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ATARI - History of a Gaming Company

From 1972 to 2004 seems like a long time. When you consider the advancements made in the video game and computing industry during this period, however, it seems like the blink of an eye. Whether you think of it as an eon or a week, one thing has remained consistent during the entire span; the name of Atari.

While the people of my generation are generally aware Atari's place in history, the younger folk in today's super-hyped technological age of home video gaming have lost sight of some of the champions of their cause in the beginning days of video games. Let us not forget; Atari started it. With the advent of the stand-up "Computer Space", Atari introduced the working concept of coin-op video games. Going head to head with the already comfortably-established pinball industry, Atari revolutionized coin-op entertainment, and the video game industry rocketed to popularity and development that rivals the industrial revolution itself.

If Atari's first few coin-op video game inventions were the match, Atari itself was the fuse of the revolution that was lit. With the incredible popularity of Pong, Atari went from a $250 investment in 1972 to a $28 MILLION sale to Warner, Inc. in 1976. What came next was obvious; bringing video game entertainment to the home. In 1977, the Atari 2600 was available to home users, and the popularity of the system remains legendary to this day. The 2600 became as common a household item as the toaster and television. While the obvious revisions, re-designs, and re-teched home systems were abundant, the 2600 was the harbinger of the potential of home video gaming. Worthy of note to you youngsters; to this day, in 2004, the Atari 2600, introduced in 1977, is the MOST POPULAR CARTRIDGE-FORMAT HOME VIDEO GAMING SYSTEM OF ALL TIME.

While Atari is certainly not the juggernaut they used to be, it is impressive that for more than 34 years they have remained a name of recognition and familiarity, even to those who do not play video games. Behind the entire home video gaming industry waves the familiar logo of Atari, and despite their recent failures with the Jaguar and Lynx, they remain a powerful force in video game licensing and development today. It is to their credit that they have obtained the license to produce the new Transformers video game, based on another of the historical trendsetters, the Transformers.

Interestingly, Hasbro Interactive was acquired by Infogrames (a holding of Atari, Inc.) in 2000, and in 2003 Infogrames rebranded its corporate image to the more familiar and renowned Atari. Coincidence? Probably. However, it is a particularly enjoyable aspect of the highly anticipated release of the Transformers video game that its developer and distributor is one of the true kings of the video gaming industry, and also has ties with the U.S.-based launcher of one of the most popular, successful, and long-lived action figure concepts, the Transformers.

Two historical figureheads in their respective industries, Atari and the Transformers, combining to produce what could be a monumental piece of entertainment to fans of either or both.

Long live Atari, and long live the Transformers!

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