Last week, a twenty-one second video appeared on the website www.ataribox.com, which showed panning close-ups of a wood-paneled hardware unit called the Ataribox which in all likelihood is Atari’s new gaming console.
The brief video was titled “First Look: A brand new Atari product. Years in the making.” The video abruptly ends with the message “Coming Soon” – “Be the first to know.”
Speaking exclusively to GameBeats, Atari CEO Fred Chesnais gave credence to the rumors and speculations that are rife about a new Atari gaming console on the horizon. “We’re back in the hardware business,” is what he said.`
As of now, that is about all we know about the Ataribox as Mr. Chesnais was not very forthcoming other than his “back in the hardware business” statement. However, he seems to have informed GamesBeat that the new Ataribox is a PC technology-based gaming device and the design was still to be fine-tuned. Further information on the hardware will be made available at an undisclosed date.
It will be a long hiatus of twenty-four years before Atari unveils the Ataribox. Its last game-box, the Jaguar, was not much to write home about having been released in 1993 in North America and discontinued in 1995 after a rather subdued response from the gaming public. Atari managed to sell only 125,000 units before it decided it had had enough of the toothless Jaguar.
A brief history of Atari
“To those born into the console era, whose formative gaming education came from Nintendo, Sega, or PlayStation, Atari feels like an amorphous presence in the world of video games: a once-important name that has been diluted by countless mergers, acquisitions, and bankruptcies. A titan of the arcade era whose relevance had dwindled almost to nothingness by the turn of the millennium.” writes Shunal Dokes, in the article “IGN PRESENTS THE HISTORY OF ATARI.”
A trip down Atari’s gaming memory lane
1972-1984 – Atari Inc.
Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney established Atari, Inc. on June 27, 1972, and did not take long to hire the American pioneering engineer and computer scientist, Al Alcorn, as their first design engineer. He was immediately asked to work on an arcade version of Magnavox Odyssey’s Tennis game to be named “Pong.”
“Pong quickly became a success and is the first commercially successful arcade video game machine, which helped to establish the video game industry along with the first home console, the Magnavox Odyssey” – Wikipedia.
In a move to circumvent the exclusive deals with distributors, Atari sneakily created its own competitor, Kee Games in 1973. It was run by Nolan Bushnell’s neighbor, Joe Keenan and headed by its lead engineer Steve Bristow.
Kee Games went on to sell uniquely enhanced knock-offs of Atari games and in November 1974, Kee Games introduced its first unique game – Tank. Following its immense success Tank – II was unveiled that same year.
“Tank” was later to become the basis for Atari Combat, which was the game packed in with the Atari 2600 video game console in 1977.
The multiprocessor-based, programmable game, the Atari Video Computer System (2600), made its debut in October 1977. Packaged with two joysticks and two paddle controllers together with a two-player game, Combat, with 27 variations.
1985 to 1996 – Atari Corporation
Atari Corporation was founded by Jack Tramiel – Polish-American businessman of the “Commodore” fame – after he purchased the beleaguered Atari, Inc. from its parent company.
In April 1985 Atari Corporation released the first update to the 8-bit computer line — the Atari 65XE, the Atari XE series, and in June the same year, the Atari 130XE was launched.
September 1985 saw the new 32-bit Atari ST computers hit the stores.
Two consoles, the Atari 2600jr and the Atari 7800 (which had seen a limited release in 1984) were released in 1986 and were instrumental in Atari’s resurrection, earning a $25 million profit for the company that year.
The Atari Lynx, a handheld console with color graphics was introduced in 1989 amid much fanfare. Not able to make the game available nationwide for the 1989 Christmas season due to a shortage of parts, the Atari Lynx lost out to Nintendo’s Game Boy despite its black & white display. However, the Game Boy was cheaper with a longer battery life – and, most importantly, it was available to buy.
Atari Corporation filed an “illegal monopoly” lawsuit against Nintendo for $250 million, in 1989, eventually losing the case when it was rejected by a US district court in 1992.
1998 to 2000- A division of Hasbro
“In March 1998, JTS sold the Atari name and assets to Hasbro Interactive for $5 million—less than a fifth of what Warner Communications had paid 22 years earlier. This transaction primarily involved the brand and intellectual property, which now fell under the Atari Interactive division of Hasbro Interactive. The brand name changed hands again in December 2000 when French software publisher Infogrames took over Hasbro Interactive” – Wikipedia
2001 to now – Infogrames/Atari SA
In an attempt to “reinvent” ” the Atari brand, Infogrames (now Atari SA) launched three new games, Splashdown, MX Rider and TransWorld Surf, with strong branding of the Atari name on the packaging boxes.
Infogrames also used the Atari brand name for games targeting the 18-34 age group.
V-Rally 3, Neverwinter Nights, Stuntman and Enter the Matrix were some other games from Infogrames that were marketed under the Atari brand.
May 7, 2003, saw Infogrames change the name of its discreetly owned US subsidiary, Infogrames NA to Atari Inc. also renaming its European operations to Atari Europe. Hasbro Interactive became a separate corporate entity with the name Atari Interactive.
On October 8, 2008, Infogrames completed its acquisition of Atari Inc., making it a wholly owned subsidiary.
December 9, 2008, saw Atari acquire Cryptic Studios, an MMORPG developer.
“On January 21, 2013, Atari, Atari Interactive, Humongous, and California US Holdings (collectively, the “Companies”) filed petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. All three Ataris emerged from bankruptcy one year later and the entering of the social casino gaming industry with Atari Casino. Frederic Chesnais, who now heads all three companies, stated that their entire operations consist of a staff of 10 people” – Wikipedia
“On June 22, 2014, Atari announced a new corporate strategy that would include a focus on “new audiences”, specifically “LGBT, social casinos, real-money gambling, and YouTube” – Wikipedia.
AND on June 16, 2017 – “We’re back in the hardware business” with Ataribox.