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Prior to the formation of Activision, video games were published exclusively by the makers of the systems the games were designed for. Activision was the first third-party game publisher. The company was founded by former music industry executive Jim Levy and former Atari programmers David Crane, Larry Kaplan, Alan Miller and Bob Whitehead. Atari did not credit its programmers when it released software titles, which is commonly cited as a reason the developers left. Levy took the approach of promoting game creators along with the games themselves.
The departure of the four programmers, whose titles made up more than half of Atari's cartridge sales at the time, caused legal action between the two companies which was not ultimately settled until 1982. As the market for game consoles started to decline, Activision branched out, producing game titles for home computers as well, and acquiring smaller publishers.
Activision changed its name to Mediagenic in 1988. After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1992, it changed its name back to Activision. Emerging from bankruptcy, it continued to develop games for PCs and video game consoles and resumed making strategic acquisitions.