Atari by Design: From Concept to Creation Opens at the National Museum of Play in June

GauntletDesignSee the creative thinking behind the finished designs of some of the most popular video arcade games at Atari by Design: From Concept to Creation, a new display opening at the National Museum of Play at The Strong Saturday, June 22.

The display offers game enthusiasts a rare opportunity to delve into the development of GauntletStreet FighterGran Trak 10Red Baron, and Gotcha. Game cabinets are paired with displays of preliminary designs, drawings, and sketches that went into their creation as well as some of the fliers and advertising materials used to promote their sale. Several of the machines, including Street Fighter and Gauntlet, are available for play. The display is produced by The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG).

Also on view are two rare examples of “chip plots” that document the processes by which two of the most important computer chips in video game history were created—the chip for Atari’s home version of Pong, and the revolutionary display and sound chip known as the Television Interface Adapter (TIA) for the Atari Video Computer System (Atari 2600) introduced in 1977. Containing multiple overlaid clear Mylar sheets, the chip plots diagram the architecture for the heart—and the head—of the home video game operation.

The original designs and drawings in this display were selected from ICHEG’s recently acquired Atari Arcade Design Collection—more than 250 original conceptual drawings and industrial designs for Atari arcade games produced between 1974 and 1989. The collection provides a rare visual documentation of the thinking behind the design of Atari’s coin-operated games at a time when the arcade was the hub of the video game industry and Atari was the leading producer of arcade games.

The Atari by Design display will remain on view through September 8.