American Go E-Journal

GO SPOTTING: The Origin of Atari

Monday June 13, 2011

Many go players know that video game pioneer Atari was named after the go term, but how many know that this was actually the second choice for the company’s name? “Sente” was the first choice by Nolan Bushnell (r) and his partner Ted Dabney, according to By Any Other Name: The Origin of Atari on the CHEGheads Blog by Shannon Symonds, Acquisitions Cataloger for the International Center for the History of Electronic Games. “Both in print and on camera, Bushnell cited the strategy game Go as his favorite game of all time,” Symonds notes. After their original choice, Syzygy, turned out to already be trademarked, “Bushnell provided the state with three new names from which to choose: Sente, Atari, and Hanne. All three reference moves in Go.” Symonds also reports that “In 1984, Atari created a subsidiary company called Tengen, which translates to “the origin of heaven” and is the very center point on a Go board.”
- thanks to Jeremiah Parry-Hill for spotting this