The Atari brand is undoubtedly one of the most famous of the golden age of video games. Remained virtually unchanged over time, thanks to a winning design, it is still today an icon of an era and of the passion for a certain type of retro-gaming.
The brand was created in 1972 by George Opperman, the first graphic designer to collaborate with a newly born Atari (which was originally called with a simple name: “Syzygy co.”). The mark dynamically represents the two Pong rackets, with the mid-field line in the center. For the three people in the world who still don’t know it, Pong was the Atari arcade game that literally kicked off the video game industry.
Nolan Bushnell was very clear during the creative briefing: “I want something simple, something that needs to be recognized tens of meters away, even if it’s printed on a note. I want it to be easily reproducible on hats, t-shirts, and any other gadget you can think of. I don’t want thin lines. I want something thick, strong impact “. The logo was first used on the Space Race arcade cabinet in 1973.
George Opperman was paid $ 3,000 for this graphic project. When Warner Communications acquired Atari in 1977, it first entrusted an external firm with market research to assess the impact of the brand on the public, to find out whether a restyling was needed. It turned out that the Atari brand, in the 70s, was almost as famous and recognizable to people as Disney’s Mickey Mouse was. In the end, Warner Communications spent over $ 100,000 to just verify a brand that originally cost $ 3,000.
George Opperman didn’t work with Atari just for the realization of the brand logo. His collaboration lasted for several years and his graphic style can be found in many of the company’s first arcade and pinball machines between 1976 and 1978. Many artwork are not accredited, but among those known are the Airborne Avenger pinballs, Middle Earth, Space Riders, Superman, The Atarians and Time 2000.
George Opperman, after the experience with Atari, dedicated his resources to his own design agency Opperman Harrington Inc. until 1985, when, at the age of 50, he passed away due to a serious illness.