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Tod R. Frye
Tod R. Frye (born 1955) is an American computer programmer once employed by Atari, Inc., and is most notable for being charged with the home adaptation of Pac-Man for the Atari 2600 video computer system, which, while reputedly the top selling title for that system, is popularly claimed to have been a factor in both Atari Inc.'s downfall and the video game crash of 1983. [ citation needed ] Following the collapse of Atari he worked at video game and computer game companies such as 3DO and Pronto Games.
In 2015 he was working as Senior Embedded Software Engineer for the SunPower Corporation, where he worked in the field of IoT, developing hardware and software systems for monitoring solar power systems. His work extended from 'edge' devices, collecting and transmitting device telemetry, to cloud hosted Big Data systems for storing, analyzing, and reporting device data.
Leaving Sunpower in late 2016, Tod joined Bonsai AI, which was developing an artificial intelligence platform, focusing primarily on reinforcement learning.
Frye landed the 2600 Pac-Man project in early 1981. Atari had licensed the arcade games Defender and Pac-Man and while Frye preferred Defender, when fellow programmer Bob Polaro got that assignment, Frye got Pac-Man by default.Frye's landing the high-profile title did not pass without critical comment. One Atari employee wrote "Why Frye?" on the Pac-Man arcade machine contained in Atari's in-office arcade room. In response, Frye drew a horizontal line over the "Why", which means "Why not Frye" in logic notation.
Frye's Pac-Man port was started in May 1981,[ citation needed ] and was the most anticipated release for 1982, so marketing pressed Frye to produce the game on a very strict timetable (lead times on the cartridge ROMs was several months, so the code needed to be completed in September 1981 to get the product into stores during the first quarter of 1982). Atari corporate management demanded Frye complete the game in the standard 4K ROM, as the 8K ROM form factor was not quite available at the time. Frye made several decisions which later proved controversial. First, he decided that supporting two-player gameplay was important, which meant 25–30 bytes of the 2600's meager 128 byte memory was utilized to store the second player's game state, score, etc. as opposed to using it for game data and features. Second, he chose to abandon plans for a flicker-management system which would have minimized the flashing of objects. Finally, his game did not conform to the arcade game's color scheme in order to comply with Atari's official home product policy that only space type games should feature black backgrounds. Frye states that there were no negative comments within Atari about these elements, but upon release the title drew criticism for not closely hewing to the specifics of its arcade counterpart.
Pac-Man proved to be a stunning financial coup for Atari, and Frye reportedly received $0.10 in royalties per Pac-Man cartridge.Atari would manufacture 12 million cartridges, making Frye a millionaire in the process.
Frye contributed to the LCD Breakout Atari handheld, the Atari 8-bit family version of Asteroids , the Swordquest series ( Earthworld , Fireworld , Waterworld , and the uncompleted Airworld ). Unreleased titles include Save Mary, Shooting Arcade and Xevious (Atari 2600).
Frye also developed the Red-Blue kernel (frequently misnamed as the Red-vs-Blue kernel) vertical sprite re-use technology used in Realsports Football and several other Atari 2600 products.
After parting ways with Atari, Frye later worked for Axlon (one of the many companies founded by Atari Pioneer Nolan Bushnell) and was hired as a programmer alongside fellow Atari employees Rob Zydbel, Bob Smith, and Howard Scott Warshaw at The 3DO Company.
Frye remains active in video games, making technical contributions to classic compilations such as Midway Arcade Treasures .
The Atari 2600, initially branded as the Atari Video Computer System from its release until November 1982, is a home video game console developed and produced by Atari, Inc. Released in September 1977, it popularized microprocessor-based hardware and games stored on swappable ROM cartridges, a format first used with the Fairchild Channel F in 1976. 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 Atari Corporation in 1986 as the successor to both the Atari 2600 and Atari 5200. It can run almost all Atari 2600 cartridges, making it one of the first consoles with backward compatibility. It shipped with a different model of joystick from the 2600-standard CX40 and Pole Position II as the pack-in game. Most of the announced titles at launch were ports of 1980–83 arcade video games.
Coleco Industries, Inc. was an American company founded in 1932 by Maurice Greenberg as The Connecticut Leather Company. It was a successful toy company in the 1980s, mass-producing versions of Cabbage Patch Kids dolls and its video game consoles, the Coleco Telstar dedicated consoles and ColecoVision. While the company ceased operations in 1988 as a result of bankruptcy, the Coleco brand was revived in 2005, and remains active to this day.
The Intellivision is a home video game console released by Mattel Electronics in 1979. The name is a portmanteau of "intelligent television". Development began in 1977, the same year as the launch of its main competitor, the Atari 2600. In 1984, Mattel sold its video game assets to a former Mattel Electronics executive and investors, eventually becoming INTV Corporation. Game development ran from 1978 to 1990 when the Intellivision was discontinued. From 1980 to 1983, more than 3 million consoles were sold.
The North American video game crash of 1983 was a large-scale recession in the video game industry that occurred from 1983 to 1985, primarily in the United States. The crash was attributed to several factors, including market saturation in the number of game consoles and available games, many of which were of poor quality, as well as waning interest in console games in favor of personal computers. Home video game revenues peaked at around $3.2 billion in 1983, then fell to around $100 million by 1985. The crash abruptly ended what is retrospectively considered the second generation of console video gaming in North America. To a lesser extent, the arcade game market also weakened as the golden age of arcade video games came to an end.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a 1982 adventure video game developed and published by Atari, Inc. for the Atari 2600 and based on the film of the same name. The game's objective is to guide the eponymous character through various screens to collect three pieces of an interplanetary telephone that will allow him to contact his home planet.
The Starpath Supercharger is an expansion peripheral cartridge created by Starpath, for playing cassette-based proprietary games on the Atari 2600 video game console.
Howard Scott Warshaw, also known as HSW, is an American psychotherapist and former game designer. He worked at Atari in the early 1980s, where he designed and programmed the Atari 2600 games Yars' Revenge, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
1982 was the peak year for the golden age of arcade video games as well as the second generation of video game consoles. Many games were released that would spawn franchises, or at least sequels, including Dig Dug, Pole Position, Mr. Do!, Zaxxon, Q*bert, Time Pilot and Pitfall! The year's highest-grossing video game was Namco's arcade game Pac-Man, for the third year in a row, while the year's best-selling home system was the Atari 2600. Additional game consoles added to a crowded market, notably the ColecoVision and Atari 5200. Troubles at Atari late in the year triggered the video game crash of 1983.
A dedicated console is a video game console that is limited to one or more built-in video game or games, and is not equipped for additional games that are distributed via ROM cartridges, discs, downloads or other digital media. Dedicated consoles were very popular in the first generation of video game consoles until they were gradually replaced by second-generation video game consoles that use ROM cartridges.
Atari Flashback is a series of dedicated video game consoles designed, produced, published and marketed by AtGames under license from Atari. The Flashback consoles are "plug-and-play" versions of the Atari 2600 console. They contain built-in games rather than using the ROM cartridges utilized by the 2600. Most of the games are classics that were previously released for the 2600, although some Flashback consoles include previously unreleased prototype games as well.
In the history of video games, the second-generation era refers to computer and video games, video game consoles, and handheld video game consoles available from 1976 to 1992. Notable platforms of the second generation include the Fairchild Channel F, Atari 2600, Intellivision, Odyssey 2, and ColecoVision. The generation began in November 1976 with the release of the Fairchild Channel F. This was followed by the Atari 2600 in 1977, Magnavox Odyssey² in 1978, Intellivision in 1980 and then the Emerson Arcadia 2001, ColecoVision, Atari 5200, and Vectrex, all in 1982. By the end of the era, there were over 15 different consoles. It coincided with, and was partly fuelled by, the golden age of arcade video games. This peak era of popularity and innovation for the medium resulted in many games for second generation home consoles being ports of arcade games. Space Invaders, the first "killer app" arcade game to be ported, was released in 1980 for the Atari 2600, though earlier Atari-published arcade games were ported to the 2600 previously. Coleco packaged Nintendo's Donkey Kong with the ColecoVision when it was released in August 1982.
Kick is an action video game where the player controls a clown on a unicycle catching falling balloons and Pac-Man characters on the clown's hat. It was released in arcades by Midway in 1981. The game was later renamed Kick Man. Commodore published a Commodore 64 port in 1982 without the space in the title as Kickman.
Pac-Man is a 1982 maze video game developed and published by Atari, Inc. under official license by Namco, and an adaptation of the 1980 hit arcade game of the same name. The player controls the title character, who attempts to consume all of the wafers while avoiding four ghosts that pursue him. Eating flashing wafers at the corners of the screen will cause the ghosts to turn temporarily blue and flee, allowing Pac-Man to eat them for bonus points.
The Atari video game burial was a mass burial of unsold video game cartridges, consoles, and computers in a New Mexico landfill site, undertaken by the American video game and home computer company Atari, Inc. in 1983. Before 2014, the goods buried were rumored to be unsold copies of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), one of the biggest video game commercial failures and often cited as one of the worst video games ever released, and the 1982 Atari 2600 port of Pac-Man, which was commercially successful but critically maligned.
Atari, Inc. was an American video game developer and home computer company founded in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney. Atari was a key player in the formation of the video arcade and video game industry.
Atari 2600 homebrew is a term describing hobbyist-developed games for the Atari 2600 video game console. The first such game was written in 1995, and more than 100 have been released since then. The majority of games are unlicensed clones of games for other platforms, and many were written for the technical challenge. There are also ROM hacks and some original games. Several games have received attention outside the hobbyist community. Some have been included in a game anthology by Activision.