I forgot how big the cart boxes were for the 400/800. The console wars of the late ’70s and early ’80s were fought largely through package art and package design. Demo centers were few and far between, but we all saw the boxes faced out under glass counters or behind the registers. The 400/800 packages were bigger, Atari would have us believe, because the contents were more sophisticated. Pac-Man wasn’t just a game when played on the Atari 400 and 800. It was a “computer program.”
When I got my 800 in ’82 or ’83, it came bundled with Pac-Man and Donkey Kong.
(Photo via vigorito; box scan via Atari Mania)
According to Vintage Richmond, the shot is from a Circuit City store circa 1981. I think the year is likely 1980, because I don’t see Asteroids, Missile Command, or Yar’s Revenge, all of which were released for the 2600 in 1981. I do see Space Invaders and Warlords, both released in 1980.
There are two 2600 consoles in the photo, as well as a Magnavox Odyssey² and an Intellivision. I keep thinking two things: first, who was the poor bastard who had to get those TVs onto that shelf? And second, those TVs look very precariously perched on that shelf.
Note that customers had to “limit video game play to 5 minutes only”. I’m sure the kids minded the warning.
The game was unproduced, sadly, but what a cool concept. “Wizz Bang” all the way! Note that steering on the last cabinet design is “similar to Battlezone,” a very popular Atari cab released in 1980. The art is from Atari Coin-Op Division Records via the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, a repository housed at The Strong National Museum of Play.
First time I’ve seen this, and I don’t know if it ever aired. According to the source, it’s from a VHS tape belonging to Alan Murphy, a graphics programmer at Atari (1980-1987) who worked on coin-op and console games, including Gauntlet and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The animation is excellent!
My first guess for the year was 1978, but the 2600 model looks like the four-switch, wood veneer version first released in 1980, and the date in the top right corner looks like ’83. I’m betting Video Olympics is what they’re playing.
There’s a record in front of the stereo I can’t identify. I wish I had that chair.
Published April 16, 2015
Atari , Photography
Photos from the San Francisco Chronicle‘s ubiquitous Gary Fong showing the experimental, six-sided Atari Theatre Kiosk at the BART station on Powell Street. According to Peter Hartlaub’s Chronicle article, as well as a ’77 Vending Times article (photo below) posted by The Golden Age Arcade Historian, games included Pong, Jet Fighter, Space Race, LeMans, Trak 10, and Tank. You got 90 seconds for your quarter. Screens at the top of the kiosk displayed BART schedules and other Bay Area news.
The experiment ended in 1977. The single arcade cabinet was more cost effective, easier to repair, and easier to move/transport. Still, it’s a powerful reminder that companies like Atari used to make humdrum and stressful places more fun.
Via Wesley Stuart Smith, who is spotted here the following year getting cozy with a VIC-20. Traitor!
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I’m running a special guest post tomorrow. I’ll be back next week.
More, including daily schedule and newspaper/magazine articles about adult computer camp, at Robert A. Kahn & Associates. I don’t know about you, but I’m not getting on a boat that’s being “sailed” by an Atari 800.
Atari ad execs really enjoyed word play on ‘hardware’ and ‘software’.