Arcade Heroes Happy Video Arcade Day: Atari Turns 47

Posted by Ongames247 on June - 27 - 2019

There is no shortage of made-up holidays, something that keeps calendar people busy I suppose. So why not pick a day just for video arcades that’s attached to a milestone? That event being the official founding of Atari Corp. on June 27th, 1972. The release of PONG was not the first video game ever created, but it radically changed the amusement and gaming business, fostering what it is today. This follows the 59th anniversary of Sega, who was involved in vending and EM arcade machines prior to Atari disrupting everything with their video game.

So in terms of made-up holidays, Happy Video Arcade Day! Enjoy it by visiting a local establishment with a friend or two and playing some coin-operated (or card swipe) amusement.

While Sega is still a large and vibrant company that was able to celebrate their anniversary in style, what’s left of Atari now is shattered and somewhat sad. The company responsible for a number of revolutionary games has long since ceased to exist, splitting into two separate companies in 1984. The arcade division, then known as Atari Games, did their best to keep the flame alive, although

Ted Dabney, Nolan Bushnell, Al Alcorn

Atari early on

they ended up exchanging owners a few times until they ended up as a division of Midway in the 90’s. Midway shuttered all arcade operations around 2002/2003, then succumbed to bankruptcy in 2009, with their IP and assets purchased by Warner Bros. To date, Warner hasn’t done much with the IP for either Atari Games or Midway; on the Atari side, the only game they resurrected a few years ago was Gauntlet (which I might add, was a lot of fun – not completely arcade-like, but I enjoyed it).

Atari is known for their “Easter Eggs,” including sayings printed on the circuit boards of their arcade games in the 90’s

Even though it’s a mess on the history side, thanks to the glory of licensing, the Atari logo is presently found on a few different machines spread across developers. This is handled by Atari SA, a company that used to be known as Infogrames, but purchased the home division in the early 00’s and changed their name shortly afterwards. The first arcade return of the brand was Breakout, by Coastal Amusements a few years back; then Calinfer & UNIS created the Atari PONG Table, that electromechanical twist to bring the concept full circle (and it’s doing really well by all accounts – every distributor at trade shows seem to have one on their booth); and most recently Centipede Chaos by Play Mechanix & ICE.

For me, a lot of fascination also comes from the games they never did release. I suppose that’s odd, but it is quite interesting to see concepts that were often ahead of their time. Why they didn’t see the light of day occurred due to a number of reasons, and Atari had quite the motherlode of such games.

So what’s your favorite arcade game to have come from the world of Atari?

About the author: arcadehero View all posts by

I’m a lifelong fan of video games and I have been operating my own arcade, The Game Grid Arcade in West Valley City, Utah since 2008.




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