The Best Book About Atari You Haven’t Read Yet
Atari Archive Vol. 1: 1977- 1978
By Jared Petty
I’ve dreamed of time travel since I was a kid, especially video game time travel. I was always interested in history, and doubly so in the history of video games. Even as a kid in the mid-1980s, I was conscious of the fact that I’d missed out on a lot. I had an Atari at home, sure. Lots of people did. But I also saw these other weird, old-looking systems in people’s houses when I visited that most certainly were not Atari products, things with names like Intellivision and Odyssey2 and Bally Astrocade. Books I read in the library told me of an even older era of games, an age of black-and-white arcade cabinets and home Pong and even of college kids fooling around on computers playing Spacewar. I wanted a time machine that took me back to when all these things were new, when I could see the commercials on TV, find them, play them, and discover even more new games.
That time machine arrived today in book form.
Atari Archive Vol. 1: 1977- 1978 chronicles the first two pivotal years in the life of the Atari VCS… an era of radical experimentation and fierce competition. Set in an age when video games had few precedents to draw from, Atari Archive lovingly depicts the brilliant and occasionally bizarre creations that defined the first era of home video games. Author Kevin Bunch draws from years of research to explain not just the content of Atari’s early works but the context around their creation, including extensive dives into the near-forgotten games released by rival companies.
Experience the genesis of video games through vibrant prose, insightful, original interviews, lovingly-rendered photography of box art, and painstakingly-captured screens pulled from original hardware.
Looking back over 45 years, it’s easy to see Atari’s success as an overnight sensation. Atari Archive demolishes that narrative. Instead, it shows Atari as a company challenged fiercely by creative competitor consoles, some of which you’ve probably heard of (like the Fairchild Channel F and Magnavox Odyssey2) and others you might never have known existed. Kevin Bunch systematically dissects competing games in feature-for-feature comparisons that explain who created them, how they differ from Atari’s offerings, and how they fared in the crowded early home console market. He also reaches outside the more obvious causes of Atari’s success (like solid game design) to less-self-apparent but equally important reasons (like Atari’s superior ability to pivot and meet government regulations).
Author Kevin Bunch spent years digging through ridiculous amounts of material and conducting interviews to piece this story together, weaving a tale of early video game history that’s being told truly comprehensively for the first time.
I’ve read most of the books out there about the VCS, and this one is my favorite. I hope you’ll give Atari Archive a chance. It’s on sale this very second at limitedrungames.com. Atari Archive Vol. 1 is the latest book by Press Run, an imprint of Limited Run Games.
Atari Archive is on sale at LRG in standard hardcover and special numbered Collector’s Edition bundles with a hardcover book, slipcase, signed certificates, and papercrafts.
If you like what you see here, check out a few of our other books:
- The History of Sunsoft
- Limited Run: The Complete Run Vol. 1
- NES Works 1985-86
- NES Works 1987
- Virtual Boy Works
Limited Run Games:
is a subsidiary of “Freemode”, an operative group comprised of gaming and entertainment companies owned by Embracer. Limited Run Games is the industry leader in the production and distribution of premium physical video games. Limited Run seeks to celebrate the legacy of gaming through its award-winning collector’s editions. Founded in 2015, they have published over 1,000 physical games, exclusive merch, and collectables. Limited Run is the gold standard in bringing digital games to physical form and now re-releasing retro titles on modern platforms via their proprietary Carbon Engine. Visit limitedrungames.com for the latest offerings and to learn more about Carbon Engine development. Follow the brand on your social media platform of choice for all LRG-related updates:@limitedrungames.