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Atari's Nolan Bushnell: 'we could have owned the internet'

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Atari founder Nolan Bushnell has described thwarted plans for a national gaming network over telephone lines.

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Atari 2600
Atari 2600

Games studio Atari planned to launch a national gaming network over telephone lines in the mid-'70s, but the move was axed by Warner Communications executives after the company's 1976 acquisition, according to founder Nolan Bushnell. "If we had gone ahead and done it, it could have essentially been the internet, in private hands," laments Bushnell in a lengthy interview with TIME. "It's kind of fun to think about owning the internet."

Atari's proto-Xbox Live aside, the entire profile is worth a read, giving a great account of the early days of the now 40-year-old company. And if it leaves you craving classics like Pong, Asteroids and Super Breakout, it couldn't have come at a better time — to celebrate the anniversary, Atari is making a 100-game pack of "Greatest Hits" available completely free for iOS users. Previously downloadable as a $9.99 in-app purchase, the pack is now available as a free standalone app for both iPhone and iPad, but only for a 24-hour period.