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Atari PONG

Published: July 1, 2021

From the mid 1970's up to the mid 1980's, Atari was the recognized leader in all area's of video home consoles. Starting out and establishing the Video Arcade industry, Atari set the stage for the $10 billion industry with the release of the Atari PONG console.

Atari PONG

History

The idea for a home console version was conceived in 1973 and a prototype was designed by Al Alcorn, Bob Brown and Harold Lee during 1975. The project was named Darlene after a female co-worker at Atari. The first prototype was demonstrated at the Consumer Electronics Show in the summer of 1975. The buyers from the major retail outlets showed little interest, believing that the public was not sufficiently interested in video games for the home. However, soon after the show Atari contacted Tom Quinn, the sporting goods buyer for Sears, Roebuck and Company. Quinn was familiar with the PONG game found in arcades and bars, and decided to take a chance on the new console.

He met with Nolan Bushnell and asked how many units Atari could produce in time for the Christmas holiday season. Bushnell reckoned that they could produce 75,000, but Quinn wanted double that number of units and offered to pay to boost production to that level. In return, Sears would become the exclusive retailer of PONG under the Sears Tele-Games label.

Success

Christmas 1975 turned out to be the most successful period for sales of Sears and Atari PONG home consoles, with customers lined up outside Sears stores waiting for new shipments of the game to arrive. The first consoles retailed at $100, the equivalent of around $500 at today's prices (2021).

Pong clones

The best way to compete against pong console clones was to create better products, leading Atari to produce sequels in the years following the original's release: 

  • Atari Pong Doubles
  • Atari Super Pong
  • Atari Ultra Pong
  • Atari Quadrapong
  • Atari Pin-Pong 

The sequels feature similar graphics, but include new gameplay elements; for example, Pong Doubles allows four players to compete in pairs, while Quadrapong has them compete against each other in a four-way field.

Coin-operated

Atari sold a total of 38,000 coin-operated PONG arcade games, although taking into account the large number of clones, it is estimated that over 100,000 units were sold, making it the most popular arcade game ever.

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Atari PONG value and price guide

What's your Atari PONG worth in 2021? Here are some recently sold items.

Item Title Date Price
Atari Atari Pong C 140 Game Console Atari Pong C 140 Game Console Tested 05/2021 $ 265.05
Atari 1975 ATARI PONG Home Video 1975 ATARI PONG Home Video Game Console 05/2021 $ 260.93
Atari Atari Ultra Pong Doubles in Atari Ultra Pong Doubles In Original Box 04/2021 $ 211.98
Atari ORIGINAL 1976 ATARI PONG C 100 ORIGINAL 1976 ATARI PONG C 100 GAME 04/2021 $ 229.71
Atari Atari Super Pong in Original Atari Super Pong In Original Box 04/2021 $ 190.02
no pictureSee all sold items on eBay for more prices07/2021-.--

Atari PONG forum

Questions or stories?
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Thanks, comment waiting for approval!
Mel - December 1, 2020
I have an original Atari Pong arcade game. Looking to sell it. What would it be worth?
JohnMel - December 1, 2020
It depends on state and model but they can fetch a couple of thousand dollars.
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Atari PONG for sale on eBay