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Did Jack Tramiel KILL Atari?


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#1 pocketmego OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 16, 2006 1:50 AM

I don't mean after he bought Atari, I mean did he kill Atari and help bring on the Videogame crash of 1984.

A strange question to be sure. But, Brian Bagnall, in his book On the Edge: the Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore, believes that the rise of the C64 (along with other computers and computer games) were starting to make the dated 2600 look its age.

What do you all think?

-Ray

#2 rheffera OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 16, 2006 4:12 AM

Yes, i believe so. He was a poor buisness man, he got kicked out of commodore because of his practacies.

#3 Atari Scorpio OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 16, 2006 5:16 AM

Jack Tramiel took over Atari after Warner lost millions because of the crash. He got a business that had a market that was failing. I don't blame him for his actions. I would have do the same and went for the computer market too. Just because he canceled some things that never made it to market doesn;t make him a bad person. Atari Coin-Op had many, many prototypes that never made it to market and people do not say the same about them. Just my 2 cents...

#4 jaybird3rd OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 16, 2006 5:18 AM

The 2600 was already obsolete long before the C64 came out. Atari's death was more of a suicide than anything else: they failed to retain their best hardware and software engineers and coasted with the 2600 for far too long. Without the Activision/Imagic guys, they couldn't keep up with their competition in creating compelling games, and without Jay Miner and his group, they didn't have the expertise to develop the next generation of video game console technology. They couldn't even effectively leverage the technology they already had; the 5200 (a repackaging of the 400/800) was so ill-conceived that Atari never developed another video game console in-house.

#5 Rybags ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 16, 2006 5:36 AM

Commodore might have played a part, so far as people recognising the C-64 both as a games machine and serious computer with productive features.

The problem around 1983 was that there was an absolute ton of proprietry systems and different consoles around, and something had to give.

The market size was maybe 10% or less what it is today, yet there were dozens of computers and way too many consoles competing for limited shelf space.

Atari probably accentuated the problem by continuing their strategy of releasing big-name title games, many of which didn't succeed, instead of trying to improve their hardware and keep up with the competition.

The problem is, the competition quickly went from rank amateurs in 1981 (like the VIC-20 and ColecoVision) to market leaders shortly after in the C-64 and NES.es + computers) at the time.

#6 Classic Pac OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 16, 2006 7:52 AM

Yes Jack Traimel killed Atari, simply because he could not see what the market was demanding which was newer and better machines. But the one of the causes I strongly believe that caused the crash in the first place was that the technology just wasn't up to what the public wanted.

#7 Foxsolo2000 ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 16, 2006 9:58 AM

I've thought long and hard about this and I know everyone blames Tramiel for his short sightedness with game consoles but let us not forget that by 1983 everyone was moving into the Home Computer market. I was an avid 2600 fan and yet I remember begging my parents to get me at least an Atari 400 (preferably the 800 at the time) simply because everyone else was. Added to that the games were superior in graphics and gameplay and were often far cheaper tha 2600 carts (in the Uk that was the case). Yes someone made a major mistake in not releasing the 7800 back in 83 but at the time everyone was thinking long term in the personal computer market ;)

#8 LarcenTyler OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 16, 2006 1:08 PM

It wasn't just how Tramiel pulled all of Atari's video game stuff off the market in 1984, but also how he screwed up the Atari 7800's release. He just gave mostly warmed-over classics, and wasn't willing to pay developers to develop games for the system. In addition, he also put out the Atari XEGS and advertised it against the NES, while putting the 7800 off to the side of it.

#9 T2KFREEKER OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 16, 2006 1:14 PM

I would not say that Tremeil is completely responsible for the crash of 1984 as Atari was not the only company running in the pack, they were the leader, true, but everywhere you looked, there was crap releasing. Atari had bad games, Odyssee had bad games, Coleco had bad Games, Intellivision had bad games, and the Atrcades had some really bad games as well. The world could not survive od Pacman alone! He did however in the end, help to destroy a multimillion dollar corporation! Atari fell under the boot of the Tremeils, and that is fact, Carte Blanche!

#10 8th lutz OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 16, 2006 3:51 PM

To say, Jack competely killed atari is somewhat wrong. C-64 was was portly to blame. Warner can be blamed for the following for killing atari: E.T., Producing over 12 million Pac-man carts, treating employees badly with them going to activision or Imagic, 5200 Launch titles including Super breakout, producing the same games for the 5200 and the 2600, and not cutting down games for the 2600 after the 5200 was launched. Jack can be blamed for having 3 game systems with full suport from 1987 to 1989 in the United States in the 2600, xegs, and the 7800. The 2600 shouldn't have been around in 1988 or 1989 at least. While there was great games for the 2600 in the late 1980's like Solaris, Jr. Pac-man, Midnight magic to name a few, the system shouldn't have been out as long it was. The 2600 was advertised a good amount in the late 80's when it should've been the 7800. If Jack sticked with the 7800 without the xegs with the 2600, the 7800 could've had a better chance. Jack did screw up in stores wanting sell atari products after the 2600,7800, xgs blunder.

When Jack wanted to sell the 7800, and the 2600, he had a difficult time to do so due to Warner. Jack's blunder with xgs, 2600 and the 7800 caused the lynx to have less stores in the united States to sell systems and games. The lack of sucess with the lynx in sales caused the Jaguar to have even less stores to sell Jaguar games. The only places I known sold Jaguar games for sure were video game store chains in mails like bagages(spelling?) and at some wal-marts. The 3do had more stores selling games and systems then the Jaguar did.

Atari already was dying when Jack took over. Besides Warner, coleco can be blamed due to the Colecovision being better then the 2600 in graphics and sound, plus Coleco had the rights to donkey kong for game consoles. Where coleco screwed on was having the adam computer. Jack for the crash can't be completely blamed. Coleco's Adam Computer, Mattel's mistakes in releasing their computer, and not having a true improvement over the intellivision in graphics and sound being released in 1982 or in early 83. Besides the companies, there were way to many systems and games in the market in 1982, and 1983.

#11 Joey Kay OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 16, 2006 8:03 PM

I don't mean after he bought Atari, I mean did he kill Atari and help bring on the Videogame crash of 1984.


Some thread drift here already, but an interesting question.

I would have to say he did in two ways. First, Tramiel really was the person who created the home computer market by driving prices down on entry-level computers that could do way more than a console for a very reasonable price. In that sense, he helped kill the video game market.

It's also noteworthy to consider that Commodore was more concerned with selling hardware than software. As Atari was both a hardware and software publisher, the flood of crappy, cheap games hurt them as a software publisher. Commodore, on the other hand, focussed more on selling hardware, so a flood of cheap computer games isn't necessarily an all-bad thing to them, as the amount of software available was an important aspect to computer shoppers back in the day. (And a bad C64 title is often better than many half-decent 2600 titles.)

Second, Tramiel was more adept at profiting off of the home computer market than Warner Atari ever was. The 400/800 never achieved C64 status, and there's no question he caused a lot of headaches for the Atari computer division that hampered their profitability. I'm willing to bet that Atari spent a lot of time looking at ways to build those machines more cheaply, thus taking away product development time to focus on reducing product unit costs.

#12 Rik OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 16, 2006 8:29 PM

I think he tried his best,in a very COMPETITIVE business,and meant well,cant blame one person for the fall of a company,there are countless reasons for the fall of atari,which can be attributed to numerous people as well as economic reasons,basically the whole market was flooded with bad games it was getting ridiculous,its quite obvious numerous games were put out for the sole reason of getting a piece of the video gaming craze pie ,while it was still there,and it reached its peak,everything reaches a peak,then starts over again,with something newer and better.

Edited by Rik, Sat Sep 16, 2006 8:44 PM.


#13 pocketmego OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 16, 2006 10:30 PM

This discussion is going very well and I liek the different perspectives so far. I found this on Youtube a few months back. It is a 1983/84 British Computer show featuring a rare interview with jack tramiel just after he took over Atari. This helps, I think, offer a lot of perspective on where jack's mind was just after Commodore and just prior to the "7800" era.



I think will offer new perspective to the discussion.

-Ray

#14 Crazy Climber OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 16, 2006 10:42 PM

Oh man, not this arguement again :roll:

#15 pocketmego OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 16, 2006 10:56 PM

Oh man, not this arguement again :roll:


:twisted:

I should slap you.

-Ray

#16 Joey Kay OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 16, 2006 11:28 PM

Topic drift... sorry...

I can't help but think that if Tramiel had stayed at Commodore, the whole computer market would be different today.

I think, to him, the software side of Atari was probably a pain. There's always been very little to take to issue with the power of any Atari machine. It's always the software that kills them, and there was an expectation from that company for software. But Tramiel wasn't a software developer.

Commodore, on the other hand, had only an expectation of low-cost product. No software expectations.

You have to wonder how he could have changed the market by staying at Commodore and building low-cost machines.

We might still be using Commodore computers today (probably running Windows, however) if he had never left.

#17 pocketmego OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 17, 2006 12:07 AM

Topic drift... sorry...

I can't help but think that if Tramiel had stayed at Commodore, the whole computer market would be different today.

I think, to him, the software side of Atari was probably a pain. There's always been very little to take to issue with the power of any Atari machine. It's always the software that kills them, and there was an expectation from that company for software. But Tramiel wasn't a software developer.

Commodore, on the other hand, had only an expectation of low-cost product. No software expectations.

You have to wonder how he could have changed the market by staying at Commodore and building low-cost machines.

We might still be using Commodore computers today (probably running Windows, however) if he had never left.


More likely Geos, which would mean Bill gates would NOT currently be the World's richest man. Apple would be in slightly better shape, and the internet as we know it would be a vastly different thing.

-Ray

#18 Crazy Climber OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 17, 2006 9:33 AM


Oh man, not this arguement again :roll:


:twisted:

I should slap you.

-Ray

Yeah, I saw that coming. Guess I'll add my opinion on it then. I don't think one action could be responsible for the crash. It was probably a number of things. In 1984 I was eight years old and I probably played more Atari then ever. I didn't notice a crash but then again I was eight. I remember a lot of the older kids in the nieghborhood shifting there interest towards computers but I also remember them getting more in to girls. When you get older you're interests change. I went through a long period of time where I didn't own one game system in my house but I did own a computer. I can't believe that now but it was true, for several years I had no interest in video games. If a large portion of the video game consumer was in to other things from growing up (girls, cars, music, college, computers, etc...) that could totally hurt sales which could also contribute to the crash. I guess what I'm saying is it had to be a lot of things not just one. :)

#19 DracIsBack OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 17, 2006 10:04 AM

Yes, i believe so. He was a poor buisness man, he got kicked out of commodore because of his practacies.



It's easy to be an armchair CEO. How many businesses of the size of Tramiel Atari and Tramiel Commodore have you built and run?

#20 shadow460 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 17, 2006 12:53 PM

I don't think Jack killed Atari or caused the crash. He shut down the 5200 and wasted an opportunity with the 7800, sure, but he didn't kill the company at all.

What killed it? Bad games. I think Atari began dying with the crash. Activision can be blamed for the crash, not that they did anything wrong.
Later on, consoles would have company specific lockouts and licensing. Atari could not obtain that even before Jack got the company. They tried against Actvision, and for better or worse, they failed.
Activsion began a trend in good faith of producing quality games while sidestepping the hurdle of first party licensing. What David Crane, Rob Fulop, and people like them could never have imagined was that there would be cash crazed folks out there who wanted a piece of the pie, but didn't want to work for it. Quaker Oats, Mythicon, Froggo, and however many other fly by night companies cranked out a couple of lackluster games for the 2600. Before long, people got tired of paying $40 for crappy games which quickly became far more boring that that hot chick and the fast cars.
With well over ten years in the market, the 2600 had ample time to appeal to multiple generations. Being eclipsed by the NES in the late '90's didn't allow it to remain in the top spot, but it could easily have filled the role then that Jakks and the Flashback consoles fill today.

I think Jack would have been more successful if he'd handled the 5200 differently. If he'd axed the VCS instead of the 5200, there would have been a fresh run of games in the mid '80's, which would have turned a little higher profit. Now everything he did would make more money, which could be used to purchase extra RAM for games like Rescue on Fractalus and bring both Missing in Action and Electrocop to light. He wouldn't have had to pinch pennies on POKEYs and extra memory that were needed for 7800 games. There would have been plenty of capital to put up front for those, and the extra chips would have been paid for ultimately when the consumer bought games.
Phase out the 5200 in 1988, and bring the 7800 fully into the spotlight but this time, make the XEGS games and hardware completely interchangeable with the 7800. You wouldn't have the 7800 or XEGS games--they'd simply say somthing like this at the top:
"CENTIPEDE A Video Game Cartridge by Atari" and they'd have the Fuji logo right there along with label art. At the bottom, of course:
"For use with Atari 7800 and XE computers".

But he did the best he could. Faced with an industry crash, I can see why he'd push the GCC prototype off into the floor and scream "We don't do video games!"
On the other hand, he might have said "What the heck, let's go and sell some!"
lol, the Jackintosh. That term is just plain wrong.
BUt, if the craze of retro plug and play keeps up, pretty soon we'll have the Jakkintosh.

#21 Lord Thag OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 17, 2006 1:20 PM

Sure, Jack killed Atari. And he would have got away with it too, if it hadn't been for you dumb kids!

#22 pocketmego OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 17, 2006 9:33 PM


Yes, i believe so. He was a poor buisness man, he got kicked out of commodore because of his practacies.



It's easy to be an armchair CEO. How many businesses of the size of Tramiel Atari and Tramiel Commodore have you built and run?


Though, admittedly true, one does have to look at history in a practical light. Tramiel's Atari (if not his Commodore) made one TRULY momentous mistake after another, over and over again. I mean in the cas eof Atari, it is pretty easy to see the forks in the road he should have taken and in some cases how easy it was just to apply a bit more effort.

-Ray

#23 pocketmego OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 17, 2006 9:34 PM



Oh man, not this arguement again :roll:


:twisted:

I should slap you.

-Ray

Yeah, I saw that coming. Guess I'll add my opinion on it then. I don't think one action could be responsible for the crash. It was probably a number of things. In 1984 I was eight years old and I probably played more Atari then ever. I didn't notice a crash but then again I was eight. I remember a lot of the older kids in the nieghborhood shifting there interest towards computers but I also remember them getting more in to girls. When you get older you're interests change. I went through a long period of time where I didn't own one game system in my house but I did own a computer. I can't believe that now but it was true, for several years I had no interest in video games. If a large portion of the video game consumer was in to other things from growing up (girls, cars, music, college, computers, etc...) that could totally hurt sales which could also contribute to the crash. I guess what I'm saying is it had to be a lot of things not just one. :)



Thank you. :D

-Ray

#24 Joey Kay OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 17, 2006 10:28 PM

Though, admittedly true, one does have to look at history in a practical light. Tramiel's Atari (if not his Commodore) made one TRULY momentous mistake after another, over and over again. I mean in the cas eof Atari, it is pretty easy to see the forks in the road he should have taken and in some cases how easy it was just to apply a bit more effort.

-Ray


How does any of this apply to the original question - did Jack Kill atari pre-1984? This whole thread is wayyyyy off track.

#25 EmOneGarand OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 17, 2006 10:36 PM

The guy's "business" tactics alienated the company from the rest of the market and his son Sam was a moron. Even Kassar was a better businessman then Jack and he was just as thickheaded..




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