June 27, 2012 at 2:06 PM ET
It's official, Atari has hit middle age.
Today marks Atari's 40th birthday. That's right, it was waaay back on June 27, 1972, that Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney launched the game company which you may or may not know was almost named Syzygy instead.
For many of us who grew up playing video games, Atari looms large in our memory. Atari's first hit — "Pong" — was the very first video game I ever played (which probably reveals a little too much about how old I am). A friend who lived across the street owned one of those blocky Home Pong consoles and I can still hear the bip, bip, bip sound it made as we bounced that ball back and forth.
Atari games like "Breakout" (developed by this one guy named Steve Jobs) and, of course, "Asteroids" and "Centipede" would go on to absorb many young lives just as the Atari 2600 console would invade homes around the world.
It was exciting times for the burgeoning video game business. How exciting? Here, check out this blast from the past:
But don't worry, Atari, middle age ain't so bad. Sure, your joints ache when you wake up in the morning and you can't stay out late drinking like you used to, but at least you get to look back in wonder at just how much things have changed during the four decades you've been around.
In fact, looking back at how far video games have come since "Pong" ... one can't help but imagine what the next 40 years of gaming might bring.
In celebration of its 40th birthday, Atari has released a nifty infographic outlining some highlights from its history. Check it out below (if you have a magnifying glass handy) or, for a closer look, click this link.
Winda Benedetti writes about video games for msnbc.com. You can follow her tweets about games and other things on Twitter here @WindaBenedetti and you follow her on Google+. Meanwhile, be sure to check out the IN-GAME FACEBOOK PAGE to discuss the day's gaming news and reviews.