The Strong Acquires Massive Atari Coin-Op Collection

The Strong News Release
NEWS RELEASE
One Manhattan Square Rochester, NY 14607 585-263-2700 museumofplay.org

April 22, 2014

For Immediate Release

Shane Rhinewald, 585-410-6365, srhinewald@museumofplay.org

 

The Strong Museum
Acquires Massive Collection
of Atari Coin-Op Materials

ROCHESTER, New York—The Strong in Rochester, New York, has acquired a massive collection of original artwork, design notes, schematics, game source code, corporate records, and one-of-a-kind artifacts—including the unreleased arcade game “Maze Invaders”—that document the history of Atari’s coin-operated video game and pinball divisions from 1972 to 1999.

“Atari is one of the most important companies in the history of electronic games and laid the foundation for the modern video game industry,” says Jon-Paul Dyson, director of The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games. “The coin-op division created many of the most memorable and groundbreaking arcade games of all time.”

Atari, founded in 1972 by video game pioneers Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, revolutionized the arcade and home video game industries with the introductions of Pong (1972) and the Home Pong (1975) console. The Atari 2600 video game console became one of the most successful home consoles in history and dominated the marketplace from its launch in 1977 until the early 1980s. During its formative years, Atari designed, produced, and distributed dozens of now iconic arcade video game and pinball machines, such as Pong, Breakout (1976), Asteroids (1979), Superman pinball (1979), Missile Command (1980), Centipede (1981), Tempest (1981), and Star Wars (1983). A downturn in the video game market in 1983 caused the company to spin off its other divisions, but it retained the coin-operated game division, which it renamed Atari Games in 1984.  

Atari Games changed ownership multiple times between 1985 and 1999, but during that period, it continued to produce coin-operated machines, including popular games such as Marble Madness (1984), Paperboy (1985), Gauntlet (1985), RoadBlasters (1987), Pit Fighter (1990), Primal Rage (1994), Area 51 (1995), San Francisco Rush: 2049 (1999). In 1996 Midway Interactive purchased Atari Games, and they renamed it Midway Games West in 2000.

This collection of Atari materials includes many thousands of individual items. There are nearly 1,500 pieces of original artwork, advertising proofs, and company photographs; dozens of binders containing company records documenting the production processes for individual Atari games; more than 1,500 pieces of original, hand-drawn schematics for Atari video arcade and pinball machines from the 1970s (including Pong and Superman); hundreds of silkscreen films and art kits for the arcade games, promotional materials, and T-shirts; and corporate records, including memos, industry show presentations, game demonstrations, and industry research. The collection also includes designer Ed Logg’s unreleased arcade video game “Maze Invaders—of which only two units are known to exist in the world.

“Much of the material in this collection is one-of-a-kind and hasn’t been viewed before by the public,” says Jeremy Saucier, assistant director of ICHEG. “We know that they will be invaluable tools for researchers hoping to explore the history of the electronic games industry, and we plan to display many of these unique items in our exhibits so that we can share them with the public.”

About The Strong

The Strong is the only collections-based museum in the world devoted solely to the history and exploration of play. It is home to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, the National Toy Hall of Fame, the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, Woodbury School, and the American Journal of Play and houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play. 

About the International Center for the History of Electronic Games

The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG) collects, studies, and interprets video games, other electronic games, and related materials and the ways in which electronic games are changing how people play, learn, and connect with each other, including across boundaries of culture and geography. As a result of ICHEG’s efforts, The Strong’s collection of more than 55,000 video games, other electronic games, and game-related historical materials is the largest and most comprehensive public assemblage in the United States and one of the largest in the world.