OverviewThe original company Melbourne House (Publishers) Ltd. was founded in 1977 by Alfred Milgrom and Naomi Besen. Starting as a general publishing company, it soon focused on home computers. In August 1980 Melbourne House published one of the first books ever for the personal computer market and started to distribute games created in the US.
In the same year, Milgrom and Besen founded Beam Software as a subsidiary, Australia's first electronic game company, initially focusing on development for the Sinclair ZX-80, and for the Sinclair ZX-81 since 1981. By 1982, Beam had become so successful that book publishing was phased out. Melbourne House started to concentrate solely on publishing Beam-created games. Beam developed the Horace series for the Spectrum and released The Hobbit in 1982.
In 1983, Penetrator for the TRS-80 saw the light of day and the same year another development division, Studio B. Ltd., was set up in the UK.
Despite very successful years in 1985 and 1986 with the sales of The Way of the Exploding Fist, Melbourne House ran into financial problems. In 1987, the UK publishing arm and the name Melbourne House were sold to Mastertronic Ltd., a publisher and distributor of low-budget games. Due to a contractual dispute between Beam and Mastertronic, none of the work developed in 1987 was published. Mastertronic itself became a part of Virgin Games, Ltd. and the name Melbourne House was held there. Beam became an independent entity.
In 1989 Beam started development for the NEC PC-9801 and NEC PC-Engine, for the Japanese market, followed by the creation of CD-ROM games for the NEC PC-Engine in 1990. Two more games were completed that year: Hunt for Red October (GameBoy) and Star Wars (NES).
In 1991, the Beam group started LaserBeam Entertainment, a subsidiary to publish Nintendo games, and it obtained a Nintendo License for the Australian market. That year, Super Smash TV (SNES) was released. In 1992, the company brought Aussie Rules Footy (NES) and International Cricket (NES) on the market in Australia, followed by two FASA-licensed games in 1993: ShadowRun and MechWarrior.
In 1995 Beam released Cricket 96 and The Dame Was Loaded, and one year later it became the first publicly listed games company on the Australian Stock Exchange. When Virgin allowed the Melbourne House brand to lapse in 1996, Beam re-registered it and launched it as its publishing / game development subsidiary. In 1997, Beam released KKND: Krush, Kill 'N' Destroy and Cricket 97.
In 1999, Melbourne House was sold to Infogrames, which included the computer games division and Hotgames.com, a portal for games enthusiasts, to extinguish $12 million of debt.
The next year, in 2000, Beam changed its name to Blaze International. The company started developing software and provided services for entertainment, telecommunications and Internet applications. From then on, Beam (Blaze) was no longer associated with the game industry and the story continued with the division sold to Infogrames, renamed Infogrames Melbourne House Pty Ltd. Along with the acquisition of distributor Ozisoft Pty Limited the same year, Infogrames tried to gain foothold in both the Australian and Asian markets with these investments.
Founder Alfred Milgrom and CEO / Managing Director, Adam Lancman resigned from the Board in April 2001, selling all of their 34 million shares. In 2002, Infogrames invested another $50 million in the division and in May 2003, due to a global rebranding, they renamed the company Atari Melbourne House Pty Ltd.
In February 2006, Atari boss Bruno Bonnell announced his plan to sell off a few internal Atari studios due to the severe financial situation. Atari Melbourne House was included in the sale, even though it was on the brink of completing a new game, Test Drive Unlimited.
In November 2006, the company was acquired by Krome Studios and renamed Krome Studios Melbourne. It was closed on 15th October 2010, along with the main Brisbane office.
Next to the game development, Beam Software also had the division Smarty Pants Publishing Pty Ltd., that created software titles for kids, as well as the proprietary video compression technology VideoBeam, and Famous Faces, a facial motion capture hardware and software solution.
Contributed by Indra is here (19822) on Jun 25, 2003. [revised by : Sciere (281317)].