Clipping from Spin Magazine
They wanted to name their new company Sygyzy (solar eclipse of the earth, sun, and moon) but then they found out that a candle company already took the name. They then named the company Atari (check) after a move in GO, a Japanese game similar to chess. From both Ted and Nolan came a $500 investment ($250 from each man) to start the company. One of the first employees was Al Alcorn and his first project was a trick of Bushnell's. Bushnell asked Alcorn to design a simple game, telling him that they had a contract with General Electronics. This was just a test of Alcorn's programming skills which would later turn into Atari's smash arcade hit, PONG. In 1975, Atari sold the concept of a home PONG unit to Sears Roebuck, Co. just in time for the holiday season. They named the PONG system Darlene, which would set the trend of naming systems after female employees. In 1976 Bushnell sells Atari Inc. to Warner Inc. for $28 million which left the head office in Ray Kassar's lap. Bushnell would be forced out in 1978 and Kassar would leave later in 1983 after some bad press with Warner's plummeting stock: they lost $536 million between 1983-1984. At this time, Nintendo wanted Atari to manufacture the Nintendo Entertainment System in all markets except Japan but this deal never went through because Kassar resigned before the papers were signed. James Morgan steps in, in 1983 and then hands the company (they gave him $240 million to take over) to Jack Tramiel, formerly of Commodore Computer, in 1984. The "Tramiel Fire Sale" was the nickname for his systematic firing of employees that would free up extra revenue and cause a high amount of employee theft. In 1984 Tramiel wants to release the Mind Link for the 2600, a controller that would control games via mind waves. They release the ST computer the next year.
In 1988 Atari starts the Tengen label and a series of court cases with Nintendo. The Tengen title that caused the greatest stir was Tetris. Nintendo owned the rights to Tetris, while Atari had purchased the right from a company who didn't own them in the first place. Also in 1988, Atari took Nintendo to court for a anti-monopoly suit because Nintendo had a policy for making games. The policy was that if game manufacturers wanted to make games for the Nintendo, they could not make games for any other system. Also factors were price fixing and lockout chips. Nintendo took them back to court in 1990 because of the Tengen label. In 1993 Atari Corp. is renamed to Time Warner interactive. The company passed to WMS in 1996 and then again that year to JTS Corp. In 1998 Hasbro acquires the rights and releases to the public once again as Atari in 1999. In 2000, Infogrammes buys Hasbro Interactive, including the Atari label and all properties.
All the meanwhile in 1977 Nolan Bushnell opens Pizza Time Theater and starts to build it into a franchise in 1978. In 1980 there were about 100 in the United States, Canada, and Australia, both franchises and company property. Pizza Time Theater is a pizza parlor with an arcade attached, which also shows mechanical animals singing and dancing in bands on stage. Chuck E Cheese is the giant mouse/rat mascot which then turned to host his own restaurant of the same type, Chuck E Cheese. "The head animal-the master of ceremonies-is a six-foot gray rat named Chuck E. Cheese, who looks like the child of a marriage between Nolan Bushnell and Minnie Mouse." (Kubey, 251) They filed chapter 11 in 1984 and was absorbed by Showbiz Pizza, a similar restaurant. They accept Chuck E Cheese as their new mascot instead of Billy Bob Bear. Bushnell also started Corporate Air Transport and Magnum Microwave Corporation.
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