In the late 1970s and early ’80s, the toy most coveted by kids was the Atari 2600 Video Computer System. While the graphics seem rudimentary by today’s near photo-realistic 3D gaming standards, when the VCS was released for Christmas of 1977, it was revolutionary to be able to interact with your TV set in such a way.
In fact, Atari set the whole video-game craze in motion with its 1972 coin-operated arcade game Pong. Even though Nutting Associates technically produced the first arcade computer game, 1971’s Computer Space, no one paid attention to this new form of entertainment until the game’s creator, Nolan Bushnell, formed a new company of his own called Atari and released Pong. During the arcade years that followed, Atari made several coin-operated hits: Breakout, Atari Football, Asteroids, Battlezone, Missile Command, Centipede, Dig Dug, Pole Position, Marble Madness, Gauntlet, and even Star Wars.
Atari also did not introduce the first home video-gaming console, but it did make the most successful one of the era. Kids would cram around TVs in rec rooms, fighting over the black joysticks with red fire buttons, playing games like Canyon Bomber, Adventure, Kaboom!, Superman, Spike’s Peak, Barnstorming, Yars’ Revenge, and Pitfall! Atari churned out hundreds of game cartridges, including some of popular coin-operated machine titles like its own Pong and Midway’s Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man, as well as games based on movies.
At the height of its success in 1982, Atari introduced the new 5200 system. Even though the company was advertising its games during prime Saturday morning cartoon time, Atari now faced tough competition from the Commodore 64 and ColecoVision. Atari faded out of fashion by 1985, when the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was introduced.
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Howard S. Warshaw revisits Yars' Revenge in GDC Classic Game PostmortemGamasutra, December 17th
Now he's coming to GDC to speak at length about his work designing and coding Yars' Revenge, widely believed to be one of the best Atari 2600 games ever made. He'll also make time to speak about his work on E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and answer ...Read more
Unearthed ET Atari Cartridge Phones Home to SmithsonianPC Magazine, December 17th
One man's trash is another museum's treasure. The Smithsonian has snagged a copy of the E.T. the Extra Terrestrial Atari 2600 video game, one of many that were unearthed in a New Mexico landfill earlier this year. The game is set for display in The...Read more
The Smithsonian welcomes excavated ET cartridgeEurogamer.net, December 16th
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Father Makes Son Play Through Video Game History, ChronologicallyKotaku, December 10th
That's an Atari 2600 (VCS) and an Atari cart there. Atari 2600 Pac-Man looked nothing like this: oldtaku. View discussion >> · 2. That sure as hell isn't on the 2600. anacanapana. View discussion >>. For the last ten years, Andy Baio has been...Read more
ET For the Atari 2600UConn Daily Campus, November 30th
In April of 2014, an excavation project in the Nevada desert unearthed over 700,000 copies of “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” for the Atari 2600. What was this disaster, this mess that someone saw fit to publish and how did it end up in the desert? Thus...Read more
15 vintage Atari games based on moviesDeath and Taxes, November 26th
“Shark JAWS” also established a tradition that the company carried over into its phenomenally popular Atari 2600 home video game system. Beginning with an official “Superman” cartridge in 1979, Atari created movie tie-in games throughout its early-'80s ...Read more
Xbox Documentary on Atari's Lost 'E.T.' Games Debuts for FreeVariety, November 20th
The hour-long film chronicles the rise and fall of Atari by literally uncovering the truth of what happened to millions of unsold “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” videogame cartridges in 1983. Around 792,000 of the Atari 2600 cartridges were discovered...Read more