Video Games are a (major) part of a teenager's life. It was the same in the 70's when Atari was still around.
Atari is considered to be the first major video game company. Before there was a Nintendo, XBOX or even PlayStation, Atari was dominating the video game scene. In 1971, Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney had an engineering company called Syzygy Engineering. The name came about when during one of their many bad acid trips, Bushnell shouted this out for no reason whatsoever making Dabney shit his pants laughing and tape recording the incident. (and if that's not it, that explanation has gotta be pretty damn close) The two created the first ever video game which they called Computer Space. Keep in mind, this was back when people (ie engineers) were just discovering video games. Needless to say, this one failed on a hilarious stage but it did give Bushnell and Dabney some inspiration. Bushnell hired a Mr. Al Alcorn shortly after this and told him to create a video game that was unlike anything ever seen before, one that the gaming masses would soon come to love and cherish throughout the years. After this pep talk, Alcorn created the highly addictive (and mind-numbingly easy) game Pong. It was unlike anything ever seen before for video games or it would have been if it didn't resemble the Magnavox Odyssey game Table Tennis which was exactly like Pong down to the smallest detail. It seems that Bushnell basically told Alcorn "this idea is brilliant and as a test of your engineering abilities, I want you to blatantly copy this game down to the tiniest detail." Shockingly, Magnavox was pissed about the whole "blatant rip-off" fiasco so Ralph Baer and Co. decide to sue Atari for patent infringement. Magnavox won the case but it didn't matter because the game Pong was so commercially successful that the Magnavox couldn't keep up with Atari and, eventually, the Odyssey was discontinued in 1975. Fear not loyal fans of Magnavox! Ralph Baer, the man who designed the Odyssey, would later make the ultra-infuriating game Simon.
That's not to say that Magnavox was Atari's only competitor in the field of video games. Kee Games was founded in 1973 and began producing games to compete with Atari. So who was the brainchild behind Kee Games who had the balls to take on (then) industry giant Atari?
Yes, it seems that the only competition Atari had back in the day was the competition they created for themselves. The actual head of Kee Games was Joe Keenan (hence the Kee) who just happened to be the best friend of a certain Nolan Bushnell the time that Kee Games started producing games. Well, it's a good thing that people caught on to the scam right away. Atari wasn't going to get away with it. What's that? Kee Games produced games for five years? Even after it was revealed in 1974 that Atari and Kee Games were basically the same company? Wow. I guess the 70's were just a different time. Eventually, the two company's merged but Atari still published games under the label "Kee Games" until 1978. By the way, do you know what happened to Keenan after all of this? He became the president of the company.
Way to go Joe!
Bushnell wasn't done being batshit insane and in 1976 he sold the company to Warner Communications for a cool $28 million. That's not to say that Bushnell up and left the company he helped create. He was still on board with Atari until 1978 when he had a heated arguement with Manny Gerard (presumably becasue he had just lost to Gerard at Pong). Bushnell was jobless but that didn't deter our plucky engineer. You see, in 1977, just a year after he sold the company and a year prior to his ass being fired, Bushnell actually bought this crummy little resturant from Warner Communications. The name of the resturant was Pizza Time Theatre which we assume was sort of like Laugh-In with pizza. Guess what he turned it into?
Yep. The most popular place for kids (and pedophiles) on the planet; Chuck E Cheese's. Bushnell must have been laughing in Warner's faces with his successful resturant... that went bankrupt about 7 years later. So, in case your keeping score, Bushnell would be a multi-billionaire if it weren't for a bizarre turn of bad luck. Bushnell had lost Atari, Chuck E Cheese's and along the way he gave up his own invention, Kadabrascope, to George Lucas, who eventually sold it to Steve Jobs, who eventually sold it to Disney who now has even more money because of Pixar. At this point, we don't even know why Bushnell kept trying. It seems like the whole world just wants to take one collosal dump on him.
Over the years, Atari has released some of the most famous games on it's systems and in arcades around the world. From a swearing, two-legged monstrousity to one evil son of a bitch, Atari has had a cultural impact as well as critictal acclaim for their work. Let's look at some of those classics:
In Frogger, you are a frog trying to cross a busy highway, as well as a river, to go chill on a lilly pad. There aren't any enemy's although you can die if you're hit by a car, crash into a wall, take too long on a log or turtle, jump into a crocodiles mouth, jump on a lily pad occupied by another frogs (home invasions do not sit well with frogs) or fall into water. Wait, what? Fall into water? You're shitting me right Atari? I believe frogs can swim on a count of the fact they live near the water and are hideous fish when they are babies. All of these other ways to die are completely plausible but you kinda ruined it for me when you said my frog could die from drowning. Also, I believe I have set a Cracked record by using the word "frog" the most times in a sentence.
As... whatever the hell Q*Bert is, you must jump around a pyramid avoiding a snake named Coily (countless hours were spent deciding on a name), two purple blobs named Ugg and Wrong-Way, and another two green blobs named Slick and Sam and if you touched any of the above characters or fell off the pyramid (which was likely since the controls were mind-boggling dreadful), Q*Bert would shout out a few explatives before starting all over again. I'd imagine that Q*Bert is retired from jumping around on floating pyramids and stays at home all day swearing at 14-year-olds over XBOX Live.
You are a yellow hockey puck with a mouth that has a hankerin' for white orbs presumably made of crack cocaine. You must avoid four ghost that have decided to be real big buzzkills and ruin Pac-Man's day. Don't fret! If you eat a big piece of crack cocaine, Pac-Man will totally lose his shit and the ghosts will turn blue with fear. Also, you get to eat fruit. Yeah.
Its the game that started it all and was later spoofed countless times. You are one of the last survivors of Earth here to do battle with an evil horde of alien invaders that have entered Earth's space. You have four walls to protect you as you pick off the aliens (and a few pointless UFO's) until they are all eliminated. Congradulations! For all we know, you might have just commited genocide! Way to go killer! Interesting side note: Did you know that this game caused a natural coin shortage in Japan? If there are two thing the Japanese love, it's video games and manga.