The [Coin-Op] Arcade Video Game by Atari, Inc. [Sunnyvale, CA, USA]

[Coin-Op] Arcade Video Game

Breakout © 1976 Atari, Incorporated.

Breakout sets up with eight rows of bricks, each two rows are different color. Players get three balls to try to knock down as many bricks as possible by ricocheting the ball against the wall off of a video sledge hammer. 1 point is scored for each brick knocked out in the yellow row, 3 for each in the green, 5 for each orange, 7 for each red. To add to the challenge, the hammer decreases to half its size after the red row is broken through. Ball speed increases after four hits, increased again after twelve, to highest speed in the orange and red rows.
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Breakout was released in April 1976.

Bushnell put out the word at Atari that he would pay anyone who could design the game and reduce the number of ICs that it used, $100 per IC removed from the design. Steve Jobs, at the time a low-paid technician at Atari, accepted the challenge. He originally attempted to work on the design himself, but soon found himself in way over his head. He then brought in his friend Steve Wozniak, who liked to hang out at Atari and playtest the new games as they rolled off the assembly lines.

Woz and Jobs stayed up for four days working on the design. Woz would work on the game at night, take a small catnap, go to work at his day job at Hewlett-Packard, and then return home at night to resume work on the design. In the end, Woz reduced the design down to 42 ICs, and both he and Jobs contracted mono from staying up for four days straight working on it. Jobs received a $5,000 bonus and told Woz it was only $700 and gave Steve Wozniak his '50%'... $350.

Years later this truth would come out and it would add to the already increasing friction between the two which eventually lead to Steve Wozniak quitting Apple. Meanwhile at Atari, the Breakout design was ingenious, however no one could figure it out so production could not begin. Al Alcorn says about Woz's design, "It was remarkable... a tour de force. It was so minimized, though, that nobody else could build it. Nobody could understand what Woz did but Woz. It was this brilliant piece of engineering, but it was just unproduceable. So the game sat around and languished in the lab".

In the end, Alcorn assigned another engineer to redesign the game so that it was more easily replicated. The final game had about 100 ICs.

Approximately 11000 units were produced. There was an upright dedicated cabinet with sideart of the word 'Breakout' in red letters, being smashed in by a ball. There was also a unique looking round cocktail version, the cocktail is easier to find today because people rarely did conversions on cocktail tables.

Zachary Hample of New York holds the official record for this game with 896 points on June 25, 2002.
1. Breakout (1976)
2. Breakout Deluxe (1976)
3. Super Breakout (1978)
4. Breakout 2000 (1997, Atari Jaguar)
5. Breakout Boost (2011, App Store)
Designed by : Nolan Bushnell
Original hardware engineering by : Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs
Final engineering by : ???


Atari 2600 usa (1978) "Breakout [Model CX2662]"
Mattel Aquarius usa (1983)
DynaVision brazil (198?)
Sega Master System europe (1992) "Arcade Smash Hits [Model MK-27032]"
Sony PlayStation europe (2000) [Model SLES-02854] : 3D remake, see below for details
Sony PlayStation usa (September 22, 2000) [Model SLUS-01170] : 3D remake
Tapwave Zodiac usa (2004) "Atari Retro" - Atari 2600 version
Microsoft XBOX usa (November 16, 2004) "Atari Anthology [Model 26084]" - Atari 2600 version
Sony PlayStation 2 usa (November 22, 2004) "Atari Anthology [Model SLUS-21076]" - Atari 2600 version
Microsoft XBOX europe (November 26, 2004) "Atari Anthology" - Atari 2600 version
Sony PlayStation 2 europe (February 18, 2005) "Atari Anthology [Model SLES-53061]" - Atari 2600 version
Nintendo Game Boy Advance usa (August 21, 2005) "Centipede / Breakout / Warlords [Model AGB-B6ZE-USA]"
Nintendo Game Boy Advance europe (September 9, 2005) "Centipede / Breakout / Warlords [Model AGB-B6ZP]"
Nintendo DS [UK] (March 11, 2005) "Retro Atari Classics [Model NTR-ATAE-UKV]"
Nintendo DS europe (March 11, 2005) "Retro Atari Classics [Model NTR-ATAE-EUR]"
Nintendo DS usa (March 16, 2005) "Retro Atari Classics [Model NTR-ATAE-USA]"
Nintendo DS japan (June 30, 2005) "Atarimix Happy 10 Games [Model NTR-ATAJ-JPN]"
Nintendo DS [AU] (November 2007) "Retro Atari Classics [Model NTR-ATAE-AUS]"
Nintendo DS usa (March 8, 2011) "Atari Greatest Hits Volume 2 [Model NTR-BR7E-USA]" - Atari 2600 version


Sinclair ZX Spectrum usa (1982)
PC [Booter] usa (1983) "Brick Breaker", a part of the "Friendlyware PC Arcade" suite)
PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] usa (October 6, 2000) : 3D remake
Apple Macintosh usa (July 18, 2001) : 3D remake, re-released in January 2005 as part of "Atari Arcade Classics" by MacSoft
PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] usa (January 1, 2003) "Atari Retro" - Atari 2600 version
PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] usa (November 11, 2003) "Atari: 80 Classic Games in One! [Model 25069J]" - Atari 2600 version
PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] europe (June 10, 2005) "Atari: 80 Classic Games in One! [Replay]" - Atari 2600 version
PC [MS Windows, CD-ROM] europe (December 1, 2006, as part of "Atari Kids 2006") "Atari - 80 Classic Games in One!" - Atari 2600 version


Atari 10 in 1 TV Game usa (2002) Jakk's Pacific - Atari 2600 version)
Atari Paddle TV Game usa (2004) Jakk's Pacific - Atari 2600 version)
Atari Flashback usa (2004) Atari 2600 version
Atari Flashback 4 usa (2012) Atari 2600 version
BlackBerry usa (June 16, 2009) [Model 2198]

The modernized 3-D remake of the game released in 2000 for PC CD-ROM, Sony PlayStation, and in 2001 for Apple Macintosh, features multiple missions and follows this storyline :

"A world not so dissimilar to ours has some very strange inhabitants--tall, fun, flexible, strong-willed and quite unlike anything we know.

Bouncer [the hero] lives happily with his girlfriend Daisy on a beautiful desert island. He has many friends--some are other paddles like him, and others are balls, a paddle's natural companion. All was comfortable and quiet until Batnix [the villain] entered the scene. On seeing Daisy he vowed to have her at all costs.

One day, while Bouncer was swimming far out to sea to rescue a ball, Batnix and his evil henchmen kidnapped the beautiful Daisy. On Bouncer's return to the island they zapped him from behind and imprisoned him in a dark and dank prison. Knowing of Bouncer's strong and loyal friends, Batnix ensured that they couldn't mount a rescue by scattering them in prisons across the world.

In his smelly and wet cell, Bouncer is chained to a ball, his punishment since his latest failed escape attempt. His only consolation is a picture of Daisy pinned to the wall.

But then, as the noise of the guards grows distant, things start to happen. The steel ball gives a quick sideways glance, leaps into the air and smashes the chains. Freed from his chains, Bouncer gives his friend the ball a mighty whack, demolishing the cell walls and launching the latest dash for freedom.

Will Bouncer succeed? Can he rescue all of his friends? Ultimately, can he save Daisy and defeat Batnix once and for all? It's up to you!"
The First Quarter- A 25 Year History of Video Games by Steven L. Kent
The Doteaters Website,
Steve Wozniak's page,

Page last modified on May 28, 2013
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