Remember Atari? Does Palm?

by Steve Anglin

Palm Computing, Inc. has certainly taken its lumps over the past fiscal quarter. It's apparent that Palm and its line of PDAs have reached market saturation. Therefore, they, like the PC companies, have to expand their current marketplace as they define it and/or offer something new, unique, interesting and fun for the current crop of devices. But they must already know this given that they think of themselves as more of a software company than a hardware company, which allows them the flexibility to consider the following suggestion.

Growing up in what was then the cherry and olive orchards of southern San Jose in Santa Clara valley, my father Noah L. Anglin commuted to-and-from his work in Sunnyvale along the 'sleepy' US 101 freeway in 1979. His work involved a gentleman by the name Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari, Inc. Later, my father became Vice President of Engineering and Manufacturing of Atari's coin-op division. This division designed, developed and manufactured coin operated games, some of the most popular ever. Names such as Pong, Astroids, Missle Command, Centipede, Tempest, Battle Zone, and more set the stage for competitors to come out and join the party. But when you walk into a movie theatre or pizza place, think of Atari. They were the impetus for what you and your kids see there today. Of course, times have changed. But let me remember... I use to go to the Atari headquarters every Saturday morning with my father. Why? Silly question. You know why? I went to experience the joy of free video games, all day long. It's something I will always remember and cherish... Now, back to reality. Times did change. Atari changed in the mid-1980's. Nolan Bushnell left. Warner Brothers took over. That was really the beginning of the end as I recollect. Then, my father left. In the late 1980's and most of 1990's, Atari has come and gone under many different manifestations. Remember Jaguar? Now, it's Hasbro owned Atari, I think. I really don't know, and don't care at this point. It's not the Atari I know. That's for sure.

Anyway, Microsoft came along, remembering the good times (and good games) Atari offered. Microsoft licensed these games from Atari, and developed them for the Windows OS, as a part of their MS Windows gaming packs. Then the idea came... Given Palm is trying to position itself as a 'Microsoft' for PDAs and cell phones, they should also license and develop Atari games for the Palm OS, so that current and future Palm PDA users can have some quiet fun playing Missle Command while they're on a train, bus or even in a not-so-entertaining business meeting. You might even see well-to-do teenagers scrap their Gameboys for a color-enhanced Palm with Atari game software. Just a thought. Perhaps, they will do this in time for JavaOne as free giveaways at the door. Oh well. I can dream, can't I?