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The Atari is born in Utah thanks to inventor Nolan Bushnell

X-box. Playstation. Nintendo. Before them all was Atari.

Created by a Computer Science major at the University of Utah named Nolan Bushnell, Atari was one of the first gaming systems to gain commercial success.

During his time at the University of Utah, Bushnell enjoyed playing the computer game Spacewar on the giant DEC mainframe computers. He tried to create his own version, Computer Space, but this version never saw much commercial success. None the less, Bushnell was determined to make a video game that could be played by anyone in the comfort of their own home.

In 1972, Bushnell attended a computer show in Burlingame CA and saw a rudimentary gaming system called the Magnavox Odyssey play its version of ping pong. Bushnell took this idea back to his company at the time, Atari. After much work, Bushnell released a version of Pong and had it installed on Coin-operated machines. This game was popular, but Bushnell wanted to expand from the Coin-Op market and develop a home version of Pong. In 1977, the Atari 2600 was introduced just in time for Christmas. It became the most popular gift that year.

In 1978, Bushnell was bought out of Atari by AOL Time Warner (then Warner Communications.)

What has Bushnell been up to since then? You can bet itís exciting! Visit the Utah Curiosities and Inventions Exhibit at the Utah Museum of Art and History to find out!

Visit the the online Atari Museum

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