Atari Computer was a video game manufacturer founded in 1972 in Sunnyvale, CA, by Nolan Bushnell, who named the company after a word used in the Japanese game of Go. Atari became famous for "Pong," a video game that simulated Ping-Pong on TV. In 1976, Atari was sold to Warner Communications which came out with a game computer dubbed the Atari Video Computer System. In 1978, the Atari 400 and 800 home computers were introduced and became successful. Later came the 600XL and 1200XL models.
In 1984, Atari was sold to Jack Tramiel and investors, which introduced the ST personal computer line in 1985 to compete with the Mac. The STs were advanced machines that were available into the 1990s, but although popular, they received limited application support (see Atari ST
). Atari also made a failed attempt at offering IBM-compatible PCs. In late 1992, it introduced the Falcon multimedia computer but soon shut down its R&D. At the end of 1993, the Jaguar video game was introduced, but sales were insufficient to continue operating.
In 1996, the company merged with hard disk manufacturer JTS Corporation, which sold the Atari name and IP to Hasbro Interactive in 1998. In 2008, Atari, Inc. became a subsidiary of Infogrames Entertainment, which had acquired Hasbro.
Sporting a whopping 16K of RAM and 8K of ROM, the Atari 400 was used mostly for games, which were contained in ROM cartridges that plugged into the unit. Atari computers helped spearhead the personal computer revolution in the early 1980s. (Image courtesy of Kevan's Computer Bits, www.heydon.org/kevan/collection)