A Brief Timeline of the Atari Divisions Initially Retained by Warner Communications, July 1984 to Present

A Supplement to the Atari 8-Bit Computers: Frequently Asked Questions list

http://mcurrent.name/atariholdings.html
Compiled and Copyright (c) 2004-2007 by Michael D. Current

Additions/suggestions/comments/corrections to:
michael@mcurrent.name

Table of Contents:

Information presented here was collected from public sources, such as magazine and newspaper articles, press releases, annual reports, and SEC filings.  I have no special access to inside information.


Warner Communications: Atari Games, Inc.; Atari Holdings, Inc.

Atari Warner logo
1984
July 2: Warner Communications, Inc. (WCI) sold the Atari tangible assets and intangible property rights (patents, trademarks, and copyrights) associated with home computers and home video game systems to Jack Tramiel's Tramel Technology Ltd.  The sale included exclusive use of the "Atari" name and "Fuji" logo in the home computer and home video game system markets, and it also included the home computer and home video game system rights to Atari coin-operated games created to date.

(Tramel Technology would become Atari Corporation, one of the corporate ancestors of today's Atari, Inc. subsidiary of Inforames Entertainment.)

The Atari, Inc. subsidiary of Warner Communications was renamed Atari Games, Inc.

Upon the sale of the home computer and home video game divisions, as a subsidiary of Warner Communications, Atari Games, Inc. still included:
A modified "Fuji" logo was adopted by the Atari Coin-Operated Games ("Atari Games") division.
Atari games logo 1985
December?: Roy L. Elkins, who headed the AtariTel videophone project at Atari, sought financing from sources outside Warner Communications to continue the work.  Stan Zawadowicz, acting on behalf of MEDAMA, Inc., a U.S. subsidiary of Mitsubishi Electric (of Japan), bought the patent rights, engineering designs and prototypes for the AtariTel Videophone from Warner Communications, and pulled together the original engineering team, including Elkins, to complete the development work.  SEE BELOW.

Upon the sale of AtariTel, as a subsidiary of Warner Communications, Atari Games, Inc. still included:
1985
February 6: Warner Communications announced that Namco Ltd. of Japan would acquire the assets of the Atari Coin-Operated Games ("Atari Games") division of its Atari Games, Inc. unit.  SEE BELOW.

The Atari Games, Inc. subsidiary of Warner Communications was renamed Atari Holdings, Inc.

Upon the sale of Atari Coin-Operated Games, as a subsidiary of Warner Communications, Atari Holdings, Inc. still included:
Spring/Summer/Fall: The assets of the Atari Adventure arcade business of Atari Holdings, which operated 47 arcades throughout the U.S. as of 2/6/85, were sold by Warner Communications to newly-formed, privately-held Adventure Propterties, Ltd. SEE BELOW. [NOTE- MC has not been able to document this transaction directly.]

Upon the sale of the Atari Adventure arcade business, Atari Holdings remained a subsidiary of Warner Communcations.

MC'S SPECULATION: The continuing purpose of Atari Holdings may have been to maintain minority ownership in Atari Corp. and/or Atari Games Corp. and/or (most likely?) Adventure Properties.

1987
December 31: The Warner Communications Annual Report listed Atari Holdings as a 100%-owned subsidiary.

1988
December 31: The Warner Communications Annual Report listed Atari Holdings as a 100%-owned subsidiary.

1989
July 31: Time, Inc. acquired controlling interest (59.3%) in Warner Communications.  Upon the purchase, Time was renamed Time Warner Inc.

December 31: Time Warner's Annual Report listed Atari Holdings as a 100%-owned subsidiary of the Warner Communications unit.

1990
January 10: Time Warner acquired 100% ownership of Warner Communications.

Spring?: Atari Holdings, Inc. was shut down by Time Warner. [NOTE- MC has not been able to document this event directly. Possibly, this event was an outcome of the June 8 sale of Adventure Properties to Edison Brothers Stores as detailed below.]

June 26, 1990 - March 29, 1996: Warner Communications was again in ownership of Atari Games Corp.  SEE DETAILS BELOW.



AtariTel

1984
December 3: Mitsubishi Electric Sales America, Inc. (MESA), the U.S. subsidiary of Mitsubishi Electric (of Japan), announced the formation of MEDAMA, Inc. of Los Angeles.  "MEDAMA" was an acronym for Mitsubishi Electric Development And Marketing America.  Future plans for MEDAMA included the establishment of design and manufacturing capabilities in the U.S.  Through joint ventures with investors or existing companies, the new businesses would utilize Mitsubishi Electric's technologies combined with employees and resources of the communities in which they were located.

December?: Stan Zawadowicz, acting on behalf of MEDAMA, bought the patent rights, engineering designs and prototypes for the AtariTel Videophone from Warner Communications, Inc., and pulled together the original engineering team to complete the development work.  The team included Roy L. Elkins, who headed the videophone project at AtariTel.

1986
April 30: Luma Telecom, Inc., a newly-established Santa Clara, Calif.-based subsidiary of MESA, introduced Luma -- a telephone that used regular phone lines to transmit both voice and a black-and-white still picture of the caller onto a 3-inch diagonal screen.  The Luma visual telephone would list for US$1,450.  Roy Elkins was Luma Telecom's senior vice president of product and market development; Stan Zawadowicz was the president and CEO.

1987
March 19: Luma Telecom announced that the suggested retail price for the Luma telephone was being reduced from US$1,450 to US$1,095.

August 25: MESA and FiberNet Communications Corp. jointly announced that they had entered a sales agreement whereby FiberNet would purchase 10,000 video telephones from MESA's Luma Telephone Division (formerly MESA's Luma Telecom subsidiary).

October 15: MESA and its Visual Telecom Division (formerly MESA's Luma Telephone Division) announced the introduction of the Mitsubishi VisiTel Visual Telephone Display, the first still-frame visual telephone specifically designed for home use.  The VisiTel featured a built-in video camera and a 4.5-inch (diagonally measured) monitor, enabling the user to send and receive freeze-frame black & white "video snapshots" over standard telephone lines.  US$399.00 suggested retail price.  The Luma 1000 multi-function business and commercial picture phone remained in production as well.

1988
June: Report of 65,000 Mitsubishi VisiTel phones sold since January 1988.

1989?
The VisiTel and Luma phones were discontinued and the Visual Telecom Division of Mitsubishi Electric Sales America was shut down.  [NOTE- MC has not been able to document these events directly.]

TODAY: Mitsubishi Electric Corporation is based in Tokyo, Japan: http://global.mitsubishielectric.com/



Atari Games Corp.

1985
February 6: Namco Ltd. (of Japan) purchased the tangible assets and the intangible property rights (patents, trademarks, and copyrights) associated with the Atari Coin-Operated Games division of Atari Games, Inc. from Warner Communications, Inc.   The sale included exclusive use of the "Atari Games" name and "Fuji" logo on coin-operated arcade games.

Upon the purchase, Namco created Atari Games Corp., and made Atari Games Corp. a division of Namco America, Inc.
Atari Games logo 1985
Spring: Hide Nakajima became president of Atari Games.

1986
(after July 3): A group of Atari Games employees purchased Namco America's controlling interest in the company.  Atari Games became independent of any corporate parent.  (Both Namco America and Warner Communications remained significant minority investors.) [NOTE- MC has not been able to document this transaction directly.]  Hide Nakajima remained president of Atari Games.

1987
September 1: Atari Games purchased all assets of Barrel of Fun, Inc., owner/operator of the "Barrel of Fun" and "2001 Entertainment Center" chains of video game arcades, located primarily in six southeastern U.S. states.  The acquired arcade operations would now be run by a new wholly-owned subsidiary of Atari Games, named Atari Operations, Inc.

December: Atari Games created Tengen, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary, for the purpose of marketing games for home video game systems (where exclusive use of the "Atari" name and "Fuji" logo was owned by Atari Corp.).
Tengen logo 1987
1990
June 26: Atari Games announced that it would repurchase the entire 43.8% share of the company held by one of its two largest shareholders, Namco America.  In return, Namco received ownership of Atari Games' Atari Operations subsidiary, which operated more than 40 video game arcades in the Western and Southeastern U.S.  SEE BELOW.

While there was no majority shareholder in Atari Games before the transaction, the majority shareholder after the transaction became Warner Communications, itself now a unit of Time Warner, Inc.

1992
September: Hide Nakajima was still president of Atari Games.

1993
December 31: The Warner Communications unit of Time Warner reported owning 79% of Atari Games.

1994
April 11: Time Warner Interactive Group, Atari Games and Tengen announced plans to integrate their operations and to utilize the common name, Time Warner Interactive. New brand-name usage: "Atari Games Corporation/Time Warner Interactive"
Atari Games logo 1994
December 31: The Warner Communications unit of Time Warner reported owning 100% of Atari Games.

1996
March 29: Midway Interactive, Inc., a subsidiary of Midway Games, Inc. (itself a subsidiary of WMS Industries, Inc.) acquired the entire 100% of Atari Games owned by the Warner Communications unit of Time Warner.  Atari Games became a division of Midway Games.

Spring/Summer: The Atari Games logo was revised/modernized, with a 3D fuji and a sharply-angled font.
Atari Games logo 1997
1998
April 6: WMS Industries spun off to shareholders its entire stake of Midway Games, making Midway Games an independent entity.  Atari Games remained a division of Midway Games.

1999
Atari Games released San Francisco Rush 2049.  This turned out to be the last coin-operated arcade game sporting the Atari Games name and logo.

2000
January: Atari Games was renamed Midway Games West, Inc., and games produced by the group would now sport the Midway brand.

2001
June 22: Midway Games announced its exit from the coin-operated arcade video game market; it would now develop software exclusively for home systems.  The Midway Games West division remained an in-house game development unit within Midway Games.

October 1: Happ Controls acquired assets of Midway Amusement Games' Midway and Atari Games coin-operated videogame parts and service business, and assumed warranty repair operations and all warranty obligations.  See http://www.happcontrols.com/midway/midway.htm

2003
February 7: The Midway Games West development studio was functionally shut down.  Midway Games West remained a legal entity wholly-owned by Midway Games.

TODAY: The complete Atari Coin-Operated Games copyrights/trademarks/patents that were secured by Namco Ltd. from Warner Communications in 1985, along with all Atari Games Corp. intellectual properties created from 1985-2000, are owned by the Midway Games West subsidiary of Midway Games.  Midway Games, Inc. is based in Chicago, Illinois, USA: http://www.midway.com/



Atari Adventure

1985
Spring/Summer/Fall: Newly-formed, privately-held Adventure Propterties, Ltd. purchased the assets of the Atari Adventure Corp. arcade business of Atari Holdings, Inc. from Warner Communications, Inc. [NOTE- MC has not been able to document this transaction directly.]

1989
Adventure Properties' sales were about US$12 million.

1990
April 3: Edison Brothers Stores, Inc., primarily a fashion apparel and footwear retailer, announced its purchase of Adventure Properties, Ltd. This purchase was the second acquisition for the company's new entertainment division, which had been inaugurated in December 1989 with the purchase of the Dave and Buster's freestanding restaurant/entertainment complexes.  The Adventure Properties purchase included 48 amusement game centers, located principally in shopping malls in 24 U.S. states, and one larger mall-based family entertainment center.  Most sites operated under the Space Port name, but at least 4 sites, Caesar's Palace and the Riviera in Las Vegas, Walt Disney Hotel in Anaheim CA, and Crestwood Plaza in the St. Louis MO area, operated under the Atari Adventure name.

May 14: Edison Brothers Stores announced the acquisition of 88 additional game rooms and family entertainment centers with the purchase of Time-Out, a U.S. division of Sega Enterprises Ltd. of Japan.

June 8: Edison Brothers Stores completed its purchase of Adventure Properties, Ltd.

1995
November 3: Edison Brothers Stores filed for voluntary bankruptcy reorganization under Chapter 11.

1996
February 1: Edison Brothers Stores announced the completion of its sale of the assets and selected stores of its entertainment divisions to Namco Cybertainment, Inc., the wholly owned subsidiary of Namco Ltd. of Tokyo, Japan.  SEE BELOW.



Atari Operations

1990
June 26: Namco Ltd. (of Japan) purchased Atari Operations, Inc. from Atari Games Corp.  Upon its purchase by Namco, Atari Operations continued its arcade business at more than 40 locations in the western and southeastern U.S.

1992
December 21: Namco announced the purchase of Aladdin's Castle, Inc., operator of 276 arcades.  Also, Namco Operations, Inc., previously known as Atari Operations, now owned about 50 arcades.

1993
(after August 24): Namco's Aladdin's Castle and Namco Operations units were merged to form Namco Cybertainment, Inc. (NCI), creating the largest arcade operator in the U.S.

1996
February 1: Edison Brothers Stores announced the completion of its sale of the assets and selected stores of its entertainment divisions to Namco Cybertainment.  Edison Brothers Stores entertainment divisions operated approximately 128 game rooms and larger entertainment centers.  Namco planned to operate 105 of the 128 locations.

As a result of the purchase, the number of arcades operated by Namco Cybertainment in the U.S. reached 420.

2005
September: Namco merged with Bandai to become Namco Bandai Holdings, Inc.  Namco Cybertainment remained a subsidiary of Namco Ltd., itself now a member of the new Namco Bandai Group.

2006
January 2: Namco Bandai Holdings created a new U.S. subsidiary, Namco Bondai Holdings (USA), to manage all North American business divisions, including Namco Cybertainment.

TODAY: Namco Cybertainment is based in Bensenville, Illinois, USA: http://www.namcoarcade.com/

Namco Cybertainment is managed under Namco Bandai Holdings (USA) Inc. (NHBU) of Cypress, CA, USA: http://www.namcobandai.com/

NHBU is itself a subsidiary of Namco Bandai Holdings Inc. of Tokyo, Japan: http://www.bandainamco.co.jp


Updates:
2007.08.25 wordsmithing in fun!
2007.08.21 consolidate and update modern Namco Bandai info
2007.08.21 tweaks to Atari Holdings section, speculation about 1985-1990 assets
2007.08.21 added Tengen logo
2007.08.20 moved/revised description of July 2, 1984 transaction
2007.08.20 added three Atari Games logos
2007.08.20 Atari Games brand usage from 1994-1996.
2007.07.22 updated link to FAQ List
2006.01.09 attempts to clarify section organization a little bit
2005.09.05 added AOL Time Warner merger dates
2005.06.07 Midway Games West still exists!
2005.06.07 Happ Controls supports Midway/Atari Games hardware