Atari At 50: The Story Of Our Lives

It’s been a year of anniversaries, what with the 40th birthday of both the Commodore 64 and the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. But there’s another anniversary that in a sense tops them all, today marks 50 years since Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney incorporated Atari Inc, a name that will forever be synonymous with the development of the computer game industry. PC Magazine have marked the event with a retrospective, an affectionate look at the progress from Spacewar! coin-ops to the unsuccessful Jaguar console of the 1990s, and it pulls no punches over the lacklustre management that oversaw its decline in later years.

For us the high points of the Atari story were the VCS console and the ST line of computers, which probably best represent the brand’s successes in Europe where this is being written. It’s with something of a wince that we remember watching an Atari Lynx advert in a British cinema, in which the laugh came when the teenager-unaffordably high price was revealed. At least diehard Atari fans can take solace in that by then Commodore was equally being run into the ground.

One criticism PC Magazine makes is that the current Atari incarnation is doing little beyond rehashing past glories, and perhaps they’re right. Last year we covered their release of some new cartridges for the VCS.