How Google's Expansion Has Systematically Erased Atari's History 1
Image: Atari / Google

When you're talking about buildings of historic importance, Atari's original Sunnyvale HQ at 1265 Borregas Avenue has to rank right up there.

This is where, between 1976 and 1984, Nolan Bushnell's upstart entertainment company created some of its most famous coin-op hits, as well as the iconic Atari VCS / 2600 home console – the machine that arguably turned video games into a global revolution.

The company owned several buildings in the Sunnyvale area of California, but it's 1265 Borregas Avenue which will stick in the memory for many Atari fans.

Sadly, anyone wishing to make a pilgrimage to this location is going to be sorely disappointed, as it's since been demolished, along with 1196 Borregas Ave, which served as Atari's second Sunnyvale HQ between the years of 1984 and 1996, when it became Atari Corporation under the stewardship of the Tramiels.

In a gradual process which has gone largely unnoticed by anyone who isn't a hardcore Atari fan, tech giant Google has been slowly but surely expanding its campus in the desirable Sunnyvale area. As noted in this piece on Atari Age from 2020, the company has swallowed up massive parcels of land, many of which contain buildings which are historically linked to Atari.

It seems it all began back in 2013, with the construction of the 55-acre Moffett Place tech campus on land south of Atari's original HQ. The building of this campus erased from history the structures in which Atari's consumer engineering, consumer sub assembly, consumer Final Assembly, coin-op printed circuit and 400 / 800 / pinball manufacturing buildings were once based. Moffett Place was duly leased to Google, which also took out leases on several other buildings in the area in 2019.

However, Google's need for space still wasn't satisfied, and it began gobbling up other land parcels in the surrounding area – including 1196 Borregas Avenue, 1272 Borregas Avenue (Atari's consumer engineering and coin-op engineering building) and several other ex-Atari structures – including the aforementioned 1265 Borregas Avenue, which, in addition to serving as Atari's first Sunnyvale HQ, was also its coin-op engineering department.

Plans submitted in 2020 by Google indicated that a new building would be erected on the site of the original HQ at 1265, while 1196 – the second HQ – would be flattened to make room for a car park for the new building.

It would seem this kind of destruction isn't unique to North America (or Google), either; as noted by ausretrogamer, Atari's eye-catching, space-age-style Australia HQ was recently sold for $24.5 million and demolished in 2023.

All of this is, of course, incredibly sad, as physical locations like these have strong links with the history of an entire entertainment medium – but, when you consider that Google paid $24 million for the 1265 Borregas Avenue plot and $25 million for 1196, it's hard to conceive a situation where such buildings can be preserved when Atari was only one part of their history, and they sit on land which is very attractive for developers.

Even when facing up to this reality, it's a crying shame that Atari's history is being rubbed out piece by piece – especially when some of it has been sacrificed purely to park cars.