Flashback Fun: Type "Atari Breakout" Into Google Image Search

Paul Lilly

Google goes old school.

The wily programming nerds at Google are all about Easter eggs, and if you type " Atari Breakout " into Google's image search, you'll spy the latest one. This isn't just a random flashback to an old school arcade game, it's also a shout out to the 1976 title's 37th anniversary, though the timing is a little curious. Breakout (PDF) originally debuted in April, so if someone knows the significance of today's date specifically, feel free to enlighten us in comments section below.

Regardless, Google's Easter egg is a fun excursion into arcade gaming from nearly four decades ago. You may not have been alive back then or even heard of Breakout, which was developed by Atari and heavily influenced by Pong, which came out four years prior.

It's also a historically significant title, as it influenced Steve Wozniak's design for the Apple II computer. Here's what Wozniak was quoted as saying about the Apple II:

A lot of features of the Apple II went in because I had designed Breakout for Atari. I had designed it in hardware. I wanted to write it in software now. So that was the reason that color was added in first — so that games could be programmed. I sat down one night and tried to put it into BASIC. Fortunately, I had written the BASIC myself, so I just burned some new ROMs with line drawing commands, color changing commands, and various BASIC commands that would plot in color. I got this ball bouncing around, and I said, 'Well, it needs sound,' and I had to add a speaker to the Apple II. It wasn’t planned, it was just accidental… Obviously you need paddles, so I had to scratch my head and design a simple minimum-chip paddle circuit, and put on some paddles. So, a lot of these features that really made the Apple II stand out in its day came from a game, and the fun features that were built in were only to do one pet project, which was to program a BASIC version of Breakout and show it off at the club.

Pretty neat, eh? As the late Paul Harvey would say, now you know the rest of the story.

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