Atari Corporation

Atari Corporation
Item# 302

Atari Corporation
On June 27, 1972, Atari was officially registered and in a few months their first product became the "Pong heard around the world" as the sound of a digital ball made of light would bounce off the walls of its digital playfield and into history as the game that started the big bang explosion of Video Arcade Entertainment. The company was originally called Syzygy, but the name was changed prior to the official registration.

Pong attracted so much attention, a certain company by the name of Magnavox took notice and for good reason, months earlier they demonstrated a home TV video game called Odyssey and Atari's new Pong game was strikingly similar, too much so. So after a little checking by Magnavox lawyers, sure enough, on the Magnavox guest book for the demonstration was the signature of none other then Nolan Bushnell (the Atari mastermind behind Pong) himself. Magnavox eventually sued Atari. Bushnell & Atari agreed to a license under the Sanders/Magnavox patents for which Atari paid a fixed sum as a paid-up license in June of 1976 for domestic games. In later years Atari paid much more for foreign rights. All in all, the settlement was certainly in Atari's favor due to its huge success with Pong and its many variations and flavors.

Atari's second coin-op video game was a high tech outer space version of a drag strip called Space Race (introduced in 1973). You raced as one player against the clock or two players could go head to head racing through space, avoiding meteors and asteroids to get the best time. Atari's new sales flyers were now in vivid color and with attractive models as well. The owners/operators manuals in the Space Race cabinets were actually Atari Pong manuals and had the name PONG scribbled out and Space Race hand written over the top of the scribbled out Pong name!!)

In 1976, an Atari computer takes your photo and in 90 seconds prints out a 14" X 11" sheet of computer graphics which looks just like you!!! (Well.... sorta) This behemoth weighing in at 950lbs could be used in shopping centers, malls, amusement parks or special events to add that special high-tech twist to getting your photo taken. Also, the first of the wide-bodies, The Atarians, was the company's initial attempt to break into the pinball market. Atari followed with a string of games, including Time 2000, Airborne Avenger, Middle Earth and Space Rider. Atari would also introduce one of the largest pinballs ever made... Hercules. The game was so huge that it used cue balls as the pinballs!!! Atari's last pinball before the group was shutdown in 1979 was Superman.

On November 6, 1979, Asteroids, Atari's bestselling coin-op game of all time (70,000 units), was released. The story goes that Asteroids was once a game called Cosmos. Actually, Cosmos was once known as Planet Grab, in which you had to claim a planet by touching it.

In 1980 Battlezone was the first coin-op to offer an almost fully immersed first person vector graphic gaming world. In fact, so realistic was this game that is got the attention of the US Army who hired Atari to redesign the game using simulated controls from a Bradley Fighting Vehicle and modified the software with trajectory and other more real world combat settings for training purposes. Ed Rotberg, a Vice President of engineering at Videa, programmed both versions (arcade and army). He preferred working on the original. "Battlezone", said Rotberg, "was the first truly first-person game." Yet another first for Atari.

In 1981, Atari's second bestselling coin-op game (50,000 units), Centipede is released. It is basically Space Invaders with a Trak Ball. One of the few female engineers in the business, Donna Bailey programmed it. "My main focus is graphics," she says. "For instance, I really like pastels, which is why there are so many pinks and greens and violets in Centipede. I really think the visuals should be arresting." Centipede was a truly unique and colorful game, not only attracting the attention regular gamers, but also appealing to female players as well. For a complete history on Atari, visit

Certificate: Common Stock, issued in the 1980’s

Printer: United States Bank Note Company

Dimensions: 8” (h) x 12” (w)

State: NV-Nevada

Subject Matter: Children’s Games

Vignette Topic(s): Stylized Modern | Company Logo Featured

Condition: Vertical fold lines, punch hole and pen cancels in the signature areas and body and some toning and edge faults from age.

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