Atari Concept Art from a Future Past

Posted by Michael Sacco on Sep 6, 2010 in Tech |

Atari concept art

The world of personal electronics is currently in an arms race to see who can come up with the smallest, coolest-looking entertainment devices, but there was a time when the mere concept of a “home computer” was almost unbelievable. Atari may not have had decades of staying power in the PC market, but the Atari name will always be synonymous with early efforts in home computing and video gaming, and these amazing technical drawings and pieces of concept art drawn up by Atari industrial designer Regan Cheng in 1981 show why.

Atari concept art

Beautiful art aside, you can see a lot of really interesting industrial design concepts at work here, like the “Bus Bar” modular system that would let consumers upgrade or switch out specific pieces of the computer instead of the whole thing. Also note the way that the cooling fins in these designs gradually moved the back of the system from the side, a design which we’ve kept in personal computers to this day. And is it just me or do the monitors below look an awful lot like Apple’s Cinema Displays? For that matter, the device pictured in the header image is a dead ringer for a PS3 Slim. I guess some designs really are timeless.

Atari concept art

The aforementioned monitors. Note the aspect ratio!

Atari concept art

This concept looks a lot like later Macintosh computers would. The upper panel is a monitor.

Atari "Bus Bar" concept art

The “Bus Bar” modular computing system.

Atari concept art

One of the many beautiful designs for this modular system.

Found via ISO50 and Colorcubic.

Michael Sacco is a writer and editor, currently working as Senior Editor at, part of Aol’s Joystiq network. His previous work includes an extended stay at Blizzard Entertainment. Follow him on Twitter!

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