An Atari Lookback

Atari was a fascinating company, responsible for both the rise of home video game consoles in the US and also the market crash of the same industry. The legendary 2600 was everywhere in the early 80s and there was certainly no shortage of software. The company may be a shell of itself these days, but Ben Edwards at How To Geek has a great interview with its founder Nolan Bushnell.

When it came time to develop and release a more advanced home video game console with cartridges (the 2600), Atari needed capital, and Bushnell sold his company to Warner Communications. Bushnell stayed with Atari until early 1979—missing both the monster-hit years of the 2600 and Atari’s spectacular failure just after that. (By then he was working on Chuck E. Cheese, but that’s another story entirely.)

HTG: Do you regret selling Atari at the time you did?

Bushnell: Yes and no. I really liked my life after I sold it. I got married, I got my house, I kinda got my personal life in order. Atari was very, very hard. And we never had enough money. We were running it as if we were going to take it public, and then the market kind of went sideways.

If I’d have gone ahead and been able to take the company public, I would have had another three or four years in the rat race and probably would have never gotten married. So would it have been a good ride and would I have made gobspocks more money? Absolutely. But on my personal life basis, it was definitely a good thing to do.

How To Geek

Edwards' talk with Bushnell is a great inside look at a company that is still familiar to most gamers long after they've last made a console. While Atari didn't go on to dominate the market after Nintendo brought the NES to the States, it has a place of monumental importance. The interview is really good and I encourage you to give it a read.