“What’s the difference between Atari and the Titanic?”

Atari’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Via www.8-bitcentral.com.

The video game market crashed in 1983 and Atari had a slew of massive layoffs in 1984. Morale was at an all-time low and here’s what one employee had to say over email:

What’s the difference between Atari and the titanic?
The Titanic had entertainment.

Yikes!

There’s more, but I’ll let the full collection of ~4,000 carefully threaded and curated messages speak for themselves.

Read them all on Atari Email Archive, which launches today.

Introducing Atari Email Archive

These messages were released in 2001 by Jed Margolin, a hardware engineer in Atari’s coin-operated games division from 1979 to 1992. The original corpus — 10 lengthy text files — is available on his website. When you read Atari Email Archive, you’re reading Jed’s inbox.

You’re also reading how Atari, the company that spawned the video game industry, operated.

These messages are humanizing. They show that the process of creating and shipping original work is messy, that building companies is hard, that we all hate getting traffic tickets just as much as the next person, that facilities is still as challenging and often thankless a job as it was in the 80's…

I could keep going. Just read it.


My name is Vikram. I’ve read every message in the archive, threaded and curated them, and built Atari Email Archive for your perusal.

Special thanks goes to all my user testers and to Jed Margolin for giving me permission to complete my obsession.

Enjoy!