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Author Topic: Atari@40yearsold.happybirthday  (Read 1199 times)

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« on: June 30, 2012, 10:44:08 pm »
Once upon a time, back in the 1960s, there was a videogame called Spacewar!

It was remarkably ingenious and addictive, and probably would have become a pop-culture phenomenon if it weren’t for its one downside: You could only play it on a mainframe or minicomputer, at a cost of $120,000 and up.

For that reason, Spacewar!‘s fan base consisted largely of students who were lucky enough to have access to university computer centers. Oftentimes they indulged in the game in the wee hours, when nobody was around to chastise them for wasting precious computing resources.
Nolan Bushnell
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Nolan Bushnell in January 2012

One of those Spacewar! enthusiasts was a University of Utah engineering student and part-time amusement-park arcade manager named Nolan Bushnell. He thought that videogames could be a big deal. “The only question,” he remembers, “was how to bring them to everyone, not just those of us who could sneak into a computer lab late at night.”

In 1971, Bushnell and partner Ted Dabney managed to turn Spacewar! into the first mass-produced video arcade game, Computer Space. It wasn’t particularly successful. Undeterred, they continued their partnership, Syzygy, by founding Atari, Inc.. (Another company, it turned out, had first dibs on “Syzygy.”) They filed the incorporation papers on June 27, 1972, occupied 1,700 square feet of office space in Santa Clara, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley, and got ready to release a game they called Pong. The rest is videogame history.

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