Design Friday. Atari.

I’m writing this on WordPress for the iPad. The app is awful, so please excuse any typos, alignment issues, or other display problems.

If you were lucky enough to be a kid in the 70s and 80s when the company was at its heyday, you probably have a lot of fond memories of Pong and the ubiquitous 2600 gaming console (wood veneer).

Atari is a brand that is synonymous with the video game and electronics industry since its inception in 1972. Atari is no longer involved with making hardware, they now specializes mostly in one thing: distributing entertainment software. If you are olde enough you might even remember that Atari wasn’t just a video game company; they also designed and manufactured home computers. Their success in tapping the home computer market was short-lived, but their efforts had a direct impact on the design of personal computers that followed by companies like Apple, IBM, and Texas Instruments.

This Design Friday post is about Atari industrial designer Regan Cheng. Below are a series of images that Cheng created for Atari in the early 1980’s. I love these marker renderings. Cheng’s illustration skills are fantastic, and these concepts are so indicative of industrial design in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

By 1981, Atari’s home computer division began looking into replacements for the aging 400/800 line of computers. Several types of systems were conceptualized and in the end it came down to two routes. One was called the A-300 project which involved a new series of Atari computers which would work as modules and plug together to form a complete computer system. The second was an evolution of the A-300 project that shed all of the expansion and modular design for a low profile, high tech computer system which became the Atari 1200XL Computer System.

One comment

  1. Wow, brings back the memories. Of course I had a 2600. My brother and I wore out countless controllers over the years playing games for hours and hours and hours. I also had an 800xl – I somehow conned my dad into getting me one. Still not sure how I pulled it off. I’d spent countless hours typing in programs from magazines and saving them to the cassette tape drive. Those were the days…

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