Clay's big adventure at Atari...

Long ago, in a state far, far away...

I was about 13 years old or so when my parents decided we'd take a trip to California for Spring Break and visit my grandmother and relatives in the bay area (must have been Spring of 1982-1983?). At the time my sole interests included: Atari, video games, Atari, home computers, Atari, electronics, and Atari. Oh, and lest I forget, anything from/by/related to Atari.

The highlight of that particular trek was going "sight-seeing" in Silicon Valley (yeah, it was my idea). We stopped at the Visitor's Bureau and got directions to Atari headquarters. The woman at the visitor's center suggested we ask to be let in to the "game room". Sounded good to me.

Twenty minutes later we were outside Atari on Borregas Avenue. I recall a big black building with a small white Atari logo and sign on the door. Cool.

My Dad and I went in and talked to the receptionist/security guard. She was a bit sceptical but after my Dad delivered an amazingly good "we drove all the way down here from Oregon just to see Atari" sob-story she agreed to let us into the "Game Room".

Hindsight being 20/20, I wish now that I had made my Dad take a picture of everything in there. Most every Atari game ever produced up to that time-- in "new" condition-- and on free play. It was there I met my first dedicated Major Havoc, and played a strange new game called "Fire Fox".

Turns out Fire Fox wasn't actually out yet. So there I am, in some sort of teen-age video-nerd heaven playing this game when a small cadre of Atari-officials came into the room with a TV crew. (I think it was the guy that used to head Phillip Morris) They seemed to think that my playing the game was part of the plan (I was wearing an Atari-polo shirt) so they just set up the camera's and filmed me playing the game while doing a mini-press event for the release of this "amazing new technology". My Dad did a good job of looking invisible in a sort-of "not my kid, never seen him before in my life" way...

Later that evening I got to watch the segment on the news (Channel 2 in the Bay Area?)-- and there I was-- playing a prototype video game inside Atari. Pretty much my life was been downhill ever since then. ;-)

So these pictures are all that I could find that recorded that event. The big neon sign is pretty cool though. I made a little bitmap out of it:

Feel free to use it on a webpage or something. I'd appreciate credit for the photo, but that's not required. (And yes, that's me in all the pictures, so just stop laughing. I know, nice hair...)

Hmmmm... I wonder where that sign is now... That would look pretty cool on my wall... :-)

Ohhh, I vaguely remember going to Disney Land too, but that was kinda anti-climactic by comparison...

Updated: 6/28/99

1999, Clayton Cowgill