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3.5 out of 5 stars11
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on 17 April 2013
Having been a hardcore Atari nut since the late 70's when the VCS came out then moving through the various 8bits, ST etc, I was looking forward to this book immensely. The authors are well known in the Atari community, particularly Curt who has a stunningly improbable collection of documentation, prototypes and source code. Heck, he even has one of their old mainframes. Basically, if you wanted a book written by those who know, this is it.

First, the bad news. Whoever edited this book needs shooting. Some pages had as many as a dozen typos. Some sentences just don't parse and the photos have various captioning issues.

Once you get past that, what you have is a stunningly thorough book that covers Atari's history from the lead up to inception to the sale of the struggling company to the Tramiels. (The next volume will cover their part of the story).

The authors have interviewed a great many Atari alumni, key industry figures and had access to Atari's old email system, engineering notes and more. The result is a wide ranging, hopefully authoritative and detailed history. Along the way, the truth behind many long standing Atari stories such as the cartridge burial in Mexico, The Amiga chipset saga and more are discussed, along with documentary evidence.

I thought I knew pretty much everything about this period of Atari but there were several projects discussed that were new to me. Machines I'd never heard of, even if they'd only made it as an on paper concept as well as ones that got to more functional states. There were also quite a few people I'd not realised were ex-Atari and it was fascinating reading what they did there. There are lots of good photos although as someone else noted, the reproduction quality isn't great.

It does try to recreate the atmosphere at Atari, which it does well and does focus on the people to a larger extent than most books of this type. It was also interesting to read the various problems the company had to deal with, the politics between them and Warners and the damage done by marketing.

The only thing I'd have liked more on was the development of the 8bit series. I was a huge fan of the Atari 800 and wanted more on the OS development, the chipset design process and the peripherals. There is a lot on these machines but it's nothing that wasn't already well documented elsewhere.

Overall though, if you're an Atari fan, particularly their first incarnation (or two), this is an essential read. A fantastic piece of work. I'm looking forward to volume 2, I just hope the editing's a bit better!
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on 2 October 2013
What a disgrace! Where to start?

The Atari 8-bit computers were a fond memory and a good part of my childhood. I was so looking forward to reading this book. It's been a total deception.

All the chapters have probably been written separately, in a rush, and no-one cared to proof-read the result. English is not my native language but I can make the difference between "its" and "it's" (that one appears at least 100 times, maddening). Some pages are literally covered with spelling mistakes. After a while, it gets really annoying. Can you focus your attention on pages with so many mistakes and typos? I can't.

The editorial line is confused. By chronological order? By theme? Oriented around an individual? None of the above. Or all of the above, if you see what I mean. After a few chapters, you get a feeling of "déjà vu" because the same period of the history has already been mentioned again and again. It strongly reinforces the feeling that you're not reading a book but a collection of articles from different authors.

Some obscure arcade games (that are truly anecdotic to the history) are extensively covered, whilst the 1200XL, 600XL and 800XL computers are too briefly presented. The unreleased 1400XL & 1450XLD are barely mentioned. It's a real pity because there is no doubt that the authors got access to fantastic material to write on the topic. I wanted to know more about all the various 8-bit related R&D projects that were aborted; how the machines were conceived; what was ready to be released but cancelled, and why; etc... The 8-bit line of computers, in general, deserved a much better coverage.

Strangely, the pictures were relegated to the end of the chapters. The quality of reproduction is often poor, and some of them are hardly decipherable. Plus, the whole book is printed in black & white, whereas the text sometimes refers to some colours of the pictures. I assume the initial plan was to print the pictures in colour (hence their unusual grouping), but no-one cared to alter the text after the decision to cut the cost and print in black & white was taken. The result is both weird and irritating: seeing 25 pages later the illustration of what you've read does not make sense anymore.

As an initial supporter (*) of this kickstarter project, the deception is immense: the outcome of this project is really of inferior quality. The book is just like the Atari Museum site: sloppy and unprofessional.

(*) My name is in the book; I contributed with 250 USD and I did buy my own copy of the book.
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on 10 January 2013
This 796 page tome is full of the history of Atari and it's pre-history from the l968 up to the Tramiel acquisition of Atari from Warner Communications in 1983.
I was one of the few survivors that worked for both the Warner Communications Atari (2 years) and the Tramiel Atari (6 years). My awareness and knowledge of what was happening in the USA within Atari prior to the acquisition was sketchy both at the time and even more so 30 years later. From what I read in this book, we in Atari UK were not aware of half the products and problems developing in Atari Inc. across the pond.
I can't really judge the completeness and accuracy of the story concerning the Warner Atari, but for me it filled in a lot of the gaps. Now, I can't wait for the sequel Atari Corporation - Business Is War.
A great read!
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on 4 April 2014
I picked the ebook and version of this book up from the story bundle deal and it's truly shambolic
1. There are an incredible number of typos that boarder on making this book totally unreadable - it desperately needs a proofreader. Even running the doc through the word grammar and spellchecker would be a start. Seriously was it written on an Atari 400?
2. The bits I've read are very, very badly written. Can someone who's first language is English please take a pass on this
Despite 1 and 2, the content looks really interesting, to the extent that I'm going to drop the text into MS Word and read what comes out the other end after a spell and grammar check
In summary, I'm staggered the authors thought this was ready to go to the printers and I hope they take the feedback on board and fix the 2nd edition. In the meantime I'll be reading the 1.5 edition I'll have to create myself
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on 6 August 2013
My other half asked for this as a Father's Day gift. On first viewing it it's a bit of a tomb, but full of fantastic content. He owns a few of these historical arcade books but he's actually read this from cover to cover and is really enjoying it. Superb gift for the retro gamer geek.
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on 2 December 2012
I was waiting for this to come out since months and the book was well worth it. Hundreds of pages of facts, anecdotes, documents and pictures (of both well known products and of rare prototypes etc) make this the definitive Atari book for serious game historians and fans. B&W pictures are the only flaw I can think of it right now, it really is a great compendium of the history of this great company.
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on 4 March 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I remember a lot of the Atari history and have owned a number of Atari computers and enjoyed reading about their creation. Lots of stories, well constructed narrative with good timeline etc. Nearly 800 pages (text plus large picture selections at ends of chapters), this book is certainly comprehensive. While quite readable it could have done with firmer editorial hand (some of the writing is sloppy). Also the largest flaw is the disregard with which the pictures were reproduced. Potentially the best part of the book, the large selection of photographs are very poorly reproduced. I can understand that for cost reasons only black and white images were used but I do think that within this constraint the pictures could still have been better. I would still highly recommend the book to those interested in Atari history and would put it on a par with Brian Bagnall's history of Commodore (2nd edition) although the production quality of that book is far superior.
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on 1 November 2013
Great Book But I expected a different editing, it was supposed to be a color version, but it wasn't. Too bad
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on 2 June 2013
One of the authors of this book has taken it upon himself to "spam" comments sections of certain websites in order, presumably, to gain more sales of this book. It's wholly distasteful, and smacks of desperation. It also makes one wonder about his journalistic integrity, and indeed, how accurate or truthful this book is. Obviously I have noticed these forum posts because I do have an interest in the history of Atari, and may have considered this book should I have felt the need for more reading, but now I'll be compelled to look elsewhere. People tend not to like sales tactics, particularly from those who really should know better.
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on 14 September 2014
Fascinating read, well worth the money!
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