Atari Corporation

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Atari Corporation

legal form Corporation
founding July 1984
resolution 1996
Reason for dissolution Dissolution by the parent company
Seat Sunnyvale (California) , United StatesUnited StatesUnited States 
management Jack Tramiel
Branch Information technology

The Atari Corporation is one of two companies that emerged from the split-up of the computer game pioneer Atari, Inc. in 1984 after the video game crash . It was Atari's end customer division, which was responsible for the production of home computers , game consoles and related computer games . It was taken over by Jack Tramiel , who built Atari up as a competitor to his former company Commodore . Tramiel's family steered the company's fortunes until 1996, when the company could no longer counter the competitive pressure in the games industry and merged with the hard drive manufacturer JT Storage . The company was wound up that same year and its brand portfolio was sold to Hasbro Interactive .


Splitting of Atari, Inc.

The predecessor company Atari, Inc. was one of the most prominent victims of the so-called video game crash when almost the entire North American market for computer games collapsed in 1983. The company caused a loss of $ 538.6 million that year, putting Atari's parent company Warner Communications in serious financial trouble. Changing managing directors could not get the situation under control, so Warner Communications sold Atari's console and computer division to Jack Tramiel in July 1984, while keeping the arcade games division . Only a little earlier this had been ousted from the position of managing director at his own company, Commodore . However, Tramiel only acquired the company in the form of bonds for $ 240 million.

Tramiel's part of the company was continued as Atari Corporation, while the contract with Warner provided that the arcade division continued to appear under the name Atari Games , but could only publish slot machine games under this name. From then on, the two companies developed separately, until 1999 the studio , which had meanwhile been taken over by Midway Games , still published machines under this name, before it was dissolved in 2003 and the trademark rights were finally bought by the Time Warner subsidiary Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment in 2009 . Tramiel, notorious for his aggressive business conduct, put the Atari Corporation under a severe cure. All employees had to take part in interviews. Tramiel then drastically reduced the workforce from several thousand to a few hundred employees. The entire company inventory was recorded, put to the test and, if necessary, sold or disposed of, projects discontinued, numerous offices and storage facilities closed. When the new owners first entered the building, an employee reportedly called over the pager, “ Attention, Imperial storm troops have entered the base. ”(German:“ Warning, imperial stormtroopers have penetrated the base ”), a sentence from the movie Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back .

In September 1984, at an investor meeting in San Francisco, Tramiel succeeded, despite the great skepticism of his guests, in convincing various investors of the prospects of success of his restructuring efforts. He promised to increase sales from $ 500 million to $ 1.2 to 1.5 billion within a year. For this he wanted to bring a new series of high-quality and at the same time inexpensive home computers onto the market as early as next year.

Introduction of the Atari ST home computer

Atari 1040 STF with monitor SC1224 and mouse.

Under Jack Tramiel's aegis, Shiraz Shivji , who had followed Tramiel from Commodore to Atari, brought the Atari ST to prototype maturity within just five months, and in January 1985 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas as the Atari 130ST and 520ST Presented to the public. In April, the first 520ST computers were produced and shipped in large numbers. The 520ST should enjoy great popularity in the next few years, mainly due to its integrated MIDI interface, especially in the field of professional music production . By 1993, the range of products was expanded to include a number of ST models and operating system versions ( TOS ) in order to be able to meet further requirements of the home computer market, such as the option of operating it on the home television.

From the 1990s, Atari lost crucial market shares to the providers of personal computers due to poor processing quality and controversial corporate policy decisions under Tramiel . After CeBIT 1992 , for example, this led to a large wave of layoffs at the Atari Germany branch and shortly afterwards to the withdrawal from other European countries to the Netherlands, from where sales mainly to Eastern Europe were maintained.

Game consoles and fusion with JTS

The failure of the Atari Jaguar game console heralded the downfall of the company.

Tramiel reduced production of the Atari 2600 after the takeover and gave up the unsuccessful Atari 5200 . In 1986 Tramiel hired Michael Katz, previously President at Epyx , as the new head of the games division. Katz organized the re-release of the Atari 7800 , which was not designed as a direct competitor to the dominant NES from Nintendo, but as a cheaper entry-level model. According to Katz, Tramiel wanted to generate profits for the further development of the ST computer series with little effort. Compared to the competition, the Atari console remained insignificant, but brought the company additional income for the best financial year since the crash of Atari, Inc. in 1982. 1989 Atari introduced the handheld console Lynx , which had a color LCD with liquid crystal display . However, the company could not produce enough units for the holiday season, which is why the production because of problems Game Boy from Nintendo prevailed despite monochrome displays. A high battery consumption and a weak selection of games made matters worse.

At the end of the 1980s, the Japanese console manufacturer Sega approached Atari in order to negotiate a partnership with the NES , similar to Nintendo, a few years earlier for the introduction of the Mega Drive in the USA via Atari. The talks were already advanced, but in the end Tramiel and Sega's chairman Dave Rosen could not agree on the conditions and Sega took over the publication on its own. Katz left the company in mid-1989 and was appointed President of Sega of America in October. As a successor to the Atari 7800, Atari developed the Atari Panther in the years that followed , but it was never made ready for the market because the development of another prototype had meanwhile progressed further.

In November 1993, now under the management of Tramiel's son Sam, Atari launched a final product offensive in the game console segment with the Jaguar video game console. Marketed as the first 64-bit console for just $ 249.95, the console only offered five games when it went on sale, and more titles were several months away. The quality was often not very convincing or an attempt was made to copy successful titles from the competition. As successful titles proved Tempest 2000 , and Alien vs. Predator . As early as 1994, the Jaguar was overtaken by the $ 699 competitor 3DO in terms of sales . In 1995, Sam Tramiel told the games magazine Next Generation that the device had not yet paid for itself and that only 150,000 consoles had been sold. The price had meanwhile been reduced to $ 149, the release of the competitors Sega Saturn , PlayStation and Nintendo 64 was announced. Ultimately, the Jaguar fell far short of expectations and production was discontinued that same year. The development costs had largely consumed Atari's financial reserves. At the end of the year Sam also suffered a heart attack, so that his father Jack took over the management again. In January 1996, Atari announced the founding of the subsidiary Atari Interactive, which should be responsible for the development of computer games for PCs. But just one month later, Atari signed a merger agreement with hard drive manufacturer JTS, Inc. (Jugi Tandon Storage, a subsidiary of Tandon Corporation ), heralding the end of the video game manufacturer. Atari stopped its business activities and 80% of the workforce was laid off. After approval by the shareholders, Atari Corp. merged. and JTS, Inc. on July 30, 1996 to JTS Corporation. The new company was led by executives from JTS, Inc. and had no intentions to continue the gaming business. The main reason for the merger was believed to be that JTS was trying to get Atari's cash reserves in this way.

Processing of the Atari brand

After all development departments of Atari Corp. had been closed, the Atari product portfolio and the trademark rights were successively sold. On February 23, 1998, the remaining rights to Atari's software, hardware and the Atari brand itself went to the financially troubled JTS Corp. for five million US dollars. to the HIAC XI Corp. about, a 100% subsidiary of the game software manufacturer Hasbro Interactive , which in turn belonged to the games company Hasbro . JTS filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on December 4, 1998 ; on January 29, 1999, the Chapter 7 liquidation of the company was ordered by court order. After taking over the rights, Hasbro Interactive published former Atari games such as Pong or Centipede for Windows PCs and PlayStation under the name Atari Interactive .

In January 2001, French computer game maker Infogrames acquired Hasbro's entire computer game division, including Hasbro Interactive, MicroProse, and Atari Interactive, which continued to hold Atari trademarks, for $ 100 million . From November 2001, Infogrames began using the brand name of its new subsidiary increasingly for its own company activities, including a. by renaming his subsidiary GT Interactive to Atari, Inc. in 2003 and finally by renaming the holding company to Atari SA in 2009.

Home computers

With MOS-6502- CPU (8-bit systems)

This was the product line taken over from the predecessor company Atari, Inc.

  • Atari 600 XL, Atari 800 XL (September 1983)
  • Atari 65 XE, 800 XE and 130 XE (April 1985)

With Motorola 680X0 CPU (32-bit systems)

68000 processor

  • Atari 260 ST, STD, STFM (June 1985)
  • Atari 520 ST, ST +, STM, STF, STFM (1985/1986)
  • Atari 1040 STF, STFM (1986)
  • Atari Mega ST 1, 2 and 4 (1987)
  • Atari 1040 STE , 520 STE, 4160 STE (1989)
  • Atari Stacy (1989, portable device)
  • Atari MegaSTE (1991)
  • Atari ST Book (1992, portable device, sold in small numbers - approx. 1000 units)

Other processors

PC / IBM compatible devices

From 1987 to 1991 Atari also produced IBM-compatible PCs.

  • PC1, PC2, PC3, PC4, PC5
  • ABC 286/30, ABC 386SX II, ABC 386DX II, ABC N386SX
  • Atari Portfolio (1989, portable device)


  • Steven L. Kent: The Ultimate History of Video Games . Three Rivers Press, New York 2001, ISBN 0-7615-3643-4 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Time Warner to Sell Part Or All of Its Stake in Atari ( English ) In: The New York Times . March 25, 1995. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
  2. Computer: Business is war . In: Der Spiegel . No. 50 , 1984 ( online ).
  4. Kent: The Ultimate History of Video Games , pp. 268-271.
  5. Kent: The Ultimate History of Video Games , p. 269.
  6. Kent: The Ultimate History of Video Games , p. 271.
  7. Kent: The Ultimate History of Video Games , pp. 402-404.
  8. Kent: The Ultimate History of Video Games , p. 401.
  9. Kent: The Ultimate History of Video Games , pp. 402-404.
  10. Kent: The Ultimate History of Video Games , pp. 488-490.
  11. Atari's President talks back . In: Next Generation . 07/1995, September, pp. 7-12.
  12. Kent: The Ultimate History of Video Games , p. 521.
  13. Sample Contracts - Agreement and Plan of Reorganization - Atari Corp. and JT Storage Inc.- Competitive Intelligence for Investors
  14. Brooke Shelby Biggs: 'Success' killed Pac-Man creator Atari . San Jose Business Journal . July 19, 1996. Retrieved August 15, 2009.
  15. 8-K For 2/23/98 . JTS Corp. March 3, 1998. Retrieved August 15, 2009.
  16. ^ Marilyn Morgan: Opinion Granting Motion to Dismiss Fraudulent Transfer Complaint . United States Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of California. May 22, 2001. Retrieved August 15, 2009.
  17. ^ Company News; Hasbro Completes Sale Of Interactive Business , New York Times. January 30, 2001. Retrieved November 2, 2009. 
  18. Infogrames Reinvents Atari With Shipment of MXrider, Splashdown For PlayStation 2 ( English ) In: Official press release . The Free Library. October 31, 2001. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
  20. Jörg Benne: k & k: Infogrames is called Atari, Shellshock 2 indexed, Hearts of Iron 3 . In: Gamecaptain . Maiwald & Benne GbR. May 29, 2009. Retrieved May 25, 2013.