Definition of Atari

Atari is a brand and company, founded in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, that significantly contributed to the development of the video game and home computer industries. It is widely recognized for its groundbreaking gaming consoles, most notably the Atari 2600, released in 1977. Atari is not only a pioneer in arcade games, such as Pong and Asteroids, but also in personal computing, with products like the Atari 400 and Atari 800.


The phonetics of the keyword “Atari” using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) would be: /əˈtɑːri/

Key Takeaways

  1. Atari was founded in 1972 and became a pioneer in developing the video game industry by launching arcade games and home console systems.
  2. Their iconic games, such as Pong, Asteroids, and Centipede, were widely popular and led to the rise of the gaming culture in the 1970s and 1980s.
  3. Despite their early success and influence, Atari faced financial struggles, leading to multiple ownership changes and its eventual decline often referred to as the “Video Game Crash of 1983.”

Importance of Atari

Atari, founded in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, holds great importance in the technology world as it is considered a pioneer in the video game industry.

The company’s iconic products, such as the Atari 2600 console and games like Pong and Asteroids, revolutionized the entertainment landscape and laid the foundation for the modern gaming industry.

Atari’s development of arcade games and home consoles inspired a new generation of game developers, fostering rapid innovation and advancements in gaming-related technology.

The name Atari has become synonymous with the early days of the gaming industry and serves to remind us of the significant impact those early innovations have had on today’s ever-evolving technological landscape.


Atari, founded in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, revolutionized gaming and entertainment through the introduction of innovative video game consoles and arcade games. Initially, Atari was focused on developing gaming solutions which would engage users and bring families together for recreational purposes.

The purpose of Atari was to create a gateway into a fascinating virtual world where players could escape reality, enjoy leisure time and experience a social connection. As a pioneer in the market, Atari achieved significant success with the launch of games like Pong, Asteroids, and Centipede, as well as their home gaming consoles, notably the Atari 2600.

In pursuing their purpose to cater to the entertainment needs of consumers, Atari products were designed to maximize user experience and functionality. Their gaming consoles empowered users with an easy-to-operate interface that offered multiple gaming options, while their video game cabinets drew millions of fans into arcades around the world, fostering a sense of belonging within the gaming community.

As one of the early trendsetters in the gaming industry, Atari’s purpose and technological contributions laid the groundwork for the global gaming market, leading to its widespread growth and application in various sectors such as education, simulation, and virtual reality.

Examples of Atari

Atari 2600: Launched in 1977, the Atari 2600 is one of the most iconic home video game consoles in history. It revolutionized the gaming industry by popularizing the use of microprocessor-based hardware, allowing players to change games using interchangeable ROM cartridges. The Atari 2600 had a large library of games, including titles like Space Invaders, Pitfall!, and Pac-Man, which contributed to its success and lasting influence in the world of gaming.

Pong: Pong is one of the earliest video games developed by Atari, released in

It is a simple two-dimensional table tennis sports game with basic graphics, featuring a white ball bouncing between two paddles controlled by players. Pong is considered the game that ushered in the era of arcade and home video games, sparking a global interest in gaming and becoming a cultural phenomenon at the time.

Atari Lynx: The Atari Lynx, released in 1989, was the company’s first and only attempt at a handheld gaming console. It was technologically advanced for its time, featuring a full-color display and supporting up to 16 players via its unique game-to-game integration feature known as “ComLynx.” Despite its innovative features, the Atari Lynx faced stiff competition from Nintendo’s Game Boy and Sega’s Game Gear, and it ultimately failed to gain significant market share. Nonetheless, the Atari Lynx demonstrated the developments in gaming technology and showed the possibilities of portable gaming.

Atari FAQ

What is Atari?

Atari is a brand name that has been associated with various electronic products, most notably home video game consoles and computer systems. Founded in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, Atari is widely regarded as one of the pioneers in the video game industry.

What was the first Atari console?

The first Atari console was the Atari 2600, also known as the Atari VCS (Video Computer System). It was released in 1977 and was the first gaming console to use ROM-based cartridge games.

What popular games were released on Atari consoles?

Some popular games released on Atari consoles include Pong, Space Invaders, Asteroids, Missile Command, Centipede, Pac-Man, Pitfall!, and Frogger.

What was the Atari Jaguar?

The Atari Jaguar was a video game console released by Atari in 1993. It was marketed as the world’s first 64-bit gaming system, and had a limited library of games. Despite the advanced hardware for its time, the Jaguar was not a commercial success and eventually led to Atari Corporation’s exit from the console market.

What happened to Atari?

Atari went through a series of changes and struggles throughout the years. The company split into multiple divisions and changed ownership several times. Currently, Atari Interactive, a subsidiary of Atari SA, operates as a publisher and licensor for various video game franchises and properties under the Atari brand.

Related Technology Terms

  • Pong
  • Atari 2600
  • Nolan Bushnell
  • Atari Jaguar
  • Atari Lynx

Sources for More Information


About The Authors

The DevX Technology Glossary is reviewed by technology experts and writers from our community. Terms and definitions continue to go under updates to stay relevant and up-to-date. These experts help us maintain the almost 10,000+ technology terms on DevX. Our reviewers have a strong technical background in software development, engineering, and startup businesses. They are experts with real-world experience working in the tech industry and academia.

See our full expert review panel.

These experts include:


About Our Editorial Process

At DevX, we’re dedicated to tech entrepreneurship. Our team closely follows industry shifts, new products, AI breakthroughs, technology trends, and funding announcements. Articles undergo thorough editing to ensure accuracy and clarity, reflecting DevX’s style and supporting entrepreneurs in the tech sphere.

See our full editorial policy.

More Technology Terms

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents