Birthday Greetings, Mr Bushnell

On this day in 1972 Nolan Bushnell started a company that aided and abetted the beginnings of video games. Today Atari is thirty-four year of age.

I remember, at the age of thirteen, coveting a friend’s VCS (or 2600, as it is also known), after seeing and playing both Space Invaders and Defender (Defender is still one of my all-time favourite games). I’m reasonably sure he showed me his semi-inflated willy, too, which shows just how much he must have enjoyed the console.

A few years later, I kind of fell in love with another friend’s Atari 400, in particular the game Qix (pronounced kiks). I found out years later that this saxaphone-playing friend was gay. I didn’t admit this desire (for Atari), not even to myself, since I had a Commodore 64. Anyone who knows about computers understands the bitter rivalry that ensued between the fanboys of these two companies, so my faithfulness to Commodore kept me from showing any emotions I might have had for my friend’s computer.

Despite having never owned an Atari, until my retro-phase a few years ago, where I bought some ten or fifteen consoles on ebay, my love for them is true. They were are company that succeeded in spite of themselves. There are many, many books and articles that show Atari as being radical and incompetent, yet they still managed to become the fastest growing company in the world up to (and beyond) that time. So it is with fondness that I say “Happy Birthday, Atari, even though you are a shadow of what you once were!)

N.B. Despite having two Atari friends who exhibited homosexual tendancies, it would be wrong of me to suggest there is any correlation.