The underdog who should not be forgotten

 

        Some people just like to root for the underdog, in sports, life, and in movies especially. I think there is something for watching someone you never expected to even make it win the championship. There are too many examples to get into right now but I think most people can agree it is common enough occurrence that most people are just used to it. There is a flip side to that, there is an equal if not greater desire to watch the weakling get bullied into tears. We have all been there, either been bullied or become the bully. In fact some of us have been on both sides of the stick and it’s never fun. That is one reason why I tend to stick up for those who do not deserve to be kicked while they are down. Sure there are some scumbags we just want to see crawling in their own filth, but then once they get down there we kind of start to feel sorry for them.

 

        That is how I think the internet fandom works, no matter what the side who loses gets the undeserved hate and then everyone just assumes it is okay to pick on them. Like Transformers against the Gobots, nobody ever talks about how the Gobots actually were better toys, no they don’t even talk about the apparent flaws that make the original Transformers cartoon nearly unwatchable to anyone who wasn’t a kid in the 80’s whereas the Gobots cartoon had the same timeless Hanna-Barbara charm kids of all ages and generations keep coming back to. Some people on the internet hold this regard that if a product, property, or company ceased to exist they must have not been worth anything or that if they lost market share they obviously did something wrong, never mind that in a free market even the best ideas sometimes lose out to the lowest common denominator. In the late 1990’s I lived through a time when everybody went from thinking SEGA was the coolest thing ever to happen to video games to re-writing history into this warped reality where they *always* sucked and just somehow got lucky. These same people are currently undergoing a shift from praising the once mighty Nintendo to writing them off as always having been behind the times or having always relied on their franchises despite all those franchises having to start somewhere. Still it bothers me to see so many people needlessly attack anyone especially those who do not deserve it.

 

        Out of all the companies that gets the most hate that I feel is not just undeserved it totally and completely warped by some major flawed logic and re-writing of history to fit the current misconception, and that company is Atari. Why do people especially young people just write Atari off as something from the past that never mattered? Well I am here to point out where they are wrong and set the record straight, no you can not say that if not for Nintendo there wouldn’t even be a Sony Playstation or an Xbox, screw that if there hadn’t been an Atari first there wouldn’t have even been a Nintendo (at that time they were in the brothel business and just starting to branch out into toys.)

 

So here are some key points fanboys on the internet always seem to forget whenever the name Atari gets brought up.

 

 

        Fact number one, Atari INVENTED video games. Shut up yes they did. Nerds will gladly point out some anecdote about some scientist somewhere in a lab or garage or whatever who somehow managed to get a simulation to work on an old radar scope something or other, I did my fact checking and guess what, WHO FRIGGIN CARES it was NOT a commercial product, it was an experiment in a garage that somebody wrote about AFTER the fact as some revisionist history. Atari has the patent on video games, or “interactive TV games” they lost the patent to TIME but they DID invent video games so deal with it.

 

        There is also a myth that the Magnavox Odyssey was the first true video game or this tech demo called “Tennis for Two” or some bull shit like that, Again those were tech demos done by researchers in a LAB. Pong hit arcades the same year as the Odyssey but here is the catch nobody out side of techies and internet nerds EVER knew what the Odyssey was, if you were alive back then you knew PONG PERIOD. Maybe years latter you heard of the Odyssey 2 most people mistakenly remember that as the first one but it was actually years latter. Anyways PONG was a hit in arcades and began the arcade revolution, Magnavox and their tech demo never even made it to major retailers before being lost to time. I am an avid collector of video game and TV technology, I used to own a Beta Max, Laser Disc player, and a CED player (look that one up if you don’t know) among many other obscure TV related tech. I have NEVER seen an Odyssey in the wild, you see them online in auction sites and in museums but nobody ever bought the damn thing so they might as well not even exist. Does that mean Atari deserves all the credit? YES in my book they do. Sure they maybe borrowed ideas from others at the time but here is the reality, so what, their idea took off and launched an entire revolution, those other ideas where just nerds dinking around in a lab for the hell of it. Atari did the smart thing and found a way to turn it into a business which is why you and I even care about video games in the first place, they were successful products in the marketplace that we as consumers purchased for our enjoyment.

 

        Activision, THE number one video game company in the world, you know the guys who make a little game I am sure you all heard of “Call of Duty”, they started *AS* Atari, that is right the company that you know and love USED to be Atari games. Well sort of but there is a story behind it. Atari was like all tech businesses at the time, and mostly today too, they paid their programmers for work produced and then put them on a new project. Some programmers thought they were rock stars and should be paid and given credit like recording artists and a dispute over royalties led them to LEAVE Atari and launch Activision, a 3rd party publisher that existed to program and sell games for Atari’s home console the 2600 VCS. Why did they name their company Activision? Because it comes before Atari in the phone book, that was the way their founder tells it anyways.

 

        Atari also created a side business called Pizza Time Theater, it was this pizza restaurant that also housed the latest and greatest video arcade games for kids to play while they waited for their food. Their mascot was a cartoon rat named Chuck E Cheese and oh by the way they still exist today but they now use that rat as more than a mascot he is their namesake too.

 

        Atari created the first wireless controllers for a video game console way back in the early 80’s for their 2600 game system. I could go on and talk about how programmers from Atari created some of the most successful games of all time but instead I will share one tidbit about Nintendo and leave it at that. Nintendo wanted to get into the budding video game business so they sold some of their games across the ocean to American companies to release on their machines. Their most popular games were Donkey Kong, Mario Bros. and Popeye. They ported these to nearly every home console and computer at the time making them a third party company (so when Nintendo fans say Nintendo will NEVER go third party correct them and say they might not go BACK to being 3rd party instead) anyways Nintendo wanted to get into the hardware business because their arcade games were not selling well, those three listed above were it the rest were all flops nobody remembers, even Nintendo leaves them off their company history page.

 

        Oh so getting back to Atari, Nintendo didn’t know how to make a video game console so they stole Atari’s design and rebranded it the Famicom, imported it back into the US as the NES and the rest is history. They made minor changes to the RAM and added a co-processor for graphics but the internal CPU was the same one found in Atari’s machine from 1976, NES came out a DECADE latter. Okay so that is not enough to defend Atari as this great company but here is one for you, even though they STOPPED making video game consoles in 1997 they made MORE consoles from the 70’s to 90’s than Nintendo has to date. They also made computers and arcade machines for nearly 20 years, Nintendo barely made arcade games for five years before getting CRUSHED in the Arcade arena by Atari and Sega, two companies who remained kings of the Arcade till the very end. (or the decline anyways)

        Atari also took their game consoles online TWO DECADES before Nintendo did. Of course everybody had been doing online a whole decade before Nintendo anyways so that isn’t saying much. Also keep this in mind, even though Nintendo supposedly revived the video game industry after this mythical crash that gets blown out of proportion by internet sites looking to sensationalize a downturn in the economy, anyways the point is despite Nintendo somehow saving or reviving the video game industry people tend to forget Atari survived the crash, they kept making products during and throughout the entire period, Nintendo just came in and took all the credit for basically just taking advantage to a clean market with most competition bankrupt.

 

        I think Nintendo has done some great things for the video game industry and so has Sega, Sony, and well even Apple, but don’t forget that it all started with Atari. Oh by the way Steve Wokzniak the guy who co-founded Apple with Steve Jobs, he was a programmer at Atari before Apple, and he made one of the most memorable Atari 2600 games ever. Anyways not only that but the guy who programmed Mortal Kombat got his start at Atari as did the guy who programmed some of the more popular Sega Genesis games. In fact Atari and Sega are similar in many ways but one of them that is unfair is they both failed to stay in the hardware business. My view is first so what, they made great games who cares where you play them, second actually it is false to say neither still make consoles, although they mostly make flashback consoles based on their old tech, that is more than Nintendo does for their long time fans so lets not forget about that. If you want to play some Atari classics like Asteroids or Missile Command or Centipede, go ahead an Atari Flash Back can be had for a reasonable price at nearly any store. You want to revisit old Nintendo NES games, first shell out the money for their LATEST console as that is the only way to play their old games, they won’t even sell them on Steam, or mobile devices.

 

        Atari was a great company that had some poor management and made some bad decisions (that face it NOBODY could have predicted would be wrong) and well they ended up becoming a relic of the past. Do I think they are the greatest game company ever, no and I greatly exaggerate some of their accomplishments to prove a point not to be taken literally so don’t even bother with comments debunking facts because I don’t care this was an opinion piece the facts don’t mean shit to me. The reality is facts are stupid the truth is Atari made the video game industry and their great games are still available for all to enjoy, Nintendo hordes their old games like some sunken pirate treasure chest or something. Do I hate Nintendo, no but I hate when people shit all over Atari, turn around and praise Nintendo for things they had nothing to do with, and then act like Atari never mattered in the fist place. They have become a relic of the past which is fine they are just a company that failed to stay relevant but at least they DID actually matter and for more than a decade.

 

        I could twist more “facts” if you want but the truth is Atari is great and deserves to be remembered for their accomplishments, and nobody cares about those nerds in their garage tinkering with their doodads, the REAL story is Atari created Pong and that launched the video game revolution that is still evolving to this day. Long live ATARI. Now I am off to play me some good old Asteroids on 2600.

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