Atari History Timelines by Michael Current

A History of
Syzygy / Atari
Compiled and Copyright (c) 2008-2014 by Michael D. Current
Library Department, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Additions/suggestions/comments/corrections to:

Information presented here is derived as directly as possible from sources published or produced in the original time period.  While also consulted extensively, modern historical retrospectives (including books, oral histories, and especially websites) are utilized chiefly as pathways to primary sources.

Jump to: 1969 | 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974 | 1975 | 1976Links

Ampex engineers and officemates Nolan K. Bushnell (research design engineer in the Ampex computer graphics department since 1968) and Ted Dabney (Ampex Video File unit, and before that about 6 years in the Ampex Military Products Group, since 1961), along with computer programmer Larry Bryan, inspired in part by the release of the Data General Nova computer, first met as a group intending to design a coin-operated version of the computer game (popular in university and industrial labs since its 1962 release), Spacewar!(Fun p28 for date)

Fall: As they continued to meet, Bushnell/Dabney/Bryan decided on Bryan's idea to call their group Syzygy.  Dabney established a shared bank account and Dabney and Bushnell contributed $100 each before the group's cost analysis suggested that available computers could not lead to a commercially viable Spacewar! computer game.

First-year Berkeley engineering student Steve Bristow concluded his first 6-month field internship experience (started September 1969) at Ampex, where he had been assigned to Nolan Bushnell. (Bristow in Zap! p21)

Month?: Challenged by a concept proposed by Nolan Bushnell, Ted Dabney invented and implemented means of direct digital manipulation of elements on a television CRT video screen, without the use of a computer, creating an essential building block for a commercially-viable coin-operated Spacewar! game.  The breakthrough would lead Bushnell and Dabney to revive their Syzygy partnership idea.

January: Second-year Berkeley engineering student Steve Bristow returned to Ampex for his second 6-month field internship experience. (Bristow in Zap! p21)

January: The Syzygy Co. partnership was established by Ampex engineers Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney. (72/73 Atari financial statement)

Syzygy logo 1971-1972

March: Nolan Bushnell departed Ampex and joined Nutting Associates of Mountain View CA as chief engineer.  Nutting Associates would provide the facilities for the commercialized coin-operated Spacewar! game to be developed by Bushnell and Ted Dabney and pay its manufacturing costs.  Bushnell and Dabney would retain the rights to their game, licensing it to Nutting Associates for production in exchange for a 5% royalty on unit sales.  Still employed at Ampex, Dabney would contribute to the Spacewar! project in his spare time.  (for date: Bristow in Zap! p21, Lowood, and Marquis Who's Who entry for Bushnell)

June: Second-year Berkeley engineering student Steve Bristow concluded his second 6-month field internship experience (started January 1971) at Ampex. (Zap! p21)

Summer: Engineer Al Alcorn, who had first worked at Ampex for a field intership experience while a Berkeley engineering student back in 1968, joined Ampex as a full-time junior engineer and Ted Dabney's new office-mate. (source)

Summer: Ted Dabney departed Ampex to join Nolan Bushnell as an engineer at Nutting Associates.

August: The first Computer Space test unit was location-tested by Nutting Associates at a Palo Alto CA restaurant and bar called the Dutch Goose. (source and Fun p42 for month)

September: The coin-operated Galaxy Game (like Computer Space, a version of Spacewar!), incorporating a PDP-11/20 computer, a simple point plotting display interface, and a Hewlett Packard 1300A Electrostatic Display, plus coin acceptors and a walnut veneered enclosure, was installed in Tresidder Memorial Union at Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA.  The Galaxy Game was designed, built, and programmed by Computer Recreations, Inc. (Bill Pitts and Hugh Tuck).

October 15-17: Nutting Associates introduced Computer Space (original one-player version; all four prototype units, one each in red, white, blue, and yellow cabinets (source)), developed by Syzygy (Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney), at Expo Seventy-One, the 1971 Music & Amusement Machines Exposition at Sherman House, Chicago, sponsored by Music Operators of America (MOA), the national association of the jukebox industry. (Cash Box)

November 9-12: Nutting Associates featured Computer Space at the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions (IAAPA) sponsored Parks Show at the Sherman House Hotel, Chicago. (Cash Box)

November/December: Nutting Associates shipped Computer Space (NA-2010; original one-player version), developed by Syzygy (Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney), the first commercial production coin-operated video arcade game. (Cash Box 11/27/71 ad p54; 12/4/71 p45)

March?: Berkeley engineering student Steve Bristow joined Nutting Associates, under chief engineer Nolan Bushnell, for his third 6-month field internship experience.

Winter/Spring: Syzygy purchased a coin-operated arcade game route street operation (about 50 machines in about 20 locations -The Atari Book p88) from David Ralstin (just after Ralstin had departed from his position as Nutting Associates marketing director).

May 24: Nutting Associates chief engineer Nolan Bushnell attended a public presentation of the Magnavox Odyssey in Burlingame, CA.

May: (after May 24) Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney departed from their positions at Nutting Associates.  They would focus full-time on their partnership, Syzygy Co.   Berkeley engineering student Steve Bristow would become Nutting Associates chief engineer, replacing the departed Bushnell and Dabney.

May: (after May 24) Syzygy secured an arcade development contract with Bally: $4,000 per month for six months to develop three products: a video game, a pinball machine, and some other arcade device. (source)

May/June: (after May 24) In preparing to incorporate Syzygy Co., Bushnell and Dabney learned that the name Syzygy was already in use by another California company, so another name would be needed.  Subsequently, in their incorporation application to the Office of the California Secretary of State, Bushnell and Dabney offered a prioritized list of three choices of names for the company: 1) Sente, 2) Atari, or 3) Hanne.  They would learn of the final name when the incorporation process was completed. (source)

June 9: Articles of Incorporation of Atari, Inc. (dba Syzygy Co.) were executed by the company's first Directors: Nolan K. Bushnell, S. Fred Dabney (Ted Dabney), Paula N. Bushnell, Joan M. Dabney.  The corporation was authorized to issue 75,000 shares of common stock valued at $1.00 each, for an aggregate value of $75,000.  Atari, Inc. would be a continuance of Syzygy Co.  Atari would issue common stock valued at $5,000 and notes of $6,032 in exchange for the net partnership assets.  The names and addresses of all four directors were given as a private residence: 1425 Blackstone Ave., San Jose, CA, USA

June 26?: (Monday) Atari dba Syzygy established a 1700 square foot office location at the Cole Complex: 2962 Scott Blvd., Santa Clara, CA, USA

June 26: Cynthia Villanueva (later: Cynthia Russell) joined Atari dba Syzygy as its first paid employee, hired as Bushnell's secretary (source).

June 26?: Engineer Allan E. Alcorn, previously of Ampex where he had once been an office-mate of Ted Dabney, joined Atari dba Syzygy as Senior Staff Engineer, the second paid employee of the company.  (Alcorn interview)

June 27: (Tue.) The Articles of Incorporation of Atari, Inc. (dba Syzygy Co.) were filed in the office of the Secretary of State of the State of California.

June 28: (Wed.) Date of incorporation for Atari, Inc. dba Syzygy Co. (72/73 financial statement)

June/July?: Doug Dabney (brother of company co-founder Ted Dabney) joined Atari dba Syzygy as its third paid employee. (The company now consisted of five people.)

August: The Atari dba Syzygy prototype Pong system (designed for the home consumer market) was experimentally configured for coin-operation (Pong 2) and location-tested at the Andy Capp's tavern in Sunnyvale, CA (one of the Syzygy coin-op route locations).  The company still consisted of five people: Nolan Bushnell, Ted Dabney, Al Alcorn, Doug Dabney, Cynthia Villanueva) (source)

September: Atari dba Syzygy built 12 coin-operated Pong prototype units, hoping that Bally would agree to manufacture and market the game in partial fulfillment of Atari's development contract for Bally.  10 units were deployed at locations along the Atari dba Syzygy coin-operated arcade route operation; one unit was delivered to Bally; one unit was kept in-house.

September 14-16: Atari dba Syzygy did not exhibit at All New Expo '72, the 1972 Music and Amusement Machines Exposition at the Conrad Hilton Hotel, Chicago, sponsored by Music Operators of America (MOA).  Nutting Associates introduced 1 and 2 Player Computer Space at the show (version not Syzygy engineered, but represented by NA engineering intern Steve Bristow).

September: Berkeley engineering student Steve Bristow concluded his 6-month field internship experience (started March 1971) as an engineering intern for Nutting Associates.

October: Bally cancelled their game development contract with Atari dba Syzygy, clearing the way for Atari to manufacture and market coin-operated Pong themselves.

October?: Atari dba Syzygy contracted with Arvin Systems (and previously Ampex) engineers Lawrence D. Emmons and Steven T. Mayer for game circuits (Fun p244); with their addition there were now eight people associated with Atari. (Mayer quote)

November: Atari dba Syzygy expanded into a neighboring 1700 square foot space at the Cole Complex (2962 Scott Blvd.) in Santa Clara, resulting in a total space of 3400 square feet in which to manufacture Pong units for commercial sale.

November 24: Nolan Bushnell filed for a U.S. patent for a "Video Image Positioning Control System for Amusement Device."

November 29: Atari dba Syzygy announced the release of Pong for sale commercially. (details wanted!)

December: Atari dba Syzygy shipped Pong (limited West Coast distribution only). (WSJ 3/18/74 for date)

January: Anthony F. (Fred) Marincic joined Atari dba Syzygy as secretary-treasurer (CFO).  Marincic had previously worked at Fairchild M.O.D. Palo Alto, where he was division controller, and at Hewlett Packard where he served as division finance manager. (Cash Box 7/28/73 p45)

February: Atari dba Syzygy contract engineers Larry Emmons and Steve Mayer departed Arvin Systems to focus on their independent engineering/consulting business. (Fun p245)

February: Atari leased a 10,000 square foot roller rink for expanded Pong production at: 1600 Martin Ave., Santa Clara, CA, USA

March 1: Atari president Nolan Bushnell and EVP Ted Dabney agreed to terms whereby Dabney would remain a director but otherwise depart from the company.  (Fun p96)  In the short term, Dabney would be VP production facilities.

March 3: Atari ran a print ad for Pong ("PONG, The Wraps Are Coming Off, A TWO PLAYER Video Skill Game from Atari Inc., Syzygy Engineered") on page 68 in the March 3, 1973 edition of Cash Box magazine.  Company address given: 1600 Martin Ave., Santa Clara

Atari Inc.  syzygy engineered

March 8: Meeting of the board of directors of Atari.  A 100 for 1 stock split was adopted, so that the total number of shares which the corporation was authorized to issue became 7,500,000, for an (unchanged) aggregate value of $75,000, now at $0.01 per share.

March: Midway Mfg. Co. (division of Bally) announced Winner, which would be built under license and with the co-operation of Atari (Syzygy Engineered), the inventor and developer of the game. (Cash Box 3/10/73 p56)

March: Atari announced the granting of a license to Midway Manufacturing Co., allowing Midway to produce its latest video game.  Nolan Bushnell was Atari president and Ted Dabney was Atari VP. (Cash Box 3/17/73 p56)

March: For-Play Mfg. Corp. and A.C.A. Sales and Service announced the release of Rally, perhaps the first of the many unlicensed (yet legal) Atari Pong clones. (Cash Box 3/17/73 p55,57)

March: Allied Leisure announced the release of Paddle Battle (Cash Box 3/24/73 p58,59), perhaps the most important Atari Pong clone, perhaps eventually selling more units than Atari would sell units of Pong.  Gene Lipkin was Allied Leisure sales director.

March: Atari began national distribution of Pong.  Nolan Bushnell was Atari president; Ted Dabney was Atari VP production facilities; Al Alcorn was Atari chief engineer. (Cash Box profile 4/7/73 p104)

Atari logo 1973 June

March 30: Certificate of Amendment of Articles of Incorporation of Atari, Inc., authorizing the 100 for 1 stock split adopted by the board of directors on March 8, was executed by Atari president Nolan K. Bushnell and Atari secretary Anthony F. Marincic (Fred Marincic).  The total number of company shares issued remained 5,000.

April 1: William L. White (Bill White), previously both an industrial engineer for Kennecott Copper and also auditor/consultant for Arthur Young & Co., and who had just performed an audit of Atari in that capacity, joined Atari as VP Manufacturing (to set up and run the Pong assembly at 1600 Martin Ave.), replacing Ted Dabney who would remain an Atari director but otherwise departed the company.

April: Midway Mfg. Co. (division of Bally) announced the release of Winner, built under license and with the co-operation of Atari (Syzygy Engineered), the inventor and developer of the game. (Cash Box 4/28/73)

May: Atari announced that Pat Karns had joined the company as national sales manager and director of marketing.  Karns previously was a sales manager servicing major accounts for Cramer Electronics and Marshall Industries.  Also, Atari corporate headquarters would move to larger facilities in Los Gatos, CA.  Nolan Bushnell remained Atari president and Al Alcorn remained Atari chief engineer. (Cash Box 5/19/73 p59, 8/11/73, 4/26/75 p53)

May 19: Atari ran a whimsical ad mocking their competitors (competitors: "The One and Only Atari Band Wagon"; Atari: "We understand what WE'RE doing!" ) on page 60 in the May 19 issue of Cash Box magazine.  Company address given: 2962 Scott Blvd., Santa Clara

May/June?: Ronald F. Gordon (Ron Gordon), previously of Muntz TV, joined Atari as International Marketing Director.

June 2: Atari concluded their first fiscal year (11 months: June 28, 1972 - June 2, 1973) with $3.2 million in sales.

June 2: Nolan Bushnell remained Atari president. (Cash Box 6/2/73)

June: Atari announced a new and improved version of Pong, featuring front access and heavy duty cabinet, and also announced their new 30,000 square foot location at the Cadre Building: 14600 Winchester Blvd., Los Gatos, CA, USA (Cash Box ad 6/9/73p57)

June: Atari announced that engineer Don Lang had joined the company as director of special projects.  Al Alcorn was now Atari VP engineering (previously: chief engineer); Nolan Bushnell remained Atari president. (Cash Box 6/16/73; 6/23/73)

June: Engineer Stephen D. Bristow joined Atari as an electrical engineer.  Atari employed about 70-80 people at this time.

Spring/Summer?: Atari produced perhaps 20 novelty Pong In-A-Barrel units. (source)

July: Nutting Associates announced the release of 1 and 2-Player Computer Space (version not Syzygy Engineered). (Cash Box 7/7/73)

July: Atari had established a United Kingdom manufacturing branch in London. (Cash Box 7/14/73)

July: Atari announced the release of Space Race.  Pat Karns remained Atari national sales manager; Al Alcorn remained Atari VP engineering; Nolan Bushnell remained Atari president.  Also, Bushnell and Karns were involved with setting up European distribution.  (Cash Box 7/21/73 p39)

Atari logo 1973

July: Atari announced the appointment of Anthony F. (Fred) Marincic as Atari VP finance (previously: Atari secretary-treasurer) (CFO).  Atari now employed 180 people, and was privately held, with the majority stockholders being current employees. (Cash Box 7/28/73 p45)

Summer?: Atari contract engineers Larry Emmons and Steve Mayer partnered with Atari in tranforming their engineering/consulting business into the Atari research & development subsidiary Cyan Engineering, located in Grass Valley, CA. (Fun p245)  Larry Emmons would be Director of Cyan Engineering (reporting to Atari VP engineering Al Alcorn); Steve Mayer would be Cyan Engineering Senior Engineer.

July/August: Bill White, previously Atari VP Manufacturing, would become Atari VP finance (CFO), replacing Fred Marincic who departed the company.  Engineer Gilbert J. Williams (Gil Williams), previously of Ampex, would join Atari as VP manufacturing, replacing White in the role.

August: Atari announced their completed move of all administration and manufacturing to the Cadre Building: 14600 Winchester Blvd., Los Gatos, CA, USA. Nolan Bushnell remained Atari president. (Cash Box 8/4/73 p48)

August: Atari announced international sales and distribution ("Atari Expands Worldwide!"); the ad pictured Pong, Pong In-A-Barrel, Space Race, and a novelty Pong fiberglass unit (never went into production).  Ron Gordon was Atari International Marketing Director. (Cash Box 8/4/73 p49)

Atari logo 1973-1984

August: Atari announced the release of Space Race fiberglass units (reusing the cabinets first designed for Pong fiberglass), available in limited quantities. Pat Karns remained Atari national sales manager. (Cash Box 8/4/73 p50)  Perhaps 50 such units would be made. (source)

August?: Atari/Syzygy and Hunter Electronics Pty. Ltd. of Sydney, Australia released Barrel-Pong. (Australia)

August/September: John C. Wakefield, M.D. psychiatry, previously of the Levinson Institute (Cambridge MA), and brother-in-law of Nolan Bushnell, joined Atari as president (replacing Nolan Bushnell in the role) and board member.  Bushnell would remain Atari chairman.  (Former Atari VP finance Fred Marincic had departed the company before Wakefield's arrival.)

September: Atari announced the release of Pong Doubles. (Atari France title: Coupe Davis).  Pat Karns was Atari national sales manager and Al Alcorn was Atari VP engineering. (Cash Box 10/13/73 p49)

September: Atari would exhibit at the IMA Show in Düsseldorf, West Germany. (Cash Box 9/1/73 p46)

September 27-29: Atari staff attending the Japanese Trade Show in Tokyo included national sales manager Pat Karns, chairman Nolan Bushnell, president John Wakefield, and manager of industrial design George Faraco. (Cash Box 9/29/73)

September: At the secret direction of Atari chairman Nolan Bushnell, Joseph F. Keenan, previously of Applied Logic and IBM, founded Kee Games, Inc.  The apparent Atari rival would be able to sell to distributors who wanted to sell products to compete with Atari products.  Steve Bristow, previously Atari electrical engineer, would be Kee Games VP Engineering.  Gil Williams, previously Atari VP manufacturing, would be Kee Games VP manufacturing; Bill White, previously Atari VP finance, would be Kee Games Controller (CFO).  Initial Kee Games location: 330 Mathew St., Santa Clara, CA, USA.

September/October?: Richard Mobilio (Dick Mobilio), previously general manager, Intercontinental Sales Region at Hewlett-Packard, joined Atari as VP marketing (new position).

September/October?: H. Leslie Oliver (Les Oliver), previously of Hewlett-Packard, joined Atari as VP finance and administration (CFO; replacing Bill White in the role). (Fun p100 for title)

October 1?: Steve Bristow, previously Atari electrical engineer, became VP Engineering, Kee Games.

October: At Kee Games, Inc., Joe Keenan was president and Steve Bristow was VP engineering (Cash Box 10/6/73)

October: Atari announced the release of both Gotcha and Gotcha Color, a limited-run color version of the game that used real color (rather than the colored cellophane overlays used to mimic color in other games)

October: Atari director Ted Dabney acquired Atari's coin-operated street operations from the company.  Dabney's new business, which would be named Syzygy Game Company, would rent its machines from Atari and lease space for its servicing operations at Atari's 1600 Martin Ave. location. (Fun p103-104)

October: Kee Games released their first game, Elimination!

Fall: Engineer Harold Lee, previously of Standard Microsystems (where he had learned chip design from Jay Miner), joined Atari as a production designer (Fun p149) in the Electrical Engineering department (directed by Donald Lang) (Fun p183).  Lee was hired by Atari VP engineering Al Alcorn. (Fun p149)

Fall: Ronald G. Wayne (Ron Wayne) joined Atari as Chief Draftsman and Product Development engineer, replacing George Faraco who departed the company.  Wayne was hired by Atari VP engineering Al Alcorn.

Fall?: Japanese-American businessman Kenichi Takumi joined Atari to establish and serve as president of the new subsidiary, Atari Japan Corporation, based in Tokyo.  Hideyuki Nakajima (Hide Nakajima; "HEE-day"), previously of Japan Art Paper Company, joined Atari Japan as general manager.  Atari Japan would manufacture and sell Atari coin-operated video games in the Japanese market.

Fall?: Engineer Ron Milner joined Cyan Engineering.

Fall?: Midway Mfg. Co. (division of Bally) released Asteroid (licensed clone of Atari Space Race).

November 9-11: Atari featured Pong, Space Race, Pong Doubles, and introduced Gotcha at the 25th anniversary Expo '73, the Music and Amusement Machines Exposition sponsored by the MOA at the Conrad Hilton Hotel, Chicago.  Atari showed three versions of Gotcha: black & white, tinted screen, or full color.  (Cash Box 11/24/73)  John Wakefield was Atari president and Dick Mobilio was newly-appointed Atari VP marketing.  Pat Karns remained Atari national sales manager. (Cash Box 11/10/73p89)

November 10: Nolan Bushnell owned 80% of Atari. (Business Week p. 212)

December?: Steve Jobs joined Atari in the Electrical Engineering department (directed by Donald Lang).  Jobs was hired by Atari VP engineering Al Alcorn.

December: Kee Games announced a license agreement on their game Elimination! with Atari, whereby Atari would produce their own version of the game to be called Quadrapong. (Cash Box 12/15/73)

January: Atari announced the sale of the Syzygy name to (Atari director) Ted Dabney, whose new Syzygy Game Company would operate as an independent company. (Cash Box 1/26/74)

January: Engineer Lyle V. Rains joined Kee Games as an Electronics Engineer/Game Designer.  He was hired by Kee Games VP Engineering Steve Bristow. (Digital Press #52 for date)

February: Atari announced the release of Rebound, and announced the release of Superpong in limited production. Pat Karns remained Atari sales chief. (Cash Box 2/16/74 p51)

February: Atari announced that engineer Lloyd A. Warman had joined the company (as of December 1973) as VP engineering (replacing Gil Williams as head of manufacturing and filling in for VP engineering Al Alcorn who went on a leave from the company).  Warman was previously operations department manager in the Advanced Technology Division of Ampex.  Atari also announced that Tony Seidel had joined the company as director of marketing communcations, reporting to Atari marketing VP Dick Mobilio.  Seidel was previously marketing communications manager of Hewlett-Packard's Intercontinental Sales Region, Palo Alto. (Cash Box 2/23/74 p51; see also: RefBkofCorpMan86p3317; link )

In engineering, department directors reporting to Warman would include: Holly LeRoy (Model Shop), Ron Wayne (Industrial Design / Design Services), Donald Lang (Electrical Engineering), Larry Emmons (Cyan Engineering) (Fun p183)

February: Kee Games announced Elimination!-Plus ("faster action with a four-bumper feature"). (Cash Box ad; Cash Box 3/2/74 p45)  (Shipped???)

February: William G. Arkush (Bill Arkush) was an Atari engineering executive (in the Electrical Engineering department, reporting to Donald Lang -Fun p183).  Arkush was design engineer for color video games and educational seminar leader.  Pat Karns remained Atari sales chief. (Cash Box 3/2/74 p45)

February 19: Atari chairman Nolan Bushnell was granted United States Patent 3,793,483 (filed November 24, 1972) for a "Video Image Positioning Control System for Amusement Device."  "The granting of this patent, in effect, recognizes Atari as the originator of the video game, as this circuitry is essential for video game operation," Bushnell stated. (Cash Box 3/30/73)

February 28: Atari introduced Gran Trak 10 at an event for distributors held at company headquarters.  Nolan Bushnell remained Atari chairman; Pat Karns remained Atari sales manager. (Cash Box 3/16/74 p58)

March: Kee Games released Spike (the same game as Rebound by Atari).

March: Atari released Quadrapong (the same game as Elimination! by Kee Games)

March: Atari released Gran Trak 10 (sample quantities only; it would take Atari several months to successfully ramp up production). Nolan Bushnell remained Atari chairman; Pat Karns remained Atari sales manager. (Cash Box 3/23/74)

March: Ted Dabney departed from the Atari board of directors (his remaining role with the company). (Fun p104)

March: Steve Ritchie joined Atari.

March: Atari announced that T.C. Grunau had joined the company as president of Atari (Canada) Ltd.  Grunau was previously general manager of Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Ltd. (Cash Box 3/16/74 p58)

Spring: Atari VP engineering Al Alcorn returned to the company following a leave of several months, replacing Atari VP Lloyd Warman as head of engineering; Warman would remain Atari VP manufacturing operations.

Winter/Spring?: Nakamura Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (also known as "Namco" since 1971), the Japanese amusement machine manufacturer and amusement park operator headed by Masaya Nakamura (who founded the company as Nakamura Manufacturing Ltd. in June 1955 and reorganized the company to form Nakamura Manufacturing Co., Ltd. in 1959), agreed to help sell game machines for Atari Japan.  Kenichi Takumi remained president of Atari Japan.

April: Kee Games released Formula K (the same game as Gran Trak 10 by Atari).

April: In Europe, Atari released two versions of the same game: World Cup (by Löwen-Automaten in West Germany; upright and cocktail versions) and Coupe du Monde (by Sovoda S.A. "Atari France"; cocktail configuration only).

April 17: Report that Magnavox Co. had filed a patent infringement lawsuit in the Federal District Court of Chicago against Atari Inc., Bally Manufacturing Corp., Empire Distributing Inc. (a Bally subsidiary), Chicago Dynamic Industries Inc., and Allied Leisure Inc.  Magnavox alleged that the coin-operated arcade video games manufactured and distributed by the five companies infringed on patent rights associated with the Magnavox Odyssey home video game system. (WSJ, p.15; Merch Wk 4/22/74 p.9)   The Magnavox patent originated with Ralph Baer of Sanders Associates.

April: Atari announced it was shipping Gran Trak 10 in quantity.  Pat Karns remained Atari national sales manager. (Cash Box 5/4/74)

April/May?: Atari president John Wakefield departed the company.  Following a very brief temporary stint as Atari president by Atari international marketing director Ron Gordon, Atari chairman Nolan Bushnell would return to the role of Atari president.

May: Atari Europe (France) released Coup Franc ("Pong Cocktail"), and also made the same cabinet available configured as Quadrapong.

May 31: The third Atari Game Center officially opened on the terrace level at BayFair Regional Shopping Center, E. 14th St. at 155th Ave., San Leandro CA.  The Atari built and designed facility was 1300 square feet and included 16 games (including Atari's own Pong, Gotcha, Reboud, and Gran Track 10).  Atari already operated Centers at San Jose and Orange County.  While the first two locations featured free-standing floor units, the BayFair Center video games would "be esthetically packaged, built into a coordinated rustic decor."  Allan H. Perris was Atari VP real estate.  John Stover, previously employed at the Orange County location, would be the resident manager.  Nolan Bushnell was Atari president.  (Cash Box 5/11/74, 6/8/74, and newspaper ad)

June: Atari announced the release of Touch-Me.

June 22-26: Atari introduced Dr. Pong and Puppy Pong at the Annual Meeting of the American Medical Association held at McCormick Place, Chicago.  Atari would market the table-top-size video games to physicians, dentists, psychiatrists, and hospitals.  An optional second electronics board swap-in for either game would change the Pong game to a vollyball game; an optional bookcase/stand would be offered for Dr. Pong.  Nolan Bushnell was Atari president.  (Cash Box 7/6/74)

June: Executives Nolan Bushnell, Dick Mobilio and Pat Karns all remained with Atari. (Cash Box 6/29/74)

July: Kee Games released Twin Racer.

July: Atari announced the release of Trak 10.

July: Atari announced that Gran Trak 10 would now have a free play feature.  Pat Karns remained Atari national sales manager. (Cash Box 7/20/74)

July: Kee Games announced that Formula K would now have a free play feature (won for a score of 20 points).  The cabinet design was revised as well.  Joe Keenan remained Kee Games president. (Cash Box 7/27/74)

July: Atari agreed to sell Atari Japan Corporation to Nakamura Manufacturing Co. ("Namco") for ¥296 million ($1.18 million), pending payment by October 1975.  (Hideyuki Nakajima remained general manager and was now head of Atari Japan, as company president Kenichi Takumi had departed the company.)  (Cash Box 8/24/74 for date)

August: Atari released Gran Trak 20 (the same game as Twin Racer by Kee Games), released Puppy Pong (marketed for professional offices and waiting rooms) and released Trak 20.

August: Atari announced it was shipping Trak 10. (Cash Box 8/17/74)

August 22-23: A major Atari service school was held at distributor C. A. Robinson in Los Angeles.  Atari president Nolan Bushnell, national sales manager Pat Karns, service manager Bill Arkush, and field engineer Doug Hughes led the event on behalf of Atari, along with Jim Sneed and Jim Heller of Kurz-Kasch Electronic House of Dayton OH. (Cash Box 8/17/74, 9/7/74)

August 21: Eugene J. Lipkin (Gene Lipkin), previously Allied Leisure national sales director, joined Atari's arcade division.  (Cash Box 8/24/74)

August/September: Atari production designer Harold Lee departed the company. (Fun p149)

September: Atari contracted with recently-departed production designer Harold Lee through his new engineering firm, MOS Sorcery, to lead an effort to design a chip that would form the basis for a consumer-market Pong system.  Atari VP engineering Al Alcorn headed the project. (Fun p151-152)

September: Atari released Dr. Pong (marketed for professional offices and waiting rooms).

September: Gary Bradley joined Atari as promotion director.  Nolan Bushnell remained Atari president and Pat Karns remained Atari sales director. (Cash Box 9/14/74)

September: The Atari Game Center at Bayfair in San Leandro CA remained open. (newspaper ad)

September: Atari announced the acquisition of Kee Games, Inc.  Joseph Keenan, founder and president of Kee Games, would now be Atari president.  Nolan Bushnell would remain Atari chairman. (Cash Box 9/21/74)  Pat Karns would be national director of sales for both Atari and Kee Games. (Cash Box 9/28/74)  Gil Williams, previously Kee Games director of manufacturing, would become Kee Games president. (Vending Times Dec74 p38)  Bill White, previously Kee Games controller, would become Atari VP finance (secretary/treasurer/CFO; replacing Leslie Oliver who would depart the company).

Atari-Kee logo

October 1: Atari shipped Touch-Me.  Pat Karns was Atari sales manager. (Cash Box 9/28/74; 10/19/74 p31)

October: Atari released Pin-Pong. Pat Karns was Atari sales manager. (Cash Box 11/9/74)

October: John B. Anderson joined Atari as cash manager.

Fall: Atari, in conjunction with Kurz Kasch, held a series of five service schools led by Atari service manager Bill Arkush.  The schools dealt with jukeboxes, video games, pin games, and arcade pieces of all manufactures.  Locations: Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco.  More were planned for the East in 1975. (Vending Times)

November 1-3: Atari (of Los Gatos) introduced Qwak and featured Touch-Me, and Atari's Kee Games unit (of Santa Clara) introduced Tank at the 1974 MOA Music and Amusement Machines Exposition at the Conrad Hilton Hotel, Chicago.  Atari chairman Nolan Bushnell, Atari president Joe Keenan, Kee Games president Gil Williams, and Atari/Kee VP sales Pat Karns represented Atari and Kee Games at the show. (Cash Box 11/2/74, 11/16/74; Vending Times Dec74 p38)

November: Al Alcorn, previously Atari VP engineering, would become Atari VP consumer engineering.  Steve Bristow, previously Kee Games VP engineering, became Atari VP engineering (coin operated games) (replacing Alcorn in the role).

November: New location for Atari's Kee Games unit: 1280 Reamwood Ave., Sunnyvale, CA, USA

November/December: Engineer Robert J. Brown (Bob Brown) joined Atari, hired by Atari VP consumer engineering Al Alcorn to produce a test program for the Pong chip under development by MOS Sorcery engineer Harold Lee and Alcorn for the consumer market Pong system project.

Atari completed Dodgeball (minimal production/very rare, apparently).

January: Atari's Kee Games unit released Pursuit.  This was the last Kee Games release before the Atari subsidiary was fully merged into Atari.

February 1: Gene Lipkin, previously of Atari's arcade division, became Atari VP marketing (replacing the departed Dick Mobilio).  Lipkin would have overall responsibility for Atari marketing, consumer and coin-op sales, service and advertising.  (Cash Box 4/26/75 p50)

February 16-18: Atari previewed Pong at the American Toy Fair in New York.  Designers/engineers: Al Alcorn, Harold Lee (MOS Sorcery), Bob Brown

March 31: Atari national sales director Pat Karns departed the company. (Cash Box 4/26/75)

March/April: Atari and Kee Games manufacturing engineering, fabrication and cabinetry, assembly, quality control, marketing, sales (games and parts) and customer service functions were consolidated at Atari's new 65,000 square foot location: 2175 Martin Ave., Santa Clara, CA, USA.  Administrative headquarters would remain at the Atari Los Gatos location, along with engineering, R&D, test, and digital design functions.  Atari would continue to use the Kee Games brand on some releases. (Cash Box 4/26/75 p50; Vending Times 6/75p56)

March/April?: Gil Williams, previously Kee Games President, became Atari VP Manufacturing, replacing Lloyd Warman who departed the company.  Atari also launched a Pinball Division, with Gil Williams as Pinball Division Manager.  First two Pinball Division hires would be: engineers Bob Jonesee (previously of Williams) and Steve Ritchie (internal transfer)

April: Atari design engineer for color video games and educational seminar leader Bill Arkush departed the company. (Cash Box 5/3/75)

April: At the "first annual" Atari spring distributor presentation held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in San Francisco, Atari introduced Kee Games Indy 800 and Atari Hi-Way (USA cockpit version; would ship in Europe as: Highway upright cabinet version).  Gene Lipkin was Atari marketing VP; Nolan Bushnell was chairman; Joe Keenan was president; Ron Gordon was international marketing manager. (Vending Times 4/75p54, 6/75p56)

May: Atari completed Kee Games Crossfire (minimal production/very rare, apparently), and Atari released Kee Games Tank II.

June: Atari announced the release of Anti-Aircraft. Atari also promoted the available line-up of: Tank II, Anti-Aircraft, Indy 800, Hi-Way. (Cash Box 6/28/75)

Month?: Frank Ballouz, previously of A.B. Dick, joined Atari as National Sales Manager (replacing the departed Pat Karns).

Summer?: Atari employed some 371 people domestically, had 100 distributors worldwide including 79 domestic and 3 in Canada, and had a manufacturing facility in France and assembly centers in Japan, Brazil, and five other locations in addition to its domestic plants at Los Gatos, Santa Clara, and Sunnyvale. (Play Meter)

July: Atari released Goal IV.

September: Atari, as Horror Games, released Shark Jaws.  The Horror Games label was reportedly used to help deflect potential legal issues with the unlicensed use of the Jaws movie tie-in.

Horror Games

September 18: The board of directors of Atari, Inc. met and adopted a resolution providing for issuing 36,750 preferred shares in the company, each to have a par value of $20.00 per share.  The total number of authorized common shares, at a par value of $0.01 per share, would remain 7,500,000.  The aggregate par value of all 7,536,750 shares would be $810,000.

October 1: Sears released Tele-Games Pong (#25796) by Atari (same as Atari Pong C-100) (on sale Oct. 1-4 for $99.95).  Sears ultimately ordered 150,000 Pong units from Atari in exchange for exclusivity through 1975.  Sears Wishbook catalog price: $98.95

October 2: Report that Atari was to supply Sears, Roebuck with between 50,000 and 200,000 under-$100 Pong-like home video game sets by Dec. 5 1975, final quantity to depend on the supply of chips ordered by Atari from three manufacturers. (Electronics p.35)

October: Atari released Steeplechase, released Crash 'N' Score (released as Stock-Car in Europe?), and released Jet Fighter (original upright version).

October: Atari agreed to sell the Atari Japan Corporation subsidiary to Nakamura Manufacturing Co. Ltd. of Japan ("Namco") for US$500,050.  Nakamura Manufacturing Co. was to be the exclusive representative for Atari products in Japan for ten years.  (Hideyuki Nakajima, previously Atari Japan general manager and head of the unit, would remain in that role under Nakamura Manufacturing Co.)

October: John Anderson became Atari consumer engineering controller (previously: Atari cash manager).  Al Alcorn remained Atari VP consumer engineering.

October 11: Special meeting of Atari shareholders approved and ratified the company board's resolution of September 18, 1975 concerning issuing 36,750 preferred shares in the company.

October 14: Certificate of Amendment of Articles of Incorporation of Atari, Inc. concerning issuing 36,750 preferred shares in the company, as approved by company shareholders on October 11, 1975, was executed by Atari president Joseph F. Keenan and Atari secretary William L. White, and was filed in the office of the Secretary of State of the State of California.  The total number of issued and outstanding shares of the company was 448,388.

October 17-19: At the MOA show at the Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago, Atari introduced Kee Games Tank cocktail and Computer Portrait (would ship as: Compugraph Foto), and also featured: Crash 'N' Score, Steeplechase, Jet Fighter, Shark JAWS

October 13: The board of directors of Atari, Inc. met and adopted a resolution providing for stock split where each outstanding common share of a par value of $0.01 would be split and converted into 5 shares of common stack having no par value.  The total number of shares authorized to issue would remain 7,536,750, now with a total aggregate par value of $735,000; this would still include 7,500,000 authorized common shares and 36,750 preferred shares with a par value of $20.00 per share.

November 13: Atari annual meeting of shareholders, where the board of directors resolution of October 13 regarding a 5-for-1 stock split was approved and ratified.

November?: M. John Ellis, previously of National Semiconductor, joined Atari as director of consumer engineering.  He was hired by Atari VP consumer engineering Al Alcorn.

November 20: The Atari "fuji" logo design "consisting of a stylized representation of Mount Fujiyama" formally became a registered trademark of Atari, Inc.

December: Engineer Joseph C. Decuir joined Atari as Microcomputer Systems Engineer (hired by Atari VP consumer engineering Al Alcorn according to The Atari Book) to work with Steve Mayer and Ron Milner at Cyan Engineering to help debug their cartridge-based consumer video game console prototype before taking it back to Atari for further development. (source)(source)

December: Atari released Jet Fighter Cocktail.

Atari released Stunt Cycle.

January 12: Certificate of Amendment of Articles of Incorporation of Atari, Inc. regarding a 5-for-1 stock split, as approved by company shareholders on November 13, 1975, was executed by Atari president Joseph F. Keenan and Atari secretary William L. White.  The total number of issued and outstanding shares of the company was 516,638.

January 13-15: Atari introduced Pong at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show at the Conrad Hilton, Chicago.  This was Atari's first appearance at a CES.

January 19: Certificate of Amendment of Articles of Incorporation of Atari, Inc. regarding a 5-for-1 stock split, as executed on January 12, 1976, was filed in the office of the Secretary of State of the State of California.

Winter?: Steve Calfee joined Atari as Sr. Microprocessor programmer.

February 2: Dave Shepperd joined Atari as a computer programmer.

February?: Dennis Koble joined Atari as "the third programmer Atari ever hired." (source)

March: Mike Albaugh joined Atari as "third computer programmer in coin-op."

March: Synertek (and prior to that, Standard Microsystems) engineer Jay G. Miner was hired by Atari VP consumer engineering Al Alcorn to design the custom graphics chip and lead the further development of the cartridge-based consumer video game console project started at Cyan Engineering.  Miner would report to Atari director of microelectronics Bob Brown, Atari would pay Synertek for Miner's services, and Miner would remain a paid employee of Synertek.  Atari engineer Joe Decuir would continue with the project, now reporting to Miner at Atari.

March: Industrial designer Roger Hector joined Atari as a concept and video graphic designer.  He was hired by hired by Pete Takaishi, Industrial Design Manager. (source)

March: Atari engineering technician Steve Jobs departed the company.

March: Atari released Outlaw.

April 1: Atari International Field Service engineer Ron Wayne, together with former Atari engineering technician Steve Jobs and Hewlett-Packard engineer Steve Wozniak), co-founded the Apple Computer Company.

April 12: Atari International Field Service engineer Ron Wayne departed from the Apple Computer Company.

April: Atari released Kee Games Tank 8 (first Atari microprocessor-based game) and released Kee Games Quiz Show.

April: Atari released Breakout (original upright version).

April 26: Joseph F. Keenan remained Atari president, and William L. White remained Atari VP Finance (secretary/treasurer/CFO); Atari remained headquartered at 14600 Winchester Blvd, Los Gatos CA. (CA Secretary of State filing)

Spring: Atari broke ground for a new campus of buildings at Sunnyvale's Moffett Park.

May: Atari consultant Gene N. Landrum completed his "Market Analysis" and "Product Planning Strategy" reports regarding a cartridge-based consumer video game console. (Fun p199)

May: Atari released Kee Games Indy 4 (four player version of Indy 800).

June 2: Atari released Pong (C-100; 2 players) (newspaper ad, $69.95).

June 13-15: Atari exhibited at the Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago (details wanted!).

June: With the patent infringement lawsuit filed by Magnavox in April 1974 against Atari and several of Atari's competitors about to go to trial, Atari and Magnavox settled.  Atari would pay Magnavox a one-time fee to be an authorized licensee of Magnavox video game patent technology; Magnavox would have the free license to produce any new product that Atari introduced in the next 365 days from the date of the agreement.  The Magnavox patent originated with Ralph Baer of Sanders Associates.

June: Owen Rubin joined Atari as a software engineer ("he was the fifth programmer hired" acp 6/83p32).

Month?: Atari Europe (Baume-les-dames, France) purchased the jukebox manufacturer, Elektro-Kicker, makers of the Jupiter jukeboxes.

Month?: Noah L. Anglin joined Atari as Engineering Manager.  Anglin was previously a director of engineering at Memorex, and before that had been at IBM for 13 years.  Steven Bristow remained Atari VP Engineering (coin operated games).

Month?: Mathematician/programmer Larry Wagner, previously of Singer Business Machines, joined Atari consumer engineering (hired by Atari VP consumer engineering Al Alcorn) where he would be responsible for software & systems architecture for the ongoing cartridge-based consumer video game console project, working with Joe Decuir and project leader Jay Miner.  Wagner would report to Bob Brown, now Atari consumer engineering director of R&D (previously: director of microelectronics).

Months?: Atari Europe released the jukebox models: Concerto 120, Rubis, and Rubis II.

July: Atari released Breakout Cocktail, released Cops n' Robbers, and released Flyball.

July: Howard Delman joined Atari as an engineer.

July: John Anderson became Atari assistant treasurer. (previously: Atari consumer engineering controller)

July 26: Warner Communications Inc. (WCI) filed a Certificate of Incorporation for WCI Games Inc. in the Office of Secretary of State, State of Delaware, desiring to merge with Atari, Inc.  Main office: 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York NY; California office: 4000 Warner Blvd, Burbank CA.  Martin D. Payson was WCI Games Inc. VP.

July/August: Atari released (in the U.S.) Super Pong (C-140; 4 game variations; 2 players) (newspaper ad; $79.88 through Aug. 7).  Outside of the U.S Atari would release: Hockey Pong (C-121; 1-2 players; 4 game variations) and Pong Doubles (C-160; 2-4 players).

August: Sears announced/promoted (in the U.S.) Tele-Games Pong, Hockey Pong (#99721) by Atari (same as Atari Hockey Pong C-121), Super Pong (#99736) by Atari (same as Atari Super Pong C-140), and Super Pong IV (#99737) by Atari (same as Atari Super Pong Ten C-180).  Outside of the U.S., Sears would ship Tele-Games Pong IV (#99717; 2-4 players) by Atari (same as Atari Pong Doubles C-160)

August: Atari released Le Mans.

August: Programmer Larry Kaplan, previously of Control Systems Industries, joined Atari consumer engineering as a game designer.  (Hired by Larry Wagner and Bob Brown, Kaplan was the first person Atari hired specifically to design games for the VCS.)

September 7: Warner Communications, Inc. (WCI) announced it had signed a contract to purchase controlling interest in Atari, Inc.  Warner EVP Emanuel Gerard anticipated it would eventually acquire "all or virtually all" Atari shares for purchase price of approximately $28 million in cash and debt. The contract was subject to approval by at least 66.7% of each class of Atari shareholders and by the California Commissioner of Corporations. (WSJ, NYT, 9/8/76)  One term of the sale was that Warner would fund the establishment of one restaurant featuring Bushnell's concept of a novel mixture of games, pizza, and electronic animals.  Another term of sale was that the former owners of Atari (including: Bushnell, Keenan, Alcorn, Lipkin) agreed not to engage in business in competition with the new Atari for seven years (through September 1983).

October 4: Atari was merged into WCI Games Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Warner Communications Inc.  See: A History of WCI Games / Atari / Atari Games / Atari Holdings

Selected Links/Sources

Hit count since April 26, 2014:

Last updated: 2014.07.11

other updates:
2013.03.18 St. Louis detail corrections, thanks mgabrys
2012.08.22 Quantum, Food Fight, & TX-1 developers, thanks Vernon Brooks