Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari, says that selling the company to Warner Communications in 1976 was a big mistake. He adds that this decision, though taken because they needed money to develop their own console (the Atari 2600), led the company to destruction.
Through his reddit account, Bushnell also states that, in his opinion, Atari would still be important if he hadn’t sold it. He also states that one of the most important lessons he learned after this affair is to never sell to big Hollywood studios. The Atari founder also adds that, in 1976, he was approached by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who wanted to invest $50.000 in the company in exchange for a one-third stake. Bushnell declined the offer back then and now he says that he regrets his decision.
Atari’s has a long and complicated history, going from one of the biggest players on the games market to a shadow of its former self. After the company was sold to Warner Communications for $28 million, Atari managed to release the 2600 console, in 1977. In the next few years, the company published several iconic games such as Asteroids, Tempest or Centipede. In 1984, the home computer and consumer electronics division of the company was sold to Commodore founder Jack Tramiel. This led to a split between the hardware company, named “Atari Corp” and the remainder of the original company, re-branded as “Atari Games”. The latter part of the company was sold to Namco, then to Tengen, and eventually back to Warner Communications, who in turn sold it to WMS Industries, which is now part of Warner’s Portfolio.
Atari Corp went on to make the 2600jr and then the 5200 consoles, both failures. In the ’80’s. their 7800 console was defeated by Nintendo’s NES. One of the company’s more succesful projects, the Lynx handheld, was also short lived because it was too big and it consumed batteries very fast. This console was defeated by Gameboy. One more, desperate attempt at getting back into the business was the Atari Jaguar, released in 1993 and promoted as the first 64-bit console. In 2000, after having released a PlayStation reboot of Pong while being owned by Hasbro, Atari was sold to french developer Infogrames. The latter company then changed its name into Atari and has lasted until the present. Currently, the company is rebooting their classic games “Alone in the Dark” and “Haunted House”.