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A decade of internal mail from the now-defunct Atari Games corporation, makers of some of the more beloved arcade games in history and one of the more amazing stories in computer history. Buried among these large collections of e-mails from the Atari Corp VAX are discussions of programming, trivia, jokes, and some real insights into the day-to-day concerns of this company. This covers the coin-op and the console departements.


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    Appreciated, such decades-old email archives always abound in “fleeting gems of the day” such as..

    From:	KIM::PETROKA        12-DEC-1983 19:41  
    While we're on the subject, I might mention that Ronald Wilson Reagan
    anagrams into Insane Anglo Warlord.  A public service message.
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      While am I an unashamed Reagan worshipper, I don’t particularly miss the regular “nuke drills” that we endured at that time in our schooling.

      There was a major concern and daily narrative that the nuclear missiles would be coming at any moment - combined with a completely vitriolic and uncivil standard of discourse and disagreement about what, if anything, should be done about it, which makes today’s political divisions and issues seem silly and quaint in comparison.

      “Discussion” of the two solutions would usually result in, at a minimum, brawling, those solutions being either the need for building more nuclear missiles or destroying them all and disarming, with supporters of both sides being accused of treason and wanting to bring about the literal end of the world. Serious threats to kill those on the ‘other’ side became a normal thing - after all, everyone thought the time for civil discourse was past.

      This was the era of films such as “Red Dawn” and “Miracle Mile” and “Testament” and “The Day After” and “Threads” and “WarGames” in the theaters, after all. I remember we were made to watch “Threads” in class at one point.

      In the schools, it was playing out sort of like a more depressing version of “duck and cover”, that is, “hide under the desk and prepare to die”. That was the default action for all of the drills - hurricane drills, tornado drills, nuclear missile drills.

      Oh, and “don’t look at the flash!” (Don’t you know, you’ll go blind doing that?)

      Also, tornado drills involved hiding in the hallway and waiting to die. The rest of them were under the desk, however.

      Gives a little perspective on why the arcades and gaming were so important and a needed distraction in those days. Millennials these days don’t know how easy they have it.

      Missile Command, anyone?

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      This is a great window into software jobs of the past. As much as I’m enjoying the 6502 assembly gore, what’s even more interesting are the quotidian posts, be it about bay area traffic (plus ca change), rooms for rent ($350/mo…cheap!), or the Great “What Do You Mean I Can’t Smoke In My Cubicle” Flamewar Of 1988.

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        Some of the details around the specialized dev hardware they used are fascinating as well. I think some of us had the impression that everyone at Atari did dev on… The Atari just like we did :) Not so much.

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          I’m thinking of splitting the individual messages out and attempting to thread them or at least make them easily searchable.