50 years of Atari
Commemorating the 50th anniversary of Atari, Benj Edwards interviewed founder Nolan Bushnell for How-To Geek:
Benj Edwards, How-To Geek: Do you think the video game industry has lost sight of any innovations from the early days of Atari?
Nolan Bushnell: A little bit. Remember that Atari was founded as a coin-op company. And coin-op has this requirement that a newbie has to get into the game almost instantly without reading instructions. So the simplicity of onboarding is lost by a lot of people right now.
HTG: What did you do “right” in the early years of Atari that people could learn from today?
Bushnell: We did really good branding. And I think that, in terms of our graphic badges and our logo and everything, we wanted to have a distinct look. I think it’s held together. Right now, the Atari logo is the only thing that’s still really vibrant.
HTG: Apple used iconic branding successfully too, and Steve Jobs was one of your early employees. Do you think that rubbed off on Apple?
Bushnell: I think so, because Jobs used to ride up to my house on Sunday mornings on his motorcycle. And we’d drink tea and talk about things. And I talked about the importance of branding and color palettes and things like that — how a brand and look is multi-faceted. You’ve never really thought about a color palette as being unique to a company, and yet it’s axiomatic.
Atari was my first game console, and still one of my favourite computer companies.