In the last years of the company Atari increasingly dark clouds. The virtual absence of hits, rumors of imminent bankruptcy, at least one completely ruined the series ( Alone in the Dark ) – all of this did not add confidence in the brand, under which some thirty years ago history was made. And suddenly, like a bolt from the blue, the announcement of Atari Box – the device, which the authors did not shy about his retrosuschnosti.
Recently revision gambling already talked about the so-called “golden fund» the Atari – games that changed the lives of not only fans of interactive entertainment, but the entire industry as a whole.
In this article we will try to answer one simple question: why American and European gamers of the old school with the breathy talk about the affairs of bygone days? For clarity, we divide the text into separate facts from the series “Do you know that? ..”, with a slight generalization of the end.
Fact №1: Atari is based on the enthusiasm and five hundred bucks
In the early seventies a young entrepreneur Nolan Bushnell dreamed of the idea to change the landscape of the United States settled the entertainment industry. Then most of the entertainment machine was not in the so-called galleries, and bars where tired rednecks drinking whiskey after a hard day’s work.
Low ceilings, smoky room, yelling and recurrent fights. Typical Western, only it was in the second half of the XX century. Here visitors not only a virtuoso variations American folk were moved “the FAQ”, but also spent a lot of time for Semimechanical machines. Football, hockey, pinball – set, familiar even to our contemporaries.
Nolan did not suit such a picture. He wanted to create something that will turn the industry on its head. From this idea was born and the company Atari. Having five hundred dollars seed capital,
Bushnell went to hire their first employee. They became Alan Alcorn – a talented engineer, who not only agreed to the risky adventure, but also personally brought a prototype of Pong, the game that changed the way people think about entertainment as such.
Nolan Bushnell himself.
Fact №2: a focus group of young Atari became Visitors eatery
After the test sample Pong was gathered before Bushnell and Alcorn got a new question. How do you know whether or not this device is successful, or it is necessary to start from a clean slate?
In the early ’70s did not exist companies that conducted the study for innovators like Atari. Create and test new projects had to literally blind. But the partners have found a way. They established a simulator of table tennis in a small bar, where respectable Americans gathered after work to pull the last cash.
Alcorn and Bushnell agreed with the owner of the establishment, the unit brought to the bar, set it up and sat down at one of the tables – to control the process. First visitors almost no attention to the new product. Then someone played the first pitch, second, third …
Making sure that things have gone, Alan Nolan and went home. In the morning they stunned Up – a bar owner said a test version of Pong broke. Headlong rushed to the place, Alcorn understood not broke, but just could no longer accept money. The changer was jammed top to bottom.
Approximately the car and tested with Nolan Alcorn in a small eatery. People liked it.
Fact №3 – Atari has sought to not adhere to corporate rules “big” of America
US early 70’s downright seething from the social struggles. Black vengeance fought for their rights, young people aggressively trying to break out of the way of life of previous generations, and against the background of all this growing criminal elements, which spurred a deep economic crisis. Establish a high-tech business only a madman could have in these years.
Luckily, Nolan Bushnell was exactly crazy. open the first production line: After Pong proved to be a great test to the test, a new challenge faced Atari head. And if the place he found no problems, the recruitment became Bushnell headache.
In a tightly limited budget and a lot of urgent work first person young Atari received optimally. They opened the door to the production line those who are in decent places to let only been taken under police escort. Ex-prisoners, drug addicts, parasites of all stripes, the poor – these are the people gathered the first commercial samples of Pong.
As later recalled Alcorn, it was terribly unprofessional, but partners calculation was justified to the full. Wonder Machine has become one of the most important technological innovations of their time and provided Atari popular not only with bar regulars, but also among young people.
Much later, in the heyday of arcade parlors, teenagers literally going crazy just because of the opportunity to spend an hour or two in the enchanting world of video games. And all this – long before the NES (Famicom) in the market. Wonderful years!
Atari was not going to stop there. Its business model proved to be innovative not only in terms of recruitment. In a world where everyone ran the white-collar workers, Bushnell has created a stable structure, function outside the rules of the “big game.” In the golden years of Atari it consisted of two large departments: one arcade machines created and worked on the innovation, and the second provided the needs of home users.
Synergy between them was achieved due to the lack of rigid corporate rules. Smoke dope, drink, swim in the middle of the day in the pool with the authorities – it was just ordinary for the Atari 70 as collective visits to nature for most businesses today.
Nobody even tried to hide, how to prioritize Atari. Those who had to do with the industry of those years, knew that Bushnell and his team are a bunch of abnormal children who do wonderful game and wanted to spit on the framework and corporate ethics.
Paradoxically, the fact is that recklessness and lack of even minimal restrictions allow Atari to create some of the best games on the market.
The audience is superb and answered slobs in elongated shirts reciprocate.
№4 fact – Atari has transferred slots in the living room
At one point, Nolan Bushnell and Alan Alkorn realized that they closely within the arcade business. A “lifeline” was a home version of Pong. It was with her young businessmen have come to the leadership department store chain “Sears”. After some negotiations and a clerical error (Alcorn had to rebuild the prototype, which refused to work because of the powerful Antenna of Television on the roof of the building) Bushnell signed a contract for the establishment of a commercial party television version of Pong. The process has started, and the result was not long in coming.
“We have shown only one ad, all sold out,” – says in an interview, the founder of Atari.
As is well known, appetite comes with eating. After the resounding success of the first home video games at Atari seriously thinking about creating a complete system that could support more than one entertainment program, as in the case of Pong, and a great variety.
The result of these investigations was the release of Atari VCS (2600), set-top box running on removable cartridges. Often it is mistakenly referred to as the first device with this feature. In fact, the VCS appeared on store shelves in 1977, and the year before saw US gamers Fairchild Channel F – a true pioneer of the second generation of gaming devices.
However, it’s all the lyrics. Fairchild Channel F failed miserably, and today she is remembered except the most desperate fans of the retro. But why, then VCS became a cult?
There were several reasons.
Fairchild Channel F appeared a year earlier VCS (2600), offer games on removable cartridges, and was to become a huge hit in sales. This did not happen.
№5 fact – Atari kept proper marketing policy
First of all the console’s popularity reflected in the quality of the work itself Atari. Despite the external corporate carelessness within the company has been a monolithic mechanism, every screw that works with full efficiency. It was not just the engineers responsible for the video game itself is a miracle birth.
With dedication worked all: the people on the assembly line managers and especially marketing. A striking example of creative genius employees Atari – Release the home version Space Invaders .
At the end of the 70 VCS was popular, but not to the extent that I would like to company bosses. But in the arcade halls of the situation was the opposite. There were so many visitors that parents across America sounded the alarm. Gallery stigmatized, the image of those who produce machines, collapsing before our eyes.
The output is found Atari. In the late 70’s especially popular Japanese car called Space Invaders.
Simple dimensional shooter about the Earth’s defense against the aliens blew up the public mind is much stronger than it is now it is done in the spirit of blockbuster Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt of The . So in an effort to rehabilitate the company and to spur the sale of the VCS, bosses Atari agreed to porting militants.
To be more convincing was created television advertising. It clearly shows the audience that loved to play “invaders” do not necessarily go with the criminal poshiba teenagers in smoke-filled gallery. Just something and you should be, what to buy and VCS cartridge to it. Marketers were right: sale consoles went up the hill, and the company’s reputation has been restored.
It is from these small moments and formed Atari’s image as a company №1 in the market of electronic entertainment. She is not engaged in the production of plastic Barbie and KENOVA (both Mattel) and aspired to be something greater than the manufacturer of set-top boxes, cartridges, machines and peripherals.
And Atari was not afraid to go for risky experiments.
One of them was a competition under the name Swordquest. It happened event in 1982-1983, just before the crisis the industry. During this period, Atari has created a cycle of several video games. Each cartridge was complete with a colorful comic book from DC writers. Passing loop gamer collected in-game tips, compare them with the pages of a comic book, and found the keys. Then, excluding a few of them, I sent a card party at the mailing address of the company and if everything was done correctly, went to the finals.
In the final he fought with exactly the same lucky in a modified version of one of the four projects: Earthworld , Fireworld , Waterworld or Airworld (depending on what version he was looking for tips). The one who has spent for solution of the problem as quickly as possible.
What’s the point, you ask? And in the prize pool. According to the authors, it was to be 150 million US dollars: twenty thousand four mascot (crown, medal, cup and box – all made of precious metals and diamond inlays) and another fifty – sword of silver. By the standards of the early 80’s the amount of very, very significant.
Total Atari managers have planned four phases and a grand final, which was supposed to gather in one place the intermediate test winners. Alas, these plans were not realized. The crisis broke out in 1983, and the contest had to be closed. Total Atari managed to hold two stages of four. Their winners received their awards. The rest is had to forget about Swordquest forever.
Initiating competition Swordquest, Atari management had no idea that the competition is completed. The clouds gradually deepened.
Fortunately for gamers, not just developers VCS tried to create something good for fans of video games. One of these companies has become of Activision , founded by immigrants from the most Atari. Their system of “rewards” – a kind of pre-Internet era achievements – much ahead of its time. It worked just.
He performed the “test”, photographed the confirmation sent to the postal address – received topical patch on one of the games.
Later this idea borrowed from Nintendo Power. Journal of gamers has created a rating system and published regularly tops. The principle was the same: the subscriber scored lots of points (as an option, passed the final boss in some the Castlevania ), photographed the result and sent to the editor. Just like all brilliant.