696 [mit.edu]

Not only was the memory limited but they didn't even have enough memory for a frame buffer so they used a line buffer. You had to make the program fast enough to write the data into the register before it was scanned to the screen. What is crazy is that even though there were only two bit mapped sprites, two 2 pixel missiles, and a one pixel ball you could really do a lot more by changing the colors and locations of these things between scan lines.

One interesting story was in Yars Revenge they ran out of memory to store color data. So in the one place on the screen where there was a safe zone it just read random data from the program to generate this random static looking area. That was good enough to get the program to fit.

Re:I always like to point out that (3, Funny)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475559)

So 4GB is enough for EVERYONE?

Turns 40? (3, Insightful)

Georules (655379) | more than 2 years ago | (#40473951)

Don't get me wrong, I love my 7800 ProSystem, but Atari turning 40 implies that it's still alive.

Re:Turns 40? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40474139)

Yeah, that's what I was thinking... Atari doesn't even exist anymore outside of a name purchased by some other company.

Re:Turns 40? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40474225)

Yep. A mere shadow of its former self. A shadow that will sue your ass if you put Atari anywhere on your website.

Re:Turns 40? (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474615)

Apparently when they said "Atari" turns 40, they're referring to the trademark, not the company that originally owned it, which is, as noted, long dead...

Atari Greatest Hits (5, Informative)

philj (13777) | more than 2 years ago | (#40473969)

All 100 Atari Greatest Hits games are free on iOS today. Link Here [apple.com]

Re:Atari Greatest Hits (1)

C_amiga_fan (1960858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474243)

Crap. If only I had an iPhone so I could download..... wait I already did that twelve years ago. (Thank you Stella emulator.) I prefer playing the console versions since you only need one joystick & one button vs. the 10 confusing buttons needed to play Missile Command Arcade or Defender Arcade.

Re:Atari Greatest Hits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40475619)

Droid2600 [google.com] is awesome.

Re:Atari Greatest Hits (1)

killermookie (708026) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474379)

Thank you! Downloading now!

Re:Atari Greatest Hits (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474467)

All 100 Atari Greatest Hits games are free on iOS today. Link Here [apple.com]

Awesome, i can't wait to relive the joystick era on a touchscreen. (seriously, how does one play oldschool arcade style games on an iOS device?)

Re:Atari Greatest Hits (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474851)

seriously, how does one play oldschool arcade style games on an iOS device?

A Joystick-It [thinkgeek.com] , of course!

Or you can go all out hardcore with an iCade [thinkgeek.com]

Re:Atari Greatest Hits (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474571)

All 100 Atari Greatest Hits games are free on iOS today. Link Here

It's neat, but I have to say I'm not super impressed with the controls, not even on the iCade.

Since this thread is about Atari I apologize in advance for being off-topic, but I really do enjoy the Midway Games arcade pack. The control is better and the games are pretty cool.

Re:Atari Greatest Hits (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40474591)

missle command is free, the rest are in app-purchases (25 packs @$0.99 or all 100 for $9.99). fuck your referral!

Re:Atari Greatest Hits (2)

philj (13777) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474895)

missle command is free, the rest are in app-purchases (25 packs @$0.99 or all 100 for $9.99). fuck your referral!

I downloaded it a few hours ago. Got a screen that said "It's our anniversary, all 100 games are free until you delete the game from your device". I've downloaded 6 different games so far and there weren't any in-app purchases involved. If you've already got the game I imagine you need to delete it and re-download.

Re:Atari Greatest Hits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40474961)

Not true. Downloading free games now. It must be done one by one, but they are free.

Re:Atari Greatest Hits (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474883)

All 100 Atari Greatest Hits games are free on iOS today.

Actually, it is 1 Atari game for free (Missile Command)

Quote:
Buy additional games in 2 unique ways:
1. 25 separate packs available for download at $0.99
2. Buy all 100 games for a discounted price of $9.99 (basically the price of a movie ticket)

Not a bad price at all though, and in fact I bought the full 100 set too. I just wanted to point out they aren't free however.

Re:Atari Greatest Hits (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475453)

All 100 Atari Greatest Hits games are free on iOS today.

Actually, it is 1 Atari game for free (Missile Command)

Quote:
Buy additional games in 2 unique ways:
1. 25 separate packs available for download at $0.99
2. Buy all 100 games for a discounted price of $9.99 (basically the price of a movie ticket)

Not a bad price at all though, and in fact I bought the full 100 set too. I just wanted to point out they aren't free however.

Actually, while that's normally true, TODAY, if you download the game and run it (very important!), it'll unlock all the games for free.

What sucks is that it's only valid until the game is redownloaded, so it's not a permanent unlock. I might just explore it via jailbreak and see if I can find the unlock file.

Additionally, no such deal for Android owners, oddly.

If Atari had owned the Ur-net (1)

Pharmakeus Ubik (2671987) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474009)

Between that, discounts on Atlantic and Elektra vinyl, and the corporate game room, I wouldn't have quit back in '82.

Netcraft confirms it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40474041)

Atari is dead and buried. RIP.

We'll be saying the same thing about FreeBSD and OpenBSD in 40 months. RIP

Membrane switch panels (2)

certsoft (442059) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474043)

I remember going over to Atari in 1979 or 1980 so we could see how they made membrane switch panels. At that time they were made pf 3 pieces of mylar sandwiched together. The center had holes and the two outer layers had silver plated pads for the switch contacts.

At last (4, Interesting)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474069)

Real News for Nerds!

Max Headroom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40475371)

No one gave a shit when Max Headroom turned 25 last March.

# 1 console and computer (2)

C_amiga_fan (1960858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474079)

Atari is barely remembered by today's 20-somethings, but back in the 70s and early 80s they were # 1. They had the number one console (Atari VCS/2600) from 1977 to 84, and the number one computer (Atari 800) in 1981 and 82.

I still love those old Atari 2600 games better than many modern games. Point, shoot, rack-up a million points. Brag to your friends.

Pole position?? (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474147)

Pole position was Namco's.
Just like Xevious which had some Atari built cabinets floating around.

Now, get off my lawn or i'll xevious-bomb your balls - with just one shot in the middle, of course :)

Re:Pole position?? (2)

C_amiga_fan (1960858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474331)

Pole Position is one of many games that Atari had the exclusive rights to sell in North America. They even went so far as to add an "atari banner" flying over the racetrack.

ATARI FORCE - In the year 2005 Earth is facing ecological devastation and Atari is the savior of the world, and so too are their "Atari Force" superheroes! Try not to laugh too much. I literally bought the game just so I could read the comic (the game was not bad either). I was also a loyal reader of Atari Age which was just a glorified advertisement for new games released every other month.

Description - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_Force [wikipedia.org]
Whole series - http://www.atariage.com/comics/index.html [atariage.com]
Geek Encyclopedia - http://home.hiwaay.net/~lkseitz/comics/AtariForce/ [hiwaay.net]

Re:Pole position?? (1)

ax25-ack (2666807) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475249)

Wowza!

Warlords Ghost (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474187)

I spent my fair share of time playing Warlords with friends on my 2600.

The best part of Warlords was when one someone "died" - they were still there as a mostly invisible ghost and could affect the trajectory of the fireball if it hit them. So if you died, you could really mess with the remaining players anytime the fireball came near your corner of the screen.

To the people I see poo-poohing this.... (5, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474203)

Would you mind terribly if I ask what your problem is?

I mean, what difference does it make to you if somebody likes something that you don't?

Do y'all really have nothing better to do than criticize somebody's passion just because it isn't all shiny and new?

Re:To the people I see poo-poohing this.... (4, Insightful)

SternisheFan (2529412) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474333)

Would you mind terribly if I ask what your problem is?

I mean, what difference does it make to you if somebody likes something that you don't?

Do y'all really have nothing better to do than criticize somebody's passion just because it isn't all shiny and new?

Not to worry, we were 20, and immortal too, once. I know if I say how much great fun/memories then friends and I had playing Zaxxon, they won't relate. Not yet, anyway. Zaxxon took over a half hour to load into the Atari 800 (when it loaded correctly), state of the art video gaming in the 80's, good times. In 30 years from now, it'll be these young-uns time to tell of how memories of Call of Duty gets that faraway look in their eyes. And the beat goes on...

Some 2600 games have aged well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40474303)

Many 2600 games are a bit... underwhelming either today or when they were new. But the best ones have aged really well. You can have a pick up game with a friend now in 2012 and still have a royal blast, something that isn't true of many newer games with infinitely better gfx.

I won't go so far as to say games were better then in general, but there was a lot of really fun stuff from that system, which had fuck-all for graphics. I'd rather have a good pick-up game of air-sea battle than Diablo III (and as a benefit, I don't need to ask them each time I want to play the damn thing. Company's history, and game still works).

Re:Some 2600 games have aged well (2)

Miamicanes (730264) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475277)

The games that aged well were the ones that were games first, and graphics demos as an afterthought... Warlords, Circus Atari, Space Invaders, Asteroids, er... well, you know what I mean. What's kind of sad is that the games that IMHO aged the best were the ones I got for Christmas along with the 2600 itself. It seems like almost every game I got between Christmas 1981 and the arrival of my Vic-20 a year later was a disappointment and letdown, partly because Atari's ad agency was too good at hyping them up and making you think they wouldn't be lame and kind of suck. I mean, Defender and Missile Command weren't bad, and Berzerk was OK, but it seems like most of the best-looking games were fun for about 20 minutes. I think I had more fun watching Pitfall's hi-res rope swing back and forth than I ever did actually *playing* it.

A few good games came out after I'd fled for greener Vic-20 pastures a year later (Ms. Pac Man comes to mind), but Atari's quality seriously went down the shithole that summer, especially post-Pacman -- the point when all Atari's management could see were dollar signs and a license to print money, and they had their developers cranking out shit games with undersized cartridges and minimal quality control -- relying entirely upon a rapidly-slipping brand name and marketing -- to keep the cash flowing. By the time they got their mojo back with Ms Pacman, most of us had moved on to greener pastures -- the Vic 20, C64, and the Atari computers, in particular. Or we got a Colecovision. Or both.

It's too bad Coleco's licensing was so short-sighted and such a clusterfuck mess... if any vintage console has real market potential today as a "joystick with embedded videogame and cartridges", it's the Colecovision. Unfortunately, the licensing deals they made in haste and heat guaranteed that Colecovision games will never legally see the light of day in new hardware built this century. I don't think whomever owns Coleco's IP today could even legally still sell Smurfs, let alone Donkey Kong.

Star Trek on Atari (2)

FrankHS (835148) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474359)

I remember star trek on the atari 800. It took over 20 minutes to load from the cassette drive. You got to shoot at Klingons. It seemed so cool back then.

Ahhhh ... Tempest (4, Insightful)

thomp (56629) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474365)

Tempest is by far my favorite video game of all time. No video game since has come close to holding my attention like Tempest. The simplicity of the game, the rhythm of the game, the invisible levels, the chip glitch that enabled you to do weird things to the game depending on the last two digits of your score. I still dream about the game, and I haven't played it in 20 years.

Re:Ahhhh ... Tempest (3, Informative)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474919)

Tempest is by far my favorite video game of all time. No video game since has come close to holding my attention like Tempest. The simplicity of the game, the rhythm of the game, the invisible levels, the chip glitch that enabled you to do weird things to the game depending on the last two digits of your score. I still dream about the game, and I haven't played it in 20 years.

That's a slump you've gotta break. If you can make it to the Bay Area on the weekend of July 28/29, come to California Extreme [caextreme.org] for a weekend of all the coin-op retrogaming you can handle, no quarters required.

There are usually at least two or three Tempest machines on the show floor, so not only do you not have to worry about quarters, you also won't have to worry about a line-up to play it. It's a rare year that doesn't include virtually the entire line-up of vector games from Atari, Cinematronics, and Sega. Also the only place you'll ever get to play the old laserdisc games like Dragon's Lair, Space Ace, and Cliffhanger anymore.

Re:Ahhhh ... Tempest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40475375)

I found out a few years ago that the dude that wrote Tempest grew up in the same town as me. Interesting career indeed:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Theurer

Not sure why that was AC (it was me) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40475405)

I found out a few years ago that the dude that wrote Tempest grew up in the same town as me. Interesting career indeed:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Theurer

Re:Ahhhh ... Tempest (1)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475579)

Actually, Tempest works great with emulator. Your mouse is a very good replacement for the dial of the original. I haven't tried it in at least a decade, but I think I might now. Can you run emulators on a 64 bit OS?

Re:Ahhhh ... Tempest (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475933)

Logitech wingman... extreme? I think that's the one. Serial/gameport stick. Has a rotary controller on it. Available at flea markets with busted joysticks. You're welcome.

Re:Ahhhh ... Tempest (1)

triffid_98 (899609) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475627)

If you're a big Tempest fan, you must own Tempest 2000 (originally released to the Atari Jaguar). There aren't a lot of good reasons to own a Jaguar but this is one of them.

Good Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40474401)

I was the VP of a large Atari club in the Seattle area back in the days. Somewhere stored away in my attic is an Atari 130XE with extra RAM and a device called a Black Box that was made by a company in Rochester, NY that allowed me to hook up a SCSI hardrive. I also have modified disk drives, as well as some of their 16-bit hardware. I fondly remember the days when the term "hacker" did not have such an bad meaning.

Maybe I'm too young... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40474595)

Meh. I don't see how anyone could have enjoyed the Atari. I was looking at the 2600 wiki page and the graphics are SHOCKING! The pixels are huge, the refresh rate was awful, lack of color, no 3D support. With no hope of a quality game like Call of Duty, how could anyone have fun with it?

Re:Maybe I'm too young... (2)

SternisheFan (2529412) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474911)

Meh. I don't see how anyone could have enjoyed the Atari. I was looking at the 2600 wiki page and the graphics are SHOCKING! The pixels are huge, the refresh rate was awful, lack of color, no 3D support. With no hope of a quality game like Call of Duty, how could anyone have fun with it?

The only other video game out then was the Magnavox and Sears "Pong", which only had 4 varities of pong, and maybe a light sensing pistol with which you tried to hit a large white square bouncing around the tv screen. After playing nothing but pong, the 2600 seemed like a Cray Supercomputer to people then.

Re:Maybe I'm too young... (5, Informative)

Miamicanes (730264) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475449)

> no 3D support

Good god, are you even in middle school yet? Even 10 years ago, realtime-3D was mostly sleight of hand and programming hat tricks (think: Battle Arena Toshinden, probably the best example of a game that did a spectacularly good job of pretending to be 3D).

The 2600's hardware was seriously weak, but the biggest problem with its games were the fact that it had an astronomical learning curve. Take a simple question, like "what was the 2600's resolution?" The truth is, there IS NO simple answer to it. The 2600 has different "kinds" of pixels, and different ways to express pixel hue and luminance, and few of its "rules" were hard limits so much as timing limits you ran into when you just couldn't bitbang things fast enough.

It's hard enough to explain the 2600's theory of operation to someone with an EE degree. It wasn't enough to know "how to program" -- you had to get "down and dirty" with its hardware to a degree that's almost impossible with modern PC hardware. Literally, impossible... in most cases, the OS (Windows OR Linux) won't even *let* you get that close to it. At least, not unless you tried writing your game as a loadable kernel module, or you somehow managed to pwn Windows and get it to execute your program as Ring 0 kernel code. Go ahead... open a 320x240 legacy VGA screen filled with a single color pixel, then try bitbanging raw assembly by busy-waiting and counting clock cycles to change the contents of that one color register in realtime as the imaginary CRT your LCD panel is emulating scans each line. That's basically how many of the 2600's video effects worked.

On a modern PC, it won't work. Literally, won't work. Why not? Because modern multicore x86 architecture isn't realtime-deterministic, and hasn't been for years. Oh, the OUTCOME of a given sequence of assembly language, in the form of a specific value stuffed into a specific register or stored in a specific memory location when the dust settles, is certainly deterministic... but what happens between point "a" and "b" isn't.

On the Atari 2600, you could count the number of cycles each assembly instruction took to execute, and calculate which pixel would be getting drawn on the screen at the moment it happened (I think it was 3 pixels per clock cycle). Contrast that with a modern PC, where multiple cores, pipelines, speculative and out-of-order execution, and a hybrid architecture that decomposes traditional x86 CISC operations into bundles of virtual RISC code "behind the scenes" mean that everything that happens "along the way" is subject to the CPU's "mood".

Re:Maybe I'm too young... (1)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475595)

Troll much? AC...

Re:Maybe I'm too young... (1)

humanrev (2606607) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475973)

Troll much? AC...

Ya think? I would have thought the phrase "a quality game like Call of Duty " would have been a dead giveaway.

kudos to TFA's author (1)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474683)

Meeting the #1 influence on your childhood aspirations is indeed an amazing experience. Been there, done that, in my case with Jack Tramiel.

WOULD have been.... (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474725)

Atari would have been 40 today... IF it still was something more than just a trademark. Infogrames in France is not Atari. It's a trademark holder. Remember "Is it live or is it Memorex"? Those mediocre DVD-Rs you bought last month aren't coming from the same company as those cassette tapes you used to record KROQ tunes.

Wizards of Wor? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#40474757)

Friend of mine had an atari and a set of wireless controllers. We could play that game for hours, we made a very good team.

Video games suck... (1)

F34nor (321515) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475257)

Computer games rule, Spacewar motherfuckers! YEAH. PDP11 in-da-lab!

Or just love the Ur-Quan

Id take an atari today (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475397)

for my computer collection ... its a pretty interesting computer ... though more of a games machine than serious stuffyness computer (we were an Apple II family) Though probally one of the XL series if it dropped in my lap that way. Definitely any of the 16 bit machines ..

My cousins had a 2600, I at one point had a 5200 with one working joystick, pac mand and pole position (still one of my favorites), though I never really cared for the consoles as much, I just about bought a 2600 till the old lady went from 15 bucks to 75 cause her grandson looked at rapebay, hope she still has it instead of 15 bucks and one less chunk of crap in her house heh

already Turns 40 ? (1)

SvenLee (2624751) | more than 2 years ago | (#40475459)

Like everyone else who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, I played them all.

Fris7 5top (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40475751)

Common knowledge are there? Oh, Best. Individuals exactly what you've ME! It's official codebase became though I have never To any BSD project, oof the play area won't vote in Good to write you posts. Therefore much as Windows
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