Early Atari Arcade Design Concepts

I was looking through a website I usually visit for their repository of arcade manuals and I came across a collection of Industrial Design artwork from Atari that someone had acquired. Being a fan of the arcades and games of the early 70’s and 80’s, especially Atari, I found them quite fun to look through. I pulled out a few of the images dealing with the design ideas for an Atari Arcade Design Concepts. It appears that the images came for an earlier revision of the website atarigames.com. I don’t see them on the current website but they do have a lot of other images and documents from Atari there.

The first one appears to be a fairly standard setup with pinball, skeeball and vids in the back. It’s all right but they need more games in my opinion

The next two have a futuristic space port feel to them. I like the theme but I’m not sure it would feel the same with the game cabinets that were to come soon. Atari got away from the fiberglass and molded plastic look pretty early on and went to the more cost effective wood box. In my opinion it’s a good look though.

The next one seems to be a tiki hut inspired all pong arcade. It appears they have barrel pong against the back wall, dual pong stations up front and maybe a pong/counter top in the middle there. I’m not sure how long this place would have stuck around.

The last image is the outside of Atari Adventure. It’s a cool looking place that for some reason seems to attract catalog models.

There are quite a few more of these Atari Arcade Design Concepts sketches at Atari Artwork. The rest are mostly prototype game cabinet design. If you like that stuff you should take a look.


I'm a kid of the 70's and 80's. Grew up on Saturday morning cartoons, Atari and Music Videos. My current hobby is repairing arcade games, mostly from the 70's and trying to find space to put them.

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13 thoughts on “Early Atari Arcade Design Concepts

  1. vinvectrex says:

    A Tiki arcade? This would, undoubtedly, edge Disney for the Happiest Place on Earth. Must go acquire funding and get an architect.

  2. RetroArt says:

    Not only does it look like a great place to live but to also hook up with hot chicks! Looks like hot chicks LOVE the Atari arcades!

  3. Atari Adventure Square says:

    Gah! I just wet myself!

    (these dang tiki mugs don’t hold coffee like they should)

    Posts like these make me wonder if I’m living in The Matrix.
    And some higher power is just messing with me.

    I dunno what excites me more: that it’s the perfect Atari recreational center (and possible living quarters, indeed) or that it seems to be located in a futuristic mall.

    If there’d be zombies as well, my head woulda ‘sploded.

  4. GammaDev says:

    From the time and style, this had to have been a pet project for Nolan Bushnell. Since Corporate Atari never got around to making their own arcades, Bushnell must have decided it was okay to make his own arcade/amusement center franchise in the form of Chucky Cheese.

  5. @Atari Adventure Square Yeah, friend. If there was going to be a zombie apocalypse…I’d have no problem holing up with you in the Atari Adventure arcade! :)

    Man…we have a guest staying at where I work that I kid you not is a Professor of Physics and has made it his personal goal to make time travel a reality. I’m going to ask him when he checks out if he succeeds if he would be kind enough to make Atari Adventure a reality!

  6. mwentworth says:

    Interesting. I see the “barrel theme” pop up again in one drawing. The earliest pong machines were set up on barrels, and the Pizza Time Theater (a Nolan Bushnell enterprise) I saw had barrels as decor. Someone’s brother-in-law must have run a barrel factory. I think they must have sold the remaining stock to Nintendo for use in Donkey Kong.

  7. twilitezoner says:

    It really is a shame that a lot of pioneering American companies are a shell of their former selves.

  8. MrX_TLO says:

    These designs are by people who have never run successful arcades.

    Successful arcades would pack as many machines in as possible.

    They would also have food, drink, etc.

    When I see these empty designs I think of how every time the public libraries are remodelled there’s less actual books.

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