ATARI Inc, Business is Fun – Book Review

On April 16, 2013, in Apple, Book Review, Review, by David M. Acklam

ATARI Inc. Business Is Fun
Authors: Marty Goldberg & Curt Vendel
Publisher: Syzygy Company Press
Price: US $39.99
800 pages
ISBN 978-0-9855974-0-50

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Nolan Bushnell has always been a name that was synonymous with Atari for me. As to Ted Dabney, I didn’t have a clue until reading Atari Inc, Business is fun. There are plenty more individuals, like Nolan and Ted, in the book that played very important and sometimes critical rolls in the the story of Atari.

Besides individuals, you will learn about Apple connections that, like myself, you were probably not aware of. Wait a minute, some may ask; why in the heck is this guy doing a book review about Atari here on MyMac.com? I’m fairly sure that like myself, there are many others who were in the Atari ecosystem before settling in our Apple community.

I jumped at the opportunity to review this book mainly to enjoy a bit of nostalgia and revisit the early days of my Atari roots. I have to admit, I was slightly disappointed the book doesn’t cover as much of the Atari computer business as it does the gaming side. I have owned many of the different computers made by Atari beginning with the 800 machine, and wanted to learn more about the history of this side of their business. Nonetheless, it does entice me to anxiously wait for the follow up book that addresses the Atari computer business after the Tramiel family acquired Atari.

My children grew up dumping tons of quarters in those Atari arcade machines back in the 70’s. We gave them the Atari 2600 VCS home system for Christmas in the early 80’s and they continued to dump more money into buying all of those game cartridges on an almost weekly basis. Of course mom and dad had to foot the bill. Believe it or not, we still have the old 2600 system and all of those game cartridges tucked away in one of our closets. (Editors note: you do have my shipping address, David, yes?)

I elected to review the book in a PDF file format. Unfortunately, there were several insignificant typographical errors and incorrectly imported photos scattered throughout the file. Apparently, these have not been corrected in the released paperback version of the book. Also, The book will also be available in the electronic format for our iBook library and the Kindle. An old guy like me really appreciates the ability to increase the font size in this format, especially with a large book like this one. Despite the minor concerns with my PDF version, the book was a real joy to read.

When I was just over half the way into the first paragraph of the acknowledgements at the beginning of this 800 page book, and I read the word Atarians, I knew then that I was personally going to really enjoy reading and reviewing this book. Being a former and long time Atari computer user I was well known as a die hard Atarian. The book does a real good job at filling in numerous details about the beginning of Atari, starting with its SYZYGY beginnings, through its rise under Warner Communications, and ending at its acquisition by the Tramiel family.

Besides Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, you are introduced to many of the individuals responsible for the growth of Atari and many of their products that entertained our family and many others back in the 70’s and 80’s. As a retired engineer, I especially enjoyed the technical details that are presented. The authors do forewarn the reader whenever the upcoming chapter may be a bit technical.

I also appreciated the details regarding many of the management decision that were made leading to the success or failure of products. There as some really intriguing management stories revealed that I could easily relate to some of my previous working days, and I’m sure others could too. There are plenty of lessons to be learned presented in Atari Inc, Business is Fun. For us Apple people, we may want to look for parallels in our Apple ecosystem.

In conclusion, 800 pages is not enough to cover the entire Atari story. Two follow on books are proposed in the last chapter and I personally want them to happen. There are numerous personal and technical details presented including many historical photographs and documents. Atari Inc, Business is Fun is an enjoyable and long read that one has to pay attention to the chronology of the events presented. There are so many individuals and products discussed that you have to get used to jumping backwards and forwards in time as they dissect the stories and events that overlap throughout their development.

The authors Marty Goldberg and Curt Vendel did a very good job with this book and I recommend it to all my Apple and Atari friends. Even though there were minor typographical errors and incorrectly imported photographs in my PDF version of the book, I am awarding Atari Inc. Business is Fun a MyMac.com Review Rating: 9 out of 10.

5 Responses to ATARI Inc, Business is Fun – Book Review

  1. robyn26 says:

    I think this would be a fascinating book. Atari paved the way for video game consoles and influenced generations. I can’t wait to read it! I think it would be “fFUN” to work for Atari. Another fascinating book that I recently read is called, “Stop Playing Safe: Rethink Risk. Unlock the Power of Courage. Achieve Outstanding Success” by author Margie Warrell. “Strengthen your leadership brand in your company or business,” is just one tip taught in this book. It is full of helpful and insightful ways to get ahead in business, as well as your personal life. http://margiewarrell.com/

  2. David M. Acklam says:

    Thanks for your comment, I’m sure you will enjoy the book. I will have to check out the book by Margie Warrell.

    All the best,
    David

  3. robyn26 says:

    This is a great site! You will love Margie Warrell’s book.

  4. Owen Rubin says:

    Thanks for the book review, but how sad that you did not notice that one of MyMac’s former reviewers was covered quite a bit in that book. Namely, ME! I realize that I have been away from Mymac for a while, but I am totally surprised that I was not even noticed. SIGH!

    Also, the book covers the years mostly BEFORE the Atari computers, which is why there was not much coverage of that. The authors hope to do a second book of the later years some time later.

    Sorry, as someone who was involved in the making of this book (including donating to it on Kickstarter), access to a lot of people, lending of artifacts, etc, etc, I almost question if you actually read most of it.

  5. David M. Acklam says:

    Greetings Owen,

    My humble apology for missing that connection. In hindsight, I see that you are one of the integral players in the Atari Corporation and in the book. The book was filled with so many names of individuals, besides you, that I did not recognize, probably because my personal Atari connection was more with the computer side, primarily after the Tramiel’s purchased the company. I did read the entire book and look forward to their next book covering the Tramiel years. I attempted to point out in the second to last paragraph of my review that it is a long read, somewhat complicated by so many individual names and technical points and the jumping around in chronology. None the less, I did enjoy the book and again apologizes for missing you and the MyMac connection.

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