Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by Ato »

DarkLord wrote:Highly recommened reading, for any Atarian, makes me really want to see the 2nd
book covering the Tramiel era, especially if you can keep up the same level of research
and detail.
Man, you got me thinking again about ordering it. Damn, that's another gift on my wish list. :lol:

Cheers,
T.
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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by rudis »

recieved my copy from amazon (de) very quickly. it is realy big. just read the forewords and love it.
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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by DarkLord »

I'm at close to 400 pages in now...

Is there *anything* that Atari didn't try to dabble in? :lol:

Amazing really, all the stuff they branched out into!
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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by rudis »

will there be some translations?

i'm not that big reader nor english is my main language.
would be great.
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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by DarkLord »

Just finished it this evening... Don't want it to be over. :)

It doesn't feel like I've just read a nearly 800 page book.
It flows really well, can't help but be drawn in, and of course
it ends on a cliffhanger moment, just as Jack T. buys Atari.

Argh, do I have to wait for the next one? :cheers:

I'd buy it again. :)
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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by martyg »

DarkLord wrote:Just finished it this evening... Don't want it to be over. :)

It doesn't feel like I've just read a nearly 800 page book.
It flows really well, can't help but be drawn in, and of course
it ends on a cliffhanger moment, just as Jack T. buys Atari.

Argh, do I have to wait for the next one? :cheers:

I'd buy it again. :)
Well feel free to write that up on Amazon as a review. With all the people buying the book through Amazon, it'd be nice to see more of their thoughts. :)
rudis wrote:will there be some translations?

i'm not that big reader nor english is my main language.
would be great.
We are working on French, Spanish, German and Italian versions for early 2013 if all goes well, but the current focus is on getting the Kindle and iBook versions done.
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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by rudis »

great. i am looking forward in getting a german one.
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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by DarkLord »

martyg wrote: Well feel free to write that up on Amazon as a review. With all the people buying the book through Amazon, it'd be nice to see more of their thoughts. :)
Done! :)
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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by Jake/Depression »

Great job writing this book.

(I buy one when i found some money.)

Finnish version needet too! :lol:
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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by KLund1 »

Just finished this huge book :)

Well Done!

Excellent narrative! Fun, interesting, informative pictures!

Had to read some sections over again because I was too busy laughing at some of the antidotes! The Al Alcorn & Steve Jobs one was easily worth the price of the book!! :lol: :lol: :lol: That one was not the Jobs Bio book last year, wonder why? ;) ;)

The Authors did not have to apologize for getting to technical in places. Most that might read this book would welcome that detail, and perhaps a bit more. I know, I would. I wanted to have seem a bit more about how the 1200xl problems happened, and the aftermath of them. But that is a small item in a very large book, which I proudly display on my living-room coffee table.

As for the next book, Atari Corp. I can't wait to read it. Please include some of the first book's last chapter at the beginning of the next for continuity.

Again a WELL DONE!!
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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by rudis »

well. what about the translations?
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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by rudis »

are translations out now?
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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by Dal »

I don't think Atari are finding business much fun at the moment!
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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by Gryzor »

I came upon this thread googling around, because I heard there'll be a second edition. So I thought I'd share my opinion, though I'm just copying my Goodreads review :)

I really, really, really wanted to like the book. After all: Atari! But...

What a bad, bad book.

To begin with, it didn't catch my eye; cheaply bound*, like you could do at any photo copying shop. Well, it's self-published so something like that is to be expected, but for the price it's not good.

Opening it I saw something expected, but not justified; like other self-published books on the retro-computing scene, it's "typeset" in Word. Or something. And it shows. Ugh. Quite ugly all-around. Even my dissertation, made with Word 2003, was much better.

So that's just appearances, one could get over them, but...

The writers absolutely Can. Not. Write. The text is of a level at par with that of a high school student. A not very good student. To begin with, the text is full of typos. I don't mean a typo here and there, but rather a couple on every single page. Typos, misspellings and grammar mistakes are so abundant I got bored of cringing. There are sentences that don't even make any sense at all, like the writer started revising it and didn't read it through; or maybe the phone rung and he picked it up again without re-reading what he had already written. What's more, tenses are changed all the time from past to present and future, many a time even within the same sentence.**

The whole chapter on Cyan is a mess; just random notes thrown together, 55 pages of them, without the least effort of putting them into something coherent (to be fair, the authors claim this is a 'feature' :D )

So, the book is ugly and the writing is excruciatingly bad and hasn't been edited or proofed even once before going to print. Contrast it with Mechner's "The Making of Prince of Persia" that I read just after this, written by a 20yo Mechner in the form of a diary and you'll see some sharp contrast... Still, is it worth reading?

Well... let me put it this way: if you don't know anything about Atari, then probably yes. If you've been following the retro scene and have been reading stuff here and there, like I have (and I'm not even a fan of the early Atari), then there's little new to learn. Most of it of little interest - they moved from this building to that one, or personal side stories that are not relevant or specific to Atari and happen everywhere. The authors don't go very deep, and that's probably because they don't know how companies work (a budget meeting "a typical meeting to wrap the year up"? Yeah, only if it wasn't the single most important meeting of the year for a company! Or, "OMG! a rubber mallet in the production line!" - quite a useful and frequently used tool, actually), so they don't know what and how to probe. The fact that they keep making fun of Marketing (with no coverage of its people and practices, which is a shame given Atari's strong marketing push) shows a blind-sighted partiality that verges on stupidity. And, 25-odd pages on Chuck-E-Cheese? Ehhh....

In short, they totally fail to give a complete image of Atari, even though they plow through 800 pages of text and photos. Timelines are vague, stories not interesting (well, except for the people involved, probably, but even in that regards I've read much better ones) and technical descriptions (even in the chapters with the *sneer* technical warning) are extremely basic. The authors do make an effort to drum up interest in silly ways ("ohhh look now, we're going to tell you something that no one knew before, and it's really funny, lolz"), but always for mundane bits. Their self-important tone ("we know where those cartridges are buried, but we're not going to tell you") is cringe-worthy at best.

Lots of photos. The vast majority of them falls into two categories: stuff you can find online and photos of faces, faces, faces and more faces or buildings. Maybe these belong in a museum for completeness sake, but in a book? Nice page-fillers! The rest are at times very interesting and never seen before indeed, but are too few and far between. Pagination is also awful, with captions on the wrong page, printed twice or omitted altogether. Oh, there are also quite a few photocopies of legal documents, with no context and hard to read, so there's that, too.

It's such a shame that it ends before the company releases the ST series (of which I'm a fan). I'll think twice before buying the two other volumes announced...

Terribly written, tedious, shallow, hurried. If you think it's any good, then you'd be surprised by "Commodore - A Company On The Edge", "Soul of a new machine" or "Game Over", to name joust a couple (or three). That's what real research and writing skill is about.

Something that just occurred to me: this is supposed to be a business/history book. I'm interested in both of the aspects - I work in marketing, and I love history. Loving retro video games doesn't hurt either, but I've read literally hundreds of history books, dozens of business history books and pretty much what's out there in terms of retro computing. In all three aspects, this probably ranks first from the bottom. I really, really hope the authors put immensely more effort into the second volume!


*some concerns were raised here about the book's longevity in terms of binding; though it's cheap, it came out of my holidays (meaning, reading on the beach mostly and blending with snacks, drinks and sand) in great shape, so that's no problem.
**I read somewhere that the present tense was a conscious decision, to lend more 'dynamism' to the narrative. Well, not only does the effort fall flat on its face (there's a reason no one does that) but the authors appear to have changed their minds after a couple hundred pages or so, again without revising. The biggest part of the book just uses tenses in random.
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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by DarkLord »

Well, I agree with some of your criticisms, but not all.

I was one of those people worried about the durabilty because
of its construction. As you said, it seems to hold up okay though.

Typo's. Yep, I couldn't help but notice that as well.

Value. Hmm. Well, I've been with the Atari scene since about '82
or so and yet I found things in the book that I had never heard.

Overall, I have to say I liked it and I'm really looking forward to
the next one, covering the ST era.

For the record, I've got "On the Edge", the Commodore story,
and I like it. It's a good story and I recommend it to anyone
interested in computers from this era. However, I was very
disappointed once it reached the Amiga age. It just felt like
to me that the book was much more concentrated on every
thing prior to that, and the author(s) rushed through the
Amiga section. Just my opinion, but it felt that way (and
the Amiga part was what I was most interested in, honestly).

Anyway, I'm sorry you didn't like the book as much as some
of us, but here's hoping that the team doing the 2nd book
will learn from the mistakes made doing the first book and
release a better product. :cheers:
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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by Gryzor »

Well, sure, there were new things I didn't know in the book, but frankly I'd expect more from the foremost researchers in the area having spent more than 7 (?) years on the book. More than minor details...

Yeah, I really hope they do a better job with the next volume, but I'm not getting my hopes up unless they pull it together and take a totally different approach. The fact that they have rated their own book (!) on Goodreads (5/5 I think. Yikes!) doesn't bode well about their ability to recognise their mistakes, and unless they pick an editor who knows the job and whips it into shape (because there's no way for someone to just learn to write a book between titles) the same mistakes will probably be repeated to some extend. But never say never, let's hope for the best!

Another criticism I had, which I omitted, was that, as someone on Amazon remarked, the book reads like a padded-up student essay. It's 800 pages, but could easily be half that without missing much... Also, interestingly, someone claimed that the building photos were literally stolen from online architecture photo archives without proper attribution, though I cannot attest to that.

As for "On the Edge". Read it several years back, on late night flights on a trip to and from London, and I remember, with everyone else on the plane asleep, thinking "what an thrilling business book!". But I don't remember the details, so I looked for it (found it under the CPC464 Firmware manual :D ) to take a look. Could it be that, because the Amiga was not a Commodore product initially, it wasn't given as much attention? Could it be there would be a second volume on the Amiga? Turns out about 20% of the book deals with the period beginning with the Amiga, so maybe it's not that bad... Though I understand that if someone is mostly interested in that computer it may sound too little.
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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by Kirkman »

Gryzor, you beat me to the punch.

I've been thinking about posting a review on my blog very similar to what you wrote. I share virtually all your concerns, especially about the authors' tone. That really grated. "We know what happened, and you've had it wrong all along" rather than just writing a compelling story.

I am a huge Atari fan and have been all my life. I was really looking forward to the book, but it let me down. When real life intruded, I abandoned it about halfway. (That's one reason I hadn't yet published a formal review). It just wasn't compelling enough to bring me back.

This book sorely needed an editor. I mean, you can tell which parts of the book are written by which author! (One of the authors is overly fond of ellipses at the end of sentence fragments)

But this book didn't just need someone who could clean up the copy. It needed an editor who could push back and question the authors' choices.

"Why are you going off on so many tangents? It's derailing your narrative."

"Why do you keep jumping out of the present to allude to future technology companies and events? You're diluting your focus."

"Why do you insist on using so many crappy direct quotes? If a quote isn't salient, then summarize it -- or just leave it out!"

Several months after I abandoned this book, I read a similar book on the history of phone phreaking: "Exploding the Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws who Hacked Ma Bell."

Wow, what a difference. It was absolutely fantastic. I couldn't put it down and finished it in a few days.

As with the Atari book, this author did tons of research and conducted tons of interviews. The difference is in his storytelling and in the editing. He writes strong narratives and is able to explain technical things in an easy-to-understand way. The book was eye-opening.

Like I said before, I *wanted* to like the Atari book. I was rooting for it, and happy to pay for it. But it was such a disappointment. I hope the authors will seriously consider teaming up with much better editors for the second volume. The Tramiel part of the story is what I care about most, so I'm still eager to see what they come up with. But my expectations have been set very low.
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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by Gryzor »

Hello Kirkman,

-first of all: THE ELLIPSES! Forgot to mention those. Seriously, TAKE YOUR FRIGGING FINGER OFF THE FRIGGING PERIOD KEY! Nothing like it to indicate a really amateurish approach to writing.*

Thank you, thank you. Your review restored my faith in humanity :D You make really excellent points.

After thinking about it for a few minutes it occurred to me: not everyone can write. That's not a bad thing, and not everyone can be good at everything they try. And a book is a difficult beast to tame. So maybe the authors should not just find an editor, but also an actual writer. Maybe this would be easier than countless rounds of sending it off to the editor and revising it.

What I find to be NOT excusable, though, are the tone, the cheap tricks and the pure laziness that preceded publishing the book: it doesn't take a professional writer to avoid being pretentious, producing 800 pages just for the sake of having 800 pages or not even spell-checking it.

Speaking of good writers and technical issues, Tracy Kidder did a fantastic job on the Soul of a New Machine (which happens to be one of my very favorites). Despite him not being technically-versed (I think he was just a journo at the time?), his book manages to convey the anguish, the story line AND technical details with great success.

Thanks again!
T



*As we learned at school here in Greece: "Ellipsis (plural ellipses; from the Ancient Greek: ἔλλειψις, élleipsis, "omission" or "falling short") is a series of dots that usually indicate an intentional omission of a word, sentence or whole section from the original text being quoted, and though necessary for syntactical construction, is not necessary for comprehension.[1] Ellipses can also be used to indicate an unfinished thought or, at the end of a sentence, a trailing off into silence (aposiopesis)" ( That's Wikipedia, not me). History authors *never* use this technique. It's ok for literature or poetry, but not for much outside of it. If the author(s) had more to say, they'd better fit it within those 800 pages.

Yeah, sorry about that, it's a pet peeve of mine :D
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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by calimero »

Gryzor wrote:Their self-important tone ("we know where those cartridges are buried, but we're not going to tell you") is cringe-worthy at best.
heh... "self-important tone": I recently got into clash with martyg on wikipedia "talk page" about Atari Falcon:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Atar ... 16_bit_bus

if you have time, take a look.
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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by TheShowbizPizzaGuy »

Gryzor wrote: Fri Nov 29, 2013 10:57 am I came upon this thread googling around, because I heard there'll be a second edition. So I thought I'd share my opinion, though I'm just copying my Goodreads review :)

I really, really, really wanted to like the book. After all: Atari! But...

What a bad, bad book.

To begin with, it didn't catch my eye; cheaply bound*, like you could do at any photo copying shop. Well, it's self-published so something like that is to be expected, but for the price it's not good.

Opening it I saw something expected, but not justified; like other self-published books on the retro-computing scene, it's "typeset" in Word. Or something. And it shows. Ugh. Quite ugly all-around. Even my dissertation, made with Word 2003, was much better.

So that's just appearances, one could get over them, but...

The writers absolutely Can. Not. Write. The text is of a level at par with that of a high school student. A not very good student. To begin with, the text is full of typos. I don't mean a typo here and there, but rather a couple on every single page. Typos, misspellings and grammar mistakes are so abundant I got bored of cringing. There are sentences that don't even make any sense at all, like the writer started revising it and didn't read it through; or maybe the phone rung and he picked it up again without re-reading what he had already written. What's more, tenses are changed all the time from past to present and future, many a time even within the same sentence.**

The whole chapter on Cyan is a mess; just random notes thrown together, 55 pages of them, without the least effort of putting them into something coherent (to be fair, the authors claim this is a 'feature' :D )

So, the book is ugly and the writing is excruciatingly bad and hasn't been edited or proofed even once before going to print. Contrast it with Mechner's "The Making of Prince of Persia" that I read just after this, written by a 20yo Mechner in the form of a diary and you'll see some sharp contrast... Still, is it worth reading?

Well... let me put it this way: if you don't know anything about Atari, then probably yes. If you've been following the retro scene and have been reading stuff here and there, like I have (and I'm not even a fan of the early Atari), then there's little new to learn. Most of it of little interest - they moved from this building to that one, or personal side stories that are not relevant or specific to Atari and happen everywhere. The authors don't go very deep, and that's probably because they don't know how companies work (a budget meeting "a typical meeting to wrap the year up"? Yeah, only if it wasn't the single most important meeting of the year for a company! Or, "OMG! a rubber mallet in the production line!" - quite a useful and frequently used tool, actually), so they don't know what and how to probe. The fact that they keep making fun of Marketing (with no coverage of its people and practices, which is a shame given Atari's strong marketing push) shows a blind-sighted partiality that verges on stupidity. And, 25-odd pages on Chuck-E-Cheese? Ehhh....

In short, they totally fail to give a complete image of Atari, even though they plow through 800 pages of text and photos. Timelines are vague, stories not interesting (well, except for the people involved, probably, but even in that regards I've read much better ones) and technical descriptions (even in the chapters with the *sneer* technical warning) are extremely basic. The authors do make an effort to drum up interest in silly ways ("ohhh look now, we're going to tell you something that no one knew before, and it's really funny, lolz"), but always for mundane bits. Their self-important tone ("we know where those cartridges are buried, but we're not going to tell you") is cringe-worthy at best.

Lots of photos. The vast majority of them falls into two categories: stuff you can find online and photos of faces, faces, faces and more faces or buildings. Maybe these belong in a museum for completeness sake, but in a book? Nice page-fillers! The rest are at times very interesting and never seen before indeed, but are too few and far between. Pagination is also awful, with captions on the wrong page, printed twice or omitted altogether. Oh, there are also quite a few photocopies of legal documents, with no context and hard to read, so there's that, too.

It's such a shame that it ends before the company releases the ST series (of which I'm a fan). I'll think twice before buying the two other volumes announced...

Terribly written, tedious, shallow, hurried. If you think it's any good, then you'd be surprised by "Commodore - A Company On The Edge", "Soul of a new machine" or "Game Over", to name joust a couple (or three). That's what real research and writing skill is about.

Something that just occurred to me: this is supposed to be a business/history book. I'm interested in both of the aspects - I work in marketing, and I love history. Loving retro video games doesn't hurt either, but I've read literally hundreds of history books, dozens of business history books and pretty much what's out there in terms of retro computing. In all three aspects, this probably ranks first from the bottom. I really, really hope the authors put immensely more effort into the second volume!


*some concerns were raised here about the book's longevity in terms of binding; though it's cheap, it came out of my holidays (meaning, reading on the beach mostly and blending with snacks, drinks and sand) in great shape, so that's no problem.
**I read somewhere that the present tense was a conscious decision, to lend more 'dynamism' to the narrative. Well, not only does the effort fall flat on its face (there's a reason no one does that) but the authors appear to have changed their minds after a couple hundred pages or so, again without revising. The biggest part of the book just uses tenses in random.
Nolan Bushnell (creator of Atari) also created Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theater. although these Chuck E. Cheese pages may seem meaningless to you, they actually were a great help to documenting history of the place, as I am a part of the SPP/CEC/PTT fandom.
"What could be better than Three Rock-Heads singin' about mountains? Anyways, TAKE IT AWAY ROCK HEADS!" - Chuck E. Cheese

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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by Gryzor »

Of course I know how Bushnell went on with his ventures after being ousted from Atari, but this is just off topic. 25 pages of it. CEC is not part of the Atari history, in which it's just an interesting foot note. It may be meaningful to you, but it's just page filling here.
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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by 1st1 »

Hello, I know, the author CV has passed away, but is there any plan to use his materials to make the 2nd part of the series, Business s War? I would be still very interested to read that book.
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Gryzor
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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by Gryzor »

Did he really? 😟
Reality is that, which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. --P.K.Dick

.:.
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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by 1st1 »

Gryzor wrote: Sat Mar 26, 2022 9:57 am Did he really? 😟
https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/ ... dies-at-53
Power without the Price. It's not a bug. It's a feature. _/|\_ATARI

1040STFM in PC-Tower (PAK68/2, OvrScn, 4 MB, 1GB SCSI, CD-ROM...) * 3x Falcon 030 * 3x TT030 * many 260 /520/1040ST(F)(M)(+) * 520/1040STE * many Mega ST * 2x Mega STE * Stacy * STBook * 2x SLM605 * 3x SLM804 * SMM804 * SH 204/205 * Megafile 30/44/60 * SF314 * SF354 * 5x Pofo * PC3 * ...
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Gryzor
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Re: Atari Inc.: Business is Fun

Post by Gryzor »

Ah crap, only 53 😥
Reality is that, which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. --P.K.Dick

.:.
http://gryzor.info

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