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Published on January 31st, 2013 | by John I.

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Atari: The Rise and Fall of a Console Gaming Titan

Unknown to many gamers of this generation, Atari is one of the most important brand names in the video game industry. Atari has produced numerous arcade hits such as Asteroids, Centipede, and Pong. Furthermore, the Atari 2600 significantly helped shape the home console market, especially in the 1970s and 1980s. Atari products also had a large impact on home computing. Unfortunately, this company has recently announced its bankruptcy.

The fall of Atari started awhile ago, as far back as the 1980s. The infamous 1983 video games crash did significant damage to the popularity of this video game name. Also, the rise in popularity of Nintendo gaming consoles has dealt several crippling blows to the Atari company. Despite these major setbacks, Atari managed to endure and has contributed a good deal to console games over the years. Lets take a look at some of Atari’s major contributions.

1977-1982

With the success of Pong and kick starting video games as a medium, Atari achieved a significant amount of success in its early years. In 1977, the Atari 2600 was released, which brought console gaming to the masses. It also helped shaped the video gaming industry we know today. Popular games such as Pong, Space invaders, and Pac Man can all be played on the Atari 2600 gaming console.

1983-1985

After its inception, Atari enjoyed a few years at the top of the industry. However, Atari failed to capitalize on the success of the Atari 2600. Furthermore, Nintendo’s arrival to the gaming console scene has negatively affected the already crumbling Atari company. Around this time Atari introduced the Atari XEGS system. This 8-bit machine could perform either as a basic home computer or as a dedicated gaming console. However, due to the significant rise of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), the XEGS system was considered to be a commercial failure.

1988-1996

After the commercial failure of the XEGS system, the company started focusing on producing home computing systems. Atari previously had success with 8-bit family computer machines. Thus, Atari decided to release the Atari ST, a 16-bit family computer. The Atari ST was considered to be a competitor to the Commodore Amiga and Apple Mac.
The Atari LT was favored by musicians because it had built-in support for MIDI. It also found success in the business sector, thanks to its desktop publishing capabilities and CAD.

With the profits received from the Atari LT, Atari decided to produce another gaming device called the Atari Lynx. The Atari Lynx was the first color LCD gaming device that was portable. It was also a good deal more advanced than the portable Game Boy device, which was released the same year(1989). Nevertheless, due to a number of reasons such as limited stock, the Game Boy had a significant market advantage.

Soon afterwards, Atari introduced the first 64-bit gaming system: the Atari Jaguar. Despite being the first 64-bit gamin console to hit the markets, it still failed commercially. The Jaguar only lasted three years on the market, selling only around 250,000 units.

1996-present

After the failure of the Atari Lynx and Atari Jaguar, the company changed hands several times. However, no one really seemed to revive the company to its former glory. In fact, Atari suffered numerous financial difficulties over these years, including losing millions of dollars in 2006. Atari recently filed for bankruptcy and is currently looking for a buyer. Even though many people believed that the true Atari name died with the fall of the Atari 2600, it would still be a major tragedy for this name to completely disappear. It is important to remember that this once gaming giant significantly helped shape the console gaming industry as we know it today.



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About the Author

John I.

Is an IT professional who loves writing about the latest technology news.



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