In the 1970s, there was a revolution in the video game sector, thanks to which a new niche industry was born. At that time, console makers were starting to emerge, and among them was Atari. It entered the market in 1972, but until 1984 it was engaged in the manufacture of slot machines. The firm launched its first set-top box in 1977, setting fertile ground for the next generation of interactive entertainment. Its most famous arcade was PONG, a table tennis simulator that became its first commercially successful video game.
Meaning and History
For 50 years, the brand has managed to change many names and owners. It was first known as Atari Inc. and was owned by Ted Dabney and Nolan Bushnell. Warner Communications bought it in 1977. In 1984, when the computer games industry began to decline sharply, the main part of the division became the property of the Polish-American businessman Jack Tramiel and received the name Atari Corporation. The remaining assets were renamed Atari Games, Inc., but Warner Communications could no longer use the trademark logo as it originally existed.
In 1998, Hasbro Interactive bought out the consoles and video game business and renamed it Atari Interactive. Then the interactive entertainment brand, along with Hasbro, became part of Infogrames Entertainment. The new parent firm acquired all of the remaining shares of Atari Inc. and in 2009 changed her name to Atari, SA.
Thus, many Atari divisions in the world were eventually merged. Moreover, the name and logo are the only things that connect a modern company with its predecessor (before the separation). The brand name has been in use since 1972 and changed several times over 50 years, but all modifications were very similar. The owners retained the traditional brand image because the iconic emblem was familiar to different gamers: it adorned all slot machines and consoles without exception. True, the developers made small changes to it so that each model had its symbol.
1972 – 2002
The iconic Atari logo is credited to in-house graphic designer George Opperman, who once founded Opperman-Harrington Inc. The first trademark owners, Ted Dabney and Nolan Bushnell hired him to design the arcade machines.
Bushnell was also involved with creative director George Faraco in the creation of the logo. The co-founder of the firm gave George Opperman a clear but challenging task. He wanted to get a recognizable symbol consisting of several bold lines to reproduce the drawing on any media and recognized even from a great distance.
The designer provided several conceptual versions that matched the wishes. Nolan Bushnell chose one of them: a black abstract figure from three fragments. There was a wide vertical line in the center of the image. To the left of it was an arc similar to a graph of an increasing function, and to the right was a mirrored strip in the form of a decreasing function. The space next to the symbol was occupied by the black inscription “ATARI.” Opperman designed the font himself by rounding the top corners of both “A” and “R.” At the same time; the letter “R” stood out very much because its upper part was open.
This logo made its debut in advertising and on the Space Race slot machine in 1973. As far as we know, it underwent minor changes after the sale but reached 2002 almost in its original form.
Warner Communications, which took over the Atari brand in 1977, was planning a global redesign and even polled gamers to see if they liked the new or old version of the logo. As it turns out, video game fans supported the classic icon, which became more recognizable than the famous Mickey Mouse. So the division retained its $ 3,000 native symbol, and Warner Communications executives spent $ 100,000 completely pointless.
2002 – 2003
In 2002, the developers changed the appearance of the logo by placing it in a red rectangle. The pattern of three multidirectional lines was reduced and integrated into the word “ATARI”: it took the place of the middle letter “A.” The lettering is now white to stand out better against a bright background. As for the typeface, its proportions have been slightly tweaked, with the designers rounded off the top corners “T” for symmetry.
2003 – 2010
The previously used dark red has been lightened and given a rich hue. The shape of the Atari graphic has changed slightly: the developers have widened the lower edges of the lines so that the side arcs look like two horns, and the central vertical strip looks like the top of a trombone. This version of the logo first appeared on the cover of the 2003 video game Putt-Putt: Pep’s Birthday Surprise.
2010 – present
In 2010, the company returned to the classic design. The font and three-line pattern now look the same as they did in the early 1970s. The caption is scaled-down and positioned below the figure, with both elements placed in a red rectangle with rounded corners. The alternate version contains a small red badge (left) and the brand name (right) white background.
The Atari branding symbolizes retro video games and remains relevant almost half a century since its inception. In terms of legend, it can only be compared with a Nike swoosh, but it makes much more sense than a simple tick.
According to George Opperman himself, when creating the logo, he thought about the video game PONG. The dynamics of the arcade-inspired the designer: he imagined that a moving ball hitting the centerline from two sides could bend it. Opperman embodied this idea in a geometric pattern, as reported in a 1983 interview.
The author admitted that he pondered for a long time how to best style the letter “A,” which is iconic for the Atari brand. And then he wanted to watch PONG play, and everything fell into place. By the way, many see a ping-pong net (vertical stripe) and two rivals (arcs on the sides) in the logo. Slightly less often, an abstract drawing is associated with Mount Fuji, a Japanese character or religious symbol. But in fact, he has nothing to do with them.
Nolan Bushnell, in turn, called all theories “bullshit.” Commenting on an interview with George Opperman, the founder of Atari dispelled doubts about the design and said that the logo has no hidden meaning. In his opinion, it is just a pattern of three bold lines without any concept. In any case, the iconic symbol has been preserved and has become a “guiding star” in the history of video games.
Font and Colors of the Emblem
The original lettering was designed by the same designer who came up with the Atari symbol. He made the corners of the letters partially rounded and depicted the capital “R” with a single curved line. In the late 1990s, the SF Atarian System font was created based on the wordmark. Its publisher is ShyFoundry. The traditional logo color is red. It is usually combined with white. The modern version uses the bright and rich shade # E5141E.