GamaSutra has a 20 page article on Atari from 1978 until 1981 – the golden age of the console. Those were heady days, friends. Imagination was king and because the graphics were so bad you could make a game do anything – you weren't held down by expectations of realistic boob effects or blood splatters on the camera lens.
We open with a sad scene:
Atari was also hobbled with warehouses filled with unsold dedicated Pong units, the stagnation of the coin-op business, and an increasing divide between Warner brass and existing Atari management.
The story then winds through some of the VCS hits and misses, ending with the smash hit Missle Command. A few more months and the VCS era would be over and consoles would be essentially dead until the NES jump-started the collective imagination. But by then the games were photorealistic and amazingly unimaginative. A great tale about the years and products that defined entire generations of gamers.