Atari brand logo used by Atari, SA and its subsidiaries since 2012
|Product type|| Video games |
|Introduced||June 27, 1972|
|Previous owners|| Atari, Inc. (1972–1984)|
Atari Corporation (1984–1998)
Atari Games (1984–1999 )
Hasbro Interactive (1998–2001 )
Atari ( // ) is a brand name owned by several entities since its inception in 1972, currently by Atari Interactive, a subsidiary of the French publisher Atari, SA. The original Atari, Inc., founded in Sunnyvale, California in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, 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 electronic entertainment industry from the 1970s to the mid-1980s.
In 1984, as a result of the video game crash of 1983, 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. In 1998, Hasbro Interactive acquired all Atari Corporation related properties from JTS, creating a new subsidiary, Atari Interactive.
Infogrames Entertainment (IESA) bought Hasbro Interactive in 2001 and renamed it Infogrames Interactive, which intermittently published Atari branded titles. In 2003, it renamed the division Atari Interactive. Another IESA division, Infogrames Inc. (formerly GT Interactive), changed its name to Atari Inc. the same year, licensing the Atari name and logo from its fellow subsidiary.
In 2008, IESA completed its acquisition of Atari, Inc.'s outstanding stock, making it a wholly owned subsidiary.IESA renamed itself Atari SA in 2009. It sought bankruptcy protection under French law in January 2013.
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In 1971, Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney founded a small engineering company, Syzygy Engineering,that designed Computer Space , the world's first commercially available arcade video game, for Nutting Associates. On June 27, 1972, the two incorporated Atari, Inc. and soon hired Al Alcorn as their first design engineer. Bushnell asked Alcorn to produce an arcade version of the Magnavox Odyssey's Tennis game, which would be named Pong. While Bushnell incorporated Atari in June 1972, Syzygy Company was never formally incorporated. Before Atari's incorporation, Bushnell considered various terms from the game Go, eventually choosing atari , referencing a position in the game when a group of stones is imminently in danger of being taken by one's opponent. Atari was incorporated in the state of California on June 27, 1972.
In 1973, Atari secretly spawned a competitor called Kee Games, headed by Nolan's next door neighbor Joe Keenan, to circumvent pinball distributors' insistence on exclusive distribution deals; both Atari and Kee could market virtually the same game to different distributors, each getting an "exclusive" deal. Joe Keenan's management of the subsidiary led to him being promoted president of Atari that same year.
In 1975, Atari's Grass Valley, CA subsidiary Cyan Engineering, started the development of a flexible console that was capable of playing the four existing Atari games. The result was the Atari Video Computer System, or VCS (later renamed 2600 when the 5200 was released). The introductory price of $199 (equivalent to $894in 2019) included a console, two joysticks, a pair of paddles, and the Combat game cartridge. Bushnell knew he had another potential hit on his hands but bringing the machine to market would be extremely expensive. Looking for outside investors, Bushnell sold Atari to Warner Communications in 1976 for an estimated $28–32 million, using part of the money to buy the Folgers Mansion. Nolan continued to have disagreements with Warner Management over the direction of the company, the discontinuation of the pinball division, and most importantly, the notion of discontinuing the 2600. In 1978, Kee Games was disbanded. In December of that year, Nolan Bushnell was fired following an argument with Manny Gerard. "[W]e started fighting like cats and dogs. And then the wheels came off that fall. Warner claimed they fired me," recalled Bushnell. "I say I quit. It was a mutual separation."
The development of a successor to the 2600 started as soon as it shipped. The original team estimated the 2600 had a lifespan of about three years; it then set forth to build the most powerful machine possible within that time frame. Mid-way into their effort the home computer revolution took off, leading to the addition of a keyboard and features to produce the Atari 800 and its smaller sibling, the 400. The new machines had some success when they finally became available in quantity in 1980. From this platform Atari released their next-generation game console in 1982, the Atari 5200. It was unsuccessful due to incompatibility with the 2600 game library, a small quantity of dedicated games, and notoriously unreliable controllers. Porting arcade games to home systems with inferior hardware was difficult. The ported version of Pac-man for Atari 2600 omitted many of the visual features of the original to compensate for the lack of ROM space and the hardware struggled when multiple ghosts appeared on the screen creating a flickering effect.
Under Warner and Atari's chairman and CEO, Raymond Kassar, the company achieved its greatest success, selling millions of 2600s and computers. At its peak, Atari accounted for a third of Warner's annual income and was the fastest-growing company in US history at the time. However, it ran into problems in the early 1980s as interference from the New York-based Warner management increasingly affected daily operations. Its home computer, video game console, and arcade divisions operated independently and rarely cooperated. Faced with fierce competition and price wars in the game console and home computer markets, Atari was never able to duplicate the success of the 2600.
These problems were followed by the video game crash of 1983, with losses that totaled more than $500 million. Warner's stock price slid from $60 to $20, and the company began searching for a buyer for its troubled division. In 1983, Ray Kassar had resigned and executives involved in the Famicom merger lost track of negotiations, eventually killing the deal. With Atari's financial problems and the Famicom's runaway success in Japan after its July 16, 1983, release, Nintendo decided to remain independent.
Financial problems continued to mount and Kassar's successor, James J. Morgan, had less than a year in which to tackle the company's problems. He began a massive restructuring of the company and worked with Warner Communications in May 1984 to create "NATCO" (an acronym for New Atari Company). NATCO further streamlined the company's facilities, personnel, and spending. Unknown to James Morgan and the senior management of Atari, Warner had been in talks with Tramel Technology to buy Atari's consumer electronics and home computer divisions. Negotiating until close to midnight on July 1, 1984, Jack Tramiel purchased Atari. Warner sold the home computing and game console divisions of Atari to Tramiel for $50 cash and $240 million in promissory notes and stocks, giving Warner a 20% stake in Atari Corporationwho then used it to create a new company under the name Atari Corporation. Warner retained the arcade division, continuing it under the name Atari Games, but sold it to Namco in 1985. Warner also sold the Ataritel division to Mitsubishi.
The Atari logo was designed by George Opperman, who was Atari's first in-house graphic designer, and drawn by Evelyn Seto.The design is known as "Fuji" for its resemblance to the Japanese mountain, although the design's origins are unrelated to it. Opperman designed the logo intending for the silhouette to look like the letter A as in Atari, and for its three "prongs" to resemble players and the midline of the "court" in company's first hit game, Pong.
Under Tramiel's ownership, Atari Corp. used the remaining stock of game console inventory to keep the company afloat while they finished development on a 16/32-bit computer system, the Atari ST. ("ST" stands for "sixteen/thirty-two", referring to the machines' 16-bit bus and 32-bit processor core.) In April 1985, they released the first update to the 8-bit computer line — the Atari 65XE, the Atari XE series. June 1985 saw the release of the Atari 130XE; Atari User Groups received early sneak-preview samples of the new Atari 520ST's, and major retailer shipments hit store shelves in September 1985 of Atari's new 32-bit Atari ST computers. In 1986, Atari launched two consoles designed under Warner — the Atari 2600jr and the Atari 7800 console (which saw limited release in 1984). Atari rebounded, earning a $25 million profit that year.
In 1987, Atari acquired Federated Group for $67.3 million, securing shelf space in over 60 stores in California, Arizona, Texas and Kansasat a time when major American electronics outlets were reluctant to carry Atari-branded computers, and two-thirds of Atari's PC production was sold in Europe. The Federated Group (not related to Federated Department Stores) was sold to Silo in 1989.
In 1989, Atari released the Atari Lynx, a handheld console with color graphics, to much fanfare. A shortage of parts kept the system from being released nationwide for the 1989 Christmas season, and the Lynx lost market share to Nintendo's Game Boy which, despite only having a black and white display, was cheaper, had better battery life and had much higher availability. Tramiel emphasized computers over game consoles but Atari's proprietary computer architecture and operating system fell victim to the success of the Wintel platform while the game market revived. In 1989, Atari Corp. sued Nintendo for $250 million, alleging it had an illegal monopoly.Atari eventually lost the case when it was rejected by a US district court in 1992.
In 1993, Atari positioned its Jaguar as the only 64-bit interactive media entertainment system available, but it sold poorly. It would be the last home console to be produced by Atari and the last to be produced by an American manufacturer until Microsoft's introduction of the Xbox in 2001.
By 1996, a series of successful lawsuitshad left Atari with millions of dollars in the bank, but the failure of the Lynx and Jaguar left Atari without a product to sell. Tramiel and his family also wanted out of the business. The result was a rapid succession of changes in ownership. In July 1996, Atari merged with JTS Inc., a short-lived maker of hard disk drives, to form JTS Corp. Atari's role in the new company largely became that of holder for the Atari properties and minor support, and consequently the name largely disappeared from the market.
On March 13, 1998, JTS sold the Atari name and assets to Hasbro Interactive for $5 million, less than a fifth of what Warner Communications had paid 22 years earlier.This transaction primarily involved the brand and intellectual property, which now fell under the Atari Interactive division of Hasbro Interactive. The brand name changed hands again in December 2000 when French software publisher Infogrames took over Hasbro Interactive.
In October 2001, Infogrames (now Atari SA) announced that it was "reinventing" the Atari brand with the launch of three new games featuring a prominent Atari branding on their boxarts: Splashdown , MX Rider and TransWorld Surf .Infogrames used Atari as a brand name for games aimed at 18–34 year olds. Other Infogrames games under the Atari name included V-Rally 3, Neverwinter Nights, Stuntman and Enter the Matrix.
On May 7, 2003, Infogrames had its majority-owned, but discrete US subsidiary Infogrames NA officially renamed Atari, Inc.,renamed its European operations to Atari Europe but kept the original name of the main company Infogrames Entertainment. The original Atari holdings division purchased from Hasbro, Hasbro Interactive, was also made a separate corporate entity renamed as Atari Interactive.
Between 2004 and 2011, Atari produced and marketed Atari Flashback retro consoles, reminiscent of the Atari 2600 design. Since 2011, these consoles have been produced by AtGames under the license from Atari. Atari Flashback Portable is a handheld game console sold since 2016.
On March 6, 2008, Infogrames made an offer to Atari Inc. to buy out all remaining public shares for a value of $1.68 per share, or $11 million total.The offer would make Infogrames sole owner of Atari Inc., thus making it a privately held company. On April 30, 2008, Atari Inc. announced its intentions to accept Infogrames' buyout offer and to merge with Infogrames. On October 8, 2008, Infogrames completed its acquisition of Atari Inc., making it a wholly owned subsidiary.
On December 9, 2008, Atari announced that it had acquired Cryptic Studios, a MMORPG developer.
Namco Bandai purchased a 34% stake in Atari Europe on May 14, 2009, paving the way for its acquisition from Infogrames.Atari had significant financial issues for several years prior, with losses in the tens of millions since 2005.
In May 2009, Infogrames Entertainment SA, the parent company of Atari, and Atari Interactive, announced it would change its name to Atari SA.
In April 2010, Atari SA board member and former CEO David Gardner resigned. Original Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell joined the board as a representative for Blubay holdings.
As of March 31, 2011, the board of directors consisted of Frank Dangeard, Jim Wilson, Tom Virden, Gene Davis and Alexandra Fichelson.
On January 21, 2013, the four related companies Atari, Atari Interactive, Humongous, and California US Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.All three Ataris emerged from bankruptcy one year later and the entering of the social casino gaming industry with Atari Casino. Frederic Chesnais, who now heads all three companies, stated that their entire operations consist of a staff of 10 people.
On June 22, 2014, Atari announced a new corporate strategy that would include a focus on "new audiences", specifically "LGBT, social casinos, real-money gambling, and YouTube".
On June 8, 2017 a short teaser video was released, promoting a new product;and the following week CEO Fred Chesnais confirmed the company was developing a new games console – the hardware was stated to be based on PC technology, and still under development. In mid July 2017 an Atari press release confirmed the existence of the aforementioned new hardware, referred to as the Ataribox. The box design was derived from early Atari designs (e.g. 2600) with a ribbed top surface, and a rise at the back of the console; two versions were announced: one with a traditional wood veneer front, and the other with a glass front. Connectivity options were revealed, including HDMI, USB (x4), and SD card – the console was said to support both classic and current games. Also, according to an official company statement of June 22, 2017, the product was to be initially launched via a crowdfunding campaign in order to minimize any financial risk to the parent company.
On September 26, 2017, Atari sent out a press release about the new "Atari VCS", which confirmed more details about the console. It will run a Linux operating system, with full access to the underlying OS, but it will have a custom interface designed for the TV.
On January 27, 2020, Atari announced a deal with GSD Group to build Atari Hotels, with the first breaking ground in Phoenix in mid-2020. Additional hotels were also planned in Las Vegas, Denver, Chicago, Austin, Seattle, San Francisco, and San Jose. The company plans to make the hotel experience immersive while catering to all ages, including the use of virtual and augmented reality technologies.
The Atari 2600, originally branded as the Atari Video Computer System until November 1982, is a home video game console developed and produced by Atari, Inc. Released on September 11, 1977, it is credited with popularizing the use of microprocessor-based hardware and games stored on ROM cartridges instead of dedicated hardware with games physically built into the unit. The VCS was bundled with two joystick controllers, a conjoined pair of paddle controllers, and a game cartridge: initially Combat, and later Pac-Man.
The Atari 7800 ProSystem, or simply the Atari 7800, is a home video game console officially released by the Atari Corporation in 1986. It is almost fully backward-compatible with the Atari 2600, the first console to have backward compatibility without the use of additional modules. It was considered affordable at a price of US$140.
The Atari Jaguar is a home video game console developed by Atari Corporation and released in North America in November 1993. Part of the fifth generation of video game consoles, it competed with the 16-bit Sega Genesis and Super NES and the 32-bit 3DO Interactive Multiplayer which launched the same year. Despite the system having two custom 32-bit processors –Tom and Jerry– in addition to a Motorola 68000, Atari controversially marketed the system as being the world's first "64-bit" video game system, emphasizing that the system has a 64-bit bus. The Jaguar shipped with Cybermorph as the pack-in game.
Nolan Kay Bushnell is an American businessman and electrical engineer. He established Atari, Inc. and the Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre chain. Bushnell has been inducted into the Video Game Hall of Fame and the Consumer Electronics Association Hall of Fame, received the BAFTA Fellowship and the Nations Restaurant News "Innovator of the Year" award, and was named one of Newsweek's "50 Men Who Changed America." Bushnell has started more than twenty companies and is one of the founding fathers of the video game industry. He is on the board of Anti-Aging Games. In 2012 he founded an educational software company called Brainrush, that is using video game technology in educational software.
Hasbro Interactive was an American video game production and publishing subsidiary of Hasbro, the large game and toy company. Several of its studios were closed in early 2000 and most of its properties were sold to Infogrames which completed its studio's closures at the end of 2000.
JT Storage, Inc. was a maker of inexpensive IDE hard drives for personal computers based in San Jose, California. It was founded in 1994 by "Jugi" Tandon—the inventor of the double-sided floppy disk drive and founder of Tandon Corporation—and Tom Mitchell, a co-founder of Seagate and former president and Chief Operating Officer of both Seagate and Conner Peripherals.
MicroProse is an American video game publisher and developer founded by Bill Stealey and Sid Meier in 1982. It developed and published numerous games, including starting the Civilization and X-COM series. Most of their internally developed titles were vehicle simulation and strategy games.
Atari Games Corporation was an American producer of arcade games. It was originally the coin-operated arcade game division of Atari, Inc. and was split off into its own company in 1984.
1996 has seen many sequels and prequels in video games and several new titles such as Blazing Heroes, Super Mario 64, NiGHTS into Dreams..., Crash Bandicoot, Resident Evil, Dead or Alive, Duke Nukem 3D and Tomb Raider.
1984 saw many sequels and prequels and several new titles such as Tetris, Karate Champ, Boulder Dash, and 1942.
Atari Age was a magazine distributed to Atari Club members from 1982 until 1984. It was published by The Atari Club, Inc., a subsidiary of Atari, Inc. The magazine only covered Atari products and events, offering exclusive deals to its readers, and serving as an advertising and merchandise outlet for the company. Atari used the magazine to build brand loyalty. The articles extolled Atari games and lavished them with praise, regardless of their comparison to similar products from competitors. The magazine was based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Atari Corporation was an American manufacturer of computers and video game consoles.
Amiga Corporation was a United States computer company formed in the early 1980s as Hi-Toro. It is most famous for having developed the Amiga computer, code named Lorraine.
Atari is a video game and computer brand.
Atari, Inc. formerly known as GT Interactive Software Corp. is an American subsidiary and publishing arm of Atari, SA. Formed in 1993 as the video game publishing arm of GoodTimes Home Video, the company subsequently majority acquired by Infogrames in 1999, and later renaming it Infogrames, Inc. As part of Infogrames Entertainment's company-wide re-branding in May 2003, Infogrames, Inc. finally became known as Atari, Inc. On October 11, 2008, Infogrames completed its acquisition of Atari, Inc., making it a wholly owned subsidiary. On January 21, 2013, Atari, Inc. filed for bankruptcy, with President Jim Wilson stating plans to split off from parent Atari, SA.
Atari, Inc. was an American video game developer and home computer company founded in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney. Primarily responsible for the formation of the video arcade and modern video game industry, the company was closed and its assets split in 1984 as a direct result of the video game crash of 1983.
Atari Interactive is a name used by several separate groups and corporations since the mid-1990s. In 1996, it was the name of Atari Corporation's PC publishing division, bringing games like the Atari Jaguar's Tempest 2000 to the PC platform. From 1998 to 2001, Atari Interactive, Inc. was the name of the corporate entity that held the Atari properties purchased from JTS by Hasbro in 1998, and functioned as the retro publishing subsidiary of Hasbro Interactive. It is currently the name of a wholly owned subsidiary of Atari, SA, who is the current owner of the Atari brand and various other properties formerly belonging to Hasbro Interactive. The current Atari Interactive was formed in 2001, when IESA acquired Hasbro Interactive and proceeded to rename it to Infogrames Interactive. In 2003, IESA then changed the company name entirely to Atari Interactive, Inc. as part of its worldwide reorganization to focus on use of the Atari brand.
Atari SA is a French video game holding company headquartered in Paris. Its subsidiaries include Atari Interactive and Atari, Inc. Because of continuing pressures upon the company, and difficulty finding investors, it sought bankruptcy protection under French law in January 2013; its subsidiaries in the United States have sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as well. All three subsidiaries have since exited bankruptcy, and are all going through a vigorous turnaround campaign.
Atari VCS is a home video game console produced by Atari SA. The system was first revealed in June 2017 and pre-orders began on May 30, 2018. After several delays, the console was expected to ship in March 2020, but was delayed again due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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