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Don Thomas Resigns - The Atari Times

Don Thomas Resigns

Saying goodbye to Atari...
by Don Thomas

October 6, 1996
You may like to know that I have submitted my resignation to Atari and have determined that Thursday, August 15 [1996] will be my final day.

I have been at Atari since November 1989. I helped launch the Portfolio, which enjoyed tremendous success early in it's life cycle. Later, I took on the role as a specialist and helped represent Portfolio technology at specialty trade shows, key account presentations and in exclusive development scenarios. More recently, I have streamlined an effective customer service department pursuant to the resources afforded by corporate direction. During much of this time, I have made every effort to be accessible and active on CompuServe as well as GEnie, Prodigy, our Web Site and a BBS I sustained privately in my home.

Prior to Atari, I worked at Federated Electronics stores and was known within the organization for my prejudice for Atari brand computers and games. Much of my software library was provided to Federated as samples and the software buyer asked me to test the latest titles.

I purchased my first Atari product in the early 80's. The 2600 was financed on my First Visa Card from a Video Concept store in Dallas, Texas. I was so impressed with the technology that I taught myself programming and developed a newspaper delivery game to present to my employer, the Dallas Times Herald, long before Paperboy ever hit the coin-op arcades. Only the crash of the video game industry in the mid 80's kept me from entering the industry during those years.

My first computer was the TI99/4a and, later, the Commodore 64. But it wasn't until I opened an Atari 400 box in my apartment that I developed a passion and soon found myself hoarding every cool thing I could find. From Scott Adam's adventures to my MPP1000c modem and Rana disk drives, I was virtually possessed.

After the Tramiels took over Atari, I bought into their 16-bit computer line hook, line and sinker.... and never regretted a single moment.

When the Tramiels acquired Federated in the late 80's, I thought I died and went to heaven. For the first time, I met the likes of Neil Harris and Mr. Jack Tramiel himself. During the day, I helped expand Atari exposure in Atari's new chain of electronic stores. At night I honed my programming skills into a line of software I called Artisan Software. I successfully, released a total of 5 titles under that label, all for Atari 16-bit computers.

In 1989, Atari was compelled to discontinue Federated operations and my career became a casualty in Jack's business war. While seeking employment anywhere I could, I dedicated time and energies into the Atari Revolution... a grass roots movement dedicated to foster word-of-mouth for Atari's fine line of products. In November, Atari hired me back and I met Bob Brodie, Frank Foster and a brigade of personalities who have long left a permanent mark in the historical remembrances of the world's longest surviving home computer/video game company.

On August 26, I will be joining the professionals at Sony Computer Entertainment. As you undoubtedly know, the Sony Playstation is America's number one choice in next generation technology. After examining the opportunities that are out there, the PSX looks to me to be the most promising long term video game investment and I am proud to become part of the PSX team.

Atari, the name and the products is directly responsible for so many things in my life. Inclusive are personal development and the acquisition lifelong friends. The Tramiel family is equally responsible for having enriched my life with wisdoms that I will forever value. There will always be a special part of my heart for Atari. There will always be an envy that I wasn't there during more glorious days and always I will take pride in knowing that I worked my hardest during Atari's most difficult times.

As you undoubtedly know, Atari has just completed a merger with JTS; a reputable supplier of hard disk drive technologies. The terms of the merger relegates Atari as a division of JTS and no longer is Atari an independent corporate entity. Shares of stock are now traded by the symbol JTS. Atari's staff as of next week will consist effectively of 4 people; all of which are among the most proud and honorable I have ever known.

On behalf of Atari, past and present, thank you to everyone who supported us. Atari will always be an institution in our hearts remembering the evolution of Pong, Asteroids, Star Raiders, Major Havoc, Millipede and many more. Look for Atari's afterlife in licensed titles for other systems.

I have every intention to continue frequenting the Atari support areas and you will no doubt find me popping up in a PSX forum near you! I'll look forward to seeing you there.

-- Don Thomas

(Editor's note: Visit Don's web site at www.icwhen.com)

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What is the greatest video game company of all time? (Hint: Atari.)