The secret to the Atari 2600's success was its slow start. The public was burnt out on Pong, which caused Atari's ROM-cartridge-based competitors to leave the market. When people finally figured out they could buy multiple games for the console -- and that one of them was 1980's smash hit Space Invaders -- the 2600 shot to glory and huge market share. It didn't last. Atari's best programmers left due to low pay; other consoles were able to reverse-engineer the system and offer compatibility; and Pac-Man and E.T. proved to be huge flops. Atari could've licensed the Nintendo Entertainment System for the U.S. market, but they passed, giving up their last chance for industry relevance.