A visual history of Atari


Atari is still one of the most respected companies in the area of gaming and it has played a pivotal role in the development of the computer entertainment industry.

The company has had to deal with a significant number of challenges both internally and externally. The company was founded by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney in 1972 and was responsible for iconic games such as Pong and Breakout. The VCS system or 2600 revolutionised the home gaming market and created a new wave of home entertainment systems that has influenced generations of gamers, entrepreneurs, artists, developers and fans.

Atari famously was responsible for giving an opportunity to two of Silicon Valley’s most influential people on a game that was released in 1976, the game was called ‘Breakout’ and the people were Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, who along with Atari employee Ronald Wayne, who would also go on to be a co-founder in the Apple Computer Company in 1976.

Bushnell also had the opportunity to become an equal partner in Apple, he was asked by Steve Jobs to invest $50,000 into the company and receive a third of the company. Bushnell declined the offer to invest. Even though Bushnell missed out on that opportunity he helped to build Atari into one of the most iconic brands in the world and their legacy still lives on with the brands and successful individuals that were inspired to build on the success of the brand.


Atari history timeline



Atari was incorporated in the state of California on June 27, 1972 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney.

Bushnell and Dabney wrote down a list of names as an alternative to Syzergy’ and Atari was the 3rd name on the list. The name Atari is from the Japanese computer game ‘Go’ and it means ‘warning imminent danger’ of being defeated by an enemy.

Pong was released.

The Atari symbol was designed by George Opperman in 1972, Opperman was the head of his own design agency, Opperman-Harrington Inc.

The Atari logo was influenced by the aesthetic appearance of Mount Fuji in Japan.



Ted Dabney leaves the company.

Atari turned over $3.2 million due to the success of Pong.



To follow on from the success of Pong Atari begin development for a new game ‘Breakout.’ Atari employee Ronald Wayne works with Nolan Bushnell on the project, and they get two young guys to help out on the project. The guys were Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the co-founders of Apple Computer.



Bushnell sold Atari to Warner Communications for $28 million and Bushnell remains with the company.



The Atari Video Computer System (VCS) or the ‘2600’ games console is launched.



Bushnell leaves Atari due to internal disputes with the new management team.



Atari launch the Atari 400 & 800 home computers.



Missile Command released into Arcades.



Advanced Video Computer “System X” released; it would later be renamed the Atari 5200 Super System.



The Video game crash hits the gaming market hard and Atari lose 97% of their revenues.


Atari 7800 Prosystem gaming console is released. The original Atari Inc. is split into two divisions. The Atari Consumer Electronics Division properties are sold to Jack Tramiel while Warner keeps the arcade division, Atari Games, Inc.



Atari releases the XE and Atari ST computers.



The world’s first colour handheld gaming system the Atari Lynx is launched.



Atari Corporation reverse-merges with disk-drive manufacturer JT Storage (JTS), becoming a division within the company.



Hasbro Interactive acquires all Atari Corporation related properties from JTS, creating a new subsidiary, Hasbro Interactive.



Infogrames Entertainment acquires GT Interactive, Inc. and renames it Infogrames, Inc. Infogrames, Inc. remains listed in the US.



The brand name changed hands again in December 2000 when French software publisher Infogrames took over Hasbro Interactive



Infogrames Entertainment acquires Hasbro Interactive and renames it Infogrames Interactive, Inc.



Infogrames Interactive is renamed Atari Interactive. Infogrames, Inc. (formerly GT Interactive), changes its name to Atari, Inc.



Infogrames changes its name to Atari, SA.



In April 2010, Atari SA board member and former CEO David Gardner resigned. Original Atari co-founderNolan Bushnell joined the board as a representative for Blubay holdings.



The listing of the Atari, SA shares is suspended on the Paris Stock Exchange.

On January 21, 2013, the four US subsidiaries of Atari, SA, i.e. Atari, Inc., Atari Interactive, Inc., Humongous Entertainment, Inc. and California US Holdings, Inc. file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

In February 2013, Frédéric Chesnais, former CEO of Atari Interactive, Inc., as well as former Deputy-COO and CFO of Infogrames Entertainment, becomes Atari, SA’s largest shareholder through his holding company Ker Ventures. Atari, SA does not file for bankruptcy in France and remains solvent thanks to Ker Ventures funding.

Atari exits from Chapter 11 in December. At the end of March 31, 2013, Atari, SA and its subsidiaries has one million (Euro) of revenue only.



In January, quotation of the Atari, SA shares is resumed on the Paris stock Exchange.


Atari announces development of Atari VCS hardware entertainment system.


Company: Atari

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