Opened Video Station chain in 1977.

George Atkinson, known as the operator of the first video rental store, died March 3 in Northridge, Calif. He was 69.

After Atkinson opened Video Station in 1977 in Los Angeles, Twentieth Century Fox and other studios ordered him to stop offering their films for rent. Atkinson retained a lawyer and helped paved the way to a federal court decision allowing for legal rentals. His efforts also led a number of retailers nationwide to form the Video Software Dealers Assn.

By the late '90s, there were 600 Video Station stores. The chain is still operating.

Atkinson, who had emphysema for several years, is survived by his partner, Betty, and three children.