Lion of the Blogosphere

Atari: Game Over (2014)

This is a documentary, available on Netflix streaming, about Atari.

The best parts of the documentary are about the early days of Atari, how it operated, what the engineers who worked there were like.

(1) All of the game developers shown are nerdy young white men. Not a single Asian anywhere. Most of the men were skinny, pale skin, many had poorly trimmed beards. Classic nerds.

(2) The management structure was very bottom up. The engineers themselves had autonomy to design the games and program them. A single programmer would turn out a game in a few months.

This is totally unlike modern IT which is very top-down, with product managers and designers telling the code monkeys what they’re supposed to program. In some high-level language like Java or C#. Not like those early programmers at Atari who were programming in Assembly language, or even writing direct machine code without an assembler. No object-oriented crap, no unit tests, just pure hacking. (That’s a technical detail I’m filling in for you that wasn’t mentioned in the documentary.)

It think this demonstrates the amazing creativity and productivity that is unleashed when you get a much of smart nerdy white guys together and give them the autonomy to unleash their talents.

And they enjoyed themselves. The game developer featured in the documentary said no job after that ever compared to the fun and intensity of working at Atari. He recently became a psychotherapist, which is he says is the first job he liked since Atari.

Unfortunately, the majority of the documentary is not focused on the programmers at Atari, but rather on a current-day quest to dig up a garbage dump where millions of old Atari cartridges were believed to be buried. Who cares about that?

I suspect that the person or people who produced this documentary played videogames themselves but otherwise have no knowledge of either business or software development. They never explain exactly why Atari went out of business. I assume it’s because management massively expanded the business and hired thousands of unnecessary employees with correspondingly expensive office space, based on sales projections which turned out to be vastly overoptimistic. Or maybe they invested huge amounts of money in new projects that failed. But that’s just speculation. I could be wrong.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

February 19, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Posted in Movies, Technology

53 Responses

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  1. The engineers probably had more status too because computers were still seen as exotic and futuristic, not the resented, boring cubicle ball ‘n’ chain.

    Fiddlesticks

    February 19, 2017 at 2:52 pm

  2. ET is actually a great game, once you get past the hurdle of learning how to avoid dying in wells.

    Spoons

    February 19, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    • That game confused me so, so much. But I was like 7yo at the time.

      Greg Pandatshang

      February 19, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    • Space Invaders: All you’ll ever need. FWIW, back in the day, I had about 6 or 7 shoe boxes full of games.

      Vincent

      February 19, 2017 at 11:20 pm

  3. Multiple things happened with Atari:

    1. Games for the Atari 2600 were overwhelmingly garbage. Atari had no licensing or quality control so terrible games with impressive cover art were released by the truckload.

    2. Atari would follow the 2600 with the awful Atari 5800. The 5800 was buggy and didn’t bring much more in graphics and gameplay than the 2600 did. Crappy games plus a crappy new console led to the video game crash of 83, which devastated the now over expanded Atari corp.

    3. Time Warner, who owned Atari, then split Atari up into it’s arcade component and it’s console component. When you were a kid and saw Nintendo or Sega games in the arcade, those games were sure to be exclusives on their respective console games. Not so for Atari as after the split the 2 companies had no relation whatsoever. Time Warner then sold off the console portion to the incompetent and cheap Tramiel family.

    4. The Tramiel’s after purchasing the company felt that the sale included the rights to the developed, produced but not yet released Atari 7800, Atari’s equivalent to the NES. Time Warner disagreed. The court battle delayed the release of the Atari 7800 until mid 1986, whereas the NES had been released in North America before Xmas of 85. The new system quickly dominated the home console market. Atari lacked the exclusive titles of Nintendo and also struggled to find developers because Nintendo used their monopoly to force game publishers to sign contracts that prohibited those companies from publishing games for competing consoles for a period of 2 years. While Atari ended up turning a profit off of the 7800, it was nothing compared to the massive amounts Nintendo had made off of the NES, and the Tramiel run Atari (which was really just a fraction of the original Atari, remember) did not have the resources to compete with Nintendo or the emerging Sega.

    5. Atari would then make what I think was their fatal mistake: They elected to sit out the 3rd generation of home video game consoles. Sega would introduce the Genesis in NA in 89, and Nintendo would release the Super NES in NA in 1991. Atari had been planning to release the Atari Panther in 1991 to compete with the Genesis and SNES. The project was scrapped however in favor of focusing resources on the production of its 4th generation video game console: the Atari Jaguar.

    6. When it comes to what went wrong with the Jaguar, where to start? By the time the Jaguar was released in 1993, Atari was not even an afterthought amongst gamers. Everybody knew about Sega and Nintendo but nobody knew or cared about Atari anymore. The original released controller for the console was borrowed from Atari’s home gaming computer line and only had 3 buttons plus a stupid looking number keypad. The system had been rushed to market was was extremely buggy, and on it’s release only 2 games were available. The Jaguar was sort of a tweener console, it was technically 4th generation but really it was somewhere in between 3rd and 4th gen when it came to it’s actual power. Gamers were mostly happy to stick to their Genesis’ and SNES’s and wait for the real 4th gen consoles to be released. This meant that Atari could not get any developers to make games for the system and Atari, which I remind you again, no longer had an arcade division, struggled to make any games of note for the system themselves. A year and a half after the release of the Jaguar, the Sega Dreamcast would be released. That would be followed by Sony releasing the Playstation and then Nintendo releasing the Nintendo 64. Any one of those consoles was enough to make the Jaguar entirely irrelevant and ultimately Atari would only sell 350,000 Jaguars, and more than half of those sales would come when the Jaguar was in liquidation made being sold for under $100.

    7. The failure of the Jaguar destroyed the company completely. Atari went bankrupt and was sold for scrap. The patent to the mold of the Jaguar console would actually be sold to a company that manufactured dental equipment and you can still see the Jaguar inspired dispensers hanging on the walls in some dentists offices to this day.

    Otis the Sweaty

    February 19, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    • Otis, thank you for the fantastic history of Atari. Concise blog comments like this are far more informative than most “published” work these days. (Although you could surely write this up in a longer version and sell it to a magazine or webzine.)

      SQ

      February 19, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    • Lion: did you find my Atari backstory interesting? Are you going to review Brotherhood?

      Otis the Sweaty

      February 19, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    • Good summary. A lot I didn’t know. I want to add the Tramiel foray into PCs. As a kid my first computer was an Atari ST. Most people have never heard of them but they were decent computers. At the time besides Intel-based PCs and Macs there were Atari and Amiga computers (all using Motorola processors). Amiga had the best graphics, Atari had the best sound and was used by musicians. They just kept falling farther and farther behind on hardware and making stupid decisions.

      Aric

      February 19, 2017 at 6:49 pm

      • The Atari 800 was a brilliantly designed computer, making very efficient use of the 6502 microprocessor. (A processor with a mere 3510 transistors running at 2 mhz. Compare that to a modern Intel Pentium microprocessor with approximately 2 BILLION transistors.)

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        February 19, 2017 at 7:01 pm

      • One of the most bizarre things about home computer history is how much better, and how much cheaper, both Amiga and Atari were than Apple. But Apple won out somehow…until MS-DOS/Windows 3.1, which was worse than Apple.

        onetwothree

        February 20, 2017 at 10:42 am

      • Apple had better marketing.

        DOS had the power of IBM marketing behind it, plus it was a lot less expensive.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        February 20, 2017 at 1:27 pm

      • One used to hear about Moore’s law all the time. Not so much anymore. Maybe I’m just not paying attention.

        Curle

        February 20, 2017 at 2:07 pm

      • Moore’s Law meant that Atari couldn’t stand still with the 2600 which was based on a 6507 chip which even when new was technologically backwards as it was a 6502 chip modified to be less powerful and thus less expensive to mass produce.

        But the time E.T. came out, the 2600 should have already been obsolete.

        Apple knows to make it’s iPhones and iPads obsolete after three years.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        February 20, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    • Pretty good history lesson on video games. You said “Dreamcast” instead of “Saturn” though.

      Yup

      February 19, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    • ” The Tramiel’s after purchasing the company felt that the sale included the rights to the developed, produced but not yet released Atari 7800, Atari’s equivalent to the NES. Time Warner disagreed. The court battle delayed the release of the Atari 7800 until mid 1986, whereas the NES had been released in North America before Xmas of 85.”

      Time Warner contracted the design and development of the Atari 7800 to General Computer Corporation (GCC). I was working for a custom semi-conductor company that worked with GCC to design the graphic chips for the Atari 7800. The company I worked for was ramping up production of those graphics chips in 1984 when Time Warner sold Atari to Tramiel. Tramiel immediately halted production of the chips.

      At the time of the sale, GCC had not been paid for it development work. The court battle was over whether Time Warner had to pay GCC or whether Tramiel had to pay them for the development of the Atari 7800. The company I was working at was not paid for the custom chips it had produced either. The company put them in inventory and wrote them off.

      Atari could have had the 7800s in stores for Christmas 1984. The company I was working at was ramping up chip production for that demand. Instead the legal fight delayed the release until 1986.

      The Tramiel Atari had a reputation for not paying suppliers,like the company I work for. Atari did eventually come back and buy the chips my company had produced, but the company didn’t really want to do business with Tramiel. Normally companies are given 90 days to pay, but Tramiel’s Atari was forced to pay for each small shipment before they would get another shipment. My company also had problems putting the chip back into production because it used a two year old process and they were reluctant to produce it in large quantities because of fear that Tramiel would change his mind and refuse to pay again.

      Tramiel was a penny pincher. In 1984 when he bought Atari he was more interested in the home computer market. By the time the 7800 was released in 1986, it had missed its market window. Nintendo dominated the market with Sega as second.

      The almost two year delay in releasing the 7800 is in my mind what killed Atari home games. Tramiel could have paid GCC in 1984, gone ahead with the 7800 release in 1984 and still sued Time Warner for the money he paid GCC. Instead he tried to argue in court and eventually gave up and paid GCC in 1985. By then it was too late.

      mikeca

      February 20, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    • You must get the book “Art of Atari”. Agree, many games were crap, but the art was key because the in game graphics sucked. The old days of playing Commodore games (we never had an Atari, but there was a lot of cross over) were great, but only a few had what I would think of as decent graphics and game play…

      TBOU

      February 23, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    • 5200, not 5800

      Warner Communications, not Time Warner

      ScarletNumber

      February 25, 2017 at 6:19 am

  4. Atari was the first of the game systems. Like the first anything, the guys who made the games were doing things their own way without corporate suits looking over their shoulders. Those games may be primitive compared to now, but they were all fun. Back then, it was all about fun. Not profit or merchandising or continuing storylines. It was FUN.
    Today you have better graphics and long and difficult storylines, but its just not fun anymore. Sometimes a game will make you play it for hours before it unlocks the other playable characters. I have no idea what they’re doing there. They advertise all the playable characters in the ads and box, but then you have to play through to unlock them?
    Whenever you crush the designers, by putting suits in charge, its about as fun as playing a game with kids with adult supervision. The kids just want to have fun and the adults make it all about learning or cooperation or some other lame shit. These games are supposed to be fun, man.
    Back in the day, with companies like Atari, Intellivision and the Nintendo and Sega, it used to be FUN. It didn’t matter about storylines, or characters, and no one cared about who these characters represented.

    IT WAS FUN.

    BTW, that game they dug up was the foreshadowing of what killed the fun. ET was the first major merchandise tie-in with that cutesy alien freak. AND IT SUCKED. IT SUCKED SO BAD THEY TOOK IT INTO THE DESERT AND BURIED THEM. They learned NOTHING.

    Joshua Sinistar

    February 19, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    • Actually, according to people interviewed, ET wasn’t such a bad game, especially when considering the guy who programmed it only had 5 weeks. NO one could create a great game in 5 weeks, but it was an average game, not the worst game ever, but mismarketed as it was a more complicated game like Adventure rather than a young kid’s game.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      February 19, 2017 at 4:50 pm

      • Uh yes, it is possible to build a good game in 5 weeks. I suspect you yourself could make a decent atari game in 5 weeks.

        Otis the Sweaty

        February 19, 2017 at 5:46 pm

      • Lion, the reason this game is collectible is because its one of the worst videogames ever. The company actually buried them in the desert THEMSELVES. I’m not sure why anyone would want to make an ET videogame. It might have been a good movie, but ET doesn’t really do anything and needs a couple of kids to save him. Commercialization of videogames has made them suck. All that cross merchandising and appealing to women crap has taken all the fun out of the industry. Videogames used to be all about gameplay and fun, but like everything else, now they want messages, entertainment, tokenism, etc. Lara Croft was a fun update of Pitfall/Indiana Jones with a hot chick. They had to suck that all up, by making her look more “real”, and fight more like Xena. My God this industry has lost its mind.

        Joshua Sinistar

        February 19, 2017 at 6:47 pm

      • Also, the guy who programmed the first version of Lotus 123 accomplished the job in six weeks. Pure assembler code. I still think the old DOS based Lotus 123 superior to Excel, whatever version it’s at today.

        Daniel

        February 19, 2017 at 7:50 pm

      • Uh yes, it is possible to build a good game in 5 weeks. I suspect you yourself could make a decent atari game in 5 weeks.

        Steve Wozniak (who, along with John Carmack and Donald Knuth, is one of the highest-IQ living computer nerds) created the software AND HARDWARE for Breakout (also for Atari) in four days.

        Woz’s design, which used extremely innovative software and hardware techniques to run the game using only 44 chips, compared to other arcade cabinets of the time (1976), which used 150-170, was so advanced that Atari’s engineers couldn’t understand it, and they rewrote the game from scratch.

        Atari paid Steve Jobs $5,700 for Woz’s work; Jobs claimed to Woz they’d only been paid $700 and gave Woz “half,” not coming clean until Woz found out decades later. Jobs is perhaps the ur-example of the high-functioning sociopath; besides his best friend, his treatment of his other employees, and his daughter(!), was equally reprehensible. Woz on the other hand is the poster child for nice guys (and nerds) finishing last.

        The Atari 2600 port of Breakout was written in about a month by Brad Stewart. The problem with E.T. is that it was overly ambitious; envisioned as an adventure game in the vein of 1986’s Zelda, but the 2600 hardware couldn’t support such a complex game, and, yes, neither could such a short development process, which was better-suited to simple concepts like Breakout, Space Invaders, Snake, Pac-Man, etc.

        snorlaxwp

        February 20, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    • Sorry, but games are much, much better today. Much better. Here’s a game I actually owned on the Atari 2600, and paid 99 cents for (sneak n’ peek if the link dies):

      For a dollar today, you can usually get some genuinely good games on humblebundle that will blow away almost *anything* from the Atari days.

      onetwothree

      February 20, 2017 at 10:48 am

  5. those early programmers at Atari who were programming in Assembly language

    In the mid ’80s, my first software job out of undergrad was programming in Assembly (and C) at a large government defense contractor. After a couple of years, there was a big push to design in Ada, but it never really took off before I moved on.

    E. Rekshun

    February 19, 2017 at 3:51 pm

  6. Best explanation and a great article: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_video_game_crash_of_1983

    I agree with most of Otis’s post, but there is too much there about Atari after 1985. Sure the company still existed, but the NES simply killed it. Mario, Zelda, and Duck Hunt by themselves were better than having every single Atari console game. There were a complete leap forward.

    I think the mistake in retrospect was to not focus huge resources on flagship games and better hardware. Instead Atari went for lower price and backward compatibility.

    A kind of minor issue, but NES also proved that a control pad is superior to a joystick for 95-100% of games.

    Lot

    February 19, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    • Everybody wants to say that Atari was irrelevant after 85, but the fact is that the 7800 sold over 3.5 million consoles and turned a profit. If the Panther had been released there is no reason to believe that it wouldn’t have been at least as successful as the 7800 was.

      The Atari 7800 actually continued to sell past the mid 80s. It was a more capable hardware than people think. Look at this homebrew “Zippy the Porcupine”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GD3Rmzgy_O4

      Otis the Sweaty

      February 19, 2017 at 5:53 pm

      • Those were my prime video game console years and I never once saw a 5200 or 7800 IRL. 2600 was before my time but I at least saw them in put away in closets and played it a couple times. I also don’t think they rented games at blockbuster or sold them at the store. If you can think of any good and playable games I’ll try on an emulator, but I am skeptical. Maybe they were randomly popular in Brazil or something.

        The 2600 was pretty bad too despite its popularity. Arcade games from the early 80s were great but the 2600’s version of them were pale imitations. The resolution of games was simply too low to be very enjoyable (just 160 horizontal pixels). It was another mistake to just keep churning out 2600 consoles rather than improve upon it, waiting 5 years to come up with an upgrade despite the rapid pace of tech change then.

        Lot

        February 20, 2017 at 2:32 am

      • Here are some 2600 games that have stood the test of time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVpMBx8BF6c

        Otis the Sweaty

        February 20, 2017 at 9:58 am

      • @Lot

        An Atari ($200) plus a few games ($20) was ~2 orders of magnitude more expensive than popular children’s toys had ever been, besides a few exceptions like model trains. It was not easy to convince middle and working-class parents to spend that much on a toy in the first place, and Atari probably feared too-frequent releases of new, incompatible consoles would end up killing their golden goose.

        Although they obviously still should’ve in hindsight, I suspect they would indeed have tested consumer goodwill if they’d adopted a more aggressive console release cycle. Nintendo benefited greatly from not being Atari.

        I think this aspect of consumer psychology goes a long way to explaining Atari’s flattening by Nintendo, Nintendo by Sega, Sega by Sony, Sony by Microsoft/Nintendo, Microsoft/Nintendo by smartphones/Steam/Sony, and so it goes. Only Sony ever won 2 generations in a row, during an economic boom coinciding with the industry peak.

        I think the expense of consoles and games was the subconscious motivation for the moral panic over sex and violence in video games. It significantly died down in the 2000’s as consoles lost market share to (free) internet flash games, and then completely in the 2010’s as nearly all their remaining market share was lost to free-$1.99 smartphone games.

        Likewise, the new expenses of cable and VCRs/tapes (and video games) were the underlying motivation for the 80’s/90’s moral panic over TV in general.

        snorlaxwp

        February 20, 2017 at 3:54 pm

  7. Atari probably failed because they didn’t have enough female programmers.

    WaPo, 02/17/17 – How we could close tech’s gender gap in a decade

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/02/17/how-we-could-close-techs-gender-gap-in-a-decade/?utm_term=.7baaa3ae2c5f#comments

    We all know that the technology industry has a gender problem. But how do you move the needle from awareness to action?

    …the gender gap in tech is getting worse. In 1984, 37 percent of all computer science graduates were women. Today, that number is 18 percent, according to a survey done by Accenture and Girls Who Code last year. Data from the Census Bureau show a similar decline in the workplace.

    …How is this getting worse?” Girls Who Code, which launched in 2012, has since put at least 10,000 young girls through the program — only some of whom have since entered college, and are majoring in computer science…

    E. Rekshun

    February 19, 2017 at 3:59 pm

  8. Lion, if you download Williams Arcade Classics for DOS (plays on DosBox, which takes like 5 minutes to setup), you can play the arcade versions of some of the best Atari era games, and there are a lot of photos and interviews with the programmers. They were nearly all skinny white nerds, with a couple fat guys and one woman.

    Lot

    February 19, 2017 at 4:01 pm

  9. As others noted above, there was a huge crash in the video game market in the early 80s. Atari and other companies overextended themselves putting out a huge number of consoles and terrible games.

    Tom

    February 19, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    • Nintendo from the land of the Rising Sun would mop the floor with Atari, Collecovision and rival Japanese Sega System in the 80s, where it would reign supreme. I was too young to remember, but the 90s was clearly the era where Nintendo put other game systems out of business.

      JS

      February 19, 2017 at 5:34 pm

      • you’re too young to remember the 90s? How old are you? I figured you were middle aged.

        Otis the Sweaty

        February 19, 2017 at 5:47 pm

      • I was a college freshman in 1996.

        JS

        February 19, 2017 at 7:23 pm

      • Actually, I remember Sega was crushing Nintendo. The genesis had great graphics and better controllers and the Super NES was pretty much the same as the NES. Their Gamecube sucked. When Sony Playstation came out was when Sega was hurting, and the Nintendo Gamecube SUCKED. Sega Dreamcast was damn good for its time. They just couldn’t compete anymore when Billy Gates jr brought out the XBOX. I remember how that XBOX was setting peoples’ houses on fire at Christmastime, but apparently Billy Gates jr has sold his soul to the Devil or something because his company has had dozens of disasters that should have put it under but somehow this damn thing keeps going like a giant undead pile of technological suck.

        Joshua Sinistar

        February 19, 2017 at 7:04 pm

      • The SNES was not like the NES, I don’t know what you are talking about.

        The Genesis and SNES were basically on the same level in terms of tech, but the Genesis had what most teenage boys and young men would regard as the superior library. It had the Sonic games, Mortal Kombat (with blood) and was generally regarded as superior for the sports games.

        Gates wanted nothing to do with the video game industry despite facing a lot of internal pressure to get into it. He was sure that video game consoles would end up being a financial sink for Microsoft. It was only when PS2 with it’s ability to also function as a DVD player was in the works that Gates started to fear that Sony was going to win the battle for the living room and he finally gave the go ahead for the Xbox. The purpose of the Xbox was never to make money, it was purely to deny Sony market share. And indeed, Microsoft has yet to make a profit on their home consoles and the Xbox1 is probably the last you will see of them in the video game console business.

        It wasn’t Gates and Microsoft that destroyed Sega, a lot of other stuff went in to Sega’s fall from grace.

        Otis the Sweaty

        February 19, 2017 at 8:00 pm

      • Super Nintendo had a good library too with Super Mario, Zelda, Mario Kart, Street Fighter, Donkey Kong Country, etc. Almost twice as many Super Nintendo consoles were sold as Sega Genesis consoles.

        Gamecube came out in 2002. You’re forgetting about Nintendo 64, which came out in the 90s after Super Nintendo. Nintendo 64 was immensely popular. Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 dominated video games in the 90s. JS is right that Nintendo dominated in the 90s.

        Tom

        February 19, 2017 at 8:31 pm

      • The Xbox represented MS forgetting Gates’ (and Larry Ellison’s) insight that the software’s where most of the potential profit margin is. If MS had just done Halo and their other original video game franchises, they would have made bank, but instead it all went to subsidizing the money-losing console business.

        Of course Jobs showed that it was possible to make mondo margins off of hardware, but Steve Ballmer is no Steve Jobs.

        snorlaxwp

        February 19, 2017 at 8:33 pm

      • Nobody seems to remember the Nintendo 64. People who owned it loved it, but even Today you can’t even get one secondhand. Its strange really. Super NES had the same look and feel of the NES and the Nintendo 64 had great potential, but they just didn’t push it. Sega was scooping up all sorts of titles and Nintendo 64 wasn’t even trying.

        Joshua Sinistar

        February 19, 2017 at 9:38 pm

      • Nintendo lost a lot of market share starting with the N64 because of their insistence, driven by their fear of piracy, on sticking with the cartridge format while other systems, including the new PlayStation, were switching to optical discs. Cartridges made games more expensive and didn’t have the storage capacity for full-motion video/audio cutscenes.

        Hermes

        February 19, 2017 at 11:54 pm

      • I preferred the instant loading cartridge to the 45 second or more boot time of many first gen CD Rom console games. They would also stop all the time to load more of the CD into memory. N64 was the best of its time for this reason.

        Lot

        February 20, 2017 at 2:38 am

  10. I watched that documentary a while back. not bad. I get out my old 2600 once every few years. Getting to the Easter egg in adventure is still fun.

    Steve@steve.com

    February 19, 2017 at 5:47 pm

  11. If you’re interested in this stuff, there’s a novel about the video game industry called You, written by Austin Grossman (brother of Lev Grossman), who worked as a video game designer before becoming a novelist. I got the hardcover after liking his first novel, but it wasn’t my thing. You can have my copy if you want.

    David Pinsen

    February 19, 2017 at 5:56 pm

  12. Back in that time period there were a lot of skinny young guys in all walks of life. The roid look was pretty much unheard of.

    Jay Fink

    February 19, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    • >>The roid look was pretty much unheard of

      Yup. We used to make fun of muscle heads. There was very little obesity back them too, especially among young women.

      Today, many young women go to their wedding day frighteningly obese.

      Daniel

      February 19, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    • One travail of watching a documentary about something that happened in the ’80s is being shocked at how many of those skinny guys became roiders in middle age. Howie Mandel and Stephen J. Cannell (if you ever watched TV in the ’80s, you’ll recognize the bumper he used to appear in) became unrecognizable from their heyday.

      Richard

      February 20, 2017 at 11:02 am

  13. Atari’s burial of game cartridges is not unique. Apple buried thousands of its failed Lisa computers in a Utah landfill.

    Peter

    ironrailsironweights

    February 19, 2017 at 8:55 pm

  14. Startups, like what Atari was at those days, are still mainly a white male business. Especially when they try to invent something new. Any true innovation, whether in technology or in art, requires a cohesive group of men who thinks alike, can push together towards a goal and have a laugh on the way without too much sensitivity. Exactly the opposite of the diversity that people like to talk about so much.

    Hashed

    February 20, 2017 at 7:00 am

  15. When I was a kid I actually collected the packing for Ataria games and hung them up on my wall. The artwork on those boxes was often really great — almost comically so. The packaging might display a knight raising his sword against a fiery dragon, but in the game itself, you were a square moving from screen to screen in a world of rudimentary graphics.

    I have a particular fondness for Atari games that could be completed. Among these, Superman was a real standout: after collecting pieces from a bridge that Lex Luther had exploded, you had to individually round up all the criminals (including Lex himself), take them to jail, and turn back into Clark Kent.

    I haven’t owned a game console in many, many years, but for Christmas I bought myself the Nintendo Classic, a mini console that comes with over 20 games. There are plenty of duds among them but Mike Tyson’s Punchout is still fantastic. And Metroid is also excellent (but it entails a time investment that a grown man like myself is not willing to make anymore).

    SWPL2

    February 20, 2017 at 9:25 am

  16. Trump back up to 42% in Gallup, exactly where he was 10 days ago. This is 3 points below his Inauguration Day approval. Ras has Trump down to 51%, 5 points below his Inauguration Day numbers in that poll.

    Neither of these numbers are a huge deal but for the last week the Libs have been screaming about Trump’s Gallup decline and insisting that Ras was rigged. They aren’t admitting that they were wrong now though, because they never do.

    Otis the Sweaty

    February 20, 2017 at 1:27 pm


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