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Easy to Learn, Hard to Master: The Fate of Atari (2017)

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Before Google, Yahoo and even Apple, before the Silicon Valley cliché of informal dress code, skateboards running the corridors and wild creativity became commonplace, one company embodied ... See full summary »


Tomaso Walliser


Tomaso Walliser



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Bil Herd Bil Herd ... Himself - Narrator
Nolan Bushnell ... Himself
Manny Gerard Manny Gerard ... Himself
Ray Kassar Ray Kassar ... Himself
Al Alcorn ... Himself
Ralph H. Baer ... Himself (as Ralph Baer)
Joe Decuir Joe Decuir ... Himself
David Crane David Crane ... Himself
Howard Scott Warshaw Howard Scott Warshaw ... Himself (as Howard Warshaw)
Dannis Koble Dannis Koble ... Himself
Ed Rotberg Ed Rotberg ... Himself
David Rolfe David Rolfe ... Himself (as Dave Rolfe)
Steve Russel Steve Russel ... Himself
Chuck Peddle ... Himself
Steve Wozniak ... Himself


Before Google, Yahoo and even Apple, before the Silicon Valley cliché of informal dress code, skateboards running the corridors and wild creativity became commonplace, one company embodied the digital economy lifestyle and business style: the one firm coming out of the Age of Aquarius was Atari. The story of Atari is two-thirds the story of Nolan Bushnell, founder and visionary, and one-third the first and probably biggest boom and bust of the new economy some 20 years before the new economy even existed. Atari was showing that technology is cool, way before the personal computer revolution took place and they were reaching out to an ever-growing audience with something that is still cool today: video games. Atari literally introduced the digital world to the mass consciousness. Nolan Bushnell and Atari have a huge collection of firsts: the first successful video game company, the first coin-op video game ever, the first general purpose console to win the market, the first marriage ... Written by Junk Food Films

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Release Date:

15 August 2017 (USA) See more »

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Junk Food Films See more »
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Crazy Credits

Production date at end of credits listed as XXMVII = 20 1000 7 or 1000-20 + 7, should be MMXVII = 2000 + 10 + 7. See more »

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User Reviews

In depth review of the rise and fall of a giant
2 September 2017 | by reshef_i-1See all my reviews

If you're into game history - this movie is for you. There are interviews in the movie with all the key people which used to work in Atari at that time- from Nolan Bushnell the founder, through Ray Kassar (the president) and Manny Gerard from Warner brothers and many more.

The movie paints a broad picture about the emerging game industry back in mid 70 and early 80's that saw the rise of the home video game systems (like the VCS). As the name suggests - the main focus is the rise and fall of Atari - portrayed in many interviews of people of that era (not only in Atari, but from Game industry in America at that time). I would show this documentary to every entrepreneur that wants to set foot in Silicon valley. Why? because one can learn a lot from it:

1) Designers vs management tension. 2) Corporate decisions vs. founder's will 3) Can a person from outside the tech industry run a tech company ? 4) Life span of a high tech product.

and more...

In portraying that era, specifically the rise and fall of Atari - the movie deserves a 10 out of 10.

So... where is the missing 1 star ? well, I know this is not a feature film - but what I sensed is that it is very high on the factual and a little low on the emotional. It didn't move me enough. I did not say "wow" and I did not shed any tear or was too mesmerized during the length of the film. I was little bit curious on how much the movie put ET as the main reason of fall - but that part was handled very well in my opinion. It felt like reading a good well written and documented encyclopedia entry on an intriguing topic. Which is a good thing if you came for educational purposes. So, For entertainment - I would look somewhere else. I do expect some entertainment value from a documentary film. At least something shocking, or some sense of amazement. An emotional ending or funny ending would do it too.

Having said that - People that used to to be children in that era - might find it nostalgic and appealing to reflect back on all those wonderful dots and colors which danced so gracefully on their TV screen for the sake of their enjoyment. If you're one of those people, or if you have any curiosity about video games industry history - this movie is for you !

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