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definition - Atari

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-ATR (Atari Teenage Riot song) • Adventure (Atari 2600) • Asterix (Atari video game) • Atari (disambiguation) • Atari (go) • Atari 2000 • Atari 2500 • Atari 2600 • Atari 2600 hardware • Atari 2700 • Atari 2800 • Atari 3200 • Atari 5200 • Atari 7800 • Atari 8-bit computer peripherals • Atari 8-bit computer software • Atari 8-bit family • Atari Age • Atari Anniversary Edition • Atari Anthology • Atari Assembler Editor • Atari BASIC • Atari Bigby • Atari Blitzkrieg • Atari CTIA/GTIA • Atari Coldfire Project • Atari Computers • Atari Corporation • Atari Cosmos • Atari DOS • Atari Democrat • Atari FREDDIE • Atari Falcon • Atari Flashback • Atari Flashback Portable • Atari Football • Atari Force • Atari Game Brain • Atari Games • Atari Interactive • Atari Jaguar • Atari Jaguar CD • Atari Karts • Atari LOGO • Atari Lynx • Atari MEGA STE • Atari MMU • Atari Message Information System • Atari Microsoft BASIC • Atari Mindlink • Atari Panther • Atari Pascal • Atari Portfolio • Atari Program Exchange • Atari Punk Console • Atari SAP music format • Atari ST • Atari ST BASIC • Atari ST Review • Atari ST User • Atari STE • Atari STacy • Atari System • Atari TIA • Atari TOS • Atari TT030 • Atari Teenage Riot • Atari Teenage Riot (1992-2000) • Atari Teenage Riot II • Atari Transputer Workstation • Atari User • Atari Video Cube • Atari Video Music • Atari community • Atari video game burial • Atari, Inc. • Atari, Inc. (Infogrames subsidiary) • Atari, Pakistan • Atari, SA • Bank Heist (Atari 2600) • Blackjack (Atari 2600) • Circus Atari • De Re Atari • Equinox (Atari demogroup) • Gali Atari • Games.atari.com • Garfield (Atari 2600) • Golf (Atari 2600) • History of Atari ST games • I-War (Atari Jaguar) • Indy 500 (Atari 2600) • Kousuke Atari • List of Atari 2600 games • List of Atari 2600 prototype games • List of Atari 5200 games • List of Atari 7800 games • List of Atari Age issues • List of Atari Jaguar games • List of Atari Lynx games • List of Atari ST games • List of Atari XEGS games • Live at Brixton Academy (Atari Teenage Riot album) • Mapping the Atari • Midnight Magic (Atari 2600) • Off the Wall (Atari 2600) • PC Atari Emulator • Pac-Man (Atari 2600) • Private Eye (Atari 2600) • Rampage (Atari game) • Shosh Atari • Skiing (Atari 2600) • Software-driven graphics modes for the Atari 8-bit computers • Solaris (Atari 2600) • Spider-Man (Atari 2600) • Star Voyager (Atari) • Stargunner (Atari 2600) • Superman (Atari game)



Type Public company
Industry Consumer electronics, video games
Founded 27 June 1972 as Atari, Inc.
1984 as Atari Corporation and Atari Games
1998 as Atari Interactive (division of Hasbro Interactive)
Headquarters Los Angeles, California, New York City, New York, USA
Lyon, France
Products Video games, consumer electronics
Parent Atari, SA

Atari is a corporate and brand name owned by several entities since its inception in 1972. It is currently[when?] owned by Atari Interactive, a wholly owned subsidiary of the French publisher Atari, SA (ASA).[1] The original Atari, Inc. was founded in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney. It was a pioneer in arcade games, home video game consoles, and home computers. The company's products, such as Pong and the Atari 2600, helped define the computer entertainment industry from the 1970s to the mid 1980s.

In 1984, the original Atari Inc. was split, and the arcade division was turned into Atari Games Inc.[2] Atari Games received the rights to use the logo and brand name with appended text "Games" on arcade games, as well as rights to the original 1972 - 1984 arcade hardware properties. The Atari Consumer Electronics Division properties were in turn sold to Jack Tramiel's Tramel Technology Ltd., which then renamed itself to Atari Corporation.[3][4] In 1996, Atari Corporation reverse merged with disk drive manufacturer JT Storage (JTS),[5] becoming a division within the company.

In 1998, Hasbro Interactive acquired all Atari Corporation related properties from JTS,[6] creating a new subsidiary, Atari Interactive.[7] IESA bought Hasbro Interactive in 2001 and renamed it to Infogrames Interactive.[8] IESA changed the company name entirely to Atari Interactive in 2003.[1]

The company that currently bears the name Atari Inc. was founded in 1993 under the name GT Interactive. IESA acquired a 62% controlling interest in GT Interactive in 1999, and renamed it Infogrames, Inc.[9] Following IESA's acquisition of Hasbro Interactive, Infogrames, Inc. intermittently published Atari branded titles for Infogrames Interactive. In 2003, Infogrames Inc. licensed the Atari name and logo from Atari Interactive and changed its name to Atari Inc.[10] On October 11, 2008, Infogrames completed its acquisition of Atari, Inc., making it a wholly owned subsidiary.[11]



  Atari Inc. (1972–1984)

In 1971, Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney founded an engineering firm, Syzygy Engineering,[12] that designed and built the first arcade video game - Computer Space for Nutting Associates. On June 27, 1972 Atari, Inc. was incorporated and soon hired Al Alcorn as their first design engineer. Bushnell decided to have Alcorn produce as a test of his abilities, an arcade version of the Magnavox Odyssey's Tennis game,[13] which would be named Pong. While Bushnell incorporated Atari in June 1972, Syzygy Company was never formally incorporated. Before Atari's official incorporation, Bushnell wrote down several words from the game go, eventually choosing atari, a term which in the context of the game means a state where a stone or group of stones is imminently in danger of being taken by one's opponent. In Japanese, atari (当たり, あたり, or アタリ) is the nominalized form of ataru (当たる, あたる, or アタル) (verb), meaning "to hit the target" or "to receive something fortuitously". The word 'atari' is used in Japanese when a prediction comes true or when someone wins a lottery. Atari was incorporated in the state of California on June 27, 1972.[14]

  The third version of the Atari Video Computer System sold from 1980 to 1982

In 1973, Atari secretly spawned a "competitor" called Kee Games, headed by Nolan's next door neighbor Joe Keenan, to circumvent pinball distributors' insistence on exclusive distribution deals; both Atari and Kee could market (virtually) the same game to different distributors, with each getting an "exclusive" deal. Though Kee's relationship to Atari was discovered in 1974, Joe Keenan did such a good job managing the subsidiary that he was promoted to president of Atari that same year.

In 1976, Bushnell, through a Grass Valley, CA. engineering firm — Cyan Engineering, started an effort to produce a flexible video game console that was capable of playing all four of Atari's then-current games. The result was the Atari Video Computer System, or "VCS" (Later renamed the Atari 2600 when the Atari 5200 was released). Bushnell knew he had another potential hit on his hands, but bringing the machine to market would be extremely expensive. Looking for outside investors, in 1976 Bushnell sold Atari to Warner Communications for an estimated $28 – $32 million, using part of the money to buy the Folgers Mansion. Nolan continued to have disagreements with Warner Management over the direction of the company, the discontinuing of the Pinball division and most importantly, he felt that the Atari 2600 should be discontinued. In 1978, the Kee Games brand was dropped.[15] In December of that year during a heated argument between Nolan Bushnell and Manny Gerard, Bushnell was fired.

A project to design a successor to the 2600 started as soon as the system shipped. The original development team estimated the 2600 had a lifespan of about three years, and decided to build the most powerful machine they could, given that time frame. Midway into the effort's time-frame, the home computer revolution was taking off, so the new machines were adapted, with the addition of a keyboard and various inputs, to produce the Atari 800, and its smaller cousin, the 400. Although a variety of issues made them less attractive than the Apple II for some users, the new machines had some success when they finally became available in quantity in 1980. In 1982, the Atari 5200 was released, based heavily on the 400 and 800 models, but without a keyboard.

Under Warner, Atari Inc. achieved its greatest success, selling millions of 2600s and computers. At its peak, Atari accounted for a third of Warner's annual income and was the fastest-growing company in the history of the United States at the time. However, Atari Inc. ran into problems in the early 1980s. Its home computer, video game console, and arcade divisions operated independently of one another and rarely cooperated. Faced with fierce competition and price wars in the game console and home computer markets, Atari was never able to duplicate the success of the 2600.

These problems were followed by the infamous video game crash of 1983, with losses that totaled more than $500 million. Warner's stock price slid from $60 to $20, and the company began searching for a buyer for its troubled division. In 1983, Ray Kassar was forced to resign, and executives involved in the Famicom lost track of the negotiations, and the deal eventually died. With Atari's further financial problems and the Famicom's runaway success in Japan after its July 16, 1983 release date, Nintendo decided to go it alone.

Financial problems continued to mount and Ray's successor, James J. Morgan, had less than a year in which to tackle his predecessor's problems, he began a massive restructuring of the company and worked with Warner Communications in May 1984 to create "NATCO" which stood for New Atari Company which would further lean the company facilities, personnel and spending and make the company profit. Unknown to James Morgan and the senior management of Atari, Warner had been in talks with Tramel Technology to buy Atari's Consumer electronics and Home Computer divisions. Negotiating up until close to midnight of July 1, 1984 Jack Tramiel purchased Atari. Warner sold the home computing and game console divisions of Atari to Tramiel for $50 cash and $240 million in promisary notes and stocks, giving Warner a 20% stake in Atari Corporation [16] who then used it to create a new company under the name Atari Corporation. Warner retained the arcade division, continuing it under the name Atari Games, but sold it to Namco in 1985. Warner also sold the fledgling Ataritel to Mitsubishi.

  Atari Corporation (1984–1996)

  Atari ST

Under Tramiel's ownership, Atari Corp. used the remaining stock of game console inventory to keep the company afloat while they finished development on a 16/32-bit computer system, the Atari ST. ("ST" stands for "sixteen/thirty-two", referring to the machines' 16-bit bus and 32-bit processor core.) In April 1985, they released the first update to the 8-bit computer line — the Atari 65XE, the Atari XE series. June 1985 saw the release of the Atari 130XE, Atari User Groups received early sneak-preview samples of the new Atari 520ST's, and major retailer shipments hit store shelves in September 1985 of Atari's new 32-bit Atari ST computers. In 1986, Atari launched two consoles designed under Warner — the Atari 2600jr and the Atari 7800 console (which saw limited release in 1984). Atari rebounded, earning a $25 million profit that year.

In 1989, Atari released the Atari Lynx, a handheld console with color graphics, to much fanfare. A shortage of parts kept the system from being released nationwide for the 1989 Christmas season, and the Lynx lost market share to Nintendo's Game Boy which, despite only having a black and white display, was cheaper, had better battery life and had much higher availability. Tramiel emphasized computers over game consoles but Atari's proprietary computer architecture and operating system fell victim to the success of the Wintel platform while the game market revived. In 1989, Atari Corp. sued Nintendo for $250 million, alleging it had an illegal monopoly.[17] Atari eventually lost the case when it was rejected by a US district court in 1992.[18]

In 1993, Atari positioned its Jaguar as the only 64-bit interactive media entertainment system available but it sold poorly.

By 1996, a series of successful lawsuits[19] had left Atari with millions of dollars in the bank, but the failure of the Lynx and Jaguar left Atari without a product to sell. Tramiel and his family also wanted out of the business. The result was a rapid succession of changes in ownership. In July 1996, Atari merged with JTS Inc., a short-lived maker of hard disk drives, to form JTS Corp.[20] Atari's role in the new company largely became that of holder for the Atari properties and minor support, and consequently the name largely disappeared from the market.

  As a division of Hasbro (1998–2001)

In March 1998, JTS sold the Atari name and assets to Hasbro Interactive for $5 million—less than a fifth of what Warner Communications had paid 22 years earlier. This transaction primarily involved the brand and intellectual property, which now fell under the Atari Interactive division of Hasbro Interactive. The brand name changed hands again in December 2000 when French software publisher Infogrames took over Hasbro Interactive.

  Atari Inc., a division of Atari, SA (2001-)

In October 2001 Infogrames (now Atari, SA) announced that it was "reinventing" the Atari brand with the launch of two new games featuring a prominent Atari branding on their boxarts : Splashdown and MX Rider.[21] On May 7, 2003, Infogrames had its majority-owned, but discrete US subsidiary Infogrames NA officially renamed Atari, Inc., renamed its European operations to Atari Europe but kept the original name of the main company Infogrames Entertainment. The original Atari holdings division purchased from Hasbro, Atari Interactive, was also made a separate corporate entity.

On March 6, 2008, Infogrames made an offer to Atari Inc. to buy out all remaining public shares for a value of $1.68 per share, or $11 million total. The offer would make Infogrames sole owner of Atari Inc., thus making it a privately held company.[22] On April 30, 2008, Atari Inc. announced its intentions to accept Infogrames' buyout offer and to merge with Infogrames.[23] On October 11, 2008, Infogrames completed its acquisition of Atari Inc., making it a wholly owned subsidiary.[11]

On December 9, 2008, Atari announced that it had acquired Cryptic Studios, an MMORPG developer.[24]

Namco Bandai has purchased a 34% stake in Atari Europe on May 14, 2009, paving the way for its acquisition from Infogrames.[25] Atari has had significant financial issues for several years now, posting losses in the tens of millions since 2005.

  Atari, SA (2009-)

In May 2009 Infogrames Entertainment, SA, the parent company of Atari Inc. and Atari Interactive Inc., announced it would be changing Infogrames' name to Atari, SA. In April 2010, Atari board member and former CEO David Gardner resigned. His replacement is Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell.[26]

  See also


  1. ^ a b Atari Inc. (2003-03-31). "10-KT · For 3/31/03". Atari Inc.. Archived from the original on 27 November 2007. http://www.secinfo.com/dsvr4.28Z7.htm. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  2. ^ Current, Michael D. (2004-2007). "A Brief Timeline of the Atari Divisions Initially Retained by Warner Communications, July 1984 to Present". Archived from the original on 19 December 2007. http://mcurrent.name/atariholdings.html. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  3. ^ Sanger, David E. (1984-07-03). "Warner Sells Atari To Tramiel". New York Times: pp. Late City Final Edition, Section D, Page 1, Column 6. http://www.nytimes.com/1984/07/03/business/warner-sells-atari-to-tramiel.html 
  4. ^ Atari Corp. (1994-03-29). "Amendment to General Statement of Beneficial Ownership — Schedule 13D". Atari Inc.. http://www.secinfo.com/dMESy.bd.htm. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  5. ^ Bloomberg Business NEws (1996-02-14). "Atari Agrees To Merge With Disk-Drive Maker". New York Times: p. 1. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A0CE5DB1239F937A25751C0A960958260 
  6. ^ "FORM 8-K Filing for transfer of assets to Hasbro Interactive from JTS". Securities And Exchange Commission. 1998-02-23. http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/941167/0001047469-98-009085.txt. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  7. ^ "Hasbro Interactive Pursues Copyright Infringement Suit". Hasbro Interactive. 2000-02-08. http://boardgames.about.com/od/companies/a/hasbro_history.htm. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  8. ^ "Civilization III:Play The World Press Release". Infogrames Inc.. 2002-05-08. Archived from the original on 12 October 2007. http://www.civ3.com/pressrelease.cfm. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  9. ^ "Infogrames Entertainment Corporate Profile and Annual Report" (PDF). Infogrames Entertainment SA. Fiscal Year 2005-2006. p. 7. Archived from the original on 2007-11-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20071127234614/http://corporate.infogrames.com/MT-3.34-en/mt-static/FCKeditor/UserFiles/File/DOCDEREF05_06GB.pdf. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  10. ^ Atari Inc. (2003-03-31). "10-KT · For 3/31/03, Overview Subsection". Atari Inc.. Archived from the original on 27 November 2007. http://www.secinfo.com/dsvr4.28Z7.htm#5ug. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  11. ^ a b Infogrames completes Atari Inc acquisition // News
  12. ^ Vendel, Curt. "ATARI Coin-Op/Arcade Systems 1970 - 1974". http://www.atarimuseum.com/videogames/arcade/arcade70.html. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  13. ^ Ador Yano. "Video game history". Ralphbaer.com. http://www.ralphbaer.com/video_game_history.htm. Retrieved 2011-12-27. 
  14. ^ California Secretary of State - California Business Search - Corporation Search Results
  15. ^ A History of Atari / Atari Games / Atari Holdings
  16. ^ Sanger, David E. (July 3, 1984). "Warner Sells Atari To Tramiel". New York Times: pp. Late City Final Edition, Section D, Page 1, Column 6, 1115 words. http://www.nytimes.com/1984/07/03/business/warner-sells-atari-to-tramiel.html 
  17. ^ "Nintendo Is Sued by Atari". New York Times. February 2, 1989. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=950DE6DB1439F931A35751C0A96F948260&scp=3&sq=atari%20nintendo%201989&st=cse 
  18. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; Nintendo Suit by Atari Is Dismissed". New York Times. May 16, 1992. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0CE3DD143EF935A25756C0A964958260&scp=3&sq=atari%20nintendo%20rejected&st=cse 
  19. ^ Atari Inc. (1995-06-05). "DEF 14A · For 6/5/95". Atari Inc.. http://www.secinfo.com/dxF7c.a9.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  20. ^ Sample Contracts - Agreement and Plan of Reorganization - Atari Corp. and JT Storage Inc. - Competitive Intelligence for Investors
  21. ^ "Infogrames ready to ship first games under Atari brand". Gamespot.com. 2001-10-31. http://www.gamespot.com/ps2/driving/splashdown/news/2821519/infogrames-ready-to-ship-first-games-under-atari-brand. Retrieved 2011-09-09. 
  22. ^ Atari, Inc. Reports Receipt of Non-Binding Offer from Infogrames Entertainment S.A.: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance
  23. ^ Infogrames Entertainment S.A. and Atari, Inc. Announce Agreement to Merge: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance
  24. ^ "Atari acquires Cryptic Studios". http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/atari-acquires-cryptic-studios. 
  25. ^ "Namco Bandai To Swallow Atari Europe". Edge. 2009-05-14. http://www.next-gen.biz/news/namco-bandai-swallow-atari-europe. Retrieved 2009-05-30. 
  26. ^ Andrew Webster. "Nolan Bushnell rejoins Atari, Phil Harrison leaves". http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2010/04/nolan-bushnell-rejoins-atari-phil-harrison-leaves.ars. 

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