Goodness gracious. I was so busy celebrating my Wife’s birthday that I neglected to share an Atari Day post! So let us celebrate a belated Atari Day by watching this 1981 promotional video entitled Inside Atari.
This is most certainly a nice piece of history for the legendary company. By 1981 Atari had three separate divisions going full bore. They had their arcade division releasing titles that helped make the Golden Age of Arcades so memorable. As well as the home console division with the Atari VCS or 2600 as it became known once the 5200 was released a year later – which sold like hotcakes. Atari had as well at this point released the Atari 400 and 800 home computers.
Things were looking absolutely grand for Atari in 1981. Which is why Inside Atari was regularly seen at consumer electronic shows. To say nothing of course of aiding in the wooing of potential investors.
In addition to Inside Atari coming across as a visual pep rally. There are some wonderful nuggets to be gleaned. For example in this screenshot you can see some rom chips for Defender, Pac-Man, Yar’s Revenge, and Graves Manor.
That last one is more than a little noteworthy as it is one of the four original names for 1981’s Haunted House !
Furthermore if you look quickly you can spy some interesting artwork on display. Like this piece for the port of Pac-Man. Which I might add I had not seen before until the release of Tim Lapetino’s stellar Art of Atari tome last year.
All in all Inside Atari runs about five and a half minutes. So obviously it will not be the most in-depth exposé on the workings of the company. It will however give you that perfect snapshot of the glory days of Atari as an entertainment juggernaut.
Art of Atari I think is possibly the best way to celebrate Atari Day. Then again I admit I am biased in that viewpoint.
Although this may be true it doesn’t detract from the importance of the Art of Atari to gaming enthusiasts. Tim Lapetino’s retrospective on Atari gives us an insiders look at the four decades of the company. Additionally he has amassed artwork from private collections and museums for his 352 page tome – moreover it’s official. Lapetino has also included interviews and sometimes never before published artwork of those artists that were part of the Golden Age of Atari!
Images courtesy of Atari I/O.
I want to point out that Tim has sort of been working out the idea of the book since 2012. Captivated like many of us by the beautiful box art that graced the 2600 titles. Missile Command, Adventure, and Centipede to name but a few. Lapetino that year was able to obtain from another collector, slides, negatives and transparencies of such Atari artwork.
Equally important of that purchase to Tim was coming into contact with Cliff Spohn. The freelance illustrator responsible for some of Atari’s early uniquely beautiful covers.
I cannot stress how important these illustrations for the games were. In fact it helped to set the art style of those original releases. But it also acted as a portal of sorts to the “World” that the game on the cartridge offered. Stoking the fires of the imagination – it is easy to see how children might add an element of role-playing with Codebreaker.
You aren’t merely attempting to find the hidden code in as few as moves possible. Thanks to that artwork by Spohn you are now a shadowy agent trying to obtain the location of enemy ships!
Don’t just take my word for it. Here is the Art of Atari‘s Tim Lapetino on Atari’s early approach to advertising:
“I can say that Atari’s approach really was a product of its time. In the late 70s and early 80s, illustration was still widely used in advertising, design, and commercially. Photography was just starting to supplant hand-rendered illustration, but it was sort of natural that the folks at Atari would draw from existing, parallel industries to drawn inspiration for their package design and art. There were no video game standards, so they borrowed from paperback novel covers, LP album art, and movie posters – and expanded upon it. Cliff Spohn’s art really served as a working template of how to approach the art, and they grew from there.”
That quote like nearly all the photos in this article are from an EXCLUSIVE interview over at Atari I/O. Between Rob Wanechak and Tim Lapetino. Make sure to take a moment out of your busy schedule and read that interview – it is well worth your time.
The Art of Atari is available right this moment at better book dealers as well as at Dynamite.Com!
Remind me again what Atari Day is!
Image courtesy of Atari I/O’s Facebook page.
To learn even more about the fun of Atari Day be sure to hop on over and check out fellow Retroist writer Atari I/O’s site by following the link here!