Chapter 1.4

Atari 8-bit (1979)

History

As we saw in Chapter 1.3, Nolan Bushnell’s Atari company was almost single-handedly responsible for bringing videogames to the masses. Throughout the 1970s, Atari scored hit after hit in the arcades, and their Pong consoles—followed closely by the much more versatile VCS (or 2600)—had made them the undisputed king of the videogame industry. Unfortunately for Bushnell, his decision to sell his company to Warner Communications to fund development of the VCS ended in his departure soon after.

Bushnell, an engineer infused with an entrepreneur’s spirit, constantly butted heads with Ray Kassar, the no-nonsense businessman Warner had appointed president of Atari’s Consumer Division. Under Kassar’s direction, the ...

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