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Clint Thompson

Possible trip to Sunnyvale, CA

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I've always wanted to go to California and check out the old Atari HQ building at 1196 and of course the Computer History Museum - which is conveniently located only about 4 miles away from the old Atari HQ. I may have an upcoming and rare opportunity with some time off to make the drive (yes, drive... I'm a scenic opportunist and actually enjoy the long drives with a Micro Machine that gets about 40mpg so... yeah!) and had a few questions for some of you that may be well traveled to and from the California area.

 

I'm located in Indiana and have two options: either I-80 which appears to have no tolls at all and is riddled with some form of construction along the way... or I can take I-40 with tolls and is also riddled with some form of construction along the way. Outside of possibly swinging through LA, which I'm unsure if I'll even be able to make at this point, would there be any definitive benefit to going with I-40 over I-80?

 

Also, what other things are in the area that is highly recommended to check out while I'm there should this actually happen? And are any of you in the area or along the way? Wouldn't mind meeting a few new faces and talking good things Atari, if so!

 

Thanks for any input in advance... it would be cool to knock this one off the bucket list for 2015 :-)

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I don't know much about those two freeways....but as far as what to do in Sunnyvale:

 

- go to In & Out Burger.  California staple.

- Go to Fry's Electronics.  If you've never been before, it's kind of super nerd fun.

- take the time to go to San Francisco.  It is beautiful. 

- Take a ton of pictures of the old Atari HQ and post them here.

 

Have fun!

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I don't know much about those two freeways....but as far as what to do in Sunnyvale:

 

- go to In & Out Burger.  California staple.

- Go to Fry's Electronics.  If you've never been before, it's kind of super nerd fun.

- take the time to go to San Francisco.  It is beautiful. 

- Take a ton of pictures of the old Atari HQ and post them here.

 

Have fun!

 

I've never been to an In and Out but have always read about people going there on Facebook and the likes. We do have a Fry's here locally so unless it's like Fry HQ then I'm not sure I'll miss much heh.. :) and good idea! An extra 45 minutes is nothing in comparison haha... :)

 

Thanks!

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- go to In & Out Burger.  California staple.

- Go to Fry's Electronics.  If you've never been before, it's kind of super nerd fun.

- take the time to go to San Francisco.  It is beautiful. 

- Take a ton of pictures of the old Atari HQ and post them here.

 

 

Everything RickR said is exactly what has always been on my list! You may also want to peruse my blog entry about visiting Atari World Headquarters here: http://www.atari.io/back-to-borregas-ave/

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Well, it finally happened. I.. or we rather (my girlfriend and I), have successfully made the trip to Sunny California!!! :et: :D :spot:

 

Part 1: On our way to California...24347290312_b480efa446_k.jpg

 

Contract work ended. We had breakfast one early morning just weeks before the year ended in 2015 and over a few freshly made waffles, the decision to actually make the trip to California had been finalized. We were going to leave January 1st, 2016. Not so much of a New Year's resolution as much as it was a "What better way to start off the New Year than to head to California" kind of mindset.

 

And so we did. We left in the later afternoon on the 1st of the New Year. From Indiana to LA, California, some 2,400 miles to be driven were dialed in on the GPS. We decided to take the I-80 route which would lead us through Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, the edge of Arizona, Nevada and then finally into California. It's been said that pictures are worth a thousand words, so I'll let most of the pictures do the story telling.

 

There wasn't a lot of new things to see in Illinois or Iowa for us. The only thing Nebraska had that really caught my attention was a Schlotsky's (which are no longer in Indiana) and since I haven't been to one in such a very long time, that's exactly where we stopped for some rather delicious pizza. After all, you can't have good travels without good eats. =)

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The entrance of the restroom at Schlotsky's was quite, well... inviting to say the least:

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With roughly 35 hours to be driven, I wanted to make more progress than not, so stopping to sight see wasn't exactly priority. We did manage to stop and take a few beautiful pictures along the way though. I will say that both Colorado and Utah are both incredibly pleasing to the eyes during the day. Some incredible views to behold along the way...

 

Colorado is not a lot of fun to drive through... at least during the night. Upon waking up though and making more progress, we were presented with some incredible eye candy, tasty food and kind people.

 

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Tasty breakfast with a beautiful view at a last minute diner we decided to eat at (the name completely escapes me at the moment):

 

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Cardboard Elvis is still Elvis in spirit, yeah? Completely unrelated and I'm not sure why, but we did end up listening to a lot of Johnny Cash during Colorado.

 

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Onto some more amazing views in Utah:

 

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...and finally.... ...a few days later...

 

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California!

 

[ to be continued in Part 2 ]

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Part 2.0: We're in California!

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After 35-short hours of scenic driving, the land of silicon dreams and tasty avocados awaited us, but not before an entire day to rest and recover. We ended up spending an entire two weeks with family and friends exploring LA, Palm Springs and surrounding areas before we made the drive up to the San Francisco/Sunnyvale area.

The first thing we did was devour food at an In and Out that everyone continued to suggest trying. We ended up eating here several times actually. Affordable tasty goodness left us feeling completely satisfied.

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Some drought... that or we brought the rain with us (you're welcome ;-) ) as it ended up raining quite a bit during our stay here, but I'm certainly not complaining as it didn't affect things much. The Hollywood Walk of Fame was a washout but we still managed to hustle our way through. I'm a House of Cards fan, so catching Kevin Spacey's star was kind of nice.

 

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Not like anyone has ever taken a picture of this before, but still...

 

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I was quite pleased to spot a DeLorean out in the wild while filling up gas. Such an iconic car with so many amazing stories behind it. Yes, took a picture... I have no shame. We then proceeded to watch the entire Back to the Future trilogy the following weekend as a result. =)

 

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[to be continued in next post due to image qty restrictions per post]

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Part 2.33333: Continued

 

To say our first few weeks in California were incredible would be an understatement. We absolutely love it here. We hiked the Brand Park, Joshua Tree Park and Tahquitz Canyon. I learned my lesson about ensuring water is in hand after that first one - what a mistake not having any fluids that was - especially with an energetic group flooring it uphill. Tons of amazing views to be had with an equally amazing experience.

 

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If you've ever seen the movie Big then you'll understand why Zoltar stopped me dead in my tracks on the Santa Monica Pier. Not quite the same one in the movie but still very cool. I can't believe it's taken me this long to see and play one in person, as goofy as it is.

 

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[to be continued in next post when time permits]

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Part 2.66666: Continued

 

It's January and the beach is this beautiful and warm? Why would we ever go back. Spending entire days at the Santa Monica beach and Oceanside is basically my idea of heaven. Walking it, playing Frisbee with a large group of friends and enjoying the endless incoming waves with the sunset cast upon my face was therapeutic. But don't take my word for it...
 

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California is incredible. Our trip to Sunnyvale in the upcoming post with tasty pictures of the old Atari HQ =) but that's for another day.

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Part 3.1: Arrival in Sunnyvale @ 1265 Borregas Ave.

 

7-hours of driving after very little sleep will melt your brain. That and I was completely excited, overly joyful even, to finally be stepping foot around and on what once was some of Atari's grand buildings of creativity. Not so much 1265 but 1196 was home to me (next post) but I at least wanted to check out this building, even in it's renovated state, or so I assume since it matches 1272 - which I didn't take pictures of because I spent an hour hovering around 1196 immediately after instead. The building is currently open to be leased so the parking lot was empty. Not so much the case with being a Friday @ 1196. I wanted to do all of this on a Saturday and spend much more time around the buildings but time constraints didn't allow for this. Really I can't help but feel just a little silly for being so excited just being here. Plus I know photos of these buildings already exist but it was still something I've wanted to do for quite some time now.

 

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My co-traveling buddy in crime sporting a Pac-Man tee and two thumbs of approval =)

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Part 3.5: Sunnyvale, Atari @ 1196

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Finally, we had arrived to what I knew to be the true Atari HQ, or at least to me. There were so many hopes and dreams from the people housed within the 1196 building in the 90's, ultimately serving as the end of an era for Atari as a real, innovative hardware and software company. The Jaguar being one of my favorite game consoles for reasons far beyond gameplay, it was also an interesting time-frame for the very competitive Lynx, Falcon030, the very rare ST Book and the intriguing but never released ST Pad or MicroFalcon as well.

There's something magical about having a group of engineers creating real hardware within the United States. The Jaguar II being developed and worked on in the basement of Atari, the very ambitious Black ICE/White Noise team hoping to make an in-house Cyberpunk hit for the Jaguar CD, development for a Virtual Reality headset teamed with the very well known at-the-time Virtuality just to name a few..  Atari had hope, promises and dreams written all over them and it was all housed at this building with the very powerful Jack Tramiel behind the scenes with Sam Tramiel acutally behind the wheel.

 

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Anyways, the building itself is pleasing to look at and definitely has Atari DNA built in mind - finally seeing the building in person was a real treat. The windows upstairs have always fascinated me, looking out and over at an angle seems so unique and different, it's strangely inviting.

 

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Currently being used as a general office space leased to multiple companies, I found it to be a surprisingly affordable building when it was last valued/sold at roughly around $4 million dollars offering just a little over 46,000 square feet in all. I wanted to be here on a Saturday or Sunday when vehicles would most likely not be present, but that wasn't an option so I had to make do with the time I was given. Only after I post edited the photos did I realize someone sitting in their car the entire time we were aimlessly wandering about the parking lot taking random pictures at different angles. Still to my surprise, or maybe not so much I guess, was that no one said a single word. I can't help but wonder if anyone there understands the historic nature of this building or for that matter, even cares or views it the same way we do.

 

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My big old head in front of 1196...

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While I'm far from any business expert, I couldn't help but continue to ask myself just what went wrong with such a huge company that had so much potential. I can't help but feel Atari was trying to do so much, too little-too late but most definitely too much at any given time... especially at the end of its life cycle. They pulled the plug on all the extras (Falcon, MicroFalcon, ST Pad, ST Book, Lynx and the original Panther) to focus solely on the Jaguar - which proved to be a fatal mistake.

The core problem seems to be that they lost focus on the quality of software and just continued to over-develop hardware. The way I see it is they went on to create a slew of accessories in place of all the dropped non-Jaguar projects and plunged money to continue working on so many different Jaguar-oriented projects that continued to drain them dry, such as:

*Jaguar CD
*Memory Track
*MPEG1 Cartridge
*Jaguar II
*JagDuo
*Cortina Web Adapter
*Team Tap (which was rather useless)
*Voice Modem
*Jaguar VR - (though since I'm not sure how much of, if any, of Atari's own money was used, my understanding is it was a contract with Virtuality and they never were paid for it, ultimately causing them to split into different companies but that's a different story for a different time)

They should have kept their plate a little more open in other areas, but instead launched Atari Interactive for PCs at what seemed to be a last ditch effort in any hopes to remain afloat near the end. Personally, I think the Lynx was an amazing portable and could have truly lived on for quite some time had they really pushed it. Even for a short while there, a few new games were developed, with the unreleased Alien vs. Predator being one of the most promising looking for a handheld at the time.

The Tramiel family continues to get a lot of static and general negative feedback in regards to what happened with Atari. I have zero ill-feelings toward them and it would be a delight to have an open and laidback conversation just covering a lot of unanswered questions with Sam Tramiel (or any of them really) but is it really fair to stir up memories from something that ended rather quite unfavorably, dare I even say tragically, so long ago? I don't know. Everyone tends to forget they are people too. That as a company and businessmen, they wanted to succeed. That if you look close enough, their interests in attempting to make the Jaguar successful truly showed across the board but unfortunately, it just didn't happen.

I am curious as to what happened to the Atari signage that was once above the 1196 entrance and the letters that used to be in place where 6 business names now reside. As excited as I was to finally see this building of dreams in person, the sense of heartache was present while noticing the lack of Atari letters above, which stuck out like a sore thumb by being blank. Maybe someday I'll be able to read Business is War while lounging in the back near the break area and meet up with some ex-Atari employees who worked their during the Jaguar years. At one point during the 90's, I was certain Atari would be the place I would one day be employed by but unfortunately, like many dreams, it would remain just that - a dream.

 

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