Atari – (当たり) Wacky Japanese Language Fact

Atari Logo and atari kanji
Atari logo and atari kanji positioned side by side for your visual inspection

Atari is the infinitive form of the the verb ataru.

Based on the “tou” Kanji (当,) which means “to hit.” Atari is written; 当り(in kanji) or あたり(in hiragana).

I like to think that the Atari kanji had something to do with the design of the logo. The logo reflecting the 3 flowing lines, both vertical and horizontal, that make up the Japanese symbol for Atari (当). But I am only speculating as a graphic designer. I could not find any sources or information relating to the origins of the design.

go players in Japan
Playing the game of Go in Japan

Atari is also a key term in the Japanese game “Go.” Go is a strategy game where you try to encircle your opponent while he is trying to encircle you. The term “Atari” is used to describe the situation when a player is one move away from completely surrounding an area. A kind of “Checkmate” from the chess world.

Atari is also familiar as the grand daddy of all video game companies. In 1977 Atari released the Atari 2600, which became the first popular home video game console the world had ever seen. By 1982 with the help of Space Invaders and Pac-Man, It had established the video game industry that is still thriving today.

Atari founder Nolan Bushnell was a huge fan of the game Go. The story goes that one day he wrote down all the terms that are used in his favorite game and picked “Atari” as the name for his new company.