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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The Atari Action Figures We Never HadKotaku, March 6th
of Atari characters, similar to what you can see on the boxes. A line-up of action figures (and maybe a few vehicles) based on these games could have been fun, sitting next to all the G.I. Joe and He-Man figures. Even though thanks to the Atari...Read more
'Games were supposed to be a fun career choice: Now I'm afraid I'll get murdered'Business Insider, March 5th
The next panelist, EA creative director Amy Hennig, discussed her love affair with old-school arcades and the Atari 2600, which eventually faded. She went to film school instead, and her dream was to become a cinematographer. But she was told it was...Read more
Tomorrow Daily 140: Google's Atari AI, a futuristic doghouse for £20000 and moreCNET, March 5th
First, there's an AI from Google that doesn't know any of the rules to 39 different Atari 2600 games, but learns how to improve after hundreds of play sessions and develops its own strategies over time. Then, we discuss Pleurobot, a robot that looks...Read more
Google Team Programmed Machines to “Play” Atari 2600 Video GamesYour Single Source for News, March 1st
The team programmed machines to “play” Atari 2600 video games. And, guess what: the algorithm used in these experiments artificially “learned” how to play these games a “more than 75 percent of the level of a professional human player,” according to...Read more
A computer taught itself to play 49 Atari 2600 gamesThe Daily Dot, February 26th
Deep Mind, a company acquired by Google in 2014, has built an artificial intelligence that taught itself how to play 49 different games for the Atari 2600 game console. The games are ancient in their simplicity compared to modern fare—the Atari 2600...Read more
LEGO Atari 2600 & TV Diorama: My Old BasementTechnabob (blog), February 26th
The latest custom LEGO set from professional builder Chris “Powerpig” McVeigh is for 80s kids. It has an Atari 2600, a TV, a few toys and trinkets and most of all a drab orange and brown rug. You can practically feel the fibers under your feet...Read more
AI masters 49 Atari 2600 games without instructionsArs Technica, February 25th
Artificial intelligence, machines and software with the ability to think for themselves, can be used for a variety of applications ranging from military technology to everyday services like automated telephone systems. However, none of the systems that...Read more
Atari Pioneer Steve Bristow Passes AwayGameSpot, February 24th
Atari engineer Steve Bristow, an early employee who conceptualized Breakout and was instrumental in designing the Atari 2600, has passed away. Company founder Nolan Bushnell has previously described Bristow as a games industry pioneer. Bristow...Read more