Atari Corporation

Last updated
Atari Corporation
Formerly
Tramel Technology Ltd.
FateMerged into JT Storage, later acquired by Hasbro Interactive to become Atari Interactive
Predecessor Atari, Inc.
Successor Atari Interactive (division of Hasbro Interactive)
FoundedJuly 1, 1984;34 years ago (1984-07-01) (as Tramel Technology, Ltd.)
Defunct 1996 (merged into Atari Interactive in 1998)
Headquarters New York City, New York & Milpitas, California, United States
Key people
Products

Atari Corporation was an American manufacturer of computers and video game consoles from 1984 to 1996. Atari Corp. was founded in July 1984 when Warner Communications sold the home computing and game console divisions of Atari, Inc. to Jack Tramiel. Its chief products were the Atari ST, Atari XE, Atari 7800, Atari Lynx, and Atari Jaguar.

Warner Communications, Inc. was an American entertainment company established in 1972 from the entertainment assets of Kinney National Company, which were spun off due to a financial scandal over its parking operations and changed its name.

Atari, Inc. Defunct American video game and home computer company

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 industries, the company was closed and its assets split in 1984 as a direct result of the Video game crash of 1983.

Jack Tramiel American businessman

Jack Tramiel was a Polish American businessman, best known for founding Commodore International. The Commodore PET, Commodore VIC-20 and Commodore 64 are some home computers produced while he was running the company. Tramiel later formed Atari Corporation after he purchased the remnants of the original Atari, Inc. from its parent company.

Contents

The company reverse-merged with JTS Inc. in 1996, becoming a small division, which itself closed after JTS sold its intellectual property to Hasbro Interactive in 1998.

JT Storage 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.

Hasbro Interactive video game publisher and producer

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 in 2001.

History

Atari ST Atari 1040STf.jpg
Atari ST

The company was founded by Commodore International's founder Jack Tramiel soon after his resignation from Commodore in January 1984. Initially named Tramel Technology, Ltd. (TTL), the company's goal was to design and sell a next-generation home computer. On July 1, 1984, TTL bought the Consumer Division assets of Atari, Inc. from its owner Warner Communications, and TTL was renamed Atari Corporation. Warner sold the division for $240 million in stocks under the new company.

Commodore International American home computer and electronics manufacturer

Commodore International was an American home computer and electronics manufacturer founded by Jack Tramiel. Commodore International (CI), along with its subsidiary Commodore Business Machines (CBM), participated in the development of the home–personal computer industry in the 1970s and 1980s. The company developed and marketed the world's best-selling desktop computer, the Commodore 64 (1982), and released its Amiga computer line in July 1985. With quarterly sales ending 1983 of $49 million, Commodore was one of the world's largest personal computer manufacturers.

In order to halt the massive losses Atari, Inc. had been yielding under Warner's ownership, Tramiel shut down nearly all of their 80 domestic branches, laying off the staff and liquidating the inventory. [1] Under Tramiel's ownership, Atari Corp. used the remaining stock of game console inventory to keep the company afloat while they finished development of their 16-bit computer system, the Atari ST. In 1985, they released their update to the 8-bit computer line—the Atari XE series—as well as the 16-bit Atari ST line. Then in 1986, Atari Corp. launched two consoles designed under the Warner Atari: Atari 2600 Jr and Atari 7800 (which had a limited release in 1984). Atari Corp. rebounded, producing a $25 million profit for 1986. [2] The Atari ST line proved very successful (mostly in Europe, not the U.S. [1] ), ultimately selling more than 5 million units. Its built-in MIDI ports made it especially popular among musicians. Still, its closest competitor in the marketplace, the Commodore Amiga, outsold it 3 to 2.[ citation needed ] Atari eventually released a line of inexpensive IBM PC compatibles as well as an MS-DOS compatible palm computer called the Atari Portfolio.

Atari ST home computer

The Atari ST is a line of home computers from Atari Corporation and the successor to the Atari 8-bit family. The initial ST model, the 520ST, saw limited release in April–June 1985 and was widely available in July. The Atari ST is the first personal computer to come with a bitmapped color GUI, using a version of Digital Research's GEM released in February 1985. The 1040ST, released in 1986, is the first personal computer to ship with a megabyte of RAM in the base configuration and also the first with a cost-per-kilobyte of less than US$1.

Atari 7800 video game console

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.

MIDI electronic musical instrument industry specification

MIDI is a technical standard that describes a communications protocol, digital interface, and electrical connectors that connect a wide variety of electronic musical instruments, computers, and related audio devices for playing, editing and recording music. A single MIDI link through a MIDI cable can carry up to sixteen channels of information, each of which can be routed to a separate device or instrument. This could be sixteen different digital instruments, for example.

Atari under Tramiel had a poor reputation in the marketplace. In 1986 a columnist for Atari magazine ANALOG Computing warned that company executives seemed to emulate Tramiel's "'penny-pinching' [and] hard-nosed bargaining, sometimes at the risk of everything else", resulting in poor customer service and documentation, and product release dates that were "perhaps not the entire truth ... Pretty soon, you don't believe anything they say". He concluded, "I think Atari Corp. had better start considering how they're perceived by the non-Atari-using public". [3] The company, however, was much more open to the press than its predecessor Atari Inc., which had refused to let Antic preview forthcoming announcements and even opposed the magazine printing the word "Atari" on its issues. [4]

ANALOG Computing was an American computer magazine devoted to the Atari 8-bit home computer line, published from 1981 until 1989. In addition to reviews and tutorials, ANALOG published multiple programs in each issue for users to type in. The magazine had a reputation for listings of machine language games—much smoother than those written in Atari BASIC—and which were uncommon in competing magazines. Such games were accompanied by the assembly language source code.

<i>Antic</i> (magazine)

Antic was a home computer magazine devoted to the Atari 8-bit family. It was named after the ANTIC chip which provided 2D graphics in the computers. The magazine was published from April 1982 until June/July 1990. Antic printed type-in programs, reviews, and tutorials, among other articles. Each issue contained one type-in game as "Game of the Month."

On August 23, 1987, Atari agreed to purchase the Federated Group for $67.3 million. October 4, 1987, Atari completed the acquisition and gained full control of its own retail stores. In the final quarter of 1987, Federated lost $6.4 million in day-to-day operations. A post-acquisition audit ended on February 15, 1988, and identified $43 million in adjustments to Federated's balance sheet, far more than Atari anticipated. The net worth of its acquisition was reduced by $33 million. Atari's CFO later claimed that they would never have done the deal had they known at the time. [5] [6] [7] Federated's operational losses increased, reaching $67 million for its first full year under Atari in 1988. [8] The FBI began an investigation of Atari in May of that same year for an ongoing scheme involving the profitable import and resale of Japanese DRAM chips in the US, "in violation of U.S. import laws and contrary to import agreements". [9] In March 1989, Atari announced that it would treat Federated as a discontinued operation and took an additional one-time charge of $57 million. [10] Federated was eventually sold to Silo in 1989. [11]

The Atari Jaguar, released in 1993. Atari-Jaguar-Console-Set.jpg
The Atari Jaguar, released in 1993.

In 1988 Stewart Alsop II said that Atari was among several companies that "have already been knocked out" of the GUI market by Apple, IBM/Microsoft, and others, [12] but Atari Corporation's sales hit their peak that year, at $452 million. [13] [2] In 1989, Atari Corp. released the Atari Lynx—a handheld console with color graphics—to critical acclaim. However, a shortage of parts kept the system from being released nationwide for the 1989 Christmas season. The Lynx lost market share to Nintendo's Game Boy, which had only a monochrome display, but a much better battery life, and was widely available. Also in 1989, Atari Corp. lost a $250 million lawsuit alleging that Nintendo had an illegal monopoly.

As the fortunes of Atari Corporation's ST and PC compatible computers faded, consoles and software again became the company's main focus. In 1993, Atari Corp. released its last console, the Atari Jaguar. The Jaguar was one of the first fifth generation gaming consoles, but due primarily to a games library which was low in both quantity and quality, it was unable to compete effectively against the incumbent fourth generation consoles. [14] [15] Atari Corp. sustained a net loss of $49.6 million for 1995, with $27.7 million in losses during the last quarter of the year alone. [16] Attempting to hedge their bets, in January 1996 Atari Corp. announced the formation of a new subsidiary, Atari Interactive, which would be devoted to publishing games for PC. [17] However, Atari Corp. would relinquish its interest in both the Jaguar and PC software within a few months.

Atari Corp.'s reverse merger with JT Storage Inc.

By 1996, a series of successful lawsuits followed by profitable investments had left Atari with millions of dollars in the bank, but without any products to sell because of the failure of the Lynx and Jaguar. In addition, Tramiel and his family wanted out. 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. [18] Atari's role in the new company largely became a holder for the Atari properties; most Atari staff either were dismissed or resigned, and the remainder were relocated to JTS's headquarters. [1] Consequently, the name largely disappeared from the market.

In March 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.

List of products

Atari 7800 Atari-7800-Console-Set.jpg
Atari 7800
Atari Portfolio Atari-Portfolio-Computer.png
Atari Portfolio

Related Research Articles

Atari 2600 Video game console

The Atari 2600, originally branded as the Atari Video Computer System or Atari VCS until November 1982, is a home video game console from 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 2600 was bundled with two joystick controllers, a conjoined pair of paddle controllers, and a game cartridge: initially Combat, and later Pac-Man.

Atari Jaguar video game console

The Atari Jaguar is a home video game console that was developed by Atari Corporation. The console is the sixth programmable console to be developed under the Atari brand, originally released in North America in November 1993. It is also the last Atari console to use physical media. Controversially, Atari marketed the Jaguar as being the first 64-bit video game console, while competing with the existing 16-bit consoles and the 32-bit 3DO Interactive Multiplayer platform.

Atari Lynx handheld game console

The Atari Lynx is a 16-bit handheld game console that was released by Atari Corporation in September 1989 in North America, and in Europe and Japan in 1990. It was the world's first handheld electronic game with a color LCD. It was also notable for its advanced graphics and ambidextrous layout. The Lynx competed with the Game Boy, as well as the Game Gear and TurboExpress, both released the following year. It was discontinued in 1996.

Atari 8-bit family series of 8-bit home computers

The Atari 8-bit family is a series of 8-bit home computers introduced by Atari, Inc. in 1979 and manufactured until 1992. All of the machines in the family are technically similar and differ primarily in packaging. They are based on the MOS Technology 6502 CPU running at 1.79 MHz, and were the first home computers designed with custom co-processor chips. This architecture enabled graphics and sound capabilities that were more advanced than contemporary machines at the time of release, and gaming on the platform was a major draw. Star Raiders is considered the platform's killer app.

Atari XEGS video game console

The Atari XE Video Game System is a home video game console released by Atari Corporation in 1987. Based on Atari's 8-bit 65XE computer, the XEGS is compatible with the existing Atari 8-bit computer software library. Additionally, it is able to operate as either a stand-alone console or as a full computer with the addition of its specially designed keyboard. In computer mode, it may utilize the majority of peripherals released for Atari's 8-bit computer line. Atari packaged the XEGS as a basic set consisting of only the console and joystick, and as a deluxe set consisting of the console, keyboard, joystick and light gun.

Atari Games American former producer of arcade games, and originally part of Atari, Inc.

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.

Spectrum HoloByte American game developer

Spectrum HoloByte, Inc. was a video game developer and publisher. The company, founded in 1983 in Boulder, Colorado by Jeff Sauter, Phil Adam and Mike Franklin, was best known for its simulation games, notably the Falcon series of combat flight simulators, and for publishing the first version of Tetris outside the Soviet Union. Spectrum HoloByte also published games for various home computers and video game consoles.

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.

<i>Basketbrawl</i> video game

Basketbrawl is a video game released for the Atari 7800 in 1990, then later for the Atari Lynx in 1992. It is a sports simulation which allows hitting and fighting with other players. The name is a portmanteau of the words basketball and brawl. Basketbrawl is similar to the 1989 Midway arcade game Arch Rivals which had the tagline "A basket brawl!"

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.

<i>Electrocop</i> 1989 video game

Electrocop is a ‹The template Vgy is being considered for deletion.› 1989 action video game developed by Epyx and published by Atari Corporation in North America and Europe exclusively for the Atari Lynx. It was also released in Japan on November 25 of the same year, where it was instead distributed by Mumin Corporation. One of the first games written for the platform, it was one of the launch titles that were released along with the system in North America.

Atari Interactive Owner of the Atari brand, subsidiary of Atari, SA

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.

Piko Interactive

Piko Interactive LLC is a game development and publishing company that concentrates in the development of new games for old consoles such as the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super NES, Sega Genesis, Atari Jaguar, and Amiga, as well as portable platforms such as the original Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance. They have several distribution channels from physical game cartridges, bundled games on plug and play consoles, to popular digital distribution channels like Steam Greenlight, Apple Store, and Google Play.

References

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  2. 1 2 "The Life and Death of Atari". GamePro . No. 92. IDG. May 1996. p. 20.
  3. Leyenberger, Arthur (February 1986). "The End User". ANALOG Computing. pp. 109–110. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  4. Friedland, Nat (March 1987). "Today's Atari Corp. | A close-up look inside". Antic. pp. 30–33. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  5. YOSHIHARA, NANCY (24 August 1987). "Atari to Acquire Federated Group for $67.3 Million: Deal Would Give Video Pioneer Access to a Retail Network" via LA Times.
  6. "970 F.2d 641". law.resource.org.
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  8. "Annual report" (PDF). www.atariarchives.org.
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  10. LAZZARESCHI, CARLA (10 March 1989). "Ailing Unit Blamed for $85-Million Loss: Atari Puts Federated on the Block" via LA Times.
  11. AP. "COMPANY NEWS; Atari Is Selling 26 Federated Stores".
  12. Alsop, Stewart II (1988-01-18). "WUI: The War Over User Interface" (PDF). P.C. Letter. 4 (2): 1–4.
  13. "Annual report" (PDF). www.atariarchives.org.
  14. "Which Game System is the Best!?". Next Generation . Imagine Media (12): 36–85. December 1995.
  15. Langshaw, Mark (January 27, 2013). "Atari Retrospective: The Rise and Fall of a Gaming Giant". Digital Spy. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  16. "New Systems, New Price Cuts". GamePro . No. 93. IDG. June 1996. p. 16.
  17. "Atari Broadens its Platform Base". Compkarori.com. Business Wire. January 2, 1996. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved 2009-08-15.
  18. "Agreement and Plan of Reorganization - Atari Corp. and JT Storage Inc. - Sample Contracts and Business Forms". contracts.onecle.com.