Atari Oddities

The wacky Atari you don't know: Its digital photo booth, video phone, "Puppy Pong," and more.

Posted by  | Sunday, February 12, 2012

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Atari OdditiesForty years ago this June, Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney founded Atari, Inc. in California. And with it, they founded the video game industry as we know it today. Since then, the name Atari has become synonymous with the golden age of video games and a sense of Generation X nostalgia that will never fade.

If you’re reading this, I suspect you know the Atari 2600, 5200, and 7800 consoles. You’ve played the hit arcade video games, and you may have even used an Atari 8-bit or ST computer. But the story of Atari is filled with many unseen and little known oddities. Here areĀ 13 examples of weird Atari products and strange Atari marketing you can use as trivia at your next 1970s or 80s theme party. When they ask, “How’d you know that?”, just tell them Benj Edwards sent you.



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9 Comments For This Post

  1. JM_Brazil Says:

    Thanks for the nostalgia Benj, this brings back many fond memories.

  2. Martin Goldberg Says:

    A little off on the Tank console and joystick history there. It wasn't the Tank console first and then the VCS/2600 and the sticks weren't chosen for one over the other. They were in development simultaneous. In fact the Tank console (called Tank II in the Atari version), the last of the dedicated consoles, was there simply in case something went wrong with the VCS. It didn't and the Tank console was cancelled accordingly. Additionally, the sticks used in this and the VCS were not CX-40's, they are the spring loaded CX-10's.

  3. Mem Says:

    Wasn't that F-1 game in Dawn of the Dead?

  4. Guest Says:

    I actually owned a Hercules pinball game. It was easily the heaviest piece of electronics I have ever purchased for home use. It cost $500 from a Denver arcade refurbishing shop and came with free shipping back in 1993. Never broke down once in the 2 years I owned it but don't recommend putting this in the basement. Gave it away rather than trying to move it to my new house. Still, it was a lot of fun.

  5. Benj Edwards Says:

    I had a feeling I'd hear from you on this one, Marty. Thanks for clarifying that murky bit of Atari history for us.

  6. Puffers Rabbinald Says:

    Just as a comment, the guy who eventually created programming to supercede scrolling as approximated in F-1 was Steve Hanawa, who worked as head of R & D for Sega of America during the Master System's initial launch. The game he did this in, which revolutionized racing games forever, was Turbo.

  7. Martin Goldberg Says:

    Benj, not a problem. Great article otherwise!

  8. Daniel B. Says:

    "Puppy Pong" did in fact get some kind of national exposure — it was a one-bid prize on a nighttime (Dennis James) episode of "The Price Is Right" during the 1974-75 season. Janice Pennington and Anita Ford were shown playing it.

  9. Daniel B. Says:

    AnitRa Ford, sorry. Also, here's the segment where Puppy Pong was offered (audio only, sorry):
    http://j-shea.com/TPIR/nighttime/750715b.mov