Flashback 1972: Atari Is Born

Forty-four years ago this week the iconic video game company Atari was founded by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney.

The company’s first engineer Allan Alcorn created Pong, a simple, two-dimensional table tennis game, as part of a training exercise. The Atari founders liked the game so much that they decided to manufacture and release it as an arcade game. Pong wasn’t the first arcade game but it was one of the first to reach mainstream popularity. (The idea for the training exercise was inspired by the electronic ping-pong game included with the Magnavox Odyssey, first home video game console and resulted in a lawsuit.)

In 1977 Atari introduced the now-legendary Atari Video Computer System (known simply as the VCS and later the Atari 2600). The console is credited with popularizing the use of microprocessor-based hardware and ROM cartridges containing game code as opposed to dedicated consoles that could only play games physically built into the unit.

Before the video game crash of 1983, Atari was the fastest growing company in the United States had built a brand that was synonymous with video games.