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The Video Game Newsroom Time Machine is a weekly retro gaming podcast in which we travel back in time to see what was making headlines 40, 30, and 20 years ago in the arcade, video game, and computer gaming business and interview industry veterans. 

We try to put those events into historical context to understand how the industry of today came to be. 

It's fun and educational! (in case you need to justify listening to it to a significant other)

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May 22, 2021

Missile Command comes to Atari's VCS
Handheld games lose their mojo
Scramble revolutionizes the shoot 'em up

These stories and many more on this episode of the Video Game Newsroom Time Machine

This episode we will look back at the biggest stories in and around the video game industry in May of 1981.
As always, we'll mostly be using magazine cover dates, and those are of course always a bit behind the actual events.

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7 Minutes in Heaven


First meeting of the International association of video game manufacturers is held in Tokyo
Replay, May 1981, pg. 7

Midway goes after Pacman and Rally X gray importers
Replay May 1981 pg. 12

Cinematronics wins Star Castle case
Replay May 1981 pg. 12

Stern secures rights to Konami's Scramble
Replay May 1981 pg. 14

Atari ventures to Japan ... again
Replay May 1981, pg. 71

Atari launches Asteroids Deluxe and VCS Missle Command with National Press conference
Replay May 1981
Toys Hobbies & Crafts May 1981, pg. 12

Atari promotes Stephen D Bristow to VP of advanced technology consumer electronics
Toy and Hobby World May 1981

Atari adds $1 million in punitive damages to its suit against Activision
Playthings, May 1981, pg. 32

Atari slashes prices

Atari wants your programs

Electronic games lag as Xmas sell off ripples through market
Playthings, May 1981, pg. 39, pg. 122

Mattel reports $15.5 million loss for fourth quarter
Toy and Hobby World May 1981

Coleco sues Tandy... and Mattel... and well, everyone..
Playthings May 1981

TSR licenses Escape from New York
Playthings, May 1981 pg. 9

Recommended Links:
The History of How We Play:
Gaming Alexandria:
They Create Worlds:
Digital Antiquarian:
The Arcade Blogger:
Retro Asylum:
Retro Game Squad:

Sound Effects by Ethan Johnson of History of How We Play and Enzo Maida.