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For many video gamers, Atari is remembered fondly as the early emperors of the gaming world. Originally called Syzygy, the company took the name Atari in 1972. The company then took firm control of the gaming world until around the mid-80s. The history of the company is both fascinating and filled with internal strife. Here are some of the notable achievements of Atari:

The 2600

The first super console was the Atari 2600. The release date of September 11, 1977 saw a cartridge-based game system that only cost $199. It went on to sell 30 million consoles thanks to the strength of games like Asteroids, Space Invaders, Pac-Man, and Missile Command. It was the dominant home console through the seventies but was eventually replaced by early home computers and eventually the Nintendo Entertainment System.

The Computers

Before the dawn of the PC, several companies were jostling to become the ruler of home computers. These companies included Texas Instruments, Commodore, and Coleco. Due to their somewhat limited computational abilities, the most common use for these computers was gaming. Atari released the 400 and 800 computer systems that utilized cartridges before eventually adding cassette drives and then floppy drives as peripherals.

Some of the top games for these early systems included Defender, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., and Super Cobra. All these games displayed vastly improved graphics and gameplay over the early consoles. Atari released a few successors to these models, including the 800XL and the 1200XL.

The Coin-Op Games

The arcades of the 80s were smoky, dimly lit, sweaty centers for gamers to congregate. The pulsing beeps and flashing colors of the games were a kind of ecstasy for teens and young adults. Atari was no slouch when it came to coin-op presence, as they produced quarter-devouring games like Breakout, Centipede, Dig Dug, and Tempest. As the era of arcades slowly faded during the mid-80s, production of coin-op games also dried up.


Most gaming companies have had their share of clunkers, and Atari was no exception. Bombs include the Atari Lynx and Atari Jaguar consoles, both of which were eclipsed by such heavy hitters as Sony and Sega. The Atari PC-1 and Atari Falcon 030 were the company's dying attempt to become relevant again in the computer scene.

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