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Discuss Atari History with Nolan Bushnell


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#26 aftermac OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 30, 2010 1:09 PM

It's a pleasure to have you on AtariAge, Mr. Bushnell!

When Atari designed the VCS, what was the intended lifespan? Did you just intend to release a handfull of games, then move onto the next big thing? Did you ever envision the VCS/2600 selling into the early 1990's with hundreds of games being released?

Thanks!

#27 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 30, 2010 2:31 PM

Hello Mr. Bushnell,

What was your impression of the Fairchild system?

If I'm not mistaken, the VCS was in development at the time of the Channel F's release; did the development of one system influence the other in any way, or were the VCS and Channel F developed concurrently?

Did Atari and Fairchild employees ever "defect" to each others' companies?

Thank you!

Edited by BassGuitari, Fri Apr 30, 2010 2:34 PM.


#28 Gregory DG OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 30, 2010 3:13 PM

I've always wondered what Atari would have been like if it was never sold to Warner. What were the short-term/long term plans? What kind of hardware would the 2600's successor have had? Perhaps the 5200 hardware would have been released earlier? Would Atari have been as successful without the capital from Warner? Just wonderin'...

#29 ZIMM OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 30, 2010 3:37 PM

do you think Atari will ever release a new video game system? (I would love for this to happen)
or will it just stay as a video game publisher?

#30 Chris Leach OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 30, 2010 3:41 PM

Why were there not more games released for the Atari 2600 by Amiga?
Comparing the Joyboard to the WiiBoard has been done, so why not have Atari be the one with the actual credit?

#31 Retro Rogue OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 30, 2010 3:51 PM

Nolan, can you expand a bit more on what went on between Atari and Fun Games? The ex-Atari employees from when you were still at Los Gatos, that walked off with a lot of parts and plans? They were releasing their own versions of Atari/Kee coin games in '75 and '76 and then were sued by you guys and rightfully closed down. Their flyer for their 1975 coin-op Take 7 shows a version of Breakout. Curt and I had already talked a bit to Steve about it, but I'm hoping you can expand things a bit more. Two immediate questions that come to mind that we would love more info on is

a) How were they able to walk off with all those materials?

B) The '75 release date for their stolen version of Breakout brings the question as to when Breakout actually started as an initial concept and design. We know that you and Steve of course came up with the project, and Woz's involvement in '75 was well covered (likewise that Gary Waters at Cyan did the actual version that went in to production). But how long before Jobs/Woz's involvement in '75 was Breakout in design and discussion that these Fun Games guys were able to steal it?

#32 iwan-iwanowitsch-goratschin OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 30, 2010 4:41 PM

What was your favourite year at the time you was involved at Atari? And why??

#33 atari181 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 30, 2010 4:46 PM

do you think Atari will ever release a new video game system? (I would love for this to happen)
or will it just stay as a video game publisher?


Highly unlikely, It is only a name now. Infogames has become Atari, Atari is only just a name, nothing of the "Glory Days" are left.

#34 Retro Rogue OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 30, 2010 4:52 PM


do you think Atari will ever release a new video game system? (I would love for this to happen)
or will it just stay as a video game publisher?


Highly unlikely, It is only a name now. Infogames has become Atari, Atari is only just a name, nothing of the "Glory Days" are left.



Well, Curt and I still have the Flashback 3 and Flashback 2 Portable sitting there for them, plus we have a multi-system handheld (technically it can be put in several different formats, including tabletop and plug and play) in the works as well for them. So who knows, maybe they'll be more interested in picking it up again now.

#35 Crazy Climber ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 30, 2010 5:09 PM

Hi Nolan
Thanks for making my childhood one of the best ever. I couldn't imagine being a kid without Atari, it had such a huge impact on my life and since you were such a big part of the Atari company starting, I owe a lot of my best memories to your innovation, so again, Thank you. I haven't paid much attention to the Atari name these days outside of the Flashback system and the recent Ghostbusters release on the xbox 360 (which was not bad by the way) but now that you are joining the team, I feel like things might happen, it's like a little bit of the magic is coming back. I hope the magic stays and grows and maybe the Atari name can be restored to it's former glory some day...I know it will be a long road but I will wait in anticipation, excited and eager to see what comes next now that one of the greatest inventors in the world has decided to throw his hat in the ring. No questions from me, just giving my support :) Go get 'em Nolan ;)

#36 ComputerSpaceFan OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 30, 2010 6:16 PM

Greetings Mr. Bushnell, I would like to ask a question from "way back when".

I run a site devoted to Computer Space and I have always wondered how you and Mr. Dabney approached Nutting Associates to create the first coin op video game (okay, technically Galaxy Game came out a month earlier but it was prohibitively expensive to make and only survived in the Stanford University coffee shop so in my book that one doesn't count).
I understand Bill Nutting was already making Computer Quiz machines but how did you pitch the idea to him of investing in a radical concept like Computer Space?

And it is a great thrill to have you on our forums. Welcome. :)

#37 Dastari Creel OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 30, 2010 8:19 PM

Wow, so ironic. I just learned about Atari history this month and here a living legend is here among us.

Mr Bushnell, the VCS was my first gaming console and I had 51 games for it when I was a child. My parents ended up selling it in a garage sale when we moved in 1990 but I played it up until that time (their argument was that since none of my brothers played it anymore then 'no one' played it). Thank you for coming up with such a neat and innovative idea which lead to such joy in my childhood. Now on to the questions:

1.) Have you ever read the book From Pong to Pokemon: The Ultimate History of Video Games? I just finished this book a few weeks ago and I was wondering if you had read the commentary on your era with Atari. If so, did you find it accurate or did you feel like the author had bias? Is there anything that you'd like to "set the record straight" on? Even if you haven't read that particular book and have read other "histories" of your era I'd be interested to know your thoughts on them.

2.) Did you ever show interest in other video game systems after leaving Atari? Have you played other systems? If so what have you played and what were your thoughts on those systems?

3.) What do you think was the absolute greatest coin-op game and VCS game created during your tenure?

I'd be very interested in your reply.

Thanks!

#38 atarian63 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 30, 2010 10:10 PM

Greeting Mr Bushnell I have a nice autographed pong flyer from you when we met years ago hanging in my office.
Want to say I am grateful for atari in all it's iterations, as a dealer I made lots of money,made lots of friends and had lots of fun doing it!
I found a career and a wife due to Atari so you have my profound gratitude!
Those were the days! :D

#39 atarian63 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 30, 2010 10:19 PM


I notice that sound seems to have been very important to Atari's early history. Of course the fantastically evocative Pong sounds quickly became iconic. But then there's the fact that the 2600 was planned to have two speakers in it to provide stereo audio -- a very innovative move back when TV was mono only. In these days of homebrew modifications to the Atari 2600, I can finally play Air/Sea Battle and hear those missiles launch and explode in stereo! I can't even imagine how great that would have been in the 70s. And let's not forget Atari Video Music, which I'd very much like to own some day. Not only is it nifty in its own right, but it'd be nice to show the whippersnappers that the iTunes visualizer is nothing new.

At any rate, what role did audio (music, sound design, audio engineering, etc.) play in the early days at Atari?

Thanks for the appreciation of Video Music it was the only product on my watch that was not profitable. I think we sold less than 100 at full price. Too far ahead of the curve.

the initial DNA of the company was coin op. We found that Music and sound if well done increased earnings drastically. The ability to make good sounds with the technology at the time was expensive and less than satisfying in many cases. Pong for example just used signals that were already available from the video drivers.

Nolan

Nolan,
I have an Atari Video music in foyer of my office, it always gets comments from clients. It's fun to explain what it was as few ever saw it back in the day. There are several Atari rarities setup aroung the building,always loosens up the clients as most are older like myself. Some use coffee table books, I use Atari.
For those better customers I bring them to the back office and we have Asteroids Arcade setup along with a 2600 in mint shape with a 40" TV.
Even after all these years Atari is still a recognised thing,bringing back fond memories! Also helps me make a buck or two ;)

#40 wood_jl OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 30, 2010 10:35 PM

Well, I'll be dipped. If this ain't the real Nolan posting after all. And after I didn't sound so hopeful, but tried not to get too involved. Now even what was - a few posts ago - an aggrieved relation has turned to be amicable, and in light of my earlier piping-up. Gee, I don't know what to say. When in these situations, I like to turn to a movie line that sums it up for my shy ass. Right now, I'll go with Jack Nicholson's portrayal of Colonel Nathan Jessup - Commander Rifle Company Windward 2nd Platoon Bravo - from the Meathead Movie "A Few Good Men." I believe the line goes something like this: "Don't I feel like the f****** a******.."

To the real Nolan Bushnell I have but one thing to ask: You'd have kept the 4-joystick ports on the 800, and developed a real 80-col card, right?

#41 Atari-Jess OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 30, 2010 10:42 PM

I'm here to ask some hard questions, not about your recent history so you can relax!

Atari had a real chance to become a technological superpower rivaling IBM, rivaling Apple, rivaling Google.

Many of the technologies that came out of atari were at least thought up, drafted, or spawned during your tenure. The end result of course is that you now get to return to what some may call a "disgraced" brand (of which I blame Warner and then much later the Tramiels) that is now legitimising itself in the new eyes of new generations through it's publishing efforts and paying homage to old fans with products from legacy engineering (hint: help these guys)

You're now in a better position than everto help guide Atari SA into something you might again be very happy with. Of course in a much different direction...

The questions are of course:

What would you have done differently to have prevented your ousting in the late 70s (perhaps something years earlier)?

What do you feel was your greatest failure at Atari (a regret).

If you could have had one final project (a product release) that was either shelved or drastically changed post departure, what would it have been?

As Atari corporate culture changed more and more, when did you find yourself no longer the leading figure of influence?

And finally, what kind of personal sacrifices did you make during the early days and then later during the latter part of your tenure?

Much obliged!

Edited by Atari-Jess, Fri Apr 30, 2010 10:52 PM.


#42 Nannys Sewing Treats OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 30, 2010 11:18 PM

Mr. Bushnell, welcome to AtariAge! I just signed up this evening, too! I wanted to know how I could go about getting permission to use the Atari logo on my homemade covers? I have made the patterns, embroider the name and sew the cover out of a pleather material. Helps to save those consoles from all the disasters they might come in to! I really think it would be neat to have the official logo, if at all possible.
Thank you!

#43 Nall3k OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 30, 2010 11:38 PM

Mr. Bushnell, welcome to AtariAge! I just signed up this evening, too! I wanted to know how I could go about getting permission to use the Atari logo on my homemade covers? I have made the patterns, embroider the name and sew the cover out of a pleather material. Helps to save those consoles from all the disasters they might come in to! I really think it would be neat to have the official logo, if at all possible.
Thank you!


You need to get permission from Atari SA.

#44 Retro Rogue OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 30, 2010 11:41 PM


Mr. Bushnell, welcome to AtariAge! I just signed up this evening, too! I wanted to know how I could go about getting permission to use the Atari logo on my homemade covers? I have made the patterns, embroider the name and sew the cover out of a pleather material. Helps to save those consoles from all the disasters they might come in to! I really think it would be neat to have the official logo, if at all possible.
Thank you!


You need to get permission from Atari SA.


Actually, you'd have to do the license with Atari Interactive Inc. As the holding company of the Atari name and legacy properties, they're the ones that actually do the licensing deals. :)

#45 high voltage OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat May 1, 2010 2:13 AM

Hello Mr Nolan,
what's your favorite Petster? (I'd have loved a Petster back in the days, truly a forerunner of Sony's Aibo)

#46 s0c7 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat May 1, 2010 8:41 AM

Cant talk about things in too much detail but think about board games and then put an I pad in the middle of the table and everyone around the table has an Iphone that is connected to the iPad through bluetooth or Wifi. It becomes the universal board game videogame delivery platform.

That's a very interesting idea (assuming I'm envisioning it correctly), and I applaud anything that helps board games survive in the digital age. There would be the obvious benefits of only you being able to see your cards, moves, possibly dice rolls, etc. as opposed to playing on a console. I do wonder though, most people play the PC/Console version of a board game mainly when they don't have a opponent in the same room (either against the AI or somebody in another part of the world via the internet). AI & internet opponents would be welcome additions if they are not already in the specs. I don't see this replacing board gaming as we know it though, especially as "house rules" often come into play, but if it came with a large number of licensed games (or the ability to install said games as inexpensive add-on modules) I could see it doing well. Being iPad based will hurt it IMO, but this could be the killer app the iPad needs. I wish you luck with it.

#47 Atari-Jess OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat May 1, 2010 5:58 PM

I saw a slot car game of this concept. Wait too expensive. 400 for ipad then 200 each per itouch? Or worse per iPhone? I love the concept but anytime it's been used it always didn't come to fruition or flopped. Lynx and jaguar, gba and gcn gbplayer, ds and wii, this will likely fall into those footsteps. It's a good idea but economically unrealistic as a even a side thing.




Cant talk about things in too much detail but think about board games and then put an I pad in the middle of the table and everyone around the table has an Iphone that is connected to the iPad through bluetooth or Wifi. It becomes the universal board game videogame delivery platform.

That's a very interesting idea (assuming I'm envisioning it correctly), and I applaud anything that helps board games survive in the digital age. There would be the obvious benefits of only you being able to see your cards, moves, possibly dice rolls, etc. as opposed to playing on a console. I do wonder though, most people play the PC/Console version of a board game mainly when they don't have a opponent in the same room (either against the AI or somebody in another part of the world via the internet). AI & internet opponents would be welcome additions if they are not already in the specs. I don't see this replacing board gaming as we know it though, especially as "house rules" often come into play, but if it came with a large number of licensed games (or the ability to install said games as inexpensive add-on modules) I could see it doing well. Being iPad based will hurt it IMO, but this could be the killer app the iPad needs. I wish you luck with it.



#48 The_Laird OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat May 1, 2010 6:14 PM

I have a simple but interesting question for you, what do you think of the games machines that Atari released after you sold the company?

#49 stevefulton OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat May 1, 2010 9:10 PM

Nolan. It's so amazing to have you here answering questions!

Here is mine:

Will we be able to catch you at E3 this year?

-Steve

#50 fdurso224 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 2, 2010 2:37 PM

Hello Mr. Bushnell,

May I have your autograph?

Anthony....




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