Where did the baby name Atari come from?

Atari console

Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Asteroids…if you grew up in the 1980s, you know all about Atari.

But you might not realize that, at the height of the video game system’s popularity, dozens of U.S. babies were actually being named Atari:

Boys named AtariGirls named Atari

The brand name comes from the Japanese word atari (“to hit a target”), which is used in the board came Go in the same way “check” and “checkmate” are used in chess — as a warning to one’s opponent that he/she is in imminent danger of capture.

The baby name Atari dropped out of the U.S. baby name data after 1983, but has recently returned thanks to professional football player Atari Bigby, who made his NFL debut in late 2005.

Bigby was born in Jamaica in 1981. He was named by his grandmother, who said “she didn’t name him Atari after the video game [system], she just liked the Japanese word, which has connotations of both hitting a target and hitting the lottery.”

What are your thoughts on the name Atari?

P.S. Pong has been used as a baby name as well, incidentally.


Image: Atari2600

11 thoughts on “Where did the baby name Atari come from?

  1. The other possibility: children that grew up playing the Atari console system are now grown up and having children of their own.

  2. @R – Yes, that’s always a possibility. But sports stars tend to have a much greater impact on baby naming trends than childhood memories. :)

  3. Astro, what was the reasoning behind the naming of your Son?

    Mine was after the Games Company Atari, I was an 80’s Gamer and the first console i ever had was an Atari 7800.

  4. I named my son (2009) Atari and it had absolutely *nothing* to do with sports. We picked the name mostly because we like the way it sounds, and due to our love of Japanese culture. The fact that there’s an association to the classic console is just a bonus. Secondary at best.

  5. I’ve never even heard of that footballer. In fact we weren’t even aware that other people had the name (we didn’t check either).

    As a side note: we get positive comments about his name all the time!

  6. My baby boy was born 8/28/17 his name is Atari II and his name didn’t come from the game his father name either I think it’s a beautiful name for my baby I call him Tari

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