Video Game Company Collections

The International Center for the History of Electronic Games holds tens of thousands of artifacts and library and archival items that represent and reflect the impact of particular manufacturers on the evolution of video games and society. ICHEG works with companies to help preserve those individual historical contributions. Items described here include large or otherwise distinct assemblages provided to ICHEG by specific manufacturers. These collections include either software or hardware, or both, or one or both in addition to archival items. Other materials related to these companies, but not provided by them, may be found in other ICHEG collections categories according to type.

Atari Coin-op Divisions Collection,1972–1999

Atari pioneered the arcade video game and helped launch the video game revolution with the introduction of Pong (1972), the Home Pong console (1975), and the Atari 2600 (1977) during the 1970s. As Atari Inc. (1972–1984) and later as Atari Games (1984–1999), the companies produced iconic arcade video games and pinball machines such as Pong, Breakout (1976), Asteroids (1979), Superman pinball (1979), Missile Command (1981), Star Wars (1983), Gauntlet (1985), and Primal Rage (1994). The collection encompasses a wide array of historical materials, including more than 3,000 pieces of original concept and final arcade cabinet artwork, hand-drawn assembly design sketches, story boards, photographs, and print advertising proofs; hundreds of original art kits and production films for Atari arcade video game cabinets; nearly 2,800 videos of game demos, television commercials, industry show presentations, focus groups, and company celebrations; arcade game source code; promotional materials; and an unreleased “Maze Invaders” arcade video game—one of only two units known to exist. Also included are dozens of binders chronicling the production of virtually every Atari coin-operated game from 1972 to 1999; extensive corporate records documenting game brainstorming sessions, industry and market research, and player game evaluations; as well as company correspondence, newsletters, and technical documentation.

Brøderbund Software, Inc. Collection, 1979-2002

In the 1980s and 1990s, Brøderbund was one of the leading producers and distributors of games for the home computer with titles such as Lode Runner, Prince of Persia, Myst, SimCity, and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? The company also released many best-selling consumer software titles such as Family Tree Maker, Print Shop, Kid Pix, and the pioneering Living Books line of children’s books. This collection, donated by company founder Doug Carlston, includes nearly 1,500 of the company’s games, other pieces of computer software, copies of original art, production masters, board game versions of some products, and related items. Also included are extensive corporate records detailing Brøderbund’s operations from its inception in 1979 to its eventual acquisition by The Learning Company in 1997. Among these are strategic and other long-term planning documents, market research, meeting notes, financial statements, correspondence, catalogs, news clippings, photographs, and other materials that reveal the company’s domestic and international operations. Doug Carlston also served as President and Chairman of the Software Publishers Association, and materials in the collection document that work and offer further insight into the growth of the software industry.

View the Brøderbund Software, Inc. Collection finding aid.

Her Interactive Collection

Her Interactive occupies an important place in computer game history for having challenged gender disparity in the predominately male-dominated industry. The collection includes design notes, press releases, testing and focus group documents, company profiles, and correspondence that not only document the history of Her Interactive but also offer critical insight into female experiences and attitudes towards electronic gaming. Also included are more than 30 games. Among these are Nancy Drew: Stay Tuned for Danger, Nancy Drew: Tomb of the Lost Queen, and others from the company’s signature series.

Microsoft Collection

Microsoft has been a key innovator in the electronic game market and sold products totaling billions of dollars over the years. This collection represents a wide sweep of the corporation’s gaming history and includes more than 200 items. Among these are more than 70 games for the PC, Xbox, and Xbox 360; dozens of examples of hardware and accessories, including consoles and controllers; prototypes for Xbox 360 and Kinect and a beta version of Xbox Live Starter Kit; and 15 examples of the many awards the corporation has received for various innovations and sales milestones. Also included are miscellaneous posters, images, and promotional materials.

Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI) Collection

Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI) was the leading developer of war games and other computer simulations in the 1980s and early 1990s. The company’s pioneering first game, Computer Bismarck (1980), helped make military simulations a leading segment of the early computer game market. SSI also published sports, finance, and fantasy games, including the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons titles licensed from TSR, and featured some of the era’s most important developers, including Dan Bunten (Dani Bunten Berry) and Gary Grigsby. This collection, donated by company founder Joel Billings, includes internal records documenting the history of the company from 1979-1997, as well as information about other computer companies of the period. It also includes the master code for Computer Bismarck and a copy of the computer code for Tank (unpublished), the first game Billings ever wrote.

Tengen, Inc. Collection, 1987–1994

Atari Games founded Tengen, Inc. in 1987 to produce home console and computer games. Between the late 1980s and mid-1990s, Tengen developed and published dozens of home versions of popular arcade titles including Tetris (1988), which was later recalled due to a court ruling; Paperboy (1988); Shinobi (1989); After Burner (1989); Pac-Man (1990); and Race Drivin’ (1994). This collection includes source code for nearly all of the more than 50 games the company produced, original game package and user manual artwork, posters and other promotional materials, and electronic records containing product schedules, sales figures, and corporate documents

Westwood Studios Collection

Westwood Studios is recognized worldwide for having created and popularized real time strategy games (RTS). The collection includes more than 500 items chronicling Westwood’s innovative history and extends from the company’s early days of producing games for the Amiga and Commodore 64 to 2003. RTS games such as the pioneering Dune II and Command & Conquer (which spawned many sequels) form a major portion of the collection. Also present are early games such as Eye of the Beholder, an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game, and mass market titles such as Monopoly and Lion King. Other items include artwork, development and marketing materials, and related artifacts such as costumes worn by actors for filmed scenes in games.