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Atari design concept sketches

 Collection — Box: 1-2
Identifier: 2013.atari
The Atari design concept sketches in this collection range from 1973 through 1991, with the bulk of the materials dated 1973, 1985, and 1987 (though a number of drawings are not dated). These sketches are by various Atari artists, including Regan Cheng, Andy Graybeal, Ken Hata, Barney Huang, Stephen Pombo, and Pete Takaichi. (Some illustrations are not signed and may have been drawn by other artists.) The Atari arcade games most frequently depicted in this collection are Touch Me (1974), Street Fighter (1987), and Gauntlet (1985), with concepts for Air Race (never released), Barrel Pong (1973), Gotcha (1973), Gran Trak 10 (1974), Gremlins (never released), Peter Pack Rat (1985), Pin Pong (1974), Quadrapong (1974), Qwak! (1974), Red Baron (1980), Trak 10 (1974), TX-1 (1984), and 4-Player Football (1979) also included. (A number of sketches are not labeled and may represent additional Atari games.) The majority of the drawings are sized 14” x 17”. Additional scope and content information is listed for each series under the “Contents List” section of this finding aid.

The Atari design concept sketches are arranged into four series. The materials are housed in two large, flat archival document boxes.


  • 1973 - 1991
  • 1973
  • 1985
  • 1987


Conditions Governing Use

This collection is open for research use by staff of The Strong and by users of its library and archives. Though intellectual property rights (including, but not limited to any copyright, trademark, and associated rights therein) have not been transferred, The Strong has permission to make copies in all media for museum, educational, and research purposes.


2.5 Linear Feet (2 boxes)


The Atari design concept sketches are a compilation of drawings created by various employees of Atari, Inc. and later Atari Games Corporation. The bulk of the materials are dated 1973, 1985, and 1987.

Historical Note

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.

System of Arrangement

Series I: Touch Me, 1973

Series II: Gauntlet, 1985

Series III: Street Fighter, 1987

Series IV: Other Atari design concepts, 1973-1991

Custodial History

These Atari design concept sketches were acquired by The Strong in August 2012 from Scott Evans.

Related Collections

The International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG) at The Strong holds a significant collection of arcade video games, including many created and produced by Atari.

The Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong houses issues of related magazines such as Atari Adventure, Atari Age, Atari Connection, and Atari Explorer.

See also the Atari Coin-Op Division corporate records, 1969-2002.


Finding Aid to the Atari Design Concept Sketches, 1973-1991
Julia Novakovic
29 August 2013
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong Repository

The Strong
One Manhattan Square
Rochester NY 14607 USA
585.423.1886 (Fax)