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ZAP! The Rise and Fall of Atari

ZAP! The Rise and Fall of Atari
ZAP! The Rise and Fall of Atari


McGraw Hill

Release Date: 1/1/1984
Manufacturer: McGraw Hill
Author: Scott Cohen
Cohen's book does a great job documenting the founding of Atari and introducing readers to the colorful personalities who worked there. At the time of its original publication (1984), it was one of the first books to do so (if not the first). Now, however, there are several books that chronicle the same events: Leonard Herman's Phoenix, and Steven Kent's The First Quarter, for example. These latter books are also more comprehensive than Zap!, since they don't focus only on Atari but include the history of Nintendo, Sega, Sony and others.

In retrospect, it is fun to read the author's predictions when he wrote the book in the fall of 1983. The videogame market had not yet collapsed completely. Nintendo had not arrived, and Warner had not sold off Atari. Cohen discusses Atari's potential bright future with telecommunications projects, the likelihood that computers will make videogame systems obsolete, possible competition with Nolan Bushnell, and videodisk arcade games becoming the wave of the future. Now that we are actually in the future, we know that none of these things came to fruition.

Zap! is still a good reference and an interesting read for those who are curious about the beginnings of the videogame industry's once-dominant company, Atari. However, since the manuscript was written some 18 years ago, don't expect a lot of revelations or anecdotes that haven't already been written about in many subsequent books.

Review by Mark Androvich

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