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Atari Inc.: Business is Fun Paperback – 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Martin Goldberg - A writer and programmer in the video game industry, Goldberg has had a lifelong fascination with all things electronic entertainment since first playing PONG and Tank as a child at his local arcadesin the 70's. As the former site director of IGN/GameSpy's 'ClassicGaming.Com' and a current freelancer for Retro Gamer magazine, Goldberg has been writing about video games for 13 years. Along with Dan Loosen and Gary Heil, Goldberg is also a co-founder of the Midwest Gaming Classic, one of the largest electronic entertainment expos in the United States open to the general public. In 2004, Goldberg also founded the Electronic Entertainment Museum (E2M), a non-profit archive whose mission is to help preserve the history and artifacts of the video game and home computer industries. In line with this goal, he's also a member of the International Game Development Association's (IGDA) Game Preservation SIG, a hub and community for those interested in digital game preservation and history. Curt Vendel - A former IT Systems Engineer, Vendel is also a self-taught Electrical Engineer with a Bachelor’s in Computer Science. In the 1980’s, Vendel had begun collecting Atari products, engineering logs, schematics, drawings, and technical materials from former Atari employees - even making trips to Atari’s buildings in California to salvage Atari’s valuable history from its dumpsters. Founding the Atari History Museum in 1998, the Atari History Museum archives have amassed over 15,000 files, folders and documents, two archival rooms of schematics, mechanical drawings, artwork and PC board films. Vendel is frequently tapped as a valued resource for Atari insight and archival information by Atari, SA., Atari Interactive, numerous research institutions, trade publications and entertainment magazines, television networks and movie studios.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Syzygy Press (2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0985597402
  • ISBN-13: 978-0985597405
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.8 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #280,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Chad Hart on June 17, 2013
Format: Paperback
The book is unique. There will be no other book on this subject that can match the research and background information.
The book is amazing. No one else has collected so many first hand accounts, documents, photographs, and even hardware (I think!).

But it is critically, because it is so unique and so amazing, tragically flawed.

I first heard about this book last August. This Spring it became availible on Amazon Kindle (iPad is my preferred way to read books). The anticipation was great.
I had read a sample chapter before and I already knew the authors intentions to keep things "in present tense". I think that's clunky and strange. I had expressed some concern about the prose (lots of run-un and compound sentences). But what other book like it would come out? There won't ever be. So I knew I had to get it, even though it was self-published and will lack polish.

(And before you go after this post written in a box for all kinds of grammar, style, syntax, typo, or spelling mistakes, remember, this is an Amazon review. A book has a higher standard. A book about Atari so meticulously researched should have had an even higher standard.)

But it is not an exaggeration to say that there is a mistake on every three or four pages. Whether a typo, editing mistake, or grammar mistake, there is one every three or four pages.
*Every time the word "life" appears, it is "LIFE" (perhaps someone did a find and replace-all to make LIFE magazine references have proper capitalization?) -ex: "the battery LIFE lasts one hour." (loc 3252). "the ERIC came to LIFE by pleasantly" (loc 3205).
*Extended (and usually improper) use of ellipsis... One period will do...
*Inconsistent use of italics when referencing games/titles, sometimes Spacewar!
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Clearly, the authors put a lot of time and effort into writing the book. There's an incredible amount of detail describing Atari's history and the people involved. However, I was hoping to get more technical information. I wanted to learn more about the development of the Atari VCS and 8-bit computer hardware. I think Jay Miner was only mentioned twice in the whole book. The sections which went into some technical detail were prefixed with silly "warning: technical information ahead" warnings. I think most readers of the book are technically minded and would have appreciated more depth in that area.

Finally, like most other reviewers, I have to say the number of typos and grammatical errors is stunning. Even "Atari" is misspelled at one point! Running a spell checker and having an experienced editor would have improved the quality immensely. I've never read a book with so many errors. I'm still shaking my head over that.
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Format: Paperback
This book is filled with well-researched facts about Atari under the leadership of Nolan Bushnell and then under Warner ownership. It dispels many of the myths that have built up around the company over the years and provides many newly discovered facts about the company, the people that worked for it, and its products. For long-time Atari fans like me, it's fantastic to read the insider stories and look at the photographs of never-released products.

It's just unfortunate that all of this great information isn't given the presentation it deserves. The volume contains numerous grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. They're so numerous (and of such a simple and obvious nature) that one can't help but come to the conclusion that the volume was never edited at all. And that's a shame, because it's obvious how much work the authors put into researching the subject matter. If only they'd paused for a moment and had a competent editor fix their prose, the result could have been flawless. As it is, I can recommend the book to anyone who is interested in the history of Atari, video games, or computers...but only if they're willing to slog through an error-laden volume.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The editing and writing style is horrid. It's like they didn't even run the thing through a spell checker, much less tightened up the grammar and punctuation. The structure and narrative style are also wildly inconsistent. The author waxes and wanes between being all too chummy with his reader and being obviously disinterested. And then there's the ordering. This book jumps back and forth in time more often than Dr. Who. For example, just when you think you're getting ready to finally move into the 80's, you get this whole chapter about Atari side projects that should have been an appendix at best. Occasionally you'll get a mini-bio on somebody that played a major role in some project in the early days but was scarcely mentioned in the actual section about that project.

All that said, it's the facts that carry this book, not the writing style. It is VERY thorough and fascinating in that regard alone. I would have appreciated more interviews with the major players, but the research shown here is quite admirable. Worth the read if you're a technology history fan.
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There was a time when Atari was more well-known than Nintendo and Nolan Bushnell was almost as well-known as Steve Jobs. For many who grew up in the video game "golden age" of the 1970s and 1980s, Atari is still the quintessential video game company. Over the years, much has been written about the history of Atari. Unfortunately, much of it is wrong and a much more has gone untold. Until now. Atari, Inc. Business is Fun the first volume in what will be the definitive history of this legendary company. The authors have spent the better part of a decade researching, interviewing, digging, and uncovering a trove of information about Atari, much of it previously unknown except to those who lived it.

The first of three volumes, this one covers Atari from its beginnings up to the Tramiel buyout in 1984.
There are dozens and dozens of fascinating stories scattered amongst its 800(!!) pages, including the real stories of the first mass-produced arcade video game and Atari's beginnings, the story of the 2600, 5200, and 7800, Atari's arcade hits, Atari's little-known skunkworks. The truth about the New Mexico graveyard of VCS cartridges (just one of many sacred cows that are slain here) and much, much more.
If you love pictures, you're in for a real treat. There are probably about 300 pages of them including company picnics, internal documents, artwork, rare prototypes, secret agreements and more.

The negatives? There are a few. The photos are all black-and-white (I believe a more expensive color version will be released later). There's no index. And there are some stylistic issues (the biggest for me being authors' choice to relate certain key incidents in the presnt tense to create a "you are there" feeling.
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