June 16, 2021

Did Stevie Wonder Endorse Atari Video Games?

Back in 1981, the nascent house computer game market was all the rage, and the king of the pack was the Atari 2600 VCS (Video Computer System) gaming console, riding the wave of its enormously popular conversion of Taitos arcade video game “Area Invaders”:

It was at that time, according to internet tradition, that Atari unbelievably employed musician Stevie Wonder as a celeb pitchman for the VCS. “Improbably,” obviously, considering that Wonder has actually been blind since quickly after birth and hence would not be able to experience an essential element of a computer game:

Even 40-plus years earlier, when ads may have been less culturally attuned, an “If I could play video games, you bet it would be ATARI” project including a visually impaired endorser would have appeared over the top. Ditto for ad copy such as “My good friends inform me the graphics are the finest. I do not know what that means, however …” and “Stevie likes to play alone, even if he has no concept whats taking place.”

Indeed, the Atari advertisement was merely a satire utilizing a modified version of a genuine print ad including Wonder backing the Mu-Tron III envelope filter made by Musitronics Corporation: