The Austin Chronicle

Bonus Round

June 11, 1999, Screens

  • The word "atari" is taken from the Japanese board game, Go. When you are about to win at Go, you say "atari," just as you'd say "check" in chess.
  • Atari was originally going to be called Syzygy, but that name was already taken. According to Webster's, a syzygy is a "straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies, e.g. the sun, moon, and Earth during an eclipse."
  • In Japan, you don't "munch" or "chomp," you "puck." In America, spelling and pronunciation were altered to "pac," since few pre-pubescents could fail to giggle at Puckman.
  • Rick Mauer earned only $11,000 for his Atari version of Space Invaders, a cartridge that grossed more than $100 million. Todd Frye, on the other hand, has collected close to $1 million for his disgracefully bad Atari adaptation of Pac-Man.
  • Spacewar, the world's first video game, debuted at MIT in May of 1962.
  • Complete instructions for Pong: "Deposit quarter. Avoid missing ball for high score." --C.B.

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