National Game Registry: Atari arcade

United States Library of Congress


This article features the best arcade games released by Atari as selected by the National Game Preservation Board and recommended for permanent preservation by the United States Library of Congress National Game Registry.

Foundation: 1971 (Syzygy), 1972 (Atari)
Fate: arcade division absorbed by Midway
Location: United States

Nolan Bushnell’s Atari single-handedly created the arcade video game. In retrospect, the innovation seems natural and even obvious given Bushnell’s background. While a student at the University of Utah, Bushnell was exposed to the first true video game, Spacewar!, on the school’s PDP-1 minicomputer. Bushnell also spent summers working in an amusement park arcade, when arcade games consisted of mechanized skill games like pinball, shooting galleries and skeeball. In 1971 his company Syzygy developed the first arcade video game, Computer Space, inspired by the original Spacewar!  Although the game was a flop, Syzygy was incorporated and renamed Atari the following year, before releasing the first successful arcade video game, Pong.  From that point on, Atari was biggest name in the video game industry, leading the way in both the arcade and home console markets for over a decade.  In 1984, the company split in two, with Midway acquiring the arcade division and its properties.

Computer Space (1971)
Pong (1972)
Pong Doubles (1973)
Quadrapong (1974)
Superpong (1974)
Goal IV (1974)


Emulation: National Game Registry recomments MAME for Atari arcade game emulation.  NOTE: Most arcade games from the early- to mid-1970s do not contain ROM, rendering them unemulable.

Visit the National Game Registry to view more inductees.

4 responses to “National Game Registry: Atari arcade

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for this post. It was a very useful read.


  2. glad you liked it! matt has written a ton of other video game related articles for this blog. you may enjoy those as well.

  3. hungagensurne

    please excuse my english, it is not the greatest…

    Frogger is my favorite underhand, and I was only wondering if anyone here liked to challenge frogger.

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