Atari Breakout Games. A Classic History.
Atari Breakout games hold a special place in my heart. My first console was an Atari 2600. It was obviously getting out of date by that point and I was actually too young to remember much of it. What I do remember is getting ready for bedtime as my Dad set up a strange wooden box. Occasionally he would let me try it out. As I ascended the stairway to slumber, I would hear digital blips mixed with his mumbling speech. The word that always came through was “Breakout”.
My Father was not trying to escape. He was just utterly addicted to the seminal game ‘Breakout’. Or more exact, its predecessor ‘Super Breakout’. He had every right to be.
The concept was developed by Nolan Bushnell. His brief was to combat the range of ‘Pong’ style clones that had appeared after the release of the Atari game in 1972.
Bushnell took away the second player paddle from Pong, turning it into a one player game. The second player was replaced with a wall of coloured bricks that vanished and scored points as your ball hit them.
Wozniak and Jobs
The Atari assistant hired with development was a Mr Steve Jobs. In a bid to reduce the expense of the arcade board, Steve Jobs was offered £100 dollars for every chip he could eliminate from the concept in development. Always one to spot an opportunity, Jobs brought in his friend from Hewlett Packard, a Mr Steve Wozniak.
Breakout was an immediate hit when it reached arcades in 1976. It may seem primitive now, but compared to Pong it was a huge leap forward. Translucent plastic strips on the screen to added colour and it’s fast paced gameplay would spawn a myriad of clones from then until now.
Legacy of Breakout
Days before it’s release, Jobs and Wozniak had formed Apple computers off the back of their collaboration and were putting together their first commercial computer. In effect, Breakout was responsible for what would later become the behemoth that is the Apple corporation we know today.
Very few games from this period remain today in an almost pure form. Yet clones of Atari Breakout Games can be found on mobile phones, internet games and other platforms right now. It’s simple design has stood the test of time and formed collaborations that have shaped history.
This article could not have been written without help from…..
Breakout Story by Junk Food Films