Atari Oddities (40th Anniversary)

February 13th, 2012 by Benj Edwards

Atari Oddities Title Slide

Forty years ago this June, Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney founded Atari, Inc. — what a name, what a company. Even 40 years on, Atari looms like a giant shadow over all corners of video game history, and for good reason: its two founders launched the industry in 1971.

I thought I’d celebrate this 40-year milestone a little early with some Atari Oddities over at Technologizer. You’ll see obscure Atari products like a 1976 arcade digital camera, a light synthesizer, a dog-themed Pong cabinet, and more. Anyone with even a casual interest in Atari should enjoy it.

I’m jumping the gun on the anniversary, month-wise, because this will likely be the last piece I write for Technologizer. Its founder, Harry McCracken, has joined TIME as an editor, and Technologizer will cease to be an independent blog at the end of the month (the archives will live on, however).

Working with Harry on Technologizer over these past three years has been a pleasure (we also worked together when he was EIC of PC World). With his support, you have seen many works of history journalism, both from him and myself, that would not have surfaced otherwise. It takes a rare mind to recognize the importance and the appeal of tech history in today’s fast-paced world of online news, and I credit Harry with making much of what I do today possible.

So thanks, Harry, and thanks to all the readers out there for supporting my work, even at a time when slideshows aren’t exactly the most honorable form of online journalism.

This is not the end of my story, of course. History marches on, and I plan to be there beside it as long as I can manage.

All Entries in Benj’s Oddities Series:

3 Responses to “Atari Oddities (40th Anniversary)”

  1. Eagles409 Says:

    Great article! It’s not too often that I read one of these articles and have never heard of any of the items. I can honestly say that every product shown was something I had never seen.

  2. Jay Says:

    Good luck to you, Benj, and Harry too. I love reading your Technologizer articles, and I hope they stay available for a long time.

    I remember playing a well-preserved Hercules machine at some arcade on the Delaware beach boardwalks back in the mid-90s. I have long arms and even I could barely reach around to the flipper buttons. That was one massive machine.

    I also remember seeing ads in late-80s Antic magazines for the Atari-branded calculators. Never really saw the point of them.

  3. Synchead Says:

    Great article! The only oddity I am aware of was Atari Force and it as I recall, it was bad. I had an Atari 800 and was a big proponent of Atari in those days until it was bought out by I believe Jack Tramwell. I can’t exactly remember his name, but after it was sold, there were some creative moments but nothing as ground breaking as what was there during the Bushnell years.

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