From the Wayback Machine: Atari Movie!

I don’t know why this little piece of news delights me so, but it does. I mean, here we are in the age of the Nintendo Wii, and I can still remember it like it was yesterday:

It was Christmas, and my brother and I unwrapped an Atari console amidst whoops and hollers. We spent the remainder of the day playing Pong, Tank, and also a game I think was called Adventure (oh, it was! Here it is!). We thought we were the luckiest and coolest kids around.

I tried to explain Space Invaders to my son the other day and he just stared at me blankly for a while. Then he rallied and started peppering me with questions. Can you fly? (No.) Can you get new weapons? (No.) Well, can you set off a special shield or pass through to a secret level? (No and no.) Finally he gave up and said that maybe I just don’t like games all that much, because that sounded boring.

(I then made him sit through a twenty minute lecture on how I used to walk uphill both ways through the snow, barefoot, to school every day.)

Anyway, you’ll never guess who’s making a Nolan Bushnell biopic:

Leonardo DiCaprio has more fake IDs than Fletch.

The ubiquitous actor-producer has just become attached to star in “Atari,” a pitch that writers Brian Hecker and Craig Sherman sold to Paramount on Friday about the godfather of the video game industry, Nolan Bushnell. DiCaprio’s Appian Way shingle is producing the biopic, which the filmmakers hope will play with elements from “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and “Tucker.”

Bushnell was an engineering student, puzzle-lover and game enthusiast (chess, Go, early computer games) who went from fixing broken pinball machines to launching Atari Corp., a video game manufacturer, in the early ’70s. Its first product was a little game called Pong that transfixed kids in suburban rec rooms across the country and led to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of video game sales. Within a few years, he sold the company to Warner Communications for $28 million.

During the next three decades, Bushnell started many other tech ventures and also created Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theaters.

See? Space Invaders is too interesting.

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2 thoughts on “From the Wayback Machine: Atari Movie!

  1. It happened just like that in my parents home too! Christmas, and “group gifting” was the way to present an Atari to two technologically challenged-pre-pubescent children. I think my favorite Atari game was called PITFALL. Do you remember that one? Ahhh, the days of leaping like Tarzan across terrible CAD drawn ponds and jumping on the heads of alligators! Good times, good times…