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Atari toyed with early game network

Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell talks about one of the company's experiments

In a retrospective on Atari celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, co-founder Nolan Bushnell spoke with Time about the company's history, touching briefly on an experimental period. In 1976, after Bushnell sold the company to Warner Communications - which later merged with Time, Inc. to form Time Warner - Atari briefly toyed with the idea of an early game network.

"Warner made a whole series of blunders which were not good for Atari," Bushnell began. "We were going to do this game network over telephone lines, but Warner couldn't figure out why people would want to play games with people they couldn't see."

"If we had gone ahead and done it, it could have essentially been the Internet, in private hands. It's kind of fun to think about owning the Internet."

Bushnell left Atari in November of 1978, after fighting with Warner executives. He only recently returned to the company in 2010, joining its board and serving as an advisor.

"The brand is still powerful, and it's not just a retro thing. It has a whole bunch of really important intellectual property, and a lot of people still think of Atari as a company of innovation," he said.

Atari is currently in the midst of releasing iOS remakes of its classic titles, including Asteroids, Centipede, Breakout. The full profile is available over at Time.

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Mike Williams avatar

Mike Williams

Reviews Editor, USgamer

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.