Founders Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney originally wanted to name Atari "Syzygy," only to learn that the name was already taken by a roofing company. Consequently, the pair decided to brainstorm new ideas while playing a round of Go, which Bushnell was experienced in; an issue of Atari's home computer magazine I/O stated that "Their best brainstorming always occurred over a good game and a bottle of beer."

Following this, Bushnell and Dabney decided to name the company after a piece of Go jargon, settling on "Atari," a term used to describe a playing piece that is surrounded on all but one side. "Sente" and "Hane" were also considered as possible names.
person VinchVolt calendar_month December 13, 2023
subdirectory_arrow_right Nintendo Entertainment System (Platform), Nintendo (Company)
Shortly after the Famicom's launch in 1983, Atari approached Nintendo offering to distribute the system outside of Japan as the Nintendo Enhanced Video System. Negotiations for the arrangement stalled when Atari saw a demonstration for the Coleco Adam home computer system that used the ColecoVision port of Donkey Kong as a demo title. Because Atari previously gained the exclusive PC port rights to the arcade game, they assumed that Nintendo was also working with Coleco behind their backs. By the time the misunderstanding was cleared up, the North American video game industry had crashed and Ray Kassar had stepped down as CEO of Atari, causing the agreement to be called off entirely. The Famicom wouldn't reach international shores until 1985, when Nintendo began distributing a revised version in North America themselves as the Nintendo Entertainment System.
person VinchVolt calendar_month November 18, 2023
subdirectory_arrow_right Yars' Revenge (Game)
The fly species in Yars' Revenge, the yar, and their home planet, Razak, are reversals of then-Atari CEO Ray Kassar's name. Creator Howard Scott Warshaw told a marketing executive this was the name's origin, but did not inform them that Kassar was unaware of the name's origins, leading them to believe the name was coined by Kassar and preventing them from informing him and getting the name changed.
subdirectory_arrow_right Tank (Game), Kee Games (Company)
Attachment Most geographic areas had two arcade video game distributors in the 1970s. Atari founder Nolan Bushnell tried to sign exclusive deals with as many of these distributors as possible, and then got his neighbor, Joe Keenan, to run a second studio known as Kee Games (named after Keenan, who led the company), which would sign an exclusive deal with the other distributor in the area, selling clones of Atari games with minor alterations. Bushnell would then move Atari workers into Kee Games - to avoid signaling that Kee has ties to Atari, Nolan Bushnell would release a fake press release condemning Kee for supposedly stealing staff. Eventually, Kee would release its first unique game, Tank!, which proved to be more popular than any of Atari's original games at the time, leading Kee to be officially merged into Atari in 1974 as Atari no longer needed exclusivity deals. Kee Games would be closed by Warner Telecommunications in 1978.
person Rocko & Heffer calendar_month November 4, 2023
GameDeveloper article on the history of Atari:

Everything2 entry on Kee Games:
subdirectory_arrow_right Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration (Game)
According to accounts from multiple 1970s-era Atari developers in interviews for Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration, drugs were used heavily at the offices of Atari, and contributed to brainstorming for game ideas.
subdirectory_arrow_right Missile Command (Game), Imagic (Company)
Attachment When the Atari 2600 conversion of Missile Command released, the conversion's developer, Rob Fulop, was not paid in money by Atari, but rather a coupon for one free turkey at the American supermarket chain Safeway. Rob Fulop left to co-found Imagic as a result of this.