The original Atari, Inc. was an American video game and home computer company founded in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney. Atari pioneered arcade games as well as home video game consoles. The company was divided and sold a number of times over the ensuing decades, and the current iteration of Atari, Inc. is focused on digital and mobile games.
In 1972, Atari released Pong, the first commercially successful video arcade game. The Pong phenomenon spawned several Atari arcade game sequels [such as Pong Doubles (1973), Quadrapong (1974), and Super Pong (1974)], in addition to numerous competitor knock-offs. Atari also produced a Home Pong console. In 1976, Bushnell sold Atari to Warner Communications. Soon after, Atari introduced a lucrative home video game console, known as the Atari 2600, on which consumers could play auxiliary game cartridges. Subsequently, Bushnell left Atari in 1978. The founder of Commodore International purchased the home computer and video game console divisions of Atari in 1984. Warner retained and renamed the coin-op division as “Atari Games,” but then sold it to Namco one year later. Several more transactions involving Atari Games occurred, though it was ultimately absorbed, and rendered defunct, by Midway Games in 2003.
The arcade coin-op division, which ran from 1972 through 1999, created dozens of well-known games, including Breakout (1976), Asteroids (1979), and Centipede (1980). This department also produced many designs for games which were halted at the prototype stage.