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Zap: The Rise and Fall of Atari Hardcover – Jun 1 1987


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 177 pages
  • Publisher: Mcgraw-Hill; Revised edition (June 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0070115435
  • ISBN-13: 978-0070115439
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14.5 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,247,775 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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By J. Asch on Dec 12 2002
Format: Paperback
Altough a good read, and well investigated, I was expecting to read about the Rise and Fall of Atari, not the Rise and Fall of Noland Bushnell and the other people that worked there.
I expected to read about all Atari Products, both the good ones and all the flops they made, and the ones that never made public light. I expected a trip down memory lane. I expected too see at least a couple of pictures and photos to complement the book and what it talked about...
Yet, the book mostly talks about Nolan Bushnell, the guy who founded Atari, and it talks about the VCS. The Atari 5200, Atari 400 and Atari 800 are mentioned briefly (1 or 2 instances), there is no talk about all the other computers that followed (XE, XL, etc), the Atari's ST, the Lynx, the Jaguar, the Atari Portfolio (remember those?)...
ZAP! The Rise and Fall of the People at Atari, or ZAP! The Rise and Fall of the Atari VCS is a more accurate title.
I know the book was written in 1984, but it could have been revised... even as today, Atari is still kicking a little making video games alone.
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Format: Paperback
Being an Atari 2600 fanatic during my youth and a collector today, I was eager to purchase this book. I wanted to read only about Atari--not about Nintendo and other more modern systems that most video game books get into--so this little book seemed the way to go. I was very disappointed after reading it, however. I was hoping to read about the different games Atari put out. I know which games I liked, but which ones were the most popular and which were disappointments? I was intrigued by a question on the back cover: "Who decided the home version of Pac-Man was good enough to release?" (the main reason I bought the book). Alas, this question is never answered! In fact, the home version of Pac-Man (as well as other games) is not really discussed at all! Only E.T. and Raiders of the Lost Ark are mentioned more than in passing because they did not sell well and were part of the reason Warner's stock went down. There is also no mention of the landmark game Adventure. Instead, Cohen concentrates on the characters in the business (the engineers, financiers, and marketing people). The parts I found to be the most interesting to me were on the origins of Pong, and the effect Colecovision and Intellivision had on Atari's dominance in the home video game market.
On the plus side, the book was very well-researched with a bibliography (mainly periodicals up to 1983) that is quite valuable. The author also offered excerpts from interviews with inside people at Atari. Cohen also seemed to have a firm grasp of computer technology. What takes away from this research is the style of writing, which sometimes seems like that of a college student. The book is not very focused, often jumping around to different subjects along with separate quotes added within the text.
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Format: Paperback
The fact that it's a classic in video game history writing made me buy this book. My disappointment is great. The author falls short in almost every aspect of the project. Heavily relying on wild guesses to disguise his lack of real content, Cohen desperately simplifies, inflates small bits of information (some of which are false) to fill the pages and is history and probably the founder of Atari, Nolan Bushnell, not doing a favor by overglorifying him. About two thirds of the book seem only to exist to portray the incompetence of the author, particularly when he writes about "related" subjects, and goes on to repeat statements over and over, which were not necessarily interesting ones in the first place, until one ponders the thought: With a skill like Cohen's, how else to accomplish volume? I want to give you a quote here from chapter 14 where there's a lot of out of place talk about IBM and the stock market. At one point you can read: "It's a glamour stock. Or it was. It might have been - and still might become - a blue chip, but so far it hasn't." Now we know. Not clueless enough, it seems, because a couple of paragraphs later, the author adds in his quest for written nonsense: "They designed a product that wasn't bad. It wasn't a breakthrough, but it was good; there was really nothing wrong with it." And ever so on. If you're intrigued by video game history, rather consider getting (all of) these fine books: 'The Ultimate History of Videogames' by Steven Kent, 'Game Over - Press Start to Continue' by David Sheff and 'Phoenix - The Fall & Rise of Video Games' by Leonard Herman.
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Format: Paperback
I can remember the good ol' days of coming home from school, skipping my homework, and going directly to my Atari 2600...I had such fun back then. Today I come home from a hard days work and turn on my Dreamcast but I still think back to the days of the first 3 [Atari 2600, Mattel Intellivision, and the Coleco Colecovision]. The funny thing is there are a lot of people out there that are just like me...and those people should pick up this book. This is a short book [just over 130 pages] and just took me 3 days to read but it is a wild ride. This is the type of book that makes you think "What were they thinking?". You will feel like a kid again reliving the days of Asteroids and Breakout, how these games came to become reality, and how Atari went from a dream to becoming the giant in video games. But all giants fall and Atari does with a huge THUD!... It also makes you think of where the future of video games would be now if it were not for the fall of Atari. They really did have some of the best games out there and at the end a few stinkers as well [E.T. anyone?]. The only downfall for me was that the book is short but it did it's job of sending me down memory lane [which is what I wanted anyway]. So if you want a trip down memory lane and do not have the time to read an encyclopedia...ZAP! is well worth picking up and I am glad that I did [Now if we could only get books on the history of the Intellivision and the Colecovision]. If you'll excuse me I hear Pac-Man calling...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 11 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Fun To Read In Retrospect Aug. 29 2001
By Mark Androvich - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Cohen's book does a great job documenting the founding of Atari and introducing readers to the colorful personalities who worked there. At the time of its original publication (1984), it was one of the first books to do so (if not the first). Now, however, there are several books that chronicle the same events: Leonard Herman's Phoenix, and Steven Kent's The First Quarter, for example. These latter books are also more comprehensive than Zap!, since they don't focus only on Atari but include the history of Nintendo, Sega, Sony and others.
In retrospect, it is fun to read the author's predictions when he wrote the book in the fall of 1983. The videogame market had not yet collapsed completely. Nintendo had not arrived, and Warner had not sold off Atari. Cohen discusses Atari's potential bright future with telecommunications projects, the likelihood that computers will make videogame systems obsolete, possible competition with Nolan Bushnell, and videodisk arcade games becoming the wave of the future. Now that we are actually in the future, we know that none of these things came to fruition.
Zap! is still a good reference and an interesting read for those who are curious about the beginnings of the videogame industry's once-dominant company, Atari. However, since the manuscript was written some 18 years ago, don't expect a lot of revelations or anecdotes that haven't already been written about in many subsequent books.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Not what I expected Dec 12 2002
By J. Asch - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Altough a good read, and well investigated, I was expecting to read about the Rise and Fall of Atari, not the Rise and Fall of Noland Bushnell and the other people that worked there.
I expected to read about all Atari Products, both the good ones and all the flops they made, and the ones that never made public light. I expected a trip down memory lane. I expected too see at least a couple of pictures and photos to complement the book and what it talked about...
Yet, the book mostly talks about Nolan Bushnell, the guy who founded Atari, and it talks about the VCS. The Atari 5200, Atari 400 and Atari 800 are mentioned briefly (1 or 2 instances), there is no talk about all the other computers that followed (XE, XL, etc), the Atari's ST, the Lynx, the Jaguar, the Atari Portfolio (remember those?)...
ZAP! The Rise and Fall of the People at Atari, or ZAP! The Rise and Fall of the Atari VCS is a more accurate title.
I know the book was written in 1984, but it could have been revised... even as today, Atari is still kicking a little making video games alone.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Needs to be edited and researched May 29 2006
By L. Figueroa - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book starts off with an empty table of contents! Well, that should be a warning. A reviewer comments that the book is well researched. Well, I found the book to be full of factual errors. For example, giving Steve Jobs the credit for the reduced chip design of the game Breakout, when in fact in was Steve Wozniak, the genius behind the Apple machine that came up with the design. On the same page the author discusses the chip that went into the VCS and numerous game consoles afterwards but the author then goes on to talk about the company Intel not MOS Technology!! It was the 6502 by MOS Technology that went on to be the brains behind popular computers and consoles like the Nintendo Entertainment System (actually a variant, a reduced cost version of the 6502 was used for the VCS). I would recommend the book, The Ultimate History of Video Games by Steven L. Kent, if you are looking for a book that has not only the history of Atari but of the entire video game history and is more professionally published. I found the book had numerous misspellings and typos. For a book with only 133 pages it had too many errors.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Still Searching for the Ultimate Guide to Atari Aug. 25 2002
By mwreview - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Being an Atari 2600 fanatic during my youth and a collector today, I was eager to purchase this book. I wanted to read only about Atari--not about Nintendo and other more modern systems that most video game books get into--so this little book seemed the way to go. I was very disappointed after reading it, however. I was hoping to read about the different games Atari put out. I know which games I liked, but which ones were the most popular and which were disappointments? I was intrigued by a question on the back cover: "Who decided the home version of Pac-Man was good enough to release?" (the main reason I bought the book). Alas, this question is never answered! In fact, the home version of Pac-Man (as well as other games) is not really discussed at all! Only E.T. and Raiders of the Lost Ark are mentioned more than in passing because they did not sell well and were part of the reason Warner's stock went down. There is also no mention of the landmark game Adventure. Instead, Cohen concentrates on the characters in the business (the engineers, financiers, and marketing people). The parts I found to be the most interesting to me were on the origins of Pong, and the effect Colecovision and Intellivision had on Atari's dominance in the home video game market.
On the plus side, the book was very well-researched with a bibliography (mainly periodicals up to 1983) that is quite valuable. The author also offered excerpts from interviews with inside people at Atari. Cohen also seemed to have a firm grasp of computer technology. What takes away from this research is the style of writing, which sometimes seems like that of a college student. The book is not very focused, often jumping around to different subjects along with separate quotes added within the text. Cohen also repeated himself (sometimes almost word for word) throughout the book. Many paragraphs were spent describing the way principal actors at Atari dressed (i.e. like a hippie or a polished businessman). I agree with the previous reviewers that this book had and, unfortunately, still has a myriad of editing problems. The last line of the book even reads "Printed in the USA 1896"! It also would have been nice to see an additional reflection chapter that would take the book beyond 1983.
Still, if you are interested in Atari (especially on a business and marketing level), this book is probably the main source out there right now.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Very interested and heavily boorowed from book on Atari Sept. 26 1998
By cantrell@iquest.net - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
No doubt if you have read Game over by David Sheff you will have allready absorbed a bit of this book since he liberally used it as a reference. A very good read for those seriously interested in the biginnings and eventual horrific end of Atari's reign.

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